Friday, 1 June 2018

Friday 1/6/2018 - Organ Donations, Shots in the Arm, Sons of Asgard Playing for Laughs + Recent Wristwatches.

Here's one more pic of the Laguiole knife, showing the 'Shepherd's cross' inlay of the handle. More about this knife in my previous post. 
I've been wearing the Oris Diver SixtyFive Movember  edition quite a bit over the past month and felt it was time for a switch. 
Have to say that this is a great watch. Oris really nailed it with this vintage-inspired design. Their Diver SixtyFive range has done very well for them over the last three years and I think this design will be a future classic for the brand. 

I'm currently writing a review of my other Diver SixtyFive model, but I've hit a bit of a snag with regard to the little story that I'm writing for it. 

Those of you who've read my other watch reviews may know that I tend to throw in a little story along with the review of the watch. That's just me keeping my hand in the fictional waters. I tend to place the watch in a scenario outside of what many watch reviews place it in. The Diver SixtyFive is a dive watch, but you won't find a face mask or pair of flippers anywhere in my review. I'm trying to show that this watch works just as well on dry land as it does 50 metres below the surface. 
Anyway, the story has hit a snag, but I think I've found a way through it. Just letting it simmer on the back-burner of my mind, to see if any holes appear. 

I didn't learn the whole song, just the first verse. But by the time my wife got home from work a couple of hours later, I'd forgotten how I learned it.
I still think La La Land should have won for Best Picture last year. The Oscar went to Moonlight, after the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway announcement confusion/fiasco. Moonlight was a good film, but in a year which gave the world Donald Trump as President, while taking away Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman and George Michael way before their time, we all needed something a little light, escapist and hopeful, something that harked back to the last flicker of the Hollywood musical. 
Like I said, Moonlight was a good film, but it was a little too 'real life'. 
And real life really sucked in 2016.

I grew up reading The Amazing Spiderman comics in the 1970s. I watched the late-Sixties cartoon series on Saturday mornings. I sat through the dreadful movie in 1977, which starred Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker and became incensed years later when I learned that it was originally a TV show.
Throughout this time, I would occasionally buy a Captain America and The Falcon or Fantastic Four comic, and I was also aware of other Marvel heroes like Iron Man. Thor and The Submariner.
I occasionally bought Spiderman comics in the early to mid 1980s, but by then, Marvel Comics had three or four different Spiderman titles out each month and I couldn't justify the cost of them.
Marvel dipped its toe in the movie waters back in 2000 with the release of X-Men, directed by Bryan Singer. Its $75 million dollar budget was rewarded with a box office gross of just under $300 million. Sequels soon followed.
When I saw the first of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies in 2002 (Dir: Sam Raimi), I remember thinking that FINALLY, everybody's favourite web-slinger had been been brought to the screen the way he was meant to. Technological advances in CGI meant that Spidey swinging across the streets of New York looked as real as could be. It would only be a matter of time before we'd see other Marvel hero movies.
So, I've been a fan of the Marvel movie series released over the last ten years. I thought the IronMan films starring Robert Downey jr were great, and I really enjoyed the Captain America films as well. Coupled with The Avengers saga, we end up with a huge cross-referenced story arc beginning with the origin stories of these heroes before involving them in a quest for the Infinity Stones, a collection of crystals that will give unlimited power to their possessor.
Once Spiderman and Iron Man hit the big screen, it would only be a matter of time before other Marvel heroes would follow.
The first Thor film (Dir: Kenneth Branagh, 2011) contained Shakespearean overtones as it told the story of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, son of Odin the King of Asgard. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has landed on Earth after being banished from Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for violating a peace treaty.
He lands in New Mexico and is found by a group of scientists led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). The professor, being Swedish, is well aware of Nordic mythology and it is he who first makes the realisation as to who this stranger with the long blonde hair, huge biceps, and big hammer (with carry strap) really is.
Compared to the other films in the Marvel Studios canon, this one presents us a smaller story as we find Thor having to save this New Mexico township from an attack by a Destroyer, a robotic sentinel sent to Earth by Thor's mischievous half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Anyway, onto this new movie. If the first Thor film gave us a story filled with Norse mythology and the fate of Asgard, this new one, Thor: Ragnarok has an overall sensibility that's closer to the Marvel films Antman and the Guardians of the Galaxy double.
Directed by New Zealander, Taika Waititi, this film has a more comedic tone in terms of dialogue and line delivery. Waititi seemed to me an odd choice when I thought of his 2016 film  Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a quirky (hated term. Used a lot by reviewers when referring to Australian and New Zealand films) movie about a kid who runs away from home and is grudgingly helped by a grizzly old man as they both end up on the run from authorities.
I'm always surprised when I read of a director going from a small-scale, low-budget film to a big Hollywood blockbuster, but Waititi does a wonderful job with this film. Absolutely confident in his approach to a film that's part of a winning franchise.
These movies aren't everybody's cup of tea, I'll be the first to admit. But does that really matter? They're mind candy, meant to take us away from real life for a couple of hours.
However, they are very well done. The effects are flawless, the casting is great, the writing (especially the dialogue) is sharp, and the storylines do touch on greater themes which help elevate these films beyond the likes of the Fast & Furious franchise, for example.  

Wednesday May 30th

"You know that shot you gave me for the 'flu? Well it worked. I've got it."
         - Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda)
           "Carry On Hawkeye" , M*A*S*H , Season 2, Episode 11 

I went to see Avengers | Infinity War last Sunday morning (movies are my religion) and noticed about half-way through that they'd turned up the air-conditioning in the cinema. Feeling quite chill, I buttoned up my denim jacket and flipped up the collar. Still felt cold. 

Later that night, my throat began feeling raspy. By this morning, my nose was blocked, I was coughing, and there was a headache on the horizon, which ended up moving in by early afternoon and stayed until about 8 o'clock this evening. 
And remember, I got that 'flu shot a week or so ago? 

