My Favorite Things (Part 1)

Well hell, if Oprah Winfrey can do it, then by golly so can I.  Okay, a little background:

Every year, the media mogul, 69, shares an expansive gift guide filled with a range of products like kitchen appliances and cooking supplies, furniture and home goods, clothes and accessories, and skin, hair, and makeup items.

And 2023’s is no different. With 109 items in total, this year’s list has ideas for fashion lovers, at-home chefs, food connoisseurs, beauty gurus, and workout fanatics. 

As expected, her list is full of useless shit like face creams and bubble baths:  not the kind of thing on a Real Man’s list unless he’s buying stuff for his wife / mistress / both.

So without further ado, here is Kim’s Favorite Things List (Part 1 — Part 2 next Saturday) with something for everyone.  Oprah did 109 items;  I will only do 100 because unlike Oprah (who had staff to do all the work), I had to do it all by myself.

Aside:  I’m also 69, so there we have it:  battling lists from two Olde Pharttes.

Oh, and one last thing:  all the items below give me a warm & fuzzy feeling when I look at them:  it’s a “favorite things” list and no more.  (Unless you’re very wealthy, it’s not much good as a Christmas list either — unless of course you’re wealthy and want to indulge yourself.)

Buckle down:  this may take a while, but hey, it’s Saturday:  what else are you gonna do?  Let’s kick off with the spendy stuff (all prices are approximate), and there is no order of preference or cost.  It’s all good.

1. 2002 BMW Z8 (4.9-liter V8) — $212,000

Anyone can have a silly Ferrari, Aston Martin or whatever that breaks all the time, for even stupider money.  But there are only a couple thousand of these Beemers left in the world. (And yes, the hard top is removable.)

2. Mauser M98 Standard Diplomat (in your favorite caliber; mine would be 9.3x62mm)   $14,700

…with manly iron sights, of course.  The optional companion piece:

3. Kahles K 3.5-18x50mm scope $3,300
…or, if you’re going to be using your M98 for close-up dangerous game: 

4. Kahles K16i 1-6×24 3GR Reticle $2,200

5. Annual Range Membership (your choice) $600-$25,000
(This is Texas Defensive Shooting Academy — TDSA — but whichever is closest to you.  Dallas Gun Club, FYI, costs $25,000 per annum last time I looked, and there’s a two-year waiting list.)

6. African Hunting Safari (flight, luxury lodge accommodation only;  add $10,000 for several small-game license fees, up to $35,000 for lion, buffalo etc.) $15,000 per person

7. Handmade shoes from Ludwig Reiter (Vienna) $660-$1,200
Buy once, wear for life.

8. Matched pair of shotguns (links in pics) $40,000-$$tupid
…for those of the “Over and Under” persuasion.  But for the more civilized amongst us:

9.  Classic watch (e.g. this Omega Genève from the 1970s) ~$2,000-$5,000

  You may have to search around, but the search is part of the fun.

10.  Sickafus Montana  Shearling Coat $1,700

Unless you live in the tropics.

11. Martin D-35 Standard Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar $3,500

Possibly the best-sounding off-the-shelf acoustic ever made.

12. Saddleback Hardside Suitcase $1,000

13. Zeiss Victory RF 10×54 Rangefinding Binoculars $4,000

14. Browning Buck Mark Medallion Rosewood .22 LR Pistol$600

Add the Vortex red-dot scope, for $300

15. Mini-Moke Classic Electric$30,000
Yeah I know, it’s a damn Duracell car;  but I’d make an exception for this one.

16. Rhino Ironworks Gun Safe$6,000

Ugly as hell;  but how cool is it…?

17. Chiappa Firearms Kodiak (.45-70 Govt) — $1,750

18. Leathercraft Conner Recliner$5,000

19. Winnebago Solis Pocket Camper$150,000

Don’t need much more than that, really.  We are not rock stars.

20. Canon EOS R6 Mark II$2,500

21. London’s Lights (Leonid Afremov, 60″x40″)$900

22. Longines Avigation$2,700

23. DW Collector’s Series Purpleheart Drum Kit$9,000

…add over a grand when you add the cymbals, stands, bass drum pedal and stool.  All worth it.

24. Hacker-Craft Destroyer — $375,000

I’m not even a Boat Person, and I love the look of this thing.

25. Karl Hauptmann Double Rifle (.375 H&H Mag)$40,000

26. Angora Executive Desk$25,000

 27. 1972 BMW 1602 (1600 cc 4-Cyl. 4-Spd manual) — $20,000

Before Beemers got really fuuuugly.

28. Nord Stage 3 88-Key Keyboard$5,500

29. Beretta Mod 74 Target (.22 LR) — $850

30. Orient-Express: Paris to Istanbul$20,000 (per person)

That’s the cost of the Grand Suite;  smaller cabins are (not much) less.

