Thursday 30 July 2015

Friday 31/7/2015 - Teeth, Pills & This Week's Wristwatches

The 36.2mm Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial with a 1970 edition of The Spy Who Loved Me (1962). It would appear that I only have one copy of this particular title. May have to rectify that one day.

A 1957 edition of Live And Let Die (1954), seen here with the Submariner 5513. I figured I'd put this title together with this watch, since it's the model Roger Moore wore in the movie.

After the doctor's appointment, I had to head over to the Pathology Department to give them another blood sample. The nurse filled a syringe that was the size of a packet of Life Savers.
'Did you leave me any?', I asked after she withdrew the needle. 

Got home and made a dental appointment for Tuesday. Looks like I'll be losing a little more blood before this week is over. 

             Initial Consultation at the oral surgeon. He looked at the x-ray and said he would have no problem removing this tooth. I had a crown fitted some years ago and the upper portion of it dislodged at some point, leaving only the base. My regular dentist recommended removal of the remaining portion. The only problem was that one of the roots had snapped and he, therefore, didn't want to attempt it, so he made out a referral for me to see this guy.
'We could probably remove it now', he said matter-of-factly.

Life is only going to get a little busier over the next couple of months. I spent most of last night worrying about my blood test results. The internet is a terrible thing. However, to deal with as many issues as life throws out, I figured I may as well have this procedure done here and now.
'Well, if you don't foresee it being difficult, then I suppose we might as well', I replied.
Took him about ten minutes, if that. He wrote out a prescription for some pills to deal with any potential 'dry socket' and away I went.
My face is still numb as I write this. I'm still wearing the Submariner 5513;

Seen here with a 1963 printing of For Your Eyes Only, a short story collection first published in 1960.
That's tea in the glass. I ain't wasting scotch for a photo.

                Spent an hour at the local library, or rather, seated in the foyer of the local library. I got there at 11:00am. On Wednesdays, this library doesn't open till 1:00pm. Anyway, I could still access the Wi-Fi from the foyer, so that's what I did.

I was wearing the Omega Speedmaster Professional, pictured with a 1963 edition of Fleming's third Bond novel, Moonraker (1955);

               The morning was quiet. The rest of the day would be busier. I picked my daughter up from school at midday. She had an orthodontist appointment to have braces fitted. The doctor would be taking plaster impressions of her bite today. After that, we went home and waited for my wife to get home from work. We then went to see the house we had purchased. We had a few questions for the vendors regarding some minor details like modem location, solar panels, heating, etc. Then we had to take our son to the orthodontist so that he could get his braces tightened.It's been a good week for dentists, that's for sure. Speaking of which, I'd better pop a couple of aspirin. My tooth is a'hurtin'.

I switched from the Speedmaster to the Omega Railmaster. Today's book is a 1966 copy of Thunderball (1961). I do like these covers. Many elements from the book are featured in the photograph.

          Spent a couple of hours at the library, using their internet. Our new 'net plan starts tomorrow. That'll be nice. Tooth still aches a little, but the sun's out. I'm thinking that Spring may start a little early this year. From all reports, though, we could be in for a very hot Summer. Suits me. I've been taking Vitamin D supplements all week. Might be nice to just sit outside and let Mother Nature supply it to me free of charge.

Still had the Omega Railmaster on. Here it is, next to a 1964 (Eighth Impression) hardback copy of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963). The cover artwork was done by the legendary Richard Chopping. The camera's Art Filter was set to 'Key Line', which produces a nice animation cell effect.

Here's a similar shot in the standard Auto setting. As I said, the sun was out.

This particular copy of the book is an ex-library edition that I snapped up second-hand. Don't remember where. Inside, it still had the 'Due Date' slip and the typewritten library card holder.

Well, kids, that's another week done. Things are only going to get busier for a while. Yes, I keep saying that, and I keep turning up the following week, but I think I just may be too busy to do a weekly update for a while. Four assignments left to do and then this course is over with. Three of the assignments are fairly straight-forward. The fourth one will require some proper research before it's finished. And then, that's it. Let's just see how much of them I can get done over the coming week or two.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday 24 July 2015

Friday 24/7/2015 - Houses, Health Checks, Bond Updates & This Week's Wristwatches


Back in 1990 when I was in the market to buy my first car, I went to see a nearby dealer who specialised in spare parts for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. He had a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280S for sale. The price was six and a half grand. I had a look at it and took it for a test-drive. It was a white 2.8 litre four-speed manual and it drove very smoothly. 

About a week later, I went to take another look at it, this time with my friend Daniel. He took it for a spin, and when he got back, the dealer said to me; 'Okay, so are you interested in this car?'
I told him I had to think about it. Daniel and I left his premises.