The movie was good. Earth's Mightiest Heroes (TM) have their work cut out for them in the next - and probably final - installment in this series. I was told that they filmed two movies back-to-back. I think the next one ain't due out until around this time next year. 
The movie posters in this blog post were taken from I could spend days sifting through that site.

May 28th was a few days ago. Ian Fleming was born on this day back in 1908. My Folio Society copy of From Russia With Love arrived two days later. Here it is with the watches that I've been wearing over the last couple of weeks. Lousy photo, sorry.

Here's another shot of the Submariner, along with a snap of the inspiration. 

Okay, it's 7:24pm Friday night and I think I'm gonna crash soon. I hope you're all well, and that you have a good weekend. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sunday 20/5/2018 - Still Here, Cat Wrangling, DVD Headaches, Gentleman's Knives & Recent Wristwatches.

It's been a busy few months, gang. Work's been hectic, but manageable, and I've found that once I get home and have dinner, cranking up the laptop to post on my blog seems to be the last thing that I feel like doing after spending all day staring at a computer screen.
Posting on a Friday night is tricky as, no matter how motivated I think I might be, my brain tells my body that it's the end of my working week and all bets are off as far as sitting down to post is concerned.

However, too much time has passed since my last post. So away I go.

We took our older cat to the vet recently to discuss methods and strategies in the hopes of getting her to get along with our newer cat, which we've had since last June. Basically, these two cats are never gonna be best buddies, but they may get to the point where the older one tolerates the presence of the younger cat.
It will involve separate eating spaces and separate entrance/exit points for them. The older cat, is called Dussy or Wispy, plus a hundred other names. Her full name is Lady Wispola Dusenberg. At least, that's what it says on her passport. She has had full run of the house since we got her in March of 2009. Here she is in 2013.

The new cat is named Bowie, since he was born one year and one day after David Bowie died in 2016. He looks almost as cool as David Bowie did, but his songwriting skills suck. 
We were feeding them near each other for the last few weeks, thinking that this was a breakthrough in their relationship and that maybe Dussy was getting used to Bowie being around. 
The vet told us that feeding them near each other was not a good idea. Reason being that cats, like any other animal, will place food at the top of their priorities. So, feeding her near Bowie means that she's fighting every impulse to run away, in the interests of getting fed. This makes for a very stressful meal for her. 
Cats are sticklers for routine. I once read that moving furniture around in a room can upset them. Wispy's routine has been thrown out of whack since the arrival of the new cat. He keeps his distance from her, even though he has this intense look in his eye at times that almost says 'let me come near you'. 
And cats are territorial, taking ownership of various corners of a house and the people in it. So, you can maybe see that the introduction of a new cat can upset the balance. 
Here here is, back in September last year.

We'll be putting in another pet-door somewhere in the house, so that Wispy has access to an exit, since she doesn't go near the cat-flap in the back door anymore, ever since the little guy came to town. 
I'm confident that we'll reach a point where Dussy will tolerate this smaller cat, if not get chummy with him. We have a couple of Feliway diffusers set up and the two of them get fed in different spots at slightly different times of the day. 
Frankly, I have no idea if all this will work, and that's a notion that I find sad and stressful. My son and little Bowie are as thick as thieves, so we're reluctant to re-home the new cat just yet. 
We'll give it all eight to twelve months and see how it goes.

I wore the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial at some point during the past month. 
I'm not sure if I'll ever read this book. The racism and British Imperialism of Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond's world of 1920 has most surely not dated well at all. 
Although, as a precursor to Fleming's Bond novels of the '50s, I should probably take a jolly good stab at, eh, old boy?

The DVD player saga that I've been dealing with recently had been getting on my nerves. I had the Sony BluRay player chipped so that I could play movies from the US and UK that aren't available for Australian regions.
I wasn't planning on piracy. I just wanted to watch my Region 1 Gilda DVD and my Region A Chinatown BluRay - with the commentary from it's screenwriter Robert Towne and film director David Fincher- and I wanted to be able to pick up a few films that I haven't seen since the Eighties. Like that classic French film The Wages of Fear (Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) and maybe even William Friedkin's 1977 remake, called Sorcerer. And I just gotta get The Criterion Collection version of Howard Hawk's 1940 absolute classic, His Girl Friday. 

So, I got our player chipped about eight weeks ago. It worked just fine. Until about two weeks ago, when I loaded up an all-region copy of Captain America: Civil War. We got about 12 minutes into the film before we paused it to get a cup of tea. Five minutes later, when we hit the 'resume' button, nothing happened. Well, actually, something DID happen. My blood pressure began to rise.
We switched to some other DVD and watched it on the PlayStation 3.
A few days later, I called the guy who chipped the player and he explained how to re-set it. I got home from work, unplugged the player and left it alone for half an hour before plugging it back in and loading a DVD into it. Then I pressed play and heard the familiar sound of the disc spinning in the player.
About seven seconds later, the 'There is no disc" message came up on-screen. By now, I was more than a little ticked off and feeling pretty disappointed at having gotten the machine converted to play all zones and it only lasting about six weeks.
I decided on two options; call the guy and ask him to give me a step-by-step run-through of the re-setting procedure over the phone while I'm in front of the player, or scour eBay for a new pre-chipped Bluray player.

I wore this gold-striped NATO strap on the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive. Didn't last long. The colour of the stripe didn't look good against the colours of the hands and markers of the dial. 

Besides, the watch was looking just fine on the minimal-stitch brown leather strap that I had it on. That strap has been broken in and is showing some nice wear.

I ended up calling the guy first and explained the situation to him, again outlining what happened when we tried to play the Captain America BluRay.
"Oh, you got the message that there was no disc in the player? It's the laser, then. It could be dirty and it's not reading that there's a disc inserted', he ventured.
Seemed plausible. I thanked him and then spent my lunch break looking for a Bluray cleaning disc. No luck, but the guy at an audio store that I went to suggested blowing out the dust from the laser lens if it was visible from the disc tray.
I figured I'd give it a shot. Grab a drinking straw and blow a few short bursts of air at the laser.
Got home from work, plugged in the player, switched it on and popped open the disc tray. I shone a torch (flashlight) into the player, but couldn't see the laser lens.
Dammit. I was gonna need some screwdrivers.

