Wednesday, 20 May 2020

20th of May, 2020 - Pasta La Vista Baby, Gates of Hell + Recent Wristwatches

           So, here we all are, in the midst of this adjusted existence in the grip of COVID-19. I'm still working three days a week at the moment, and that's the plan for May, but things could change without notice.
I hope you're all coping with things the way they are at the moment, and that you're all staying healthy, cautious, and above all, positive.
The only way out, is through. And this too shall pass.
As they say.

So basically, working less means a little more free time.  As my hours began getting cut in mid April, I figured it was a good time to take a shot at making pasta. 
For the first time.
From scratch. 


150gm of '00' (fine) plain flour
150gm of semolina flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp of olive oil

But before I got started, I needed a rolling pin. Not just some crappy, tiny wooden thing that you get from your local supermarket.
Nope. I needed something heavy-duty. Something that reminded me of my childhood, when my mother would make pasta on a huge wooden chopping board, using a two-and-a-half-foot long rolling pin that looked to me like a short, fat broomstick. With a hole drilled through one end with a piece of old string looped through it so that it can be hung up when not in use.
So, instead of buying an actual rolling pin for five or ten bucks, I went to my local hardware store and bought a 1.2 metre (3',8") length of Tasmanian Oak. For thirty-four bucks.
I was aiming for heirloom quality, folks.

I cut off a 60cm piece and sanded it down to a smooth finish. At one end, I attached an eyelet hook and on the other, I wrote down the month and year. Then I gave both ends a light coat of teak oil. What I should do is sand down a hand's-width at both ends. Ideally, it should taper down at each end like a cigar, so that you can curl your fingers around it for better control, but it'll work okay as-is.

The small glass and spoon are the odd items in this photo. It's an espresso. A quick kick-start before getting stuck into proceedings.

My daughter helped with this endeavour. I thought it was gonna take ages, but it only took an hour or so. After mixing the two types of flour together, we made a 'crater' in the middle of the mound and then added the oil and eggs.
Mixing and kneading it by hand, I noticed bits would break off. No matter. Just add a little more oil or egg to help it bind together. If it sticks to the work surface, add a little more flour. If it keeps breaking, add a little more oil. Keep kneading it until you have a ball of pasta which 'springs back' a little when you press into it.
Give it a light dusting of flour, Glad-Wrap (TM) it and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

I was wearing the Seiko SARB033 while I waited (I need to get a more professional-looking apron.);

Then, it was time to use the pasta machine that belonged to my mother. The machine that hadn't been used since around 1978. I can still remember one of the last times she used this machine. She made flat sheets of pasta and then cut large circles out of them, about the size of a drink coaster. She filled one side of the discs with ricotta cheese and finely chopped spinach before folding over the other side and pressing the edge down with the tines of a Lucky Wood steel fork, creating a sunburst pattern in the pasta and sealing the edge.
Ravioli, thrill-seekers.

She was a fantastic cook when I was a kid. Really was. And that's not me remembering things with child-like simplicity. And then, sometime in the late '70s, she started working as a cook in a small, nearby Italian bistro. After that, her home cooking got a little robotic and 'procedural', if you know what I mean.
I didn't realise it at the time, but looking back, her cooking took on a by-the-numbers, production-line kind of feel. It still tasted good, but there was something missing. A little less care taken. A little less 'soul'. I think she had gotten too used to slinging out meals in ten or fifteen minutes flat. Too used to the pace and rhythm of a restaurant kitchen.
As a result, her cooking processes, in her own home, no longer took the time to breathe.

I got the ball of pasta out of the fridge and cut it in half. Then I went to work on it with the rolling pin, a flood of memories from my first job as a pizza maker back in December '79 filling my head as I gave the smooth timber a light dusting of flour before rolling it across the pasta.

I worked it into a long thin surfboard shape. It was now ready for some fine tuning from the machine. We ran it through about three times, adjusting the thickness each time by turning a knob on the side of the machine which narrowed the gap between the rollers. The machine gives you the options of making lasagna sheets, fettuccine or spaghetti. 

I figured we'd make fettuccine. If my recipe was wrong, the machine would be more forgiving with fettuccine ('cos it's wide) rather than spaghetti (which might break as it's lifted away from the machine). My daughter fed the pasta through the machine while turning the handle. I gently took the strands of pasta from the other side and rolled them around my knuckles to form them into little 'nests';

Geez, only four? That'll feed two people. I took another sip of my whatever-the-hell-this-drink-is (Aperol, Martini white vermouth, soda water) and looked over at my daughter.; "Okay, Sister Sledge, grab some more eggs and flour. We're making another batch."

I made another drink while she mixed up the two flours on the chopping board. This second batch took even less time to prepare, since we now had the hang of the whole process.

Once completed, we had three trays of pasta. I brought them into the lounge room, where my wife was seated on the couch with a magazine, and placed them gently on the ottoman stool in direct afternoon sunlight for about 20 minutes to dry them out a little.

The next evening, it was time to try this pasta. I was hoping it would cook properly. My main concern was that these ribbons of pasta might break or snap while cooking, resulting in a congealed mess.
I got a large pot of water on the boil and added just a dash of salt. The past cooked in three or four minutes, reaching its al dente state pretty quickly.
When cooking pasta, it needs to reach that point where, when you bite through it, you shouldn't see any white in the middle of the bitten-off piece, but the pasta should still offer some slight resistance to the bite.
This is al dente, which translates literally into 'to the tooth'. It's not so much your taste buds that determine when pasta is cooked.
It's your teeth and your eyes.

The bolognese (pronounced 'Bollon-yeah-zeh', not 'Bollog-nayz') sauce that my wife made was the perfect one for this meal.
The pasta held together nicely and tasted surprisingly good - considering it was my first time - , but what took me back 40 or so years was the feel of the pasta on my teeth and palate. Not smooth. Each strand had a certain texture or roughness to it.
If I had closed my eyes right then, I would have thought my mother had made it.
And I probably would have burst into tears. 
That's my Italian side coming out. 
Wristwatch-wise, I wore the Hamilton Khaki Auto. I've ordered a couple of NATO straps for this watch, from a site called...

Cheapest NATO

...which was started by a young lady in Sweden in an attempt to offer these nylon straps at low prices. She soon expanded into stocking other types of watch straps.
The COVID-19 situation has resulted in a sharp drop in sales on her site. Subsequently, she posted news on Instagram about a current sale of all stock at up to 70% off her usual low pricing.

I purchased a couple of bare-bones leather straps from them about five years ago and they weren't great, but their other items have been very good quality and value. Maybe I'll take another look at those bare-bones leather straps. In any event, I decided to get a couple of nylon NATO straps and a couple of leather NATOs as well. To give the watch a real WWII vibe.
Real or imagined.

The Hamilton will see more time on the wrist as a 'beater', which is a term used by collectors to refer to a watch that's used for rough duty and runs a higher risk of getting scratched, nicked or dented. I figured this watch might look a little better with a few battle scars, even if they only occur while pulling out weeds in the front lawn, sanding a strip of timber or taking out the rubbish.

