Tuesday 31 May 2011

The Typewriter Collection- No.1: Smith-Corona Sterling, circa 1945.

Love those stripes running diagonally along the sides.

That carriage-return lever is rock-solid.

This was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I just wish that what I had written wasn't complete drivel.

Notice the shade of crimson on that engraving? The devil is in the details. Tom did a great job.

Even the back looks great. Those scratches, I imagine, would be from clumsy loading of the typewriter back into its case. This thing had to have belonged to a screenwriter. The drunken hack!

Spool reminds me of a film reel.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday 29 May 2011

Bond Fan Fiction No.4- This one's a typecast.

It was Ian Fleming's birthday yesterday (28th May) so I thought I'd put this one up the old fashioned way.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Hamilton Khaki Mechanical 44mm Hand-wound--REVIEW

Another unplanned purchase, dammit. First was the Tissot VisoDate 1957 and now this. The Hamilton Khaki 44mm Officer's Mechanical.

My collection was lacking something. Something big, loud and slightly ridiculous. Something with a Unitas 6497 hand-wound movement and a military watch look. I have the wrists of a schoolgirl, which measure 6.5 inches, so a 44mm wristwatch is really pushing it.

I should mention that I’ve worked for an Authorised Watch Dealer for over ten years. My store sells many brands, but Hamilton is not available in Australia.  Working for an AD has given me the opportunity to try on a multitude of watches, so I had reached a point where I had a good idea of what I was looking for.

The Hamilton Watch Company was known for producing watches for military use during the Second World War. By war’s end, they had supplied the US armed forces with over a million watches. So they have a rich history when it comes to military timepieces. Those of you reading who know a lot more about this than I, feel free to correct me where necessary.
So anyway, I saw this Hamilton Khaki on eBay and grabbed it. It seemed to meet all of my criteria.

A 44mm diameter wristwatch would positively dwarf my wrist. However, there are times when I want to look like an action figure (or clown) and, on some days, I have enough attitude to carry this look off. Or at least I think I do. I was after a watch that would look like a piece of military kit like those underwater wrist compasses that Panerai made during the war. Basically, I wanted the sort of watch that I could wear in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland, such as  in “Terminator: Salvation”, not “The Road”.
So I purchased the watch and waited. 
About a week later, this arrived in the mail;

The letter, not the drink, wiseguy. I hate these postcards.

So I did what any normal guy would do. I dusted off the cocktail shaker, grabbed the Bacardi, some lime juice and a dash of sugar and shook up a Daiquiri from a recipe by David Wondrich in the September issue of US “Esquire” magazine. That hit the spot. The next day, I raced to the Post Office to pick up the watch.

And, to pepper this review with an old Hollywood vibe...*



A MAN sits at a long wooden TABLE. He TYPES away at a LAPTOP. He’s thin, rapidly approaching middle age, and his hair went South years ago. His name is TEERITZ.

                       TEERITZ (V.O.)

               I thought this was just another
               watch review. And then I got an
               idea. And before I knew it, I was
               in over my head...again.

                                                                                                                                           CUT TO:

“The Army??!! He’s 44 years old, for crying out loud! If Dad were still alive, this’d kill him.”


Day 01 –13:09 HRS – THE CASE
The case is nicely done. All evenly-brushed stainless steel. There’s always a risk with large watches that, because of their size, any flaws will be easily noticeable. The Khaki is an exercise in understated design. There is no adornment or flourish just for the sake of it. It is made up entirely of soft curves throughout with no sharp corners.

The bezel is interesting, too. It reminds me somewhat of the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph in that it is not a removable part, but completely integrated into the case’s design. As such, a hard knock from the wrong angle will put a decent dent in the bezel which would not polish out completely. Just something to be aware of.
Right, I'm taking a break. All this cutting and pasting is getting on my wick. Gotta go.
Okay, back to it.

"This is gonna take a little longer than I thought."*


Day 01-18:14 HRS - THE CASE(CONT.)
Okay, back to the case. The lugs have a slight downward curve. Good for me because my wrist is gonna need all the help it can get. You can see the noticeable overhang from the strap. 


It’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Snigger all you want. Yes, the watch wears large, as you’ll see in numerous photos in this review, but it doesn’t sit as ridiculously as I had assumed.