31. 1997 Land Rover Defender 110$66,000

32. Mesa/Boogie Fillmore 50-watt Tube Combo Amp$2,700

33. Seychelles Vacation (Four Seasons Mahé) — $15,000/week

Excludes flights.

34. Five-Rifle Set$1,200

Every so often, J&G puts one of these deals together and at the price, they’re an utter bargain.

35. Breitling Transocean Day & Date$3,500
…or you can drop an extra $5,000 and get it in gold.

36. Mont Blanc Meisterstück Around the World in 80 Days LeGrand Fountain Pen — $1,000

37. CZ 457 Varmint MTR .22 LR$850

Same hole, all day long.  And for its glass:

38. Trijicon Huron 2.5-10×40 30mm BDC$700

39. Fazioli F308 Concert Grand Piano$290,000

To my ears, the best-sounding grand piano of them all.

40. Viking River Cruise:  Amsterdam – Vienna$7,500 (per person)

41. Fender Precision Fretless Bass — $2,500

My #2 choice for a bass guitar.

42. Wiesmann MF4 Roadster / GT — $150,000

…if you can find one, that is.

43. FN 49 Luxembourg Contract (.30-06) — $2,100

Shoots smoother than a Garand.  Still regret losing mine in the Brazos.

44. Stetson El Amo Premium 500x$1,100

45. Driven Pheasant Shoot (UK) — $1,200/day
Assumes a 20-bird tally per shooter. Ammo, food, booze etc. not included.

46. Colt Single Action Army 3rd Gen. (.45 Colt) — $5,000

47. Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Stereo Amp$1,250

… unchanged since the 1970s, it’s one of the longest-lasting and most popular guitar amps ever, and deservedly so.  As is the next one:

48. Fender ’68 Custom Twin Reverb Amp$1,800

One of the cleanest-sounding guitar amps of all time.  Except when you don’t want it to be, and then it gets dirtier than Miley Cyrus on a Saturday night pub crawl.

49. Longshore Tides Dolores Bar Cabinet$4,500

50. 1975 Rickenbacker 4001S — priceless

Why is it priceless?  Because that’s mine, is why.

Next week, the “budget” 50 favorite things.

No Longer

I think I’ve outgrown this kind of thing:

Men who like watches are split into categories. There are those who delight in intricate movements, what writer and watch obsessive Gary Shteyngart once described as ‘a small city of silver and gold gears and wheels, a miniature three-dimensional universe in which everyone is running to catch the next bus’. These men turn their noses up at overly commonplace brands like Rolex, which makes in the region of one million watches per year. Their preferred marques are rare and meticulously hand-crafted by the boutique manufactures of Breguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. A highly collectible Patek Philippe model, the limited-edition Calibre 89 (the world’s most complicated watch, with 33 functions and 1,278 parts) sold at auction in 2004 for more than $5 million.

…and that’s possibly because as I’ve got older and the chances are getting increasingly smaller of winning a lottery that could fund such an obsession, the prospect of being a horologista (what?) as explained in the above article.  (I also detest this linguistic tic of turning words into ur-Spanish derivations, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Also, I have begun to prefer simple things —  a stick shift over a Formula 1-style steering-wheel button gear-shifter, for example — and as far as watches are concerned, this has coincided with finally finding the watch I’m wearing at this very moment, a Tissot Heritage Petite Second manual:

…which happens to satisfy all my needs in that it’s simple, inexpensive, not showy or a “snob” brand, and made in Switzerland rather than in some Asian sweatshop.

A funny thing happened when I first strapped this watch on:  in an instant, I lost almost all desire to own another watch — in fact, since that day I’ve not worn any of my other watches, and even in that lottery dream, the desire to own that Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe has almost disappeared.

My distant-#2 favorite watch is also a Tissot:

…but it’s driven by a battery (ugh) and the only reason I like it at all is that it has Roman numerals — that classical background is very difficult to shake off, let me tell you.  I wear it pretty much only when I’m going to do something that may cause damage to what I’m wearing on my wrist, and at about $200 retail (under half the cost of the Heritage), I’m not going to slit my wrists if the thing gets busted.

All that said, I understand the fascination that watches hold for men — it’s almost exclusively male, this watch fetish — just as I understand (only too well) what makes men lust after certain cars, guns, cameras or any of the countless number of gadgets that take our fancy.

And as with all such obsessions, price is seldom a factor unless it’s stupid — stupidity as defined by the individual himself and not the uncomprehending others.

I recently showed a Dino Ferrari with a half-million dollar price tag — which is, as I said at the time, stupid money for a Dino.  On the other hand, I see that Iain Tyrrell is restoring a Dino of similar vintage, and I estimate that the depth of said restoration will cost the Dino’s owner about a hundred thousand dollars — and for him, it’ll be worth every penny.