'What are you doin', Ritz? Do you wanna buy it?', he asked me as I fished out a pack of Marlboro Lights, offered him one, and then lit it with my brushed steel Zippo lighter.
'Man, it's all happening too fast!', I answered as I took a drag of my own cigarette.
'These things always do' , he responded. 'He's got the car for sale, it's a good car, you've got the money, so what are you waiting for?'
We finished our smokes, went back into the dealer's shop and I filled out the paperwork. Next day, I went back and handed over sixty-five hundred dollars and drove home in my new (to me) car. 
Daniel was right. These things do happen fast.


Last Thursday
                       I got a call from a real estate agent.  There was a house up for sale. Would I like to take a look at it? I asked about the price range and was taken aback by the vendor's asking price, which was the minimum that they would accept.
Things began happening quickly once I hung up the phone. I sent my wife a text message to see if she wanted to go take a look at this house later that day. She was working until 2:oopm. I had scheduled the viewing for 2:30. The kids had to be picked up from school at 3:oo.

We drove out to the place later that day. The agent was standing out front and we made our introductions. He explained to us that the vendors were home, but they would be happy for us to take a tour of their house. So, in we went.
The bedrooms were a tad smaller than what we have in our house. That's no big deal.
There are two lounge/living rooms in this place. Nice.
There's a dining room that can easily be used as a study. Fantastic.
The master bedroom has a small en suite and is situated away from the kid's rooms. Cool.
The house has insulation in the ceiling AND the walls. Pow!
There's plenty of storage space in this house. Wonderful.
We met the vendors. They were a lovely couple, and had very obviously looked after and maintained this home since they had it built back in 1973. Yes, it's a very '70s design, with lots of space, high ceilings and built-in furniture in some rooms. I christened this house 'The Concorde', based on its sloping roof, which reminded me of the airliner's wingspan.
We thanked the vendors and the real estate agent, and headed off to pick up the kids.
Now all we had to do was come up with an offer on this house.

The way this agency works is like this; They tell you the price range that the vendor is seeking. You then put in an offer via silent bid. Once a few of these bids are collected, each one is placed into an envelope for the vendor to look at and decide.
It is a little nerve-wracking because, as a buyer, you can't help but think that you're offering way more for a house than you might pay if it had gone to auction.
Later that night, my wife and I busted out pen, paper, and calculator and did some number crunching.
We weighed up our options.
Here's the kindergarten version;

Buy a lower-priced house that needs work;

   Price range - $3.50 to $4.00
   Leaving ourselves with $1.00 to $2.00 to spend on repair/renovation costs (if it needs extensive work done or we want to add an extra room.)


Buy a house that doesn't need much done to it;

   Price range - $4.50 to $5.50
   Leaving us with .50 cents in the bank, but the house doesn't need anything done to it.

Most houses that we have seen in the last three months have either been renovated to the nines, or have been absolute hovels that would need a lot of time, trouble and money just to make them liveable.
We had gotten a little desperate in recent weeks. Pricing has gone through the roof since we sold our own house earlier this year.
After much calculation, we arrived at a figure we were willing (and able) to offer on this house. It was about fifteen grand beyond what we had considered our absolute maximum.

Last Friday
                  We went to see the real estate agent. 'Give me all your money', he said. We hashed out prices. I understood the agent's reasoning. I mean, beyond his wanting to make himself a higher commission. This isn't like a normal auction. We can't hear or see what somebody else is bidding on this place, so we have to bid as high as we possibly can without resorting to dog food for dinner for the next decade.
I looked at my wife, she looked at me. We both knew that our offer would be lower than what other bidders would offer, based on the ridiculously high bids that we have seen at auctions lately and the fact that home loan interest rates are still at a low 2%.
Also, my wife works part-time, and I'm still looking for work. We are indeed hobbled by our current circumstances.
She and I had agreed not to let emotion get into the mix, but I had already day-dreamed about us sitting down in the comfy lounge room, with the heating on, to watch a DVD while the kids sat in the other living area with Playstation controllers in their hands.
We had already gone beyond what we had planned to spend on the place.
However, sometimes, you just gotta bet with your balls.
'I can take on a few extra shifts at work', she said.
We bumped up our offer by another three grand.
The agent explained that he would submit all offers to the vendors next day and he would call us by 3:00pm Saturday to let us know if we were successful with our bid.

Last Saturday
                      We went to view a property that was for sale above a cafe. My wife used to live above a shop back in her twenties and this place reminded her of that time. I hated it. It didn't feel 'homey' to me.
We got home and had lunch. The time slowly rolled around to 3:00pm. My phone didn't ring. The minutes ticked on to 3:30pm. No phone call.
Ah well, maybe the vendors are still reviewing the offers. Maybe they've decided to think about it over the weekend and give their decision on Monday. That's what I was thinking, but by four o'clock, I figured we had probably been outbid.
My phone rang at around 4:30pm. It was the agent; 'Did you place an order for No. 55 XXXXXXX Street in XXXXXX?', he asked.
Two thoughts raced through my mind right then- "We got it!!!"
"This guy has the nastiest sense of humour I've ever come across."
Not wanting to get my hopes up, and in an effort to play along, I responded; 'Yes I did, but I was waiting on information regarding availability of stock.'
I glanced over at my wife, who was sitting on the couch looking at me with a smirk of anticipation.
'Congratulations, they accepted your offer', the agent said.
'Oh, fantastic!', I replied, but I don't recall what else I said. I pictured us packing everything up in this house that we've lived in for the last fifteen years. This house that has served us well in that time, but grew too small as the kids grew larger.
The agent went on; 'They liked you and XXXXXX, and they wanted you to have the house. They said they hope you'll have as many happy years there as they've had.'
Two days earlier, we didn't know this house existed.
These things happen fast.