"I got it! Now to really start giving the enemy a hard time."

There are six screws holding the case-back in place. This is not a screw-down case-back. I am confident that it is secure enough to maintain the watch’s 100 metre water-resistance. Nice to know.

"Not exactly OSS-issue ordnance, but it’ll have to do. The branches are a little damp, too. Luckies make a great fuse, though. Should give me about fifteen minutes.”

Now, the case-back is interesting with regard to how much it holds the wearer’s hand. It basically assumes that you know nothing about the wristwatch you’ve just purchased so there are little symbols engraved on the back that tell you this watch is 100m water-resistant, stainless steel, hand-wound, contains a 6497 movement with and finally, that the watch is indeed a Hamilton, as well as lots of other specs. Perhaps I’m too used to seeing a lot of this info engraved in wording around the outer edge of the case-back. This arrangement doesn’t irk me. It’s merely an observation.

I'll tell you what is nifty, though- the little cut-out/porthole window which shows the hairspring expand and contract while a section of the escapement can be seen doing its little dance in the back-ground. It would have been nice to get a complete exhibition/see-through case-back, but then, knowing Hamilton, they would have given the movement a little decoration. So, I suppose they put in an un-adorned movement in order to cut costs. No big deal. I have enough watches with see-through backs. And speaking of the movement...

Day 01 –21:12 HRS – THE MOVEMENT
There’s a Unitas 6497 purring away inside this thing. Actually, it’s no longer Unitas. It’s ETA. Yeah, you read it right. The Swatch Group bought up Unitas. That’s okay by me if it ensures continuous funding for the production of this calibre. I’d hate to see another tried-and-tested ebauche disappear from the watch industry the way the legendary Lemania 5100 did.  

The Unitas hand wound calibre was designed in the 1950s as a pocket watch movement, hence the reason why it tends to turn up in rather large watches. In recent years, it’s been used by brands as diverse as Longines and Panerai. Here are some specs for those of you interested in this stuff;

-36.6mm in diameter
-16 ½ ‘’’ligne
-53 hr power reserve
-21,600 bph

I gave the watch a quick test on the timer at work and it gave me the following  results;                                                            
Dial UP +12 secs per day                                                        
Crown UP +13 secs per day                                                                   Pic courtesy of www.ranfft.de
Crown DOWN +17 secs per day

This was by no means a definitive test and it only covered three positions, but the results seemed okay to me, considering this movement hasn’t been adjusted to run at COSC specifications. Also, this is a non-hacking movement, so if you find yourself in a re-enactment of the D-Day landing, you’re gonna look pretty foolish when the Commander announces; “Alright, men, synchronise your watches.”
One thing about this Unitas-ETA 6497 movement- it winds very smoothly and definitively. You can almost feel ratchets lock against each other as you wind it.
Deep down, I’m a sucker for a hand wound watch. I’ve had an Omega Speedmaster Professional for the last 4 years and that got me used to hand wound watches. There’s something old-school about hand winding a watch. It’s the ultimate interaction between the owner and the watch. The watch has a heart-beat and it is you, the wearer, who keeps the watch ‘alive’, so to speak.
My father bought himself a Wyler Incaflex manual wind watch back in the sixties. I don’t wear it often, but it winds like new. And, when I do wear it, I feel a little closer to him, may he rest in peace.
Speaking of winding, I should mention the crown...

Day 01 –21:57 HRS – THE CROWN

The crown on this Hamilton Khaki is just a little bigger than a Coca Cola bottle-top. I exaggerate, but it is a big crown. Nicely ridged, it’s easy to grip and its dimensions perfectly suit the case.
This crown does not screw down, either so I’m betting that there’s the mother-of-all rubber gaskets next to it to keep water from entering the case itself.


“Jerry can’t take a joke. Just as well those French Resistance fellas showed up when they did. I was about to eat lead.”

Day 03 –12:41 HRS – THE DIAL
If the early Noughties iteration of the Panerai Luminor Marina shows how minimal a Unitas 6497-powered watch dial can look, then the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical is an exercise in how to provide all necessary information without cluttering up the dial. 