It wouldn’t be, for me;  but I sure as hell understand why it would be, for him — just as I understand why someone would drop a still-greater amount on a Vacheron Constantin Overseas model, like this one:

Lovely, innit?  If you’re into that kind of thing.


Here’s a nice little tribute piece about the Buck 110 folder.

I’ve always loved Buck knives — pretty much of any type or description — and I sometimes wonder why I don’t own more than one, a Buck 500 Gent (now called the “Duke”), which has been a constant companion for over forty years.

That 110 is calling me — drop point blade, ebony grip plus brass caps… what’s not to like?

[Add to cart]

Bolt-Action Watches

I believe I’ve ranted a few times [hyperbole alert]  on this back porch against modernity, and quite often against things that operate automatically as opposed to being physically operated by the user.

I know that automation makes things easier;  it’s just that this ease comes at the expense of control, and I don’t like that.  Here are two examples:

Bolt-action over semi-auto rifles.  I know that it’s a lot of fun shooting an M1 Garand or M1 Carbine;  I’ve done it often, and love it.  But nothing gives me more satisfaction than working a fine bolt action, whether a Mauser turnbolt or a Schmidt-Rubin straight pull.  Yes, it’s a bigger hassle to rechamber a cartridge manually than to have a mechanical doodad do it for you — although I would suggest that reloading a 30-round magazine is an even bigger PITA, as all the mag-loading assist devices on the market would suggest.

Manual transmission over automatic gearboxes.  As with the above, there is a case to be made for the labor-saving nature of the auto gearbox — in stop-start traffic, for example — but with a stick shift, one is always in better control of the vehicle.  I know, I’ve suggested that one doesn’t drive an automatic car as much as just steer it, and I’m not altogether wrong, either.

Now I’m going to add yet another category to the manual/auto dichotomy.

Some time back I was given a watch as repayment for a favor — I hasten to add that said repayment was absolutely not requested nor even expected — and this is the watch, a Tissot Heritage:

Note the supreme simplicity of the watch face:  easy-to-read numerals, no date, and… a manual action.  It’s the first manual watch I’ve owned since I was a pre-teenager, and I love it with a passion.  I even wear it around the house, unlike all my other watches.

One of the things that has always bothered me about quartz (battery-powered)  watches is that the damn batteries have to be replaced about every year, requiring a trip to the watch-repair place or jeweler.  (I purchased a lifetime replacement policy which at least takes away the nagging cost of replacement — best $100 I ever spent — but it’s still a hassle to schlep my dormant quartz watches over to the mall, every damn year.)  I have two of these things, and I love them both, for different reasons.  They are the (l-r) Tissot 1853 and Dooney & Bourke Explorer:

(I know, the D&B is overly-complicated and a little bulky, but when I saw it back in 2003 I fell in love with it despite all that, and bought it on the turn.)

Neither of the above cost more than $300.

My only automatic watch is a Seiko Sports (about which I’ve ranted before):

The issue I have with this watch is that when the spring runs down (and it does that overnight), it is a huge PITA to reset the day and date.  To keep it going, I would have to buy one of those winding motor thingies, and… oy, they break, stop working (just read the 1-star comments) and that would irritate the living shit out of me.  En passant, they’re all made in China except for the German ones which can cost well over $500 (!!!).  So… no.

The Seiko is the only, and last automatic watch I will ever own.

I don’t mind winding the Heritage every morning — it’s like making the coffee, pouring the breakfast gin or brushing the teeth:  a simple daily maintenance chore, and the watch-winding can be done while I’m reading the newspaper.  But it keeps time well, it looks great on my wrist, and… well, that’s really all I need from a watch.

Of course, it doesn’t end there.  Having established that principle, I immediately went to Teh Intarwebz to see what other steam-powered watches I could get if Teh Lottery Gods were to ever get their shit together:


And if the lottery money was BIG:


As a rule, I don’t like gold watches… but Vacheron’s looks fantastic — and hey, everyone should have at least one gold dress watch, right?

And finally, this one because it’s a truly eccentric way of putting the date function onto a watch:

Needless to say, it is by far the most expensive watch ($25,000) on the list, but I did say a BIG lottery win, after all.

And every last one is a mechanical-wind action.

Stunning Beauty

Over at Wristwatch_Revival, Marshall gets an old (1960s-era) Omega Constellation working again.  And by the time he’s done…

I have no words.  That tapered dial, the simple numerals… it whispers “elegance” like their newer bling-studded geegaws can’t (no pics:  I don’t even want to put them on the same page as this beauty).

I would wear this watch every night of the week, and most especially if I were eating at a fine restaurant each night with, say, Nigella Lawson.

Am I alone in loving these things so much?

By the way, this is one of Marshall’s earlier shows, where he was still finding his way around the craft.  There are a couple of mishaps, one hilarious.