I closed the disc tray, unplugged it and took it to the kitchen table. Turning the player upside-down showed no screws underneath the machine. There were, however, three small screws at the back, next to the ports. I should point out that this is a neat little machine, about the same length and width as an iPad and about as thick as a hardback novel, so handling it posed no problems.

I undid the screws and the top of the player's case slid off. I love you, Sony! Getting the front section off required a little more patience or a third hand. I took my time with it.
Sure enough, like much of this kind of equipment, two-thirds of the cases are empty, with just some strip-wires and low-lying circuitry visible. To the left of the case was a smaller black plastic box, about the size of a DVD. This is where I had to be.

No screws on this thing, just four little stub and slot arrangements that you had to prise apart. Gently, I found out after applying too much force to one of them and it snapped. That's okay, I'm sure this thing'll still work on three engines, said the captain mid-flight.
Lifting the lid on this black box revealed the meat & potatoes. Toothed cogs and gears that slid the disc tray back and forth, more circuitry and a little glinting something that looked like the laser lens. There was some dust on some of the cogs and near the drop-down flap that covers the opening that the disc tray slides out of. I brushed it out gently with a blower brush and gave the laser lens a few squirts of air for good measure.
Satisfied that I'd done all I could, I took my time carefully putting it all back together and then I returned to the lounge room and plugged it in.
I'd either have a fully working BluRay player again or the lounge room would burst into flames while I got electrocuted.
Hindsight makes it funny, gang. Hindsight makes it funny.

First, a DVD. There was a library copy of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II next to the player. I loaded it in and hit 'start'.
That familiar whirring sound hummed gently, promising nothing. Then I got the captions on screen; "ENGLISH", "ENGLISH WITH SUBTITLES", plus a few other languages.
Looking good, I thought. A few more moments passed and then the Menu screen came up. Bingo!

I removed this DVD and went through the same procedure with the Captain America BluRay. Same whirring sound, same little pauses here and there, and then the Marvel Studios logo came up on-screen and a smug smile formed across my face.
Part of me is still a little cautious though. I'll keep that pre-chipped player on my eBay watch-list for another week or two.

Pardon the lousy photo, folks. I wore the Omega Speedmaster at some point and this watch seems to wear larger than I recall. Now, I know you can't build up your wrists, but I'm fairly certain they were a tad larger a couple of years ago when I was regularly hitting the gym. I just might get back into some regular exercise. Build up the forearms a little. That oughta do it.

I also wore these three pieces in recent weeks. The Rolex Submariner has been getting a little more wear in my spare time. 
One watch that I haven't worn very often is the 44mm Hamilton Khaki Officer's Mechanical. It's a damn big watch on my wrist, but there are some times when that's exactly the look I'm going for. 
Although, if I decide to go for a smaller Khaki model - Hamilton have a great range of these - I may move this one along. Not sure. One main reason is that this one houses the Unitas 6487 hand-wound calibre. It was first produced in the 1950s for pocket watches and it winds as smooth as butter. And I still have a soft-spot for the review that I wrote on this watch five or six years ago.
Rounding out this trio is the Oris Diver SixtyFive with black and blue dial. It's become a favourite in a very short time. 

I wanted a knife. Nothing 'tactical', nothing huge, nothing crazy. Just a plain and simple folding knife that I could keep in the kitchen or liquor cabinet, for those times when I want to slice up an apple after dinner, cut a wedge of lemon for a Gin & tonic, or skive a sliver of cheese (lactose-free these days) off a block. 
Sure, the kitchen drawers have a few small sharp knives for any of the tasks I mentioned, but I wanted my own. Something that would only be used for culinary duties. 
Years ago, an elderly couple walked into the watch boutique I worked at and the man asked me if we sold knives. 
I told him 'no'. Then I asked what kind of knife was he after. Did he want something along the lines of a Swiss Army knife, for example? 
He explained that he wanted 'a Gentleman's knife'. 
Ahh, I knew what he wanted now. Something for cutting the end off a cigar, or cutting a loose thread off a shirt sleeve, or carving a wedge out of a watermelon, or whittling down a twig while sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. Something with a plain, clip-point blade and with a handle made from some nice timber. Pocket-sized, slim, workman-like. 

EveryDay | 10 Classic Gentleman's Knives 

I suggested he try a nearby store that sold kitchen cutlery, but also carried a selection of Leatherman and Victorinox knives and smaller pocket knives that may just suit what he was looking for. 

Anyway, enough about him. Back to me. If you wanna know what knife he ended up getting, maybe he has his own blog.

So, I wanted a gentleman's knife. I had been thinking about the Opinel knives. These are the classic French folding knife that's available in a range of sizes and prices. 
My boss, who's got a collection of knives, said he had a R. David Laguiole folding knife that he'd be happy to swap for a Mont Blanc 147 fountain pen that he had given me in an earlier swap; I gave him a Parker Centennial, he gave me the Mont Blanc. 
Are you sure?, I asked. I'd be happy to give you something for it, I added. 
He reminded me that I'd already given him the Parker pen and was now giving him the Mont Blanc.

He brought it in last week. It has a classic shape. Last year, I bought a set of cheap steak knives whose design is based on the Laguiole knife. Needless to say, the difference in quality between these two is poles apart. Might have to get the Real McCoy steak knives one day. 
The Laguiole, seen on the right in the photo, has a very strong spring in it. This means that it feels quite tight when you hook a thumbnail into the mark to swing out the blade. And when you close the blade, you'd better have all fingers out of harm's way. It snaps shut with a resounding 'thwack'. The handle of this particular one is made from snakewood and it has an inlaid 'Shepherd's cross' in the middle. I have to say the build quality is very slick. 
As I say, this knife is for home use only. I have no plans to carry this, or any other, knife out in the streets. The laws here in Victoria are quite strict regarding knives. This is due to a spate of knife crimes that occurred in the CBD over the last ten years, to the point where it became illegal to carry any kind of blade. This included the venerable Swiss Army knife and Leatherman tool. Offenders could face very hefty fines or even jail time. This knife has a four-inch blade. That alone could get me into trouble with the law.
So, this knife stays in the kitchen. 

