Thursday 26 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sixties Bond Girls had something about them.

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Monday 21 October 2019

Monday October 21st, 2019 - Bench-warming (with a grinder), Channeling Charlize, Head to Toe Aches, & Recent Wristwatches

The last Saturday in September was also the day of the AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final. I could care less. Which pretty much amounts to treason in this country.
I headed to the hardware store to get some supplies. I have an old bench that my wife wanted to throw out, but that I wanted to resurrect. It has seen better days.

I started on it and it became a bigger job than I had planned. The old nuts and bolts had been painted over and the metal frame showed heavy rust. This would take a while. Most of the wooden bench slats seemed to be in okay condition, but once I got started, I realised that water had done its work over the years and softened the timber. I'd already bought four new slats made of Tasmanian Oak. Looks like I'll be buying some more of them.

Once I got started with the socket wrenches, the true extent of its condition revealed itself. Lord knows how many coats of paint had been used on these bolts, and I think that the rust had gone to work on them at some point between coats of paint. They weren't gonna budge any time soon.
Time for Plan B. Time for the angle grinder.
Always have a back-up plan, kids.
I started off with grinding away the hex nuts, often getting them to a red-hot glow. Once they fell away, a little bit of tapping on the exposed bolts and they worked their way out of the frame and slats.

Rust never sleeps. Some parts of this frame have taken a beating. I'll remove as much surface rust as I can before I flood it with KillRust prior to painting.
I may even have a clue about what I'm doing!
I'm sure the KillRust won't help much. I'm hoping that it will merely slow down the rust process. 

Anyway, at the time of writing, I've ground back half of the frame parts back to as close to bare metal as I can. That should do, I hope. And it would appear that I may be able to only save a couple of the old wooden slats. Yes, I could replace them all with new ones, but I like the idea of leaving some of the original timber intact, as a link to the original bench itself.  The two arm-rests seem okay. Maybe I'll just salvage those. Either way, I'll finish the steel sanding preparations sometime over this weekend (12th-13th) and perhaps start painting the frame once that's done.

Watch-wise, I've worn the circa 1968 Seiko Skyliner this month. I'm not sure if I've said this here before, but there's a certain cachet to the phrase Made in Japan. Those of you old enough to remember will perhaps recall seeing those words printed or engraved on the underside of various electrical goods back in the '60s and '70s. The Japanese, from my understanding, take a certain high level of pride in the manufacture of their goods, and every curve or line in the design of a product is often imbued with design elements of other products.

If you look closely at this Grand Seiko 'Snowflake';
 Pic courtesy of | Grand Seiko Spring Drive - SGBA211

You will notice that the dial, as the name suggests, resembles a bank of snow. The hands look like blades and the overall design of the case has a beautiful symmetry and balance to it.
My wife has suggested that my daughter and I take a trip to Tokyo sometime in the next year or so. That would be cool, but I'm sure I'd have to increase my credit card limit because I know 100% that I'm gonna see vintage cameras and watches and my resistance will be tested. From what I gather, Japanese collectors look after their items and when they get rid of them, they are usually in very good condition. This is often reflected in the pricing, too.
And then there are the glasses. Spectacle makers in Japan are artisans, and the frames are often cut and finished by hand, resulting in almost one-of-a-kind glasses. 
Yep, I'd need deep pockets for a trip to Japan.

Switched over to the recently-arrived Seiko SARB033.

This watch was purchased as a replacement for my Omega Seamaster AquaTerra. I still have the Omega, but I'll be selling it soon. My main reason for getting rid of it is due to the lack of legibility of the dial in certain lighting conditions. I've found myself glancing at the watch while driving and, due to the glossy black dial, the hands can seem to disappear. This never bothered me too much in the past, but as I've gotten older, a couple of things have happened. Firstly, my eyesight has deteriorated in recent years, to the point where I now need glasses to see my watch clearly. Either that, or I need arms that are three feet long.
And secondly, my collection has grown a little, to the point where the Omega just wasn't getting much time on the wrist. So, I decided to move the AquaTerra along.
Once I'd made that decision, I felt that I'd still like to have a black-dialed dress watch and, Seiko being Seiko, there was no shortage of black-dialed dress watches to choose from in their repertoire. I saw this model during my trawls through eBay and filed it away for future reference.
And then, two things happened. One, this model became discontinued and prices on eBay began to slowly creep up.
And two, I re-watched Atomic Blonde (Dir: David Leitch, 2017) one night...

...and noticed something. The film, set in Berlin during the last days of the Cold War, gives us Charlize Theron as MI6 operative Lorraine Broughton, as she attempts to ferret out a mole in East Berlin. It's a great action film, featuring a stunningly choreographed fight scene in an apartment stairwell that's wonderfully shot on Steadicam.