Since my last post, I also wore...

The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date, from circa 1996. This is the 36mm model and, on a bracelet, it has a nice Jazz Age vibe to it, even though its design dates back to the late 1930s rather than the decade previous.

The 36mm Omega Railmaster, from 2009. This one hasn't been getting a lot of wear, but whenever I do put it on, it stays on for a few days at a time.

And the 2017 Movember Edition Oris Divers SixtyFive, seen here on top of a recipe book that I was sifting through one day. I jotted down a few notes and bookmarked a few pages here and there which featured basic recipes for staple dishes. I want to try making a vegetable stock sometime, as my aim is to try and re-create a thin broth or brodo with butterfly pasta in it. Butterfly pasta is not made from butterflies, in case you're wondering. In Italian, a bow-tie is called a farfalla, which is what Italians also call a butterfly, since their shapes are similar. Butterfly pasta is usually quite small. You could balance one on your thumbnail, so they therefore make a nice pasta for a chicken or vegetable broth.

This is the old gate that leads through to the side passage-way of our house. I decide to try and fix it. Upon closer inspection however, I noticed that the timber had rotted beyond repair and also. one of the hinges had snapped off due to rust. Stupidly, I decided to use this old gate as the template for a new one. Now, I should point out that I'm no handyman. Sure, I built some bookshelves a few years ago, but there's not one straight line to be found in them. That's okay. A neighbour of ours (who is a carpenter) described these bookshelves as 'rustic'. "If anybody asks, that what you call them", he said.
Regarding this gate, I should have just gone out and bought a new one. Which would have cost me about $135.oo, and I could have (probably) modified it to fit the doorway where it was meant to go.
Anyway, without going too much into the details, it required much measuring, re-measuring, cutting and sanding, a lot of swearing, and finally, some repeated going-over with a plane, on both the edge of the gate and the door-frame, but I finally got it done and hung.

Not a perfect job, but it will do. If it falls apart by next Summer, I'll just measure the door-frame and take another stab at making a new gate from scratch. The piece of timber on the right-hand side needs to be painted and I also want to cut away the lower section of the central slat in the gate to create a small  opening for the cats to get through the next time they're being chased by a neighbour's dog. 
Not sure about the rope on the top left. I'm not really crazy about putting in a new latch because I don't like the choices from my local hardware chain. Basically, they have one latch to choose from and it's just like the old one, as seen in the photo above.
No thanks.
Also, after spending longer on this gate than I had planned, I don't wanna look at the damned thing anymore for a while.
Still, it hangs true and straight along the hinged edge. Which was surprising.
Next up, a seven-foot tall, 12-inch wide bookshelf, to go between two larger shelves in the study. Let's see if that ends up taking me six or seven weeks.

My wife and I went for a walk one morning and chanced across this beauty. No seats, no steering wheel, no engine, no bonnet (hood), but somebody's gonna spend some time and money bringing this thing back to life. Best of luck to them. Who doesn't love a Mustang? Looks like one of the early ones from late 1964. And I know nothing about cars.

You know what, gang? This post has gotten long and, while other stuff has happened, I think I'll end it here and start a new post.

I'm feeling a little stale with this one.

Stay safe and thanks for reading!

*Recipe taken from;

Ferrigno, U. (2006) Ursula Ferrigno's complete Italian cookery course. 1st ed. Great Britain: Mitchell Beazley, pp.12-17. 

I had a different recipe taken from the weekly epicurean section of a local newspaper, but once I'd read and re-read both recipes, I decided that Ferrigno's was the more straight-forward one.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Wednesday April 15th, 2020 - Strange Days Indeed, RIP Miss Galore, More Spy Fiction + Recent Wristwatches.

This post began with my thoughts on COVID-19. Toilet paper shortages, panic buying, hand-washing, elbow-bumps, social distancing, etc, etc.

But then I thought that there's nothing I can say about this that hasn't already been said. And you all have your own thoughts, views, opinions, ideas and fears about your corner of this world and how to navigate your way through it at this time.

My hope is that we'll all come out the other side of this with a better understanding of ourselves (and our resilience), a stronger appreciation of each other, and a better idea of what we all think is important. 
I just hope it doesn't take too great a toll on us all in the process.
If there was ever a time to exercise a little stoicism, this is it. 

Anyway, much as I may plan to avoid it, this post will no doubt show where the Coronavirus ripple-effect has impacted my life and where it hasn't. The pictures of whatever wristwatches I've been wearing lately are all part of a show-must-go-on mentality that I've chosen to adopt.
Amid this chaos, I'd like to stick as close to a normal life as possible. 
Otherwise, this virus has beaten me already, hasn't it?

The 1st edition copy of The Honourable Schoolboy arrived sometime in March, thus concluding my hunt for Le Carré's 'Karla Trilogy' of the 1970s.

I bought tickets to something called Skyfall In Concert, which was to be performed on April 4th. Basically, the film would be blasted up on the big screen while the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra re-created the music score down in the pit. I bought four tickets back in August last year, knowing that it would be eight months before we'd be sitting down to this performance.
Well, I got an email a couple of weeks ago stating that this show would be postponed (better than cancelled, I guess) until a later date, when this whole COVID-19 mess eases off. Add this to the news that the new Bond film, No Time To Die, has had its release date pushed forward to November. 
The delay of the Bond film was petitioned by a couple of Bond Blog websites, most notably and;

Sure, I'm ticked off about it all, but not too much. It makes perfect sense to delay the release. Yeah, it's a financial decision first, and a health concern second (call me cynical), but there's no point screening a movie to an empty theatre. Other films have also had their release dates reshuffled.
No big deal, really. It's not like we all don't have other, more important issues to deal with over the next six months or so.
This poster here is a fantastic fan artwork, done by somebody named @thrice_champ over on Instagram and it's reminiscent of old film poster art before photography took over.

Early March...

I took a week off from work. Didn't go anywhere, just stayed home and took it easy. It had been a very busy start to the year and I was feeling like I needed a break.

The week ticked along smoothly enough and I managed to get a few things done. When I got back to work after this short break, there was a mountain of e-mails waiting for me. No biggie. I'd work my way through them. More disconcerting was the fact that nobody had done anything with regard to repairs while I was away. This meant that I had 15 completed repairs to do paperwork for and ship out, 16 new repairs to book in, and about a dozen repairs to prepare quotes for. Left undisturbed, this would take me about a week to sort out. Of course, between phone calls and e-mails, as well as co-workers distracting me, this time-frame dragged out. On top of this, each day brought a few more new repairs to book in, a few more new quotes to write up, and a few more new completed repairs to ship out, so it took me longer than anticipated to get it all under control.
Three weeks, actually. By the time I had it all reined in, I felt like I needed another holiday.