             I had a doctor's appointment. This was a biggie. It was a free Health Assessment Check for 45 to 49 year-olds. It was basically the closest you can get these days to asking your doctor for a complete physical, like you see in old movies. They'd sent me the invitation months ago and I kept putting it off.
Anyway, I turned up in track pants, T-shirt and pullover and away we went. They shaved part of my chest so that they could attach the ECG sensors to check my heart rate. I looked like Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin. They attached inflatable sleeves to both arms and ankles to check my blood pressure. They gave me a Spirometric test to measure lung strength. They checked my height- 5'10". Hmm, I think I've shrunk half an inch in recent years.
Then I spoke to my doctor. The blood sample that I gave them a week earlier shows a reduction in white blood cells (a condition known as Neutropenia) which makes me a little more susceptible to infection. Great.
And I was low on Vitamin D too. He suggested a follow-up appointment in a month. And then he said; 'Right, your prostate.'
I should have known, given the blue rubber gloves he was wearing.
'Oh, really?', I said. 'I thought the blood test was for prostate.'
'Yes, but it's not as exact. We don't have to if you don't want to.'
'Okay, so the glove test is more thorough than the blood test alone?', I asked.
'Exactly. But looking at the test results...' (He gave me some numbers that I can't recall. Basically, I'm not at risk of prostate cancer just yet.)...'But we could do it at a later stage, given your low numbers. I'm not concerned about it', he added.
'I got no real problem with having it done, but I'm just not in the uh...right mindset for it today', I said.
'It's up to you. We don't have to', he stated.
'Okay, how's about we pencil it in for twelve months from now?', I asked.
'Yes, that would be fine. It's not urgent', he said.
'Okay, cool. And I'll bring flowers, too.'
I was wearing the 36.2mm Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial;

I got out of there and headed home. I had to get to the real estate agent's office to pay the deposit on the house. I got home, flicked on the coffee machine and got changed. I was going out to hand over a cheque for tens of thousands of dollars. I had to look the part. I had to look like a player. But I wanted to look like an old-school one. So, off came the AquaTerra and on went the circa 1962 Omega Seamaster Automatic;

                   Big Bond day today. I pre-ordered a copy of the new Bond book, Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz, due out in October. This copy is numbered and signed. Nifty! Nothing to do now except wait.
Later in the afternoon came the news that the new full trailer for SPECTRE had gone online; - New SPECTRE Trailer Released

Our internet allowance for the month (50Gb) ran out a week ago and has been running at dial-up speed ever since. It might have something to do with my daughter spending way too much time on Instagram since she got herself an iPod Touch. We've read her the riot act a few times. I'm happy to report that she's been using her iPod for listening to music, rather than anything else, since I told her what a time-trap social media sites can be. They did a survey in her classroom a few weeks ago and she learned that most of her classmates are on three or four different social media sites. These girls are twelve years old.
My wife and I explained to our princess that we didn't care if other parents allowed their children access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We reminded her that we run our household a little more 20th Century than most people - 'See all those typewriters, Missy?' - and we try not to rely too heavily on the internet and social media.
Anyway, I had a new Bond movie trailer to watch. On dial-up speed, it took about ten minutes to load up. Hard to know how this film will go, based on a two-and-a-half minute trailer, but I think it's gonna be awesome!

Director Sam Mendes announced earlier this week that he would not direct any more Bond films. He cited the commitment and work involved in helming one of these films takes him away from his theatre projects and he gets 'pilloried' by his friends for directing a Bond film.
Well, Mr Mendes, Ian Fleming himself was often derided by his literary friends for writing the Bond novels. You have Skyfall on your resume now and, for better or worse, you will always be remembered for having made a great Bond film. As well as American Beauty, The Road To Perdition and Revolutionary Road, to name a few.

Directing a Bond film is not slumming it. It's adding to the mythology of an enduringly popular fictional character. And something like a Bond movie does what movies have always done- help people to forget about their own problems for a couple of hours while entertaining them in the process.
Oh, and Happy Birthday (the BIG Five-Oh!) for next week, Mr Mendes!