I love the attention to detail on this thing. The spring has a neat little pattern cut into it and the bee or fly (jury's still out on exactly which one it is) sits at the edge of the handle. The design of this knife dates back to around 1860, according to wikipedia and there were various modifications made over the years. These were called Laguiole due to the region in France where they were, and still are, made. Much like true champagne is only found in the Champagne region. The insect logo was added after the Second World War. About ten years ago, I thought about getting a Laguiole bottle opener/corkscrew, but I couldn't justify the $130 AUD that it would cost me, considering that I'm not a wine connoisseur or a big wine drinker.

I wore these three too since my last post seven weeks ago(!)
The Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive has been getting a lot of wear. The Longines Heritage model (middle of pic) looks a lot nicer since I put a tan coloured leather strap on it and the Omega Seamaster 300 on mesh bracelet still brings a smile to my face. I realised long ago that I tend to have a penchant for dive watches. I like the clarity and easy readability of the dials, the water-resistance that means I don't have to worry about the watch around water, and the rotating bezels come in handy more often than you'd think. 

My boss came back from an interstate trip and handed me an Opinel No. 8 knife. I reached for my wallet, but he wouldn't hear of it. I'll have to snag him a bottle of something.

The Opinel is another French-made knife available in a myriad number of sizes. This one has a walnut handle and a very sharp 3-inch blade - I found out the hard way - and  it has a rotating steel collar or ferrule at the base of the handle which locks the blade into place, preventing it from swinging shut if you happen to apply too much force to it. When you fold the blade back into the groove in the handle, this lock can be twisted into place to keep the blade safely tucked away.
Looks like I'll be eating a little more fruit in future.

Picked up a few books. The Le Carre hardback was a good score. I can now get rid of the dog-eared paperback copy that I have. Avalanche Express is a 1970s 'airport thriller'. Probably a good travel novel, whereby you can read it without having to think too much about it, and not be too bothered if you don't finish it before your vacation is over.
The Sisters is a Cold War spy thriller that sounded intriguing. I have another Robert Littlell book, The Company, which is a fictional account of the history of the CIA. It's a thick book and I've been meaning to read it since I got it about ten years ago.

I wore the Rolex Submariner 5513 a few times in the past month or so. I still baby this watch a little. Not only that, but it seems that whenever I do wear it, it comes into risky contact with water. Sure, it's a dive watch, but it's no spring chicken as far as water-resistance is concerned. The watchmaker who restored it for me recommended that I don't get it wet. So, I err on the side of caution. 

The first of the Dynamite Comics James Bond stand-alone stories arrived in the mail last month. I haven't read it yet, as I'm currently still reading Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger's novel based on his experiences during World War I. It ranks alongside Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front as one of the finest novels about The War To End All Wars. 
We bought Storm of Steel for my son when we visited Paris a couple of years ago and he liked it and suggested I have a read of it. I've fallen out of the reading habit over the past six or eight months. I kept stopping and starting this book, to the point where I got to page 24 and then left it alone for a few months. Sloppy. 
So I'll just make more of an effort to get back into reading. 

And that's pretty much it as far as what I've been up to lately. I have a couple of day's off from work, so that I can take care of some nine-to-five related tasks. 

- Flu shot
- tyres to get rotated and balanced
- appointment with my son's teachers
- maybe head into the city on Tuesday. 

I'll see if I can be a little more regular with my posts, even if they're only short ones. 


Oh, one more thing; in my last post, I mentioned that the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, unveiled at the BaselWorld Watch and Jewellery Fair earlier this year, was a re-edition of the first Tudor dive watch from 1958. 
I was mistaken. I got an e-mail from a reader named Nicholas who pointed out that the Tudor brand had released its first dive watch back in 1954.
(pic courtesy of Monochrome | Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight - Review

This here on the left is the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner, Reference 7922, which came out in 1954. Certainly there are plenty of design cues from this vintage piece that have found their way into this new re-edition, but the Tudor brand, in an effort over the years to put some distance between themselves and Rolex, made a change to the hour hand on their dive watches sometime in the 1970s. This hand design became known as the 'snowflake' and it has since become synonymous with the Tudor brand. 

Info on vintage Tudor watches can be hard to come by, so thanks for the correction, Nicholas!

Hope you've all been well, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Thursday March 29th, 2018 - A Clean Desk, BaselWorld Standouts (for me, anyway) + This Week's Wristwatches

Okay, it's now 7:23pm Sunday night. Let's see how far I get with this post. 

I spent most of this weekend clearing my desk. Hopefully once and for all. Business cards that I've accumulated over the last few months were put into a card index box, to be dealt with at a later time. Various notes and other jottings were either thrown away or transcribed into other notebooks for posterity or future reference. 
I got sidetracked numerous times by some obscure note that I wrote ages ago or some article torn from a magazine. The OUT tray was filled to the brim with info that I no longer found interesting or relevant. The paper recycling bin therefore filled up pretty quickly. 
When all was said and done, though...

It hadn't looked this tidy in quite some time. I took the IN/OUT trays off the desk and positioned them on top of a small steel IKEA drawer unit that sits next to the desk. Over on the left is a letter caddy which holds notepads and index cards while the right rear edge of the desktop has a small wooden catch-all. This is where my wallet, phone, car-keys and glasses are parked when not in use. 

An old IWC watch catalogue works as a blotter in the middle of the desk. As each page gets covered in jottings and scribbles, the page is torn off and thrown out.  