I wore the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph at the start of the month. Seen here with an old chess clock that needs some repair or servicing to the movements. I don't know how to play chess, so I suppose there's that to look forward to one day. 
I have this clock on the Cold War espionage fiction shelf because it was manufactured in Western Germany and it has a certain utilitarian aesthetic in its design.

The Sinn has been getting a little more wear recently. Towards the end of the month, I made a decision to wear watches that had adequate water resistance, considering how much regular hand-washing that's been recommended to us all. 
With everything that's going on at the moment, one less thing to worry about is probably a good idea.

And here comes a typecast...

Needless to say, I got a tad distracted by recent events and the first casualty was my time spent reading fiction. I'll get back into the book in the next day or two. 
Daily circumstances can change with little notice, with regard to work hours, grocery requirements, etc, so getting back into regular reading could be tricky. 

I'm writing this section on March 28th and we had a meeting at work on Friday regarding reduced work hours (along with the requisite reduction in pay) and it just may be that April starts with shorter working weeks. That's unless our government here gets around to finally announcing a complete nationwide lock-down. 

My son's employer has suspended all casual staff for the time being. He was one of them. He works at a nearby motel in their restaurant. It's a big place and they just haven't been getting any lunch or dinner bookings in recent weeks. He's been told that they'll gladly call him back once business improves. 

My wife was let go from her job a couple of weeks ago, although that's not as bad as it sounds. She's been working in the funeral industry for the last two years as an arranger/conductor and she had just started out at this new agency on a casual basis, to help out one of the owners, whom she used to work with. Being a new agency, they had their work cut out for them, since there is some competition from two other agencies in the same suburb. 
At any rate, business has been quiet over the past month and they couldn't afford to keep her on. It didn't bother her because she had only been there about six weeks and was still looking for full-time employment anyway. Not only that, but she had enrolled in a counselling course online as well.

At the time of writing this portion (April 4th), my work hours will be reduced to three days a week, along with the requisite drop in pay, and this will continue till the end of the month. The situation will then be reviewed, to determine whether or not we dip into our annual leave hours or go on leave without pay throughout May or June.
Glass half-full, folks. Glass half-full.

I spotted this book on eBay;

Yes, yes, I already have it in both paperback and hardcover, but this one looked interesting because it was an uncorrected proof copy. This is a pre-publication draft that needs to be checked for errors. I thought it would be interesting to see if Le Carré's draft was different to the published novel.

The starting bid was seven bucks. By auction's end, I was the winning bidder. I got it for the opening bid of seven bucks. Now, the Seller's description of the book left a lot to be desired. It merely stated; 'Book'.
I contacted the Seller the next day to ask if the book in the picture was indeed the one that I would receive. I got a reply stating that the book had already been sent and they had no way to check.
Okay, no problem. I could always wait until the book arrived.
Well, the book arrived about ten day's later and it looked like this -->
Was I ticked off? Should I have asked the necessary questions of the Seller prior to placing a bid? Yes and yes, but that didn't stop me from contacting the Seller to voice my disappointment, stating that the book I received was not the one listed in the photo. I could have bought a cheap paperback copy of this book for under five bucks from any thrift store or second-hand bookseller in my neck of the woods, so why would I spend seven bucks plus fifteen dollars shipping on something like the book that they sent me?
Now, I know that booksellers on eBay will often state; Item in photo for illustrative purposes only.
Now, they didn't say that in the listing, and they used a picture of an Uncorrected Proof copy, even though a quick Google search of this book in paperback will throw up a bunch of pictures. So therefore, I felt they had been underhanded with their listing, especially given that the description could have been a little less 'zen' on their part.

I got a reply next day saying that they included the ISBN number of the book and I should have used that information to determine exactly what copy of the book they were actually listing.  The International Standards Book Number is a book's 'fingerprint', and no two are alike.
I called BS on that, saying that nobody cross-references the ISBN number of a book on eBay. That's what the photos and description are for. I reminded them of their super-concise description, adding that this further enhanced the shady nature of the listing, and I told them that I had no desire to ship the book back to them because I didn't want to be further out-of-pocket.

They replied that they would refund me the full price as a courtesy. I thought it was the least they could do, since they're basically big, fat liars.

In other Le Carré book-related news, I bought a copy of his latest work, Agent Running in the Field;

While it would have been swell and cool to have bought a signed 1st edition hard-cover copy of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I just couldn't justify spending $500 bucks. So, I thought I'd see what else I could find. A bit of searching across eBay landed me this;

I recall a few book signings from my days working at the first Borders bookstore in Australia back in '98.   American crime writer Lawrence Block was in-store for a reading from his latest Matt Scudder book called Everybody Dies (ISBN: 9780380725359 - Yessiree, I can do this ALL day!), and I remember this middle-aged married couple who brought in a shopping bag filled with Block's novels in paperback. They were hoping that he'd sign them.  
All of them.

"Do you think we brought too many?", the wife asked me, with a slightly worried look on her face.
"Yes, I think so", was my reply. "Only because the other customers might get ticked off waiting while he signs all of them, I added, surveying the line of people queuing up to the table where Block would sit to sign copies of his new book.
They then began to sift through their collection, in an effort to pick a handful of favourites for him to sign.

Anyway, enough about them. They left the store smiling, when all was said and done, and I met Lawrence Block and he laughed at one of my gags, about how Melbourne can look like parts of New York if you're drunk enough.
He was a nice guy, even if he hadn't laughed at my joke. And it was great hearing him read the first chapter of his book. You get a sense of the 'rhythm' of the writing when you hear its author reading it out aloud.
Before he left the store, I headed over to the Genre Fiction section (I was the Supervisor of that area of the store), grabbed a copy of his first book, The Sins of the Fathers and took it over to him. He opened it up to the title page and wrote; To Teeritz, Keep this one and sell all the others! and then he signed his name below that.
Cool. Just cool.

So yeah, it was great to get this copy of Le Carré's book with his signature in it.
I took the long way to say it, didn't I? And yes, I did pay for the book after he signed it.

Wore the Seiko SKX031 to do some fence painting. Managed to get some paint onto the fence too!

You may recall me mentioning in my previous post that I'll need to have a titanium implant to replace a root canal that I had done a few years ago.
As well as that, I did have an Orthopedic appointment at a nearby hospital scheduled for March, to discuss the bunions that I'll need to attend to at some point.
Well, this COVID-19 situation has meant that firstly, hospitals announced that all elective surgeries have been postponed for the time being, to keep beds and medical staff available for Coronavirus patients.
Secondly,  dentists have stated that they'll only take on emergency dental work for the time being. I may just contact my dentist to see if he's in limbo as well. Mind you, this procedure's gonna end up costing me about six or seven grand, so if I have to wait a little longer, that's probably not a bad thing.

Sold this watch in March as well.

It's the 2005 model Omega AquaTerra and in recent years, it just wasn't getting any time on the wrist, so I thought it made better sense to move it along. I have a few other vintage pieces that are currently being serviced and I'll be getting rid of those too. Regular readers may know that I've been meaning to thin down the collection for some time, and so, I finally got around to doing so.
Next up will be a couple of cameras, some fountain pens and maybe a typewriter or two that just aren't getting enough use to hold on to. 