What I noticed was her wristwatch. Something round, with a black dial, on a leather strap. It looked cool. Or maybe it looked cool because it was on ice-blonde Charlize Theron's wrist.

Whatever the reason, I thought it looked good paired with a crisp white shirt and waistcoat. I have a crisp white shirt and waistcoat, even though I don't have a mane of ice-blonde hair.
Her wristwatch, after a little digging, was a Carl F. Bucherer Manero ladies model. It's a nice, clean automatic watch with date.
Carl F. Bucherer is a brand that's been making recent in-roads into supplying watches for movies. Hamilton is another brand that has been doing so for years. You will find Hamilton on the wrists of a tonne of movie characters of the last two decades, from Will Smith in Men In Black in 1997, to Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar in 2014.
Bucherer, however, scored a big coup by fitting their watches to Keanu Reeves' wrist for the John Wick films in recent years.
This little battle will be interesting to see.

Anyway, I thought it was a nice looking watch, but I didn't want to shell out for a Bucherer, even though I have to say they make some beautiful watches, without a doubt.

So, I gave it all a little more thought before I snagged the Seiko off eBay.
As you may tell from this photo, the hands on the Omega (left) aren't as easy to see as those on the Seiko, on the right.
Both watches have faceted hands, but the Omega has a thin strip of SuperLuminova on the hour hand and just an arrow-tip of lume on the minute hand. The Seiko, however, has thin wedges of lume on both hands, thus making it easier for me to read the time at most angles and levels of lighting.
As much as I like the Omega, having gotten it while I was working at a watch dealer in 2006, if I can't read the time on it easily, then it has to go.
My one main cardinal rule about wristwatches- they must tell the time above all else.

For now, I can always change the Seiko's bracelet over to a black leather strap if I want it looking more like Charlize Theron's watch from the movie. Although, with Summer only a couple of months away, I think it wiser to leave it on its bracelet until the cooler months next year.

I've had bunions on both feet now for over ten years. This is where the big toe begins to tilt inwards towards the other toes, as the first knuckle of the big toe begins to swell. As some of you may recall me telling, I began working as a waiter at a pizza restaurant when I was a young teen back in 1979. Worked in hospitality for 22 years before moving in to retail for fifteen years. My current role in After-Sales for a wristwatch company is the first job I've had where I get to sit down as well as move around.
So, I think the time has well and truly come to get this bunion issue sorted out. I used to think that I developed these due to standing up for long periods in every job I've had, but it turns out that bunions are hereditary. My feet have been aching most nights now for over a decade, but I never got around to organising the operation to have the bunions worked on. One reason or another. The recovery time is around five weeks. I have enough leave time accrued and I have to get this done, regardless of the fact that once I return to work, there will be an absolute mountain of stuff to take care of.
My doctor wrote me a referral for x-rays last December and I'll finally go get them done this week. Then, I'll have a consultation with the podiatrist to ask questions about it all and after that, I'll go onto the public waiting list for the actual procedure. I may be waiting three months, I may be waiting a year. It will require a general anaesthetic and while I'm under, they'll break the big toe and then shave away some bone.
Yeah, I'll have to be under anaesthetic for all that. Maybe I should even get drunk beforehand. Sounds awful.
Anyway, over at the other end of my body, a root canal that I had done three years ago has been aching in recent weeks. Looks like I'll be visiting the endodontist soon. I'd better bring a wad of cash. To be honest, I'm seriously thinking of 'medical tourism', whereby I could go to Thailand or someplace and get my teeth worked on for a few grand, whereas it would cost me an arm and a leg to get it done here. I'm going to look into it at some point.

Anyway, enough about that. I'll get the ball rolling with it all by the time you read this.
We now return you to our regular feature.

I wore the Omega Railmaster at some point in late September;

My wrists are at that stupid mid-point between a watch feeling too tight or too loose. I'm pretty sure that I've 'lost condition' since I stopped going to the gym regularly a few years ago. Truth be told, though, my build was never anything to write home about. Time to get back into it so that I can achieve that 'Goldilocks effect' with some of my watches. The Railmaster wears a tad loose at the moment. If I remove even a half-link from the bracelet, it begins to feel a little too snug as the day wears on. Yes, it's a First World problem.

Had the foot X-rays done earlier this week. Spent longer in the waiting room than I did in the Radiology room. Next day, I tee'd up an appointment with my doctor to discuss the next step.

Wore the Omega Speedmaster earlier this month. This watch gets worn a little less as the warmer months approach because I find my watches get exposed to water more often.
The Speedmaster Professional is rated down to 50m, which basically means it's splash-proof. I know other owners of this model who will happily wear it in a pool, but I'd rather err on the side of caution, since I've had this watch for twelve years now and have yet to have it serviced. I daresay it's well overdue for some attention.
I'm tempted to take it to a