To the left is my diary/planner. Under the desk on the left-hand side is a small box filled with various props for photo shoots. On top of that are a few manila folders, and my laptop sits on top of these when not being used. Against the wall under the desk is the Olympia SM2, for when I need to type something like a typecast, etc. Because the desk has been so cluttered for so long, though, I've tended to type in the kitchen using one of my other typewriters. So, this SM2 hasn't seen much action. 
I'll see if I can change that. 

Anyway, We'll see how long this desk remains tidy.  

The BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair is currently in full swing. This yearly event is a must for watch nerds, as the Swiss watchmaking houses unveil their new models. 

While I have a soft-spot for Omega, this brand only released one (or rather, two) watches that got my heart beating a little faster - the 70th Anniversary Seamaster models (right).
The one on the left - with the sub-seconds dial- is based on the first Seamaster from 1948, while the central seconds model shares design elements with the later Seamasters of the early to mid 1950s. Measuring a sublime 38mm in diameter, these watches house the latest in-house Master Co-Axial movements from Omega.
These two will be released as limited editions of 1,948 pieces each. That's a shame. These could have been produced as regular production models. I think they'd sell quite well.

Two brands that really caught my eye this year were Oris and Tudor. Oris had a runaway success with the introduction of their Diver Sixty-Five range in 2015. The release of their commemorative Movember Special Edition late last year created quite a buzz, so it seemed inevitable that they would follow this sought-after piece with a range that borrowed some elements of that watch, but with a few twists.

At first glance, these two watches look exactly like the Movember Edition, but when you look closer, the differences begin to appear. Firstly, the inlay of SuperLuminova compound on the hands and dial markers is off-white, to give the impression of faded or aged lume. This use of what collectors refer to as faux patina has been all the rage in the watch world over the last few years and some brands can tend to go overboard with it. Here, though, it goes extremely well with the rose-gold plated hands and marker borders, giving the whole dial a lovely warm look, reminiscent of some dive watches of the 1950s and '60s, the most notable being Rolex and Tudor Submariners of that era. However, this design is based on an Oris model from the mid-1960s, hence the Diver Sixty-Five designation.

The most noticeable difference between these models and the Movember one is the bezel. For this new model, instead of steel, Oris have opted for a bronze bezel. It starts off with a polished rose gold hue, but as it continues coming into contact with air and other elements, it will develop a varying level of patina and verdigree that is common with metals such as bronze or brass. While it is easily cleaned with lemon juice, vinegar or bi-carb soda, many watch nuts with bronze wristwatches tend to leave the patina alone until it resembles some artifact recovered from The Titanic.

I don't mind a little bit of patina, but this would drive me nuts. I'd be tempted to clean it once a week, at the first signs of this forming. It usually begins as a slightly dull and pale brown before darkening and then turning a bluish green before it continues until it looks like the watch has rusted. This watch here would have taken quite some time to get to this level. Kudos to its owner for being able to put up with it.

However, a quick dunk and/or light rub with organic cleaning solutions, such as the aforementioned lemon juice or vinegar, and the watch can look good as new.
Me? I just don't think I'd have the time or, more likely, the inclination to clean my watch on a regular basis.

Back to the Oris- this new model will be available in both a 36mm and a 40mm case size. This should appeal to a wide range of customers; women who want a cool looking dive watch, collectors who prefer the vintage dive watch size - there was a slew of dive watches made in the 1960s in 36mm sizing - and guys who have smaller wrists that are better suited to this smaller case.
For those who would consider 36mm too small, the 40mm case size awaits. I think these will do very well.

Tudor was the other brand at BaselWorld this year that released a couple of pieces that nobody was expecting. First up, the Black Bay GMT model.

Sure, it may incorporate design elements of the classic Rolex GMT models of the past, but Tudor has done much over the last five or so years to really distance itself from the company that used to be its big brother.
Tudor watches of the past were designed using the same external parts as Rolex. The main difference was the movements. Whereas Rolex watches had in-house calibres under the bonnet, Tudor used ETA movements. This made them affordable for many.
The Black Bay series of watches has the classic Tudor 'snowflake' hour hand, which has become as famous and recognisable for the brand as the 'Mercedes' hour hand has been for Rolex.
This GMT model measures 41mm and features the 'snowflake' motif on both the seconds hand and GMT hand, aside from the hour hand. Again, I think this one will be a popular watch.

Another Tudor release this year was the Black Bay 58. This one made me sit up and take notice, for the sole reason that it is being offered in a 39mm case size. This puts it firmly into vintage Tudor dive watch territory because those watches were of a 39mm diameter in days gone by and this Black Bay model pays homage to the first Tudor dive watch, released in, yep, 1958.
This model has a nice gilt dial and hand-set which perfectly contrasts with the deep black dial and bezel insert.

The last three or four years have seen a resurgence in vintage-inspired pieces from many of the larger Swiss watch houses and it would seem that there's no chance of this trend abating just yet
What I'm happy with is the return to more conventional watch sizes. Sure, it appears to be happening slowly, but it's good to see it happening, just the same. Aside from the brands listed in this post, it would seem that many others are offering their latest line-ups in a variety of sizes to suit a wider range of people.
Now, I will be the first to admit that these watches are pricey. They require some serious saving. What they give you, however, is a wristwatch that will last generations and can be handed down. Provided that the watch is properly maintained, serviced when it ought to be, and not banged around with reckless abandon.

Okay, that went on longer than I had planned.

Here are the watches that I've worn recently;

From left to right, The Oris Movember Edition Diver Sixty-Five has seen a lot of time on my wrist. I took the leather strap off it after wearing it for a day and put it on a no-name, straight-ended stainless steel bracelet. This gave the watch even more of a vintage vibe.