Being in Bond mode, I switched over to the Rolex Submariner 5513;

           Had an appointment with my solicitor. Paperwork to be signed. Back to the business-like Omega AquaTerra;

While driving home, my phone beeped. I pulled over and checked the message;

Full blood count slightly 
abnormal- please make an 
appointment to discuss.

I called the doctor's surgery and made an appointment for midday on Monday.

' Don't worry about it, worry at it.'
         - Vice Admiral (Ret.) Sir Miles Messervy KCMG, better known as 'M'.

There's no way I plan to spend this weekend worrying about my blood test results. I'll know more about it this time on Monday.
As I've gotten older, I've tried to worry less about stuff until I have all the facts. Sometimes it's an easy process, and sometimes it ain't.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Thursday 9 July 2015

The Typewriter Collection No. 18 - Olivetti Lettera 22, circa 1962

I've had my Lettera 32 for over thirty years and it served me well during my school years. In recent months, I began thinking about maybe snagging an earlier Olivetti, namely a Lettera 22. Design-wise, it bears a great similarity to the 32. If anything, the 32 looks like a slimmed-down version of the 22. 

One model came up on eBay and I began the watching process. It got down to the last 60 seconds of the auction and the highest bid was $19.50. I put in a maximum bid of $43.oo in the final thirty seconds and then waited another 22 seconds before tapping the 'Submit' button. Ten seconds later, I was the winning bidder. It cost me $21.oo + $10.50 postage. I could live with that. 
Here's one of the Seller's pics;

Looked okay. The keytops had some crud on them, but I figured they'd (hopefully) clean up alright. Four days later, it arrived. I cut open the cardboard box to find a bare minimum of padding surrounding the blue-green Olivetti carry case with its dark blue stripe running down the middle. 
I gently pulled the case out of the box to find that the zipper was completely undone. Reason being that it no longer zipped up. So, the typewriter was able to freely slide around inside the case. 

I pulled the machine out of its case and set it down on the dining room table. It looked like this;

Notice how the ribbon cover is misaligned. See also that the frame around the keybank on the left-hand side is further from the Shift key than the other side. This thing had been dropped in transit. 

The cardboard box that it arrived in showed no dents or signs of abuse. I can only assume that the box was handled a little too rough during transit and the typewriter bounced around inside its unzippered case. I sent the seller a couple of pics showing how it looked. He replied next day, saying he hoped I got some resolution with Australia Post. I had planned to put in a complaint with our postal service, but they make it a very convoluted process. 
I replied to the seller, saying that I didn't know if he'd ever shipped a typewriter before, but they do require the use of some scrunched-up newspaper in order to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Especially if the case doesn't zip up. 
Needless to say, I haven't heard back from the seller. I don't think I'll leave him any feedback, good or bad, but if he contacts me to ask why I haven't left it, I will ask him just what kind of feedback he'd like me to leave, considering how he packed the item. 

Anyway, I looked at the typewriter for a few minutes and began thinking of how I could reshape the frame. Granted, I doubted that it would go back to its perfect original shape, but I felt that I could get it looking better than it was. My first idea was a slightly complicated one that would involve placing the frame down in a doorway against one frame and positioning a car-jack against the opposite frame of the door and then seeing if I could slowly re-form the Lettera 22's frame. 

Then, I had a better idea. Why don't I just grab that IKEA tool kit that I got for Mrs. Teeritz last year and just have a bash at the frame with the rubber-tipped hammer?
Yeah, that would be a simpler and faster process. Worst-case scenario? The frame snaps. Still, this thing didn't cost me too much, so I figured it was worth a shot. 

Here's what I typed up yesterday. It's a little repetitive. Sorry;

It certainly looked better by the time I was done. The colour was now beginning to bug me. Because the shape of the 22 is so similar to the later model 32, I wanted to differentiate this machine in some way. But more about that later. There was one other thing wrong with this typewriter. As you may know, you only have to undo four screws in order to remove the shell off these typers. There are four metal brackets where these screws are located. These brackets hold the shell to the internal framework. However, one of the brackets...

...had sheared off. It began to look clearer to me at this point. The machine had received a hard knock on the right-hand side of the frame near the Shift key. This would have caused the bracket over on the left-hand side (near the tension control switch under the ribbon cover) to snap off. 
The one on the right-hand side was still intact;

Now, unbeknownst to me at the time, this snapped-off bracket was making it very difficult to lift off the ribbon cover. I was worried that the cover might bend or snap if pulled too hard. I decided to leave it be and ponder on it for a few days.
Back to the colour of this machine. It is that famous Olivetti shade of teal blue or green, depending on your colour perception. The colour that was used on a zillion Lettera 32s. I wanted to change it and, as luck would have it, I had a can of spray-paint in the garage that would be just about perfect for this machine. 
I covered the badging and sound-proofing felt with masking tape and spent a couple of days painting the frame. First coat left a few streaks as I got the hang of using the can. I sanded the entire frame lightly, removing some of the new colour, and some of the old colour, which exposed the bare metal underneath. The paint I used was self-priming, too. Next day, I gave it another coat. Four hours later, a light touch-up here and there. Later that night, I brought it inside and left it in the lounge room where it would be warmer overnight than the garage where I had left it the day before. 
Next day, I re-attached it to the typewriter and it now looked like this. Ciao, bellezza! ;

Because I thought it would be cool to have this classic Italian typewriter mimic this classic Italian sports car, a 1973 Maserati Merak  / picture courtesy of ;

I was glad to see that the stains came off the keytops easily, too. All they needed was a light brush-down. I often wonder why people sell stuff on eBay without cleaning it up a little.