Military products are all about correct function followed by utilitarian design and, while this watch would probably not meet Defence Dept. standards, it does offer a clear and legible dial layout for us civilians. The hour markers are set out in large white Arabic numerals with the 12 and 6 in slightly larger size. There is a sharp and clear contrast between the white numerals and the black-board grey dial. This official marketing picture here, courtesy of Hamilton Watches, shows greater contrast, giving the dial a black hue. In reality, the dial is a metallic grey when viewed in direct sunlight.

My limited photographic skills will, no doubt, be unable to capture the true color and texture of this dial. But it's worth a shot. The dial is the colour of a cloudy sky, just before the rain comes down, and this grey finish is done in a slightly glossy sunburst finish.


On each hour marker next to the dial edge chapter ring, you can see 5-minute markers from 5 to 60. Surrounding the inside edge of the hour markers is a military/European hour readout from 13 to 24 in much smaller font than the main dial.
This dial is what’s sometimes known as a ‘9 eater’. The sub-seconds dial completely eradicates the 9 and takes a decent bite out of the neighbouring 8 and 10 as well. And speaking of the sub-seconds dial, I love the tiny splash of red from the 50 second marker. The sub-dial has a concentric circle pattern through it, just to break up the even landscape of this dial.

“She stole the cigarettes from her uncle’s jacket. Wouldn’t let go of ‘em till I handed over the candy bar. There’s just no trust in the world anymore. Oh, yeah, she’s eight years old.”

The Hamilton brand name appears under the 12 (& 24) mark in a great mix of upper and lower case font. Above the 6, in very small lettering, is the name “Khaki” with the word “Mechanical” beneath it. Both of these words are in uppercase. 

I fell asleep with this watch on one night and am happy to report that the time was perfectly legible when I woke up and glanced at it at about 4:30am.

This is how it looks after a short exposure to bright sunlight. Excuse the blurry shot.

"The War's been over for about six months. It's a strange new world we live in now. But one still worth fighting for." 

Day 03 –21:04 HRS – CONCLUSION
The Hamilton Khaki Officer's Mechanical is a great value-for-money watch. It comes from a brand that has a long and rich history of supplying watches for military use. So in that respect, Hamilton certainly has more credibility than some more modern brands that produce a military style watch, yet have no record of having supplied the armed forces with timepieces.

What this watch does, it does very well and it’s not trying to compete with more expensive brands that produce a similar wristwatch. The build quality and finish is exemplary, but it’s when you begin to look at this watch in detail that you notice just how well put-together it is. You could compare it to other brands like Zeno and Glycine, who both make great watches, but charge a lot more for them. I have seen other brands in the same price range as this Hamilton Khaki and they are pretty average. I’m being generous with that opinion, by the way. The more I look at this watch, the better a value it becomes.

Any watch in the Hamilton Khaki range is worth a look. Some of the smaller models owe a great deal of their design to the models produced during the Second World War. However, if you’re after a bigger watch that fits in with the current trend for larger watches, then the 44mm Automatic and hand-wound models are definitely ones to consider.
Thanks for reading.

*Yeah, yeah, dogtags during WWII didn't have rubber silencers on them, but after all this work, the last thing I was going to do was remove some rubber rings from some dogtags for a photo op.
Photos shot on location around the house, back-yard and driveway. 

Gitane cigarette pack was empty and has been since around 1992. 
Hershey Bar lasted 4 minutes after that photo was taken. Given to photographer and hand model as payment.
Apologies for any and all inconsistencies and errors regarding Western Union telegram and Office of Strategic Services letter layouts. After all, I had to make them up.

Copyright, teeritz, 2011. This review has appeared elsewhere on the internet.  

EDIT - July 2017; Due to Photobucket's new policies regarding 3rd party hosting of photos, this review has been re-edited with photos from my Google account. Some new photos were added also. 

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Olympia SM series. Cold War standard-issue typewriter?

Or...I could just switch to the blogspot post software with its different fonts and backspace button.

Always been a sucker for German design and engineering. Nothing is wasted and form indeed follows function. One more shot of the SM2 with my German-made (with Swiss parts) Sinn 103 St Sa Chronograph.

Komplete mit days of the week in German.
When in Rome...or Frankfurt.

No Dollar Sign? No Problem!