The Longines Heritage Expeditions Polaires Francaises got the 'vintage explorer's watch' touch when I put this tan-coloured leather strap on it. This was a $30 eBay buy and it really suits the watch. I may have to snag another one at some point. Although, I've been thinking lately that it's probably not such a good idea to stock up on leather straps since the leather can tend to dry out over time and become weakened. Which is the last thing you want. I've seen a few straps that look brand new, but the stitching has given way where the buckle is attached. So, I think I'll keep my strap supplies low. Of course, it would also benefit me if I can leave a strap on a watch for longer than a few days. Give it some worn-in character.

The Omega Railmaster hasn't had much of an outing for a while. I realised last year that I tended to wear my bracelet watches more during the Summer months while my watches on straps got more of a showing throughout the cooler months of the year.
Last week, though, I just had a hankering to wear the Railmaster. I still think this watch is a better design than the current model that was unveiled last year.

Rounding out last week's wristwatches was the Oris Diver Sixty-Five with the blue/black dial.

And that was last week. It's now almost 8:30pm Thursday night on March 29th. This has been a very busy week at work as the BaselWorld releases landed at the office and I spent a couple of days away from repairs as I packed watches to send to various retail partners. I think some of these new pieces will do very well indeed.

Throughout this week, I stuck to one watch,  swapping from the Diver Sixty-Five to the Movember Edition, which I still had on the steel bracelet. 
I started this post last Sunday night and worked on it a little each night. It's now late Thursday night, a couple of minutes to 11:00pm and I think I'll hit the sack. 
We're going to catch a session of Ready Player One tomorrow. I haven't read the book, but my wife has. 
Should be interesting to see Spielberg's take on it. 
Anyway, I hope you all have a nice break over this Easter weekend. If you don't celebrate Easter, then enjoy the time off. 
Thanks for reading, all!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Sunday March 11th, 2018 - Diners, Artwork Flashbacks, Speakeasies (or not) & This Week's Wristwatches

Saturday, March 10th, 1:35pm
I'm sitting in a groovy little cafe called Dak Daks. Car memorabilia adorns the place, while some '50s rockabilly tune plays in the background. 
I'm feeling a little queasy, so I forego the bargirl's suggestion of a bite to eat. 
Looking through the glass door of the drinks fridge, all the usual suspects are lined up in rows of coloured aluminium and glass. Nothing leaps out at me. Don't feel like Coke or Sprite, and a beer is definitely out of the question, with the way my gut's feeling. Not sure what may have caused this upset. Can't recall eating anything out of the ordinary. 
In the end, I order an iced coffee. Probably not the wisest move, but anyway.
"Take a seat, mate, and somebody'll bring it over", she says.
I park myself over at a little round red laminate-topped table that's bracketed by two black vinyl-padded chairs and take a look around the place. I'd been here before, but that was a few years ago.

This bit of decor should give you a snap-shot of what the place is like. A framed Elvis picture/wall clock, right next to a revisionist artwork of '50s pin-up model Bettie Page.
The walls were peppered with this and car-related signage, the kind of stuff that I used to see in antiques stores in the '80s, going for a song. These days, a tin sign advertising Shell Motor Oil or Peter's Drumsticks (an ice cream) tend to fetch a pretty penny when you see them in Antiques stores next to Chesterfield armchairs or numbered edition water-colours from the 1960s. 

This is the kind of place where the salt and pepper shakers are the actual shaker that you buy from the supermarket. Sugar sticks reside in coffee mugs that I saw in numerous houses of relatives and friends when I was a kid. Other tables have small screw-top jars filled with raw sugar, giving the place a pleasant, make-shift feel. 

I'm here because my son is (finally!) getting his hair cut next door at a barbershop called Kid Gamble. The establishment's logo shows a cartoon bulldog with boxing gloves on.  
The barber/owner is a young guy with a rocker hairstyle. He seemed like a nice guy when we walked in 15 minutes ago. 
"One of us needs a haircut", I said. Since I'm bald, it was easy to guess who was here for a trim. My son is on the verge of winning a Roger Voudouris look-alike competition. 

The iced coffee arrives while Buddy Holly sings about being happy to be livin' in the USA. Linda Ronstadt should sue. It's served in one of those standard '1950s diner' milkshake glasses. A scoop of vanilla floating on top, just a little smaller than the iceberg that sank the Titanic, with a light dusting of chocolate powder to cap it off. 
I take hold of the long-stemmed spoon sticking out of the glass and start stirring. Then I leave it alone for five minutes before mixing it again. The ice cream begins to melt sufficiently by then. I continue stirring it until it mixes with the milk completely, giving the drink a thick consistency. 

As I sit there, I write this post using a vintage Shaeffer fountain pen. The ink leaves a little too much feathering on the page for my linking, so I switch over to the spare pen that I brought along, a Jinhao 159 fountain pen that cost me a staggering one cent on eBay sometime last year. Plus three-fifty for postage, that is. 
This pen, although it's only got a steel nib on it, writes extremely well considering the price I paid for it. 

My son's appointment was over. He approached my table looking clean-cut and a little more mature. There was a neat side part on the left and not a hair out of place. 
"Very nice. Sharp. Now, can you keep it looking like that?", I asked. 
"Yeah, yeah."
"Do you want an iced coffee? Soft drink? Some lunch?"
"Nah, I'll just have some water."
He pours himself a glass and downs it in two gulps. 
We head over to the counter and I pay for my drink. I ask the gal behind the bar: "Is it okay if I take a  couple of snaps?"
"Yeah, go for it", she replies. 
All I have with me is my iPod Touch. It'll do. I've already taken the three shots above, but I just wanted to get a couple of the other wall near the bar. 

