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!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day 2019 - Work's Been Busy, Two(!) New Cameras, Another Bond Girl Gone & Recent Wristwatches.

Here's the Lanco that's currently under repair. I took a few 'before' pictures of the watch. Eleven years ago, I brought my Omega Planet Ocean to the Swatch Group for repairs under warranty. The watch was running 30 seconds fast per day, which was way out of specs for that model. Five weeks later, I got the watch back and was disgusted with the condition of the watch upon its return. Numerous scuffs on the end-links of the bracelet, and the case-back showed deep gouges where the case-back removal tool had slipped at some point. I'd been in the watch game long enough to recognise shoddy work. After that, I decided that I'd always take photos of my watches before taking them in for repairs. 
Hopefully, this watch comes back to me in the same cosmetic condition that I sent it in.

Speaking of  cosmetic condition, I came across this article on the Hodinkee watch website;

HODINKEE | Around Alone, 50 Years On: Sir Francis Chichester's Rolex Oyster Perpetual

It describes Chichester's 1966 attempt to sail 'The Clipper Route", which was once considered the fastest way to sail around the world prior to the creation of the Panama Canal. The article is interesting, but I was mesmerised by the picture of Chichester's Rolex watch;

This was the watch that he purchased prior to commencing his journey and I'm fairly certain that it's since been restored to within an inch of its life. No wristwatch travels around the world by sea and returns looking like that. 
And check out the engraving on the clasp. He didn't get that done at his local shopping mall. 
A very nice piece, and it's a testament to Rolex's reputation back then -as now- for making reliable and robust wristwatches that can handle a day at the office, a night at the opera, or a trip on the ocean. 

Speaking of watches, I wore these ones since my last post;
The Oris Big Crown Small Seconds Pointer Date from circa 1996. I got a bracelet for it, but it's designed for a different Oris model. The end-links (the piece that joins the bracelet to the case) were a slightly different shape, so they required some filing down in order to get them to fit. Swiss Army Knife time. I used the small file and reshaped the corners of the end-links, softening their pointy edges to a gentler curve. 
It wasn't a 100% perfect job, but it would do. The end-links slotted into place nicely and the watch was good to go. 
As we head into Summer here in Australia, I'll be wearing this watch a little less because it has a lower water-resistance to some other watches of mine. I may wear it it on cooler Summer days and then revert back to wearing it once we get into Autumn. 

The Seiko SARB033 got a little bit of wear, but, like the Oris watch above, I think I may just put this one to bed until the cooler months next year. Actually, scratch that. It's water-resistant to 100 metres, so I might actually have it on standby for any potentially dressy occasions that may come up over summer. Yes, that makes more sense.

I have to say that it's getting busy at work in these final couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. I've had to deal with a few very unreasonable customers over the phone.
Some folks trash their watch like nobody's business and then they're surprised when the watch stops working. "It's a dive watch, it's meant to take some knocks", they argue.
I explain to them that yes, modern shock protection systems are very robust in today's watches, but if a watch gets a knock at juuust the wrong angle, something will give inside the movement, causing issues with the running of the watch.
Usually, if you've knocked the watch hard enough to put a dent in the steel, chances are the movement has sustained some damage also.

Other customers will send in a watch which shows no visible cosmetic damage to the case. No dents, no nicks in the steel, nothing. The watch may be gaining or losing time, or it may have stopped ticking entirely.
I tend to give these customers the 'box of dinner plates' analogy;

"Okay, so let's say you're standing in your bedroom, you reach for your watch on the bedside table and, as you go to put it on your wrist, it slips out of your hands and falls onto the carpeted bedroom floor. 
You pick up the watch and there are no marks on it, because it landed on carpet. You look at the watch and it's still ticking, so you think nothing of it, put it on your wrist and marvel at how robust the watch is.
Over the next few days, you notice the watch is gaining/losing time (this will depend on the type of damage to the movement) or begins to stop and start. This may be because something inside the movement has shifted out of position due to the knock that the watch sustained, and this is now causing issues with the timekeeping.
It's like having a wooden box filled with dinner plates. The box might receive a knock which does no damage to it, but the contents inside may be broken due to the knock." 

And this can happen with a wristwatch. Also, a hard-enough jolt to the case can cause the dial to shift. If this happens with enough force, it can affect the centre pipe.
The centre pipe is a small thin tube that's attached to the movement and this pipe is what the hands are attached to. The centre pipe, as the name suggests, pokes out through the hole in the middle of the dial of a watch. Inside this pipe is a smaller one and inside that pipe is a thin stem. Each of these three pipes are designed to hold the hour, minute and seconds hands, respectively. Naturally, these pipes rotate when the watch is running, thus giving us the hours, minutes and seconds. The pipe for the hours does a full 360 degree turn every twelve hours, the minute pipe does so every 60 minutes, and the seconds stem rotates full-circle every minute.
And that, thrill-seekers, is THE TIME!

As you can see in this photo (left, courtesy of, the hour hand has a large hole on the end. The minute hand has a smaller hole, and the seconds hand's hole is smaller again.
Now, where was I? Right, if the watch gets a knock that's hard enough to shift the dial slightly, it can cause the centre pipe to rub against the edge of the hole in the dial. This causes a little friction and the hands move slower as the pipe struggles to turn correctly, resulting in time loss.

Does all this make sense? 'Cos it can be the hardest thing to explain to some customers.

Anyway, what else did I wear since my last post? The Omega Railmaster got some time on the wrist;

I plan to wear this one a little more over Summer, but I think I may have to add another half-link to the bracelet, as it feels a little snug on warm days.

I've had this watch for about seven years. I sold it to the original customer in 2009 when I worked at the watch store. A few years later, he'd decided to sell it and he gave me first dibs on it.
I didn't take too long to decide.

It gets semi-regular wear whenever I go through moods where I just want something basic, easy to read, that just tells the time. This one is the 36.2mm diameter model, a size that's not in fashion at the moment, but was the standard for watch sizes from the 1960s through to the turn of the (21st) century.
The pendulum is swinging back towards more sedate watch sizing, but I doubt it'll ever get back to thirty-six mil.
That's okay. Plenty of pre-owned watches still in existence to choose from.

I've written about this before. I bought a black-bodied Olympus OM2n 35mm SLR camera back in 1982. Used it regularly through the years. At some point in the late '80s, I purchased a Polaroid SX-70 Land camera. A few months later, the SX-70 broke down and needed repairing.
Stupidly, I sold the Olympus to a camera store to pay for the repair of the Polaroid that this same store was repairing for me.
Dumb move.
A friend of mine was working for a photographer back in the early 1990s and he sold me a late 1960s Nikon F for $500.oo. A few months later, he asked if he could borrow it for a photo assignment. Sure, no worries.
Took me just over six months to get the camera back off him. Needless to say, I didn't consider him much of a friend after that.
Since the advent of eBay, I've bought a few more film cameras over the years, to keep the Nikon F company;

- a Nikon EM - sold it a few years ago, bought another one this year.
- three Olympus Trip 35 rangefinders - gave one away to a young photographer who wanted to shoot film.
- a Nikon FM2
- a Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder
- a Voigtlander Vitomatic II rangefinder - ran one roll of film through it, didn't like it.
- and finally, another Olympus OM2n, to (at last!) replace the one that I had in the '80s.

Except, this model was in silver and black, rather than the all-black bodied model that I had in the past. Great camera, small in size, but heavy. 
I liked it so much that I bought another one, as a spare.

Again, this second one had a silver & black body. And then, what should happen? I started getting the urge to get one that was exactly like the camera I had back in '82.
So, the hunt began for an all-black OM2n.
I've noticed on eBay that black-bodied SLR cameras tend to be priced higher than their silver counterparts. Everybody wants a cool black camera.
Rangefinders, however, tend to be silver-bodied. This might explain part of the popularity of the FujiFilm X-100 digital cameras of the last ten years. These evoke the look of a 1950s Leica rangefinder.
Anyway, since I already had two of these OM2s, I was willing to be a little patient with hunting around for a black one. And, I'd decided to look at Japanese dealer sales as a first priority, since their stock tends to be in very good to excellent condition, if their eBay listings are to be believed.

And it wasn't long before one turned up. Body only, which was exactly what I was looking for, since I have a couple of OM-series lenses.

Besides, the idea is to get the two silver models checked out by a camera repairer and, whichever one is the better camera will stay with me and I'll sell the other one. Having run film through both of them over the last couple of years, they both work nicely.
This black one arrived about a month ago and it's in very good condition. I'll load some film into it soon and put it through its paces. If it works as it should, then I'll thin out the camera collection a little. One of the Trip 35s should go. Might even get rid of both of them, since I have the Yashica.
Maybe the Nikon FM2 might go as well, but I think I'll really have to use it a little more to really make up my mind. 

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I popped into a nearby Thrift store and they had a Nikon FE in a glass cabinet. I asked to have a look at it. It was being sold with a no-name flash and a no-name 85mm-210mm 1:3.8 zoom lens with macro capabilities. All for $120 bucks.
I got my phone out of my pocket and quickly Googled reviews of the FE. It's a well-respected camera, from Nikon's golden age. The FE was produced between 1977 and 1983.
Then I checked eBay listings and saw that these things were starting at around $250.oo.
My wife then fished a 20% Off voucher out of her bag.
That brought the price down to $96 bucks.
No brainer.

The camera came with a fourteen-day return policy. I put some film into it and went through the first sixteen frames. That would be enough to give me an indication of how good or bad this camera was.
I used some Kodak 400 colour film and the results were okay. If anything, they showed the short-comings of my photographic skills more than anything else.
There's a photo studio across town that runs film photography workshops a few times a year. I'm tempted, but I don't relish going across town. Still, might be worth it. First though, I think I'll run through some of my photography books and the instruction manuals that I've downloaded off the web. May try using some ASA200 speed film instead of 400. See what results I get.
Those of you who are better shutterbugs than I, feel free to throw some advice my way.

I moved the Camy Club-Star along. I mentioned in a recent post that I knew a guy at a jewellery store who likes vintage watches. I wasn't wearing this watch much in recent years, so I figured I'd send it along to him.
It was given to me by a watch repairer who knew I liked vintage. He said "It's yours, no charge, but if you ever decide to get rid of it, I'd prefer that you just give it away rather than sell it."
Fair enough, I thought.

The Longines Heritage Expeditions Polaires Fraincaises Missions Paul-Emile Victor also got some wear. Every so often, I think about selling this watch. Then, I put it on for a day and I always decide to keep it after that.
It's such a clean and simple look, and the lighter-coloured dial offers a pleasant point of difference against the majority of my modern watches.
So yeah, I think this is worth holding on to.
Spent a little too long one morning arranging this photo, but I had gotten on top of my work that morning, so I figured I could spend ten or fifteen minutes putting this pic together.
I was my coffee break, after all.

Here are a few shots taken with the newly-purchased Nikon FE;

They turned out nicely enough, but I think I'm gonna have to get to know these cameras a little more. Can't help thinking that the lighting or exposure could have been better.

Yes, I know that actors from the 1960s are all getting older, but it still bugs me when they go. 
And 78 seems a little on the young side of elderly, if you ask me.

The Sixties Bond Girls had something about them.

Whoa! I started this post in the second week of October. It's now Boxing Day. My regular readers may have noticed far fewer posts this year compared to previous years. I think that staring at a computer all day at work has definitely dissuaded me from getting on a computer once I get home. 
However, I'll see if I can make an effort to post a little more often next year. Even if they're short ones. 
Assuming, of course, that anything remotely interesting happens.
My next post will more than likely be the annual "Most-Worn Wristwatches" one, similar to those that I've done for the past few years. Since I haven't posted much on this blog throughout 2019, I'll be relying on pictures that I uploaded in Instagram throughout the year, which may actually give a more true indication of what watches I wore the most.

Anyway, I hope you all had a nice Festive Season. Ours was a nice cruisy Christmas Day.
Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!
See you in 2020. 

Oh, I've been wearing the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive for the past few days (older pic);

Thanks for reading!