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 Tyrell 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.

Where Are They Now?

Via Reader Old Texan in his Friday email, I see this lovely little thing:

…which leads me to ask:  whatever happened to cap guns? 

I grew up with the things — I mean, that one on the pic could have been the one I had as a kid, except my gun’s ur-nickel plating was long gone through much pocketing and abuse.  And my poor mother had to deal with my constant nagging each Saturday morning (when I got my paltry allowance) to take me to the hardware store or drugstore to get five rolls of those excellent caps (which would last me till, oh, Sunday afternoon;  I haven’t changed much).

I’d assumed that they’d been declared illegal because eeeevil guns, and caps ditto because EXPLOSIVE MATERIAL!!!!  but I see that plastic ones (eeewww!!!), die-cast revolvers and even cap roll guns are sold through Amazon.  Sadly, the first two of these use “ring caps” which are terrible because boys can’t create mini-explosive devices out of them, as we did with the cap rolls when I were a Lad Of Extreme Mischief.  (I should point out that my Dad showed me how to do this, which says it all, really.)

But can you buy ring caps or paper roll caps through Amazon?  Silly rabbit, of course you can’t, no doubt because you have to fill out ATF Form #4376-5-3 or some such bullshit before such a sale can be “allowed”.

I think you can still buy the cap rolls at Tractor Supply stores and ring caps at Big Lots! (note: they are out of stock in both outlets).  But wait:  what have we here?  Aaahhh, Tin Toy Arcade to the rescue:


I have to say, though, that relatively speaking, those guns are Colt Python-expensive, for toys.  Especially when you can get the Real Thing for a little more than three times the price:

…and the plainer .22 LR-only version for little more than double:

…as used by Daughter as her first gun.

But let’s not go there.

I suspect, by the way, that societal pressure is forcing these lovely cap guns to be disappearing fast because We Cannot Allow Children To Play With Violent Toys.

What a load of old bollocks.

Both Desirable

I see that Queen’s Gambit  hottie Anya Taylor-Joy is modeling Jaeger-LeCoultre watches now:

…but I have to say, her beauty is a strange one, because:

Anyway, here are a few more reference pics so you can make up your own mind:

And the more errr descriptive ones:

But that’s not really what I want to talk about here today.  Rather, I want to talk about Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, of which I’ve never owned a single one but I’d love to because they are just flat-out classy:

Of course, they do produce watches for more errr  modern tastes:

…and frankly, I think they’re both pig-ugly — aimed no doubt at the Russian Billionaire’s Son Set or else Arab sheiks, neither of which are known for their refined taste.

Hell, I’d take one of Jaeger’s second-hand and (very much-) older watches over either of those “modern” ones:

…just as I’d take Gina over Anya:

But you all knew that.