Monday 23 May 2011

Bond Fan Fiction No.3

(3) Fire Down Below

Picture by M4tt

Nazzareno drifted ahead and down towards the coral. James Bond stayed suspended where he was, noting that only an Italian would take the time and trouble to colour-coordinate his diving outfit. Black wet-suit with pink fins!
"A man muzt look good faw da feesh, Jems.", Nazzareno had said in the boat while they prepared for the dive, his eyes scanning every inch of Monica Purdey's body as she sat languidly at the wheel. She wore one of Bond's light blue Geoffrey Beene cotton shirts knotted at the waist over a black and white one-piece Dior swimsuit. Bond gave a short laugh into his Sherwood SR-1 regulator, sending a burst of bubbles up toward the surface of the clear blue water off the coast of Amalfi

       This man, the Head of Station I in Rome, was the very definition of the term 'bon-vivant'. Tiberio Nazzareno was just twenty-one years old when he completed his two years of National Service and joined the Italian Carabinieri back in the mid 1970s at the height of The Red Brigade's wave of kidnappings and bombings. He quickly rose through the ranks, but grew disgusted with the level of corruption and lack of morality within Italy's legal system. So, the day after his thirtieth birthday, he resigned from the Police Force and offered his services to SISMI, Italy's Military Intelligence and Security Service. The SISMI weathered its fare share of scandals until 2007 when the Italian government, under Prodi's leadership, introduced sweeping reforms designed to allow closer scrutiny of the country's Intelligence services. The SISMI was disbanded and Nazzareno was quickly transferred into the AISI, the department responsible for internal intelligence gathering and security. The new War on Terror had shown him just how fragile life could be, so nowadays, if there was an opportunity to pursue pleasure, then Tiberio Nazzareno would pursue it with a vengeance. To a great extent, he was a reflection of James Bond himself and, as such, he was one of Bond's favorite people in the intelligence business.

       Bond's thoughts turned back to the mission at hand. He glanced down at his Omega Seamaster Professional. The skeleton hands showed 3:08pm. They'd been down there almost 30 minutes and he doubted they would find the flight recorder. In the distance to his left, he could just make out the outline of the Gulfstream V's fuselage section. Directly below him was the left wing of the aircraft which had sheared off from the main body upon impact with the water.

       He turned back to see what Nazzareno was up to, only to see a spear hit the man's back. The aluminium tip had gone right through Nazzareno's heart, killing him instantly. The snug fit of his wet-suit allowed only a small plume of blood to emerge from the wound as Nazzareno's lifeless body began to drift away from Bond's vicinity.

       Bond spun around as he brought his right knee upward and withdrew the Mission MPK12-Ti dive knife from the rubber sheath strapped to his calf. As he turned, Irina Markov lashed out with her left hand and he felt a stabbing sensation in his right shoulder. He swung out the titanium-bladed knife, but Markov was already out of arm's reach.

   The pain began slowly. His right shoulder burned mildly, but the increase in his discomfort was rapid. The pain spread down his arm. Bond looked slowly to his left and could make out the murky shape of Markov as her powerful legs kicked her away from him. He saw her let go of the thin lancette and briefly watched it spiral towards the ocean floor. He glanced at the Omega Seamaster Professional strapped to his wrist. The inky-blue dial was beginning to blur. The poison was acting quickly. In minutes, he would find it hard to breathe. Paralysis would follow soon after and he would then suffer a cardiac arrest ten metres under water off the coast of Amalfi.

       Bond felt a sudden bolt of nausea slice through him and he vomited into his mouthpiece. Clumsily, he reached up and pressed the purge button on the Sherwood regulator which ejected the blockage from the mouthpiece. He was slightly repulsed to see an array of colorful marine life appear from nowhere to devour this pre-digested mixture.

       Bond's breathing became laboured, as though he was breathing through a straw. He turned to see the thin outline of the anchor chain a few feet away. To Bond right then, it may as well have been a few miles.

       With a Herculean effort, he lashed out with his legs and drifted like a leaf in the wind towards the chain. His right arm now felt as though it were on fire. His body bumped into the chain gently and he wrapped himself around it. With the remaining vestiges of his strength, he tugged on the chain with his left hand and hoped that Monica would see the pre-arranged distress signal and haul him up to the surface. Bond knew that, unless she moved quickly, he would be dead in ten minutes.
He waited...