Cabinets filled with model cars, all manner of mid-Century furniture, mixed in with some pieces from the 1970s, Pop Culture references throughout, and some industrial fittings here and there. I do like the way it's all done. Although, if it were me, I'd tuck away the wiring a little more. Anyway, I didn't want to dilly-dally too much, since my stomach was still feeling weird. I just wanted to take some pictures. Primarily, I wanted a shot of the painting on the right, since my first glimpse of it when I walked into the place transported me back to circa 1978.
I must've seen this kind of painting in quite a few homes that I visited when I was a kid. These evocative paintings of some Sophia Loren type, wearing not very much, and located in some dusk-lit exotic jungle.
As a pre-teen (read pre-pubescent) in the mid-Seventies, the sexual/sensual nature of these paintings was lost on me. I just liked the idea that there was some well-scrubbed raven-haired beauty reclining on a tree trunk somewhere far, far away. Not exactly a native as seen in the pages of a National Geographic.
I saw variations of these in the houses of various relatives. Uncle Vic had a one up in the lounge room of his Art Deco house in Brunswick. Not sure what his wife Auntie Maria thought of it, but she was strong-willed enough that it would have come down off the wall if she hated it. 
This was the one that he had;

These paintings were done throughout the 1960s by a fellow named J H Lynch, a British artist. Reproductions were sold in the thousands, which would explain why I saw so many of them growing up.
They would have been considered quite racy/sleazy/sensuous (pick one) back then. Nowadays, they have a kitschy value that makes them collectible. Luckily, reproductions can be found all over eBay. I should get one some day, if I ever put a bar in my house. Hefner the place up a little.

I doubt my wife will mind. She got me a couple of framed Vargas reprints some years ago, but I never did get around to putting them up. Especially once the kids came along.
Now, of course, the kids are teenagers. Something like this wouldn't even register on their radars. Hell, this lady's considered over-dressed when compared to what you'll see on somebody's Instagram page nowadays. 

Many thanks to;

When I Googled the term "1960s painting of lady in the jungle", I landed on this cool website. 

There's a house on a main highway on the way to work that sold last weekend. This house had been in the same family for six generations, according to the real estate agency blurb.  I've been told that it may have been a speakeasy back in the 1930s. Not sure if this is true or not, but it makes for a nice story. 
I decided I'd go see if I could get a decent picture of the place from across the road. 

Nah, no luck. That fence was higher than it seems when you're driving past the place at eighty kilometres per hour. 
I can't tell you the number of times I've driven past this house on the way to and from work over the years. When I was told that it might have been a 'speak', I had visions of people approaching this front gate and having to give some kind of coded phrase or password to get in. Although, I'm not sure this fence would date back eighty years. 

The house sure does, though. Built in 1874, Roseneath is described as 'an Italianate villa', featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pantry with cellar and a hothouse, among other things. 
Here's a picture from the last seller's listing;

I daresay the house looks like it has seen better days (just like Norma Desmond's place), but can you imagine how it would look if it were 'sensitively' restored, with a few modern conveniences thrown in? 
Scale back some of the overgrown greenery, restore the roof, a lick of paint, and it would look quite fetching. 
Can't imagine what it would have sold for. Some valuations have listed it at anywhere between 3.8 to 5 million dollars. Information on it's true value is scarce. 

Okay, these are the watches that I wore this week.

The Oris Diver SixtyFive blue/black. Briefly;

I had the Submariner on on Friday night and half-way through Saturday. Spent too long setting up this shot. Chose the Key Line setting on the camera, to cartoonify it.

The 'cigarette' in the ashtray is actually a rolled-up receipt from a 7/Eleven fuel purchase. I cut it down to the appropriate length of an unfiltered smoke and then glued it along one edge.
I then crammed some scrunched-up paper into it and then began filling the end of it with tea leaves, packing them down every so often. This didn't seem to work very well, so I grabbed a stale cigarette from a pack that I used for photo ops and used the tobacco from it, thinking to myself; Man, you're goin' through a lot of hassle for a damn photograph.

The real trick was the three gold bands on the end of the cigarette. If you've read the Fleming novels, you may recall that Bond smoked a blend of Turkish and Balkan tobacco, specially made for him by Morland's Tobacconists of Grosvenor St. The three gold rings represent the three stripes of Bond's rank of Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. 
I used to have a ballpoint pen which contained gold ink. That would have been swell. I ended up using a Lyra pencil with gold lead. I knew it would come in handy one day!
Not perfect, but good enough. 

Most of this week saw me wearing the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive. 
I switched out the leather strap for a black NATO. 
This morning's breakfast was a variation on a selection that Bond chooses in From Russia, With Love. 
I've written about this before...

...So I won't go into too much detail. Basically, it was yoghurt with sunflower seeds and almonds, three black figs and some black coffee, in this case an espresso stretched out with boiling water. 

Okay, it's now almost 7:45pm Sunday night. We have a Labour Day public holiday here tomorrow! 
Right now, I'm gonna watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou again. I only just watched it last weekend, but I feel like watching it again.
Man's home is his castle, and all that. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great week, all!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Sunday March 4th, 2018 - Red Knitted Beanies, Vintage Laminate Tables, Cat-tags & This Week's Wristwatches.

I finally got around to taking our DVD/Bluray player to a guy who installs the chip which allows you to watch movies region-free. Now, I'm no DVD pirate, but I have a few movies (in both formats) that I got off eBay simply because they weren't available here in Australia for our Region 4 DVDs and Region B bluray discs. 
I doubt that I'm contravening any region policies here. The movies that I want to get are long gone from any cinema. And the fantastic Criterion Collection offers a range of films with extras that you just don't get with your standard releases that you might find at JB HiFi here in Oz or your local Walmart or HMV store.
I used to have a decent (actually, very decent) library of movies that I recorded on VHS cassettes off TV back in the '80s, but as you might know, the quality deteriorates over time. Besides, who has the room to store VHS these days. And the video player/recorder is long gone, anyway. I bought a converter about six years ago and transferred a few tapes onto DVD-Rom, most notably our wedding video and tapes of the kids when they were toddlers. A few of the classic films that I had on VHS, I have since replaced on DVD over the years.
One film, however, has been near the top of the list, but I've just been too lazy and/or have yet to find a decent DVD version of it. That film is Gilda, a 1946 noir directed by Charles Vidor* and starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in what is probably her most famous role. 

*It's interesting to note that the American poster for this film lists the director correctly as Charles Vidor, whereas the Italian poster - with the stunning artwork! - has the director listed as King Vidor, who was no relation to Charles, and was responsible for directing the 1946 Western classic Duel in the Sun.

Okay, back to Gilda. The story concerns Johnny Farrel (Ford) a  fella who scrapes a living as a gambler in Buenos Aires. After winning at craps against some shady characters at a seedy dock, he is accosted by one of the losing players and is rescued by millionaire industrialist Ballin Mundson (George Macready) who carries a walking stick with a knife blade hidden in it. The industrialist tells him there's a gambling ship moored at the dock, but warns him not to try the same (cheating) tactics there as he did with the guys at the craps game a few minutes earlier. 
Johnny visits the gambling ship and cheats at the blackjack table. He is busted by security and taken to the ship owner's office. The owner turns out to be Mundson. 
Johnny convinces Mundson to hire him as a security expert. Mundson soon goes off on a trip and returns some time later with a new bride, Gilda. 
The introduction of her character in this film has become classic. The scene elicits gasps from the prison inmates  in Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and with good reason. It's a highly-charged and very brief moment. Mundson and Johnny enter the master bedroom. Ballin calls out; 'Gilda. Are you decent?'
All we see is bedroom wall for a split second before Hayworth tosses back her mane of hair, appearing in the shot from the lower edge of the frame. 
'Me?Decent?', she answers, before catching a glimpse of Johnny, who takes a step forward, eyes widening in surprise. Her smile fades and her expression hardens. These two have a history.
"Sure...I'm decent', she adds, the comment more of an assertion than a mere reply.

And later in the movie...


Gilda holds the guitar by the neck. 

                  Would it interest you to know
                  know how much I hate you, Johnny?

                  Very much.

                  I hate you so much that I would
                  destroy myself to take you down 
                  with me.

The screenplay was written by Jo Eisinger and Marion Parsonnette and this is one film noir that has been constantly written about over the years and it fully deserves its classic status. 
I had to get this movie on disc. The Criterion Collection has it available. And I'm gonna get my mitts on a copy. Very soon. 

When I got the BluRay player home, I put on my Criterion Collection copy of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson's wonderful film from 2004. This was a US region copy of the film and it played without a Hitch. 
It's a great film. Bill Murray is Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau type ocean explorer, even down to the red knitted beanie. He is on a quest to find what he calls a jaguar shark, a large predator that devoured his long-time crew member and friend, Esteban. Meanwhile, along comes a young man named Ned Plympton (Owen Wilson), who may or may not be his illegitimate son. Wes Anderson always assembles a great cast for each of his films and he has a unique eye and sensibility which permeates throughout the entire look of his films. If you've never seen any of his films, this is a good place to start. Follow it with The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Darjeeling Limited to get an idea of his style. 

Wristwatch-wise, these are what I wore this week;

The blue-dialed Seiko was worn for handyman duties on Saturday afternoon (more about that below), while the Movember Edition Oris Diver SixtyFive got the most time on my wrist. I briefly wore the Submariner later in the week before switching to the blue/black dial Oris Diver SixtyFive sometime on Thursday. 
On Friday, I brought the Movember Oris and the 1969 Omega Seamaster to work with me. I just couldn't decide which watch to wear. That's never happened to me before. 
I began my workday with the Seamaster on my wrist. It was a busy day and I had a tonne of stuff to get through. I wanted to wear something that was a little more business-like. I was wearing a tie and waistcoat. 'Cos ya gotta look like you mean business. 
So, when I got to work, I switched on the computer, put my game-face on, and got to work. Plowed on through till 1:40pm and then had a quick spot of lunch (toasted ham, cheese, tomato sandwich) and got back to it. Got everything done, plus some other stuff that wasn't on the agenda for the day, and left the office with a clean conscience and a clean slate. 

Saturday, after watching The Life Aquatic, it was time to get a few things done...

But the table seems to have turned out okay;

Part of me is tempted to remove the little metal studs along the framed edge and replace them with brass screws instead. I'm thinking, though, that this would take away from the mid-Century aesthetic.
Best leave well enough alone. 

Saturday night's Lolly Nite Movie was a French film called L'Odyssey (The Odyssey, Dir: Jerome Salle, 2016), based on the life and exploits of French inventor/explorer/oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. I was almost going to say no to this film, having just watched the Wes Anderson film earlier in the day, but what the hell. 
It was a nice movie, with gorgeous cinematography as it traces the life of Cousteau from 1949, shortly after he has invented the aqualung, right through the subsequent expeditions and documentaries that he made aboard his research vessel, The Calypso. Of course, this kind of storyline, while okay, is not enough to sustain the drama that is required in a movie, so we get the underlying sub-plot of Cousteau's relationship with his younger son, Philippe, who doesn't seem to share the world's fascination with his father. 
Lambert Wilson gives us a great performance as Cousteau. I haven't seen him in much, although I do recall him as the Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded (Dirs: The Wachowski Brothers, 2003). The wonderful Audrey Tatou stars as his wife Simone, who shares his passion and vision, but endures his many infidelities throughout their marriage.

I did laugh a few times as I saw parallels between this film and The Life Aquatic

Our younger cat Bowie managed to lose his collar and council registration tag a few weeks ago. I called the council to organise a replacement tag. It arrived a few days ago. I grabbed a small screwdriver and etched his name onto it before fitting it to his new collar.
Let's see how long it takes for him to lose this one. 

Like he cares.

Okay, all, that's about it for another week. I've switched over to the WatchCo build Omega Seamaster 300. This watch appeared on the wrists of Cousteau's crew in the movie last night. The film-makers did their homework, for it appears that Cousteau and his crew did in fact wear Seamaster 300s throughout the late 1960s. 

Okay, this finger of mine needs a new bandage. That disinfectant swab is gonna smart.

Yep. Sure did.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week ahead, folks!