I've said this before. There was a time when I would mourn the death of an actor or actress who had made it to a ripe old age. Nowadays, when I read of the passing of a celebrity who was in their '80s or '90s and I look back on what they achieved in both their professional and personal lives, I feel a sense of celebration and gratitude that they left us a body of work to enjoy. We're now reaching an age where a lot of actors of the 1950s and '60s will begin to shuffle off their mortal coils. The Bond Girl line-up has already taken some hits in recent years, most recently with the deaths of Eunice Gayson (the first Bond Girl, Sylvia Trench, in Dr No, 1962) in 2018 and Claudine Auger (Domino Derval in Thunderball, 1965) in December 2019.

Earlier this week, we lost Honor Blackman, who starred as the controversially named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger in 1964. Blackman was born in 1925 and worked as a dispatch rider during WWII. She was under 20 years old! That alone makes her super-cool in my book.
<-- This photograph to the left 'borrowed' from

She went on to a career in theatre, film and television, most notably as Cathy Gale in The Avengers in 1961, where she starred opposite Patrick Macnee's urbane John Steed.
Her character was a skilled martial artist and she became a role model for a generation of women. She left The Avengers when she was offered the Bond gig and went on to other roles in film, but never achieved huge stardom on the big screen. Her career continued with regular work in theatre throughout her later years as well as further television appearances. Goldfinger long ago earned its status as a classic Bond film for so many reasons, and one of them was Honor Blackman.
She died at home, of natural causes, at the age of 94.

I wore the Oris Movember Edition Divers SixtyFive at some point. Sabre-Tooth is the second book in the Modesty Blaise series of '60s spy novels written by Peter O'Donnell.
I grew up occasionally reading the comic-strip version of Modesty Blaise which was published in The Sun newspaper back in the '70s and '80s. From what I know of the character, she's an agent-for-hire and she has a male assistant by the name of Willie Garvin. A film was made back in the mid-Sixties with Monica Vitti as Blaise. Beyond that, I don't know much else. I'll see if I can hunt up the first book in the series. Entitled Modesty Blaise (natch), it's readily available on eBay.

 The 1969 hand-wound Seiko Skyliner also saw some daylight over the last month or so. This is a clean piece. With a diameter of 37mm, it's a little larger than the majority of similarly-styled watches of its era, but this slightly larger sizing gives it a modern feel and a nice presence on the wrist. The dial is clean and in very good condition, considering its age, and it  gives the impression that this watch was well looked-after by its previous owner(s). I did in fact see quite a few crappy-condition versions of this watch on eBay selling for a great deal more than what I paid for this one.
Definitely a lucky fluke on my part.

Well, it's now Easter Sunday. Cloudy outside in my neck of the woods. Rained heavily overnight and the lawns are needing a trim. We had a timber decking installed in the side garden area and the next step is to landscape it a little. Like I said at the beginning, the aim is to live life as per normal wherever possible, and if I have a little free time up my sleeve, I ought to try and make the most of it. Maybe take a good stab at some regular exercise too. If it's true that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make a lifestyle, then now's as good a time as any to get started, I suppose.

It's now Wednesday night, April 15th. I'm back at work tomorrow and Friday, and then I'm off until the following Wednesday. It's all very confusing.
Over the past few days, my daughter and I made pasta from scratch, and today, we all planted some bamboo trees in the back-yard.

I wore the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph at some point in March. Like I said, with all the hand-washing going on, a water-resistant watch on a steel bracelet makes more sense.
I hope you're all taking the necessary precautions.  Stay safe, wash your hands, keep your distances, stay home. And stay positive. I've learned over the past year or two that negativity and pessimism all add to a stress level that can really take its toll on your overall mood and your health. Which is why I try to view the glass as half-full wherever possible. Some days, it works easier than others, but persistence is key.

Twenty-one days to make a habit, ninety days to make a lifestyle.

Take care, all, and thank-you for reading!

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Feb 27th, 2020 - New Typewriter, Old Spy, Back to the Books & Recent Wristwatches.

As with just about any typewriter of this era, the rubber feet, on both the machine and the carry case, have hardened and perished, so I'll be looking at replacing those at some point if I can get hold of a thin sheet of rubber. For now, placing the typewriter on a rubber mat does the trick, preventing the machine from veering off to the left as you write. 

The ribbon is pretty faded, although it does give an even imprint on the page. Thankfully, it's a 12pt font, which I prefer to the larger 10pt. Once I load it with say, a purple ribbon, it'll be a very nice typewriter to use. 

I had looked at these Blue Birds and Torpedoes from time to time on eBay, thinking that they'd be a nice typewriter to have. Although, I didn't really need another typewriter, but this one came along at such an easy price (in my neck of the woods) that it was difficult to say 'no'. 

I was wearing the circa 1969 Seiko Skyliner when this typewriter arrived. 

I've gotten back into the reading kick lately. Took me some time, I must say. 
My son read a World War I memoir by German author Ernst Jünger called Storm of Steel. He bought it from Shakespeare & Co when we visited Paris back in 2016. 
Once he'd finished it, he recommended it to my wife and I. I began reading the book and it took me about six months to finish it. It wasn't a bad book. Far from it. Jünger writes very well. For me, the problem was that it was a memoir and his writings of daily life in the trenches of No Man's Land, while very interesting, were repetitive. Constant shelling from the enemy, night-time infiltrations across battlefields into potential enemy territory, skirmishes from one French provincial town to the next. I began to lose track of what had happened whenever I'd pick up from where I had left off. 
However, it was a memoir, so it was probably bound to show the Groundhog Day elements of the life of a soldier in this war. 
Despite that, I would recommend this book. 

After finishing it, I decided I'd stick to wartime fiction and read a couple of Alan Furst's books. He's written a lot of novels set in pre-War Europe and he does write a nice character. 
Then, about three weeks ago, we went out to an Argentinian restaurant for dinner. It was to (belatedly) celebrate our son's birthday. We all had a nice meal and then went for a short walk in the city. 
We stopped in at The Paperback, a tightly-packed bookstore at the top end of Bourke St that I discovered back around '86. I had a quick scan through the fiction shelves and was contemplating buying a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker when I spotted a book by a fellow named Mick Herron. It was called Slow Horses and it was about a lowly sub-branch of British Intelligence where failed agents had been shunted off to, to perform menial tasks like reading transcripts of phone text messages and other crappy jobs. 
This misfit, rag-tag bunch pretty much hate each other and their boss is a guy named Jackson Lamb, a belching, overweight, unkempt has-been agent who pretty much keeps to himself in his own office.
And then, a young man is kidnapped and his captors announce online that he will be beheaded in 48 hours and the footage will be streamed across the web.

I had heard about Mick Herron on a podcast called Spybrary, where it was suggested that he'd be a good Bond continuation author. Whether or not that's true, once I read the blurb on this back cover, I was sold.