Further handling of the frame as I installed and removed it a few times did cause some paint to scrape away here and there, but that doesn't bother me too much. Now that I know how   simple it is to remove the shell, I can always give it a more permanent going over some day, if the mood strikes me, or if the machine ends up looking too  tattered. 
 It turned out okay. The coats were fairly even, and I was able to keep the colour off the badging;

Now, to tackle the missing bracket problem. I went to my local hardware store and picked up a small metal bracket and some nuts and bolts. If I was going to fix this thing, I knew I would have to make a slight cosmetic change to the shell. 
I got home, got out the tin snips and got to work on the metal bracket. I cut it into a smaller strip of metal, seen here in the bottom right of this picture, next to the screwdriver head;

The other side looked like this;

I almost wasn't going to bother trying to fix this, but I had noticed a little bit of 'play' in the frame on the left-hand side when any pressure was placed on it. I had briefly contemplated trying to re-attach the broken piece of steel, but nah. That seemed like it would be a bigger job than I could handle. 
Out came the drill. The new bracket was already pre-drilled in parts, but I needed to make the hole on top of it larger so that I could fit the original rubber washer back into it. It got a little tricky here. Rather than use a pair of pliers to hold the piece of steel while I drilled, I instead just held onto it by hand. As soon as I started drilling, the bracket caught on the drill-bit, effectively becoming a propeller. With the imagined result.
Three Mickey Mouse Band-Aids later, and I was back in business, this time with a pair of pliers in my hand. I then wrestled the  rubber washer into this new, larger hole and screwed it into place. 
Now, the slightly trickier part. This new, thin steel bracket extended down between the shell and the internal frame-work. I used a pencil to mark where the bracket sat and then I unscrewed the frame (again!) and stepped outside with the frame and the drill. I would really have one chance to get this right.  I drilled a small hole into the side of the typewriter shell and through the steel bracket.
Once that was done, I  gently screwed one of the small screws into the holes and fastened it with one of the bolts. The screw was a tad too long and was scraping against the internal framework, but the tin-snips solved that problem quick-smart. Now, it looked like this;

 Here's a slightly more detailed pic, although it keeps coming up sideways;

I'm tempted to paint that screw red, just to give it a little more of that '70s sports car vibe. Once this piece was secure, I screwed in the remaining three points and, lo and behold, the ribbon cover now comes off as easy as it should. 

So, after all this palaver, was it all worth the effort? I have to say I love how this thing types. It certainly feels very similar to my Lettera 32. However, what I really like about this machine is the 12pt sized font. My Lett 32 is a 10pt, as are quite a few of my machines. I've realised that I prefer  the smaller 12pt size. Although, in saying that, I'll never get rid of the Lettera 32. Too much history with that typewriter. Even if it does need a serious clean-out of all the accumulated dust inside it. 
Now, the only thing left to do is maybe change the zipper on the case or perhaps make an entirely new case for the machine. Out of timber. Yeah, maybe I should try putting a new zipper on the existing case. 
Here's one more shot of it, showing the chipped paint.

And that's it. Now, I'll have to move a typewriter or two as part of my 'one-in, one-out' collecting strategy. 
Once the cuts heal.

Thanks for reading!

* Special thanks to Reverend Ted for his brilliant site, The Typewriter , which helped me pinpoint the year of manufacture.
PayPalled you a Bond Fan's donation earlier today, sir ;-)

Thursday 2 July 2015

Friday 6/7/2015 - An Olivetti Lettera 22 Arrives In Questionable Shape, House Auctions Really Bug Me, & This Week's Wristwatches.

Last weekend

Went to an auction. We were interested in this house, despite the fact that it would need some work to make it liveable. Speaking to the real estate agent over the last few weeks, he indicated that the property would fetch somewhere in the high sixes. Okay, I think we can cope with that, considering how much we'd have to sink into the place afterwards. Not to mention the $37,000 Stamp Duty that would have to be added to the sale price. 
So, I get to the auction. The agent goes through his schtick about "Position, position, position", etc,  and the auction then gets underway; "Can we have an opening bid on this property?", he asks the crowd. 
And some guy to my right blurts out; "Six hundred and eighty!"
What. The. Hell?!!! A few more bids and I'm out of the running. The place ends up selling for over $800,000. 
One of the agents comes up to me afterwards. "Any questions?", she asks. 
"Yeah, why'd it sell for so much?", I say. That shuts her up. 
The hunt continues. We are in the middle of a "housing bubble" at the moment here in Australia. Home loan interest rates are sitting around 2%, which means that people are borrowing larger amounts from the banks, and bidding higher amounts at auction. That house was not worth the price that it sold for. Six months ago, it would have fetched around six hundred, six-fifty. However, people are getting desperate to get into the housing market and they're willing to spend more. 
We have a couple of options; 
Continue renting and wait for this bubble to burst. Could be six months, could be twelve.
Cast our net out a little wider and look for something a bit further out than we had first planned. As long as it's close to public transport so that the kids can get to school under their own steam. That would be preferable.

Anyway, as I say, the hunt continues. 

I wore the Submariner early in the week (old photo);

I spotted an Olivetti Lettera 22 on eBay earlier in the week. Here's the seller's pic;

Looked good. Seller stated that it was in working order. So I bid on it and was successful. The typewriter arrived earlier today and this is how it looked;

My fellow Typospherians, y'all can see how there's a little more of a gap between the edge of the frame and the shift key, not to mention the way the ribbon cover now sits. 
Personally, I think it was damaged in transit by our wonderful Australia Post. Now, I must mention that they have been fine in the past, despite the fact that I had a run-in with the delivery guy one morning over the way he tends to casually toss parcels onto our front porch with a disgusting regularity. Granted, I'm not buying Faberge Eggs, but there have been times when my wife or I have made eBay purchases of items that were reasonably fragile and I have cringed at times over the way these items were delivered.

I have a plan. It involves a door frame and a car-jack. With the typewriter somewhere in-between;

Now, last time I checked, I remembered that I'm no metallurgist, so I don't know how much stress I can put on this typewriter frame before it either eases back into its approximate original shape or it snaps in half.
What say you? Should I take a crack (bad choice of word) at it?
Mechanically, it works just fine, so if the frame does break, then I'll have a nice parts machine for anybody who wants it.
If the frame holds, however, and ends up looking a little better, then I think I'll be giving this shell a new paint job. I have a can of bright yellow spray-paint which would make this Glasgow-built machine look more like the older Lett 22s from the Fifties.
I'll have to wait and see.

Switched over to the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean (old photo);

Other than that, not much else going on. The job hunting continues, as does the house hunting. The kids are on school holidays for another week, the cat is her usual glamorous self (old photo, man, I'm just not trying today, am I?);

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday 1 July 2015

The Bond NATO Strap - As I Understand It.

Right, now pay attention. The new Bond film, SPECTRE, is just around the corner (okay, so the corner's still some distance away, but November will be here before we know it) and I thought I'd take a crack at writing about the watch straps that have appeared on OO7's wrist in the early Bond films, and the subsequent legacy, if you will, that these simple watch straps have created in the years since we first saw them appear in Goldfinger back in 1964. 

Okay, with that brief intro out of the way, those of you who are still interested, feel free to read on. 
As the post title would suggest, this is no definitive text on the subject, but merely represents my own thoughts and opinions on the matter and, as such, it shouldn't be read as gospel since there are sure to be some more thoroughly researched and informative articles on the web about this topic. 
Anyway, here goes.
About ten years ago, I got myself a couple of 'Bond' NATO straps off the web. They looked like this strap here (right).

Thanks to the wonders of VHS video, we could all now pause and rewind this Bond movie to our heart's content. The resurgence in popularity of James Bond in the late 1990s, thanks to the Brosnan films, and the release of the entire Bond movie back-catalogue on DVD, caused British GQ Magazine to commission the production of a strap and run a competition where it would give it away to some lucky readers. I'm not 100% certain, but this could have been the first of these black and grey NATO straps that were produced.

Whoa! Slow down, teeritz. Just what exactly is a NATO strap? 

Oh, yeah, okay. The British Ministry of Defence put out a tender back in the early 1970s for a watchstrap which could be easily fitted to any standard 20mm lugged, conventional watch case used by British Forces. The strap had to be cheap, it had to be durable, and it had to be strong.

There were other design stipulations mentioned in the MoD tender, to do with material required, length, thickness, etc. If you want to read the final report, here's the link; Ministry of Defence- Watchstraps-2001- pdf doc

And so, the NATO strap was born. Now, given that we can see that under-hanging piece in the drawing above, I should point out that this is perhaps the most crucial design aspect of these straps. When fitted to your watch, the strap should pass underneath the case, like so;

So, for us mere mortals, these spring-bars tend to work well enough. They are pretty sturdy and they can withstand quite a bit of pressure during day-to-day civilian activities.  Here's a spring-bar, if you need a refresher. This one proved a little stubborn to remove one day, but it was nothing that a steady hand and a Bosch drill couldn't handle;

In the event that one of the spring-bars should come off, the strap will still be secured to the watch by the bar on the other side.

Of course, watches intended for military use tended to dispense with using anything like a spring bar and you will often find that solid bars will have been soldered to the watch case to reduce the risk of the watch coming off the wrist. Here's a military-issued Rolex Submariner 5517 with soldered bars;

Anyway, that's a quick primer on NATO straps.
Now, once DVD came along, it appeared that the original Goldfinger NATO strap was not merely black and grey striped, but in fact black and khaki brown with a thin red stripe running in between.
Thanks to that close-up of Bond's watch in the classic pre-credits sequence of the film...

...we now had a better idea of the colours of the watch strap attached to his Rolex Submariner 6538.

Off-topic- notice how the strap is narrow compared to the 20mm spacing between the lugs? My theory is that somebody on-set had to rush out and get a strap that would fit Connery's wrist. I've often read that this particular Rolex belonged to the film's producer, Albert R. Broccoli. However, he has never struck me as a dive watch kind of guy. I read a long time ago that the watch actually belonged to one of the crew, who was ex-Royal Navy. That makes more sense. Now, rather than attempt to remove links from the watch's bracelet, it would be a simpler process to remove the bracelet entirely (since all you really need is a safety pin) and slip the NATO strap through the spring-bars and then away you go. This strap, however, looks to be around 16mm wide. These straps were available from corner news-stands back in the 1960s and, given that your regular urban gent probably wore a plain dress watch, the chances are pretty good that these news-stands only carried straps that were either 16 or 18mm wide. These sizes would fit most watches  available at the time.
At any rate, that's my theory as to why we see Connery's watch 'under-strapped' in both Goldfinger and Thunderball. Granted, it's all based on speculation, but nobody associated with these early Bond films has ever provided a definitive answer. So, I suppose my guess is as good as anybody's. Maybe.

Before too long, it was on for young and old, as we saw a plethora of internet dealers selling what they all claimed to be the one true Bond NATO strap. I saw this one here (right) on a website and promptly ordered one. Even though the colours weren't entirely correct.

Just one other problem. It was a ZULU strap, not a NATO one. The ZULU strap is of a slightly different construction to the NATO. The hardware is different, consisting of larger, curved rings stitched into a single strap of thicker-than-a-NATO nylon. I don't mind ZULU straps, but I find that they are better suited to watches larger than 42mm in diameter. The larger shape of the rings make these straps look beefier than their NATO cousins and they can overpower the look of a smaller 40mm watch. Just my opinion.

Then, just when we all thought that DVD Hi-Def had given us the true colours of these straps, along came BluRay and suddenly, the colours provided us by DVD seemed a little off. It wasn't khaki brown, it was more of an olive drab hue between the black stripes. Anyhow, some time passed before I ended up getting a couple more NATOs. They were cheap enough, after all. The one on the left in this photo had the same colouring as the ZULU strap above, but it had the slimmer hardware and a sleeker fit on one of my other dive watches. The one on the right of the frame was a more correct colour combination. Black and olive drab stripes, with a thin strip of red thrown in. All was well in the world of Bond fans wanting to emulate the Goldfinger wristwatch look.
So, by now we had a number of internet watch dealers selling these new and more colour-correct straps, all claiming that they were selling the accurate Bond NATO strap as seen in Goldfinger. 
Granted, most sellers were charging anywhere between $12.oo to $16.oo, which was reasonable enough, considering how long these straps can last. However, there were other companies out in the World Wide Web who were selling their versions for forty US dollars. 
I may be a die-hard Bond fan, but I ain't crazy.

Of course, with so much information available on the internet, we soon began to see photos of Bond that we had never seen before. Here's one of Connery on-set, between takes (one imagines) of the famous "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" scene in Goldfinger's secret lair;

Uh-oh, what have we here? That looks like a normal steel tang buckle. And what's that bit of fabric running across the strap? Is that a keeper?
So, it would seem that Bond did not wear a true NATO strap in the early films. It was just a plain nylon strap, similar in construction to a trouser belt. Of course, Connery couldn't have worn a NATO strap in Goldfinger in 1964 because the NATO strap was not commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence until the early 1970s, remember?
Suddenly, the small corner of the internet that cares about this stuff was, once again, in a flux. The company that was charging forty bucks for their straps brought out this new version. A bunch of other dealers commissioned the NATO strap manufacturer, Phoenix Straps in the UK, to produce this new, Bond-correct version. Me, sucker that I am, I just had to get one.

However, I didn't have BluRay, so I basically never got the memo about the true colours of Bond's strap. I found an eBay Seller and bought six of these straps (right). These are just one piece of nylon that threads underneath the case-back and has a keeper made from the same fabric. They fit great. But they're not exactly the right colours. Although, I don't mind them. They work very well on either the Submariner or my Omega Seamaster 300. And they were cheap enough at the time that I bought them. I think they were about eight bucks each. So, I didn't sweat it too much.
So now, we knew definitively that Bond didn't wear a NATO strap in Goldfinger. And, for me, all thoughts turned back to those news-stands of the '60s. I could just imagine a cheap plastic display case pinned up on the wall, next to packets of Players Navy Cut cigarettes and musk flavoured Life Savers, with a variety of cheap, multi-coloured nylon straps nestled within it. It made perfect sense to me. Back during my decade of selling watches, I had my fare share of customers who would walk in and say; "I'm on my way to a work meeting and my watch strap looks a little tatty. Have you got any replacement straps?" 
I would show them a range of generic leather straps that we had for just this type of situation. I could remove the customer's worn or broken strap and fit a new one onto their watch within two or three minutes. Even less if they were in a real hurry.

The last time I watched Thunderball, I again saw this 'under-strapped' Rolex Submariner;

Man, I hate that.  have seen some folks using the same sized strap on their own Submariners, in an effort to maintain authenticity. But I think that's going too far.

Sometime late last year, I got this strap (right). Based on all the screen-caps that I've seen over the last couple of years, this seems to be the closest match to what appeared in the films. Although, I'm reliably informed that the buckle is not exactly like Connery's. But by this stage, I've pretty much given up. I'll wait until I've worn out a few of these straps before I contemplate buying any more.

The beauty of these straps lies in their simplicity. Whether you opt for one of these Bond Nylon straps or a NATO/ZULU, they are easy to attach to your watch and make for a very comfortable fit.
If you wear them for a while and they get dirty, just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry. They'll come out looking new again.
The subject of NATO/Nylon straps comes up fairly regularly on wristwatch forums. Consensus is clearly divided on these straps. Many folks will argue that they can make a watch look cheap; "How can you put a cheap-assed nylon strap on a watch that costs thousands?", they argue.
My response is always the same; "A cheap-assed nylon strap is what holds you firmly in the driver's seat of a two hundred thousand dollar Ferrari."

The new Bond film, SPECTRE, will be released later this year. Among Bond nerds who are also into wristwatches, forum chatter always turns to second-guessing about what wristwatch OO7 will wear in the next film. First pics of location shooting began to appear on the Web a few months ago. teased us with this image;

The fashionistas began to dissect Bond's outfit and sunglasses. The gun fans quickly identified OO7's choice of pistol (Heckler & Koch VP9, in case you're wondering).
We Bond/wristwatch nerds got straight to work on the watch.
Given the angle of his left wrist in this picture, there wasn't much to go on, but it was enough. The strap looked like a NATO, based on the strip of steel running across the band. Hard to tell what watch he was wearing, but the consensus was that it would either be a Seamaster Planet Ocean or the recently released Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial. Both of these watches are made by Omega who, as you may know, have been supplying cinematic Bond's wristwatches since Goldeneye in 1995.

Other pictures soon began to emerge, and it was the photos from the Rome shoot that laid any strap speculation to rest. We still couldn't make out the model of wristwatch (although five'll get you ten that it'll be the new Seamaster 300), but the strap was clearly a NATO with a black and grey stripe running through it. Yep, that's right. Bond would be wearing a strap with the colours that we all thought were the ones on his watch in Goldfinger.
I can understand why Omega created this strap. These two colours are perhaps perfectly suited to the colouring of the watch itself, whether it be the Planet Ocean or the Seamaster 300.
Nevertheless, Omega have now created a watchband that will become part of film-Bond lore. A watchband in colours based on an error of perception, thanks to the low definition renderings of VHS. Bond's watch in SPECTRE will look something like this;

What a long, strange trip it's been. From the first few NATO straps that were readily available on the internet ten or fifteen years ago, through all the various shades of military browns and greens that were added, to the inclusion of the thin red line, we have now arrived back where we started. Now, I won't be rushing out to get a genuine Omega NATO strap. They're too rich for my blood. Especially when one can get something very similar for a fraction of the cost.
In all fairness to Omega, their straps are of a much nicer quality than the average fifteen dollar version. The nylon is a tighter weave, the feel is closer to the smoothness of a new car seat-belt, and the hardware is finished quite nicely too. So I guess that would explain the difference in pricing, and I'm sure that these straps will sell very well once the film is released.

At any rate, I'm all NATO'd up for the time being. With the Submariner, I can leave it on its steel bracelet, when I'm in a Live And Let Die kind of mood, or I can slip the what-is-now-known-as the TrueBond nylon strap through it if I have to plant some plastique explosives on some drums of fuel to blow up some illegal heroin in Cuba in 1964.

Although, given my exciting lifestyle, I'll probably be wearing them when I have to vacuum under the couch or put out the recycling bin every second Thursday.

Either way, I think I've got it covered.

I'll leave you all with one last picture, this one featuring international financier, Arpad Busson, who wears a nice vintage Rolex Submariner on a 'cheap-assed' NATO strap;

Yes. That works. That works very well indeed.

Thanks for reading!