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!