I wore the Oris Movember Edition Divers SixtyFive at some point;

Very comfortable on a nylon NATO strap. Regarding Slow Horses, it moves along at a good clip, and it does tend to have a cinematic feel to it, in terms of its structure and the way that the story unfolds. Although, in some ways, it seems unfilmable.
Still, it's a much more competently put-together story than some books I've read which contain very clichéd characters and situations.
I stopped reading one thriller, even though the premise was interesting because, aside from the clichéd main character, the second or maybe third chapter began with a the introduction of a female senator who's having an affair with a young intern. She's in her mid-50s and looks good for her age. She's using him because he's 27 and has a young man's stamina between the sheets. He, of course, is using her in an effort to get ahead in the corridors of power in Washington. It felt like an episode of some B-grade TV drama. As I get older, I have less patience for books, TV and movies that start to disappoint me. Too much good stuff out there to waste time on crap.
And I ain't gettin' any younger, hepcats.

I've read recently that a TV series of Slow Horses is in the works, and I think in some ways,  it'll test the ingenuity of the people involved. Be interesting to see how it shapes up.

Onto more spy-related stuff. Courtesy of the newly-arrived Blue Bird. Gave it a good run with the page below and I'm very happy with how it writes.

I've had these three Len Deighton paperbacks since the mid/late 1980s.
They form the "Game, Set & Match" trilogy, which concern the exploits of a British Intelligence operative named  Bernard Samson. He spends almost as much time dealing with inter-office back-stabbing as he does at Checkpoint Charlie.

Don't ask me to tell you what happens in these books because I read them over thirty years ago. As luck would have it, I saw all three of these in hardcover at a local Thrift store and decided to snap them up. A week later, I took the paperback copies in. No point holding on to both.
Always loved the cover art of these. They were from a time when Len Deighton's works could be found in any bookstore. And, much like some of the Robert Ludlum paperbacks from the same era - when the author's name was printed on the cover in almost as large a font as the title - the back covers would offer a brief premise of the story along with snippets from reviews of the author's previous works.

Deighton, who turns 91 today (18th Feb) went on to write two more trilogies featuring Samson, but he has been a prolific writer for almost sixty years, having begun his novel writing career in 1962 with The IPCRESS File, which leans more towards the work of Le Carré than Fleming.
Like I said earlier, I love the cover art on these books. Done by the legendary Raymond Hawkey, who did some of the Bond paperback artworks in the 1960s, as well as the original hardcover art for The IPCRESS File. 

Anyway we had a cold weekend here recently and it seemed like a good time to cover some books. It was one of those niggling little jobs that I've been putting off for the last five years or so. I have a roll of library-quality book covering plastic and I decided that some hardback novel dust jackets could do with a little protection.
And, since I seem to have my fair share of espionage fiction that could do with some TLC, I figured I'd get started with those.
Because every spy needs a decent cover.

First cab off the rank was my first edition copy of The Man With The Golden Gun, featuring the wonderful trompe l'oeil artwork by Richard Chopping. This jacket has seen better days, so I was concerned about it possibly getting worse. Chopping's Bond covers always had a few recurring motifs running through them. Often, the items in the artwork were seen positioned on timber, showing the grain of the wood, and he (Chopping) seemed to have a fascination with flies, as they appear in a couple of the nine covers that he painted.  This one shows a gold-plated Colt Single Action Army, the weapon of choice used by Paco 'Pistols' Scaramanga, the freelance assassin who has a golden bullet reserved for Mr James Bond OO7.
I've written about these covers before. I love everything about them. The washed-out colours used, the often macabre arrangement of items, the pale timber backgrounds, and the inspired use of Cargo-Crate font for the text on the covers.
Some, like From Russia With Love or The Spy Who Loved Me are highly romanticised, instantly evoking Bond's world of sex and violence, while others, such as You Only Live Twice show something somewhat morbid and hint that the world of the novels is off-kilter.

At some point in January, I wore the Longines Heritage 1951. It has a much fuller name, but I get tired of writing it. Okay, for the last time, it's the Longines Heritage 1951 Expeditions Polaires Francaises - Missions Paul-Emile Victor.

There have been a couple of occasions in recent years where I've thought about selling this one, but whenever I wear it, I'm newly impressed with the simplicity and clarity of the dial.
It's a clean piece.

The book covering continued, and threatened to get out of hand, as I kept going back to the shelves to get yet another book that could do with a little more protection. The roll of plastic that I have had been stored away for almost ten years. And now here I am, about to run out of the stuff.

Anyway, the three Deighton hardbacks got the plastic treatment;

 As did the hardback 1st edition copy of Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy;

I can now finally get rid of the paperback version, that I've held on to since the Summer of '81. I even made a bookmark for it back then.
This post has taken so long that I've actually finished reading the book. As suspected, I was finally ready to read this novel and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Definitely deserves its status as a classic of the genre. And yes, it is a character-driven book and the characters are nicely realised.
I don't plan on reading the next book in this trilogy (The Honourable Schoolboy) just yet, as I'm still letting this first one settle.

Okay, I think I'll stop this post here. It's threatening to get much longer than I'd planned. I'll write a second part about the book covering, if any of you are interested, and that'll form the beginning of the next post, I suppose.

I wore the Oris Divers SixtyFive a few times throughout January. Here it is, in a small Japanese bistro where I sometimes go for a Yakiniku Beef bento.
I've gotten into a bad habit of buying my lunch a little too often in recent months. Anything decent and/or filling tends to cost about twelve bucks. Multiply that by five and that's an easy $60.oo gone right there.
My wife considers it a right waste of money and I tend to agree.  I'll go back to bringing in sandwiches or left-overs on a more regular basis.

I visited my dentist earlier this week and it seems that the root canal that I had done a few years ago has begun to crack and the tooth can't be salvaged. So, I'll be requiring a titanium implant. I have numerous items in line to sell, and a little bit saved in an account that I slowly sock money into each month. So, if I apply some tighter discipline with lunch, it shouldn't be too hard to get the funds together over the next three to six months.
I've stopped spending on coffee at work ever since we got a Nespresso machine in the office. Not my ideal, but A), it doesn't cost me anything, and B), I'm drinking a little less coffee throughout the day. Most days, anyway.

Anyway, more about that in my next post.
I hope you're all well, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, 12 January 2020

My Most-Worn Watches of 2019 - According to Instagram

As my blog posting regularity took a sharp nose-dive during 2019, I wasn't able to sift through posts to see which of my wristwatches got the most wear throughout the year. Reason being, the numbers were gonna be slightly skewed due to the fact that the blog didn't provide a true representation of the watches worn during the year.
Nevertheless, I posted often enough on Instagram (I'm @tinzer0 over there) and was therefore able to use those posts to compile the necessary stats. 

I've tallied up the numbers, based on which watches were worn for more than two or three days of any particular week. As such, it's never an exact figure, but it gives me a good idea of the watches that got the most wear. There were a few watches that got equal results and a few new pieces arrived throughout the year and these also got their (limited) time in the spotlight. 

I have to say that some of the results were surprising.

And so, here we go.

1) Rolex Submariner 5513 (1982 model) 

I took 66 photos of this one in an attempt to whittle down to two or three worth using. Not sure if I'm entirely happy with the ones I used.
And yes, I have multiple copies of each Fleming book. Bond fans are forever...

That OO7 double-bill that I saw in the Summer of '75 had a profound effect on me, as I've written here before. Roger Moore's first two outings as Bond were Live And Let Die (1973) and The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), both directed by Guy Hamilton, and we saw Bond sporting a Rolex Submariner 5513 in both these films. 
Production photos have surfaced in recent years which show Moore also wearing a Tissot PR516 dive watch in some scenes in Live And Let Die and it appears that this was his personal wristwatch. 
Continuity was a little lax back then.

Anyway, back to my Sub 5513. I wore it throughout 24 weeks of last year. This was a surprise to me, since I thought it had gotten considerably less wear. I knocked this watch against a door frame in August 2018 and the bezel and crystal came away from the case. The watchmaker that I work with replaced the crystal with a more correct one and then gave it a clean bill of health. 
Still, I remained a little cautious with the watch for the remainder of that year. 
It is a richer man's watch, as I've often said, and I've tended to baby it a little as a result. Getting these things repaired is not a cheap endeavour. 
In saying that, though, it is meant to be worn, after all, so I soon got over any fears and began wearing it a little more throughout 2019.
I'm just careful not to wear it on any occasions or instances where there's a possibility of damaging it.                                                                               

At some point this year, I considered selling it. Then I thought of how I'd wanted one since the Summer of '75. I finally got it in the Summer of 2015.
That alone makes for a compelling argument. 
My watch dealer buddy Mike has said I should keep this watch and sell everything else. Easier said than done.  Besides, this watch is probably not as water-resistant today as it was in 1982, so this would not be a practical watch for this reason alone.
It does need a little work done to it. The crown, when fully screwed down, does still stick out a tiny fraction more than I'd like it to, and I'd like to replace the bezel insert as well. The watchmaker colleague of mine is happy to do the work when he has the time, whenever that will be. 
For now, I'll just be content to wear it as is. 
Either way, I have my name down on a waiting list for a Tudor Black Bay 58;

This watch, based on an older Tudor design from the 1950s, measures a beautiful 39mm in diameter and it has enough design cues from its Submariner big brother to interest me.
There's a distinct possibility that, if I do wind up getting one, I may wear it enough to the point where I just might get rid of the Rolex.
Maybe. Just maybe. 
This Tudor presents enough old-school aesthetics while offering a modern sapphire crystal and 200m of water-resistance. The hands and markers are a soft creamy-white and the minute track and bezel numerals are done in gilt.
On top of that, the movement has a staggering 70-hour power reserve. Take it off on Friday night after work, pick it up on Monday morning and it'll still be running. 
There was a stampede towards Tudor dealers shortly after this watch was premiered at the BaselWorld Watch Fair in 2018, hence the waiting lists for this model. I visited three stores (two of which I used to work at) and put my name down for this watch. 
I'll write more about that one day.

2) Oris Divers SixtyFive (Movember Edition model, 2017)

This one was another surprise. I wore it in 22 weeks of the year. Produced in limited numbers (exact figure not known) to commemorate the Movember Foundation and its efforts to raise awareness of and funds for issues related to men's health, this watch measured the classic, vintage dive watch size of 40mm in diameter, but utilised the dial layout of the larger 42mm Divers SixtyFive model that was released the previous year.
Oris soon released other 40mm Divers SixtyFive models with a similar layout to this one and this range has been quite a success for the brand.

This is one of those watches that seems to work very well on just about any strap you put on it. The same can be said for the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Speedmaster Professional. Because of this, you can change up the look of this watch to your heart's content. I got it with the original minimal-stitch brown leather strap (which had the Movember moustache logo embossed on it), but soon purchased the corresponding metal bracelet for it. In these photos, it's one the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Tropic rubber strap. Tropic straps were first introduced in the early 1960s and could be found on a myriad number of dive watches back then, in the days when SCUBA diving started becoming a popular recreational pastime. These straps can be identified by their checkerboard pattern and diamond-punched holes. I've seen vintage NOS (New Old Stock- never used, but long since out of production) Tropic straps for sale on the web in recent years, commanding ridiculous prices upwards of three hundred dollars. Call me cynical, but a forty or fifty year-old piece of rubber won't be as strong now as it was when it was new. I base this on experience. Rubber hardens over the years, then it becomes brittle, and then it begins to split/crack.

I've bought silicone rubber Tropic straps in the past and, while they do look good and tend to last a while, they also do attract dust and lint like nobody's business. These Oris Tropic straps don't appear to attract dust or lint.
Being rubber, they make for a very comfy fit, which is ideal for the warmer months.

3) Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic 40mm (2019)

I bought a Hamilton Khaki Field Officer's Mechanical back in 2011. Wrote a review on it too;

Hamilton Khaki Mechanical 44mm Hand-wound | REVIEW

While I've always liked the watch, I found it just a little too large. With a diameter of forty-four millimetres, it absolutely dwarfed my 6.5 inch wrist.
Yes, I purposely went for a watch that would look like some wartime SOE agent's piece of kit (as far as my head was concerned), but I just found this watch too large. For sentimental reasons, I held onto it because it housed the Unitas 6498 hand-wound movement which was developed in the 1950s for use in pocket watches. This is a 16 ligne movement (meaning that it's pretty large) and therefore, most watches using this calibre will tend to be in the 44mm diameter range.
However, despite the fact that it contained this well-respected movement in it, I wasn't giving it enough wear, so I spent about six months mulling it over before deciding on moving this one along and replacing it with another Hamilton Khaki model in a slightly more apt size for my wrist.
The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic, in a more forgiving 40mm diameter;

This one sits better on my wrist, while still retaining the slightly oversized aesthetic of my earlier Khaki model. The tan coloured suede strap gives it a nice 'hunting-Rommel-in-North-Africa-circa-1942' vibe as well.

Wore it quite a bit over Winter and it clocked up 20 weeks on the wrist as a result. 
I considered going for the deep black dialed model with white hands and hour markers, but felt that it would too closely resemble my previous model. So, after looking at the complete (and varied) range of field watches in the Khaki series, I opted for the black dial with patinated hands and markers. These give the impression that the watch has aged. Personally, I normally don't go for this faux patina look, as it has come to be known, but I can forgive it on this Hamilton Khaki because it suits the overall look of the watch.

The main appeal of this watch was the movement. It's an ETA Calibre H-10, which provides a staggering 80-hour power reserve. Virtually any other watch in this price range* will run a maximum of 38 to 42 hours. Eighty hours means that you can take it off on a Friday night and it'll still be running on Monday morning.
I've treated this watch with respect since I got it, but I think it may look nice when it begins getting a few nicks and scratches over time.
To give it a world-weary, been there-done that kind of look.

*There are other, similarly-priced brands which house the H-10 calibre and, like Hamilton, they are owned by The Swatch Group.

4) Omega Railmaster Co-Axial, 36.2mm (2009 model)

Ian Fleming's fifth Bond novel has nothing to do with this Omega watch, except for the fact that the book was published in 1957, the same year that the original Railmaster model was released. It was a sparse, no-nonsense wristwatch, aimed at those who worked in proximity to machinery which emitted electrical currents and high magnetic interference. The original Railmasters were fitted with an iron case over the movement, which acted as a Faraday cage and helped prevent it from becoming magnetised, as this would affect the timekeeping of the watch. 
(Special thanks to for the information used in that last sentence). 
This modern Railmaster doesn't have an anti-magnetic protection, as it is fitted with a see-through case-back which showcases the movement of the watch.

There are times when all I want is a watch that tells the time clearly and without fuss. This Railmaster is perfect for that. It was worn through 13 weeks of the year. 
Released in 2003 in a 39.2mm and 42.2mm size, this 36.2mm model came out a couple of years later. This series was discontinued in 2011 or so. 
Sales of the Railmaster series were never high, based on what I saw during my decade working at a wristwatch boutique, as the majority of customers wanted a watch with a date window.
The shorter production run of the 36mm model, plus the fact that this was considered small back in the days of the BIG WATCH craze, means that there are seemingly fewer of these on the second-hand market these days. Good. 
If I had one quibble about this watch, it would probably be the clasp. It's based on an Omega design dating back to the early Nineties and I consider it to be a little flimsy. Aside from that, I can't fault this watch at all. 
A definite keeper. 
If you want to read my review from 2013;

Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Automatic (36.2mm) | REVIEW

It got a little out of hand, and I spent considerable time staging the photos, but it was fun.

4 - Equal Place) Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 42mm (2007 model)

When the Planet Ocean Co-Axial was first released back in 2005, it had a retail price of $3,650.ooAUD. If you want to purchase the current iteration of this watch, it'll cost you $9,250.ooAUD.
Granted, there are some considerable changes to the current model, most notably it now contains a fully in-house movement, better anti-magnetic properties, more high-tech materials, and longer service intervals.

In saying that, there's no way that I can justify this price to myself. Besides, they made some slight tweaks to the overall design over the years and I much prefer the look of my watch compared to the current model.
I wore this one through 13 weeks of the year, like the Railmaster. This is one of the heavier watches that I own. Measuring 42.5mm in diameter, it wears just slightly larger than I would prefer. If it were a 40 or 41mm case, it would be a perfect dive watch.

There have been times when I've wondered about the thickness of the case and whether or not it's due to the increased water-resistance of 600 metres that this watch is rated to. This level of w/r is a tad overkill, in my view, but I suppose that Omega wanted to create a heavy-duty diver's watch that would double the depth rating of its traditional rival Rolex. The Submariner has 300m water-resistance, although the Rolex brand also had the Sea Dweller model back then which was rated down to 1,220 metres.

As mentioned, it's one of my heavier watches, but that's part of its appeal for me. I like the reassuring weight of it. The sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating on it, making for a very legible dial, and the overall layout of it means that it can't be mistaken for a Rolex Submariner. This dial contains plenty of DNA from the classic Seamaster 300 dive watch of the 1960s, and this model was a nicely done update of that design.

5) Oris Diver SixtyFive, 40mm, Blue & Black dial, (2016)

Okay, so if you look at the above-list of watches so far, you'll notice 75% of them are dive watches. Yes, I have a penchant for dive watches. And yes, I mean 'no', I don't dive. I just like dive watches.
Maybe it's because I saw Bond wear one when I was a kid.
Maybe it's because they're water-resistance is more than I'll ever need.
Maybe it's because they're (generally) very legible.
Maybe it's because, aside from the Bond connection, they also conjure up images in my mind of undersea documentaries from the Sixties and Seventies (Inner Space), and behind-the-scenes photos of National Geographic photographers in far-flung corners of the globe, or journalists reporting from refugee camps in war-torn countries.
Whatever the reason, basically, I like dive watches. To me, they convey a sense of adventure in a modern world.

I reviewed this watch back in October 2018;

Oris Diver SixtyFive 40mm Automatic with Black & Blue Dial | REVIEW

This watch caught me by surprise. I'd already seen the black-dialed version on numerous occasions and, while I liked the look of it, I didn't want another black dialed dive watch. My stable of them is pretty full.
And then, Oris released this version, featuring a deep cobalt-blue outer ring dial with a black disc in the centre.  Added to this colour combo were four '60s sci-fi font numerals at the cardinal points and legible picket-fence hand-set, all coated in a pale cream luminova, and I knew then that I was a goner.
Hmm, that's a nice looking watch, AND it looks different enough to my other divers, I recall thinking at the time.
This watch is based on an Oris model from 1965, hence the name. More info in my review, which I won't re-hash here.
This is a nice, slim dive watch design. Rated down to 100 metres, your diving purists would argue that this does not make it a true dive watch, but I don't dive (remember?), so it's never going to be an issue for me. I just like it because of its points of difference to my other dive watches.

In low light, the dial can look entirely black. In bright sunlight, it'll look electric blue along the edge, with the black central disc remaining unchanged.
I wore it through 13 weeks of the year and, whereas I also have the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive - which has the same case, hand-set, and bracelet dimensions as this watch - the similarities between these two watches end there. I don't see a case of doubling-up in having both of these watches, since the dials are so different.
Having said that, if I had to get rid of one of them, the Movember model would probably be the one to go, as it has a more traditional dive watch design. This blue & black model looks like nothing else in my collection.

6) Omega Speedmaster Professional (2007 model)

Search the web and you'll find a zillion photos of this watch that are better than mine.
This one got ten weeks of wear last year, mostly over the Winter months, if I recall correctly.
Sure, there are a tonne of collectors out there who don't rate this watch at all. They say it's archaic in this modern age of automatic chronographs. They say it should have a sapphire crystal. They say it should have better water-resistance than 50 metres. They say it should have an applied Omega logo on the dial rather than a printed one. They say it's not really the moonwatch because it doesn't house the legendary Calibre 321 movement in it, which was in the watches that landed on the moon in 1969.
To them, I say BFD. I like this watch because it's virtually unchanged since the mid-Sixties. Moon-landing/NASA-qualified-equipment aside, it's just a very nice example of the kind of chronographs that were made 50 or 60 years ago.

7) Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Small Seconds (circa 1996)

Sometime in mid-2018, I bought one of these in the 33mm diameter, thinking that it just may be large enough to look okay on my wrist.

I was wrong. Despite my small 6.5 inch wrist size, this watch looked a little too petite for my liking. No huge drama. My daughter - she was sixteen at the time - said that she liked 'the aesthetic' of this watch. She's developed a liking for 1920s styling in recent years and this watch, although based on an Oris model from 1938, still has enough design cues from the decade previous.

I kept hunting for the larger-sized model, which measures 36mm, and spotted one on eBay a few months later. It arrived on a leather strap which suited it nicely, but I thought I'd see about getting the metal bracelet for it.
I got the bracelet eventually, but the end-links were a slightly different shape, as it turned out that this bracelet was for a different Oris model from the same era. This would require some 'persuasion' on my part, with the help of the filing blades of my Leatherman Wave and Swiss Army Swiss Champ. I spent a little time filing down to corners of these end-links, giving them a softer, curved point.
As I say, it looks nice on the strap, but A), I have numerous vintage watches fitted with leather straps, and B), I wanted to give this watch a more '1930s aristocrat's wristwatch' kind of vibe. I kept thinking of the classic thriller Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household.
Here's the premise of that novel, courtesy of wikipedia;

The protagonist, an unnamed British sportsman, sets out in the spring of 1938 to see if he can get an unnamed European dictator in the sights of his rifle. Supposedly interested only in the stalk for its own sake, he convinces himself that he does not intend to pull the trigger. Caught while taking aim by the dictator's secret service guards, he is tortured, thrown over a cliff and left for dead.

There's much more to the story than that.

Anyway, I liked the way the watch looked on the bracelet and it got worn throughout nine weeks of 2019. It's got a much lighter feel on the wrist than some other watches that I wore. This is a good thing. For me, anyway. I've met a lot of collectors over the years who have gotten used to a particular size of wristwatch and they would balk at wearing a 36mm watch, despite the fact that this was the yardstick size for a lot of watches throughout the 1960s through to the Eighties.

The dial of this watch is a thing of beauty. Close inspection shows four different textures going on. And then you have applied numerals on it as well. It would feel cluttered, but everything is easy to read on this watch. The date numerals go around the outer edge of the dial and a red crescent cups around the date numeral from a thin central stem. It's all very nicely done and Oris has wisely kept the Big Crown Pointer Date series in production for decades.

This was a nice watch to wear, as it provided a pleasant alternative to the dive watches throughout the year. I remember seeing this model in a Daimaru department store back around 1994. Never got around to buying it back then.
Once I got this one, I had the 33mm model serviced and gave it to my daughter for her seventeenth birthday a few months ago. She's all-set for the Roaring (20) Twenties.

And that's it for another year, as far as what I wore goes.

A few low-priced pieces came in. I used to have a Rado Purple Horse;

I kept this watch for a few years and then sold it. Should've kept it. It worked nicely enough and it would have made a nice daily wearer. But, I was aiming for loftier brands at the time so, I ended up moving this one along.

In recent months, I began looking at vintage watches from more affordable brands and spent a fair few nights scouring eBay for another Purple Horse. Gotta hand it to this brand. With model names like Purple Horse, Green Horse and Golden Gazelle, their watches are worth buying just for the names alone.
Needless to say that I didn't have any luck finding another Purple Horse for the same low price that I paid back in 2007.
But I did spot this one;

It was a circa 1957 Golden Horse. The date wheel shows some scratches across some of the numerals, but the rest of the dial and the hands are in very good condition, considering the age of the watch;

I'm sure that the movement in this watch requires servicing, but a flick of the wrist and you can hear the rotor spin like a fishing reel being cast.
This is one that I'll get serviced sometime soon. I managed to track down a date wheel for the movement and it should (hopefully) fit without any issues when the time comes.
I think I even have a crystal for it which has a small magnifying lens that sits over the date window, just like the 1957 originals.
If I can find it.

I saw this Seiko Skyliner going on eBay one night and pounced on it;

It's a hand-wound model dating back to around 1968. Makes me think of transistor radios, Godzilla, and Toyota Crown sedans.

It's a simple watch, all it does is tell the time. No date. The silver dial is in very good condition and the watch ticks along nicely. While it could be mistaken for any of my other Swiss-made vintage watches, this Skyliner measures a slightly larger 37mm in diameter. This range was introduced in the early 1960s as an affordable dress piece from the Seiko brand.

I don't know much about the Seiko, to be honest. They've always produced affordable watches in virtually every configuration, from dress watch to dive watch and quite a few of these have become well-respected classics among watch collectors.
Aside from that, their Grand Seiko range gives many high level Swiss brands a run for their money.
At either end of the spectrum, you find a level of attention to detail that the Japanese are known for and pride themselves on.

Looking at this model here from the Grand Seiko 'Four Seasons' Collection released earlier in 2019, you can see the level of detail that's gone into the 'Spring' model;

Yep, I have a lot of time (pardon the pun) for Seiko. Speaking of which, one more Seiko joined the stable in 2019. I already wrote about it two posts ago.
Looking to sell the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra that I have, due to the tricky-to-ready hands at certain angles, I felt that it may still be worth having a dress watch with a dark dial. So, I had my eye on the Seiko SARB033 for a while and kept putting off buying one. And then, to help me decide, Seiko discontinued the watch.
So, I figured I'd better snag one before they become harder to find. Not only that, but I noticed the price slowly start to climb as these models became more and more scarce.
Thirty-eight millimetres in diameter, 100m water-resistant, and a little more lume on the hands and dial. It came fitted on a steel bracelet, but I think I just may get a strap for this watch at some point to see how it looks.
Some Seiko fans have dubbed this watch the 'Baby' Grand Seiko due to its resemblance to its more expensive cousins.
There's still a high level of workmanship that goes into the lower-priced Seiko ranges. Even a $60.oo Seiko 5 model punches above its weight. You'd be much better off buying one of those rather than a fake Rolex DateJust on the streets of Phuket.

So that's 2019's wristwatch wearing done and dusted. I plan to get rid of a few watches in 2020. Yes, yes, I've been saying it for the past couple of years, I know. One has already gone, another two are on the chopping block. Then I'll sit down with the collection and really go through it.
I know myself well enough. I'm gonna dredge up all manner of reasons excuses for why I want to keep a particular watch.
One thing's for sure. Actually, two things; 1) I'm a Bond fan, and 2), I like dive watches. Could be tricky.
Still, almost all of the pricier models that I have are worth more today than when I got them, so from an 'investment' point of view, I'm still ahead of the game. Although, I should point out that I hate thinking of my watches from an 'investment' angle because they are meant to be worn, used, enjoyed, etc, without worrying too much about scratching/damaging them, and therefore, affecting their re-sale value.
I often read watch forum posts from people who ask "What's a good watch for investment purposes?"
Dammit, man, buy whatever watch you like and can afford, wear it because it becomes a part of you and your life experiences, and don't worry one bit about 'investment purposes'.
Seriously, you get yourself a nice watch and you wear it on your wedding day, or when your first kid is born, or when you land that big promotion, etc, etc, and can you really consider selling that watch after it's been on your wrist throughout the major events of your life?
Maybe you can.
I know I can't.

Thanks for reading!

And I hope 2020 treats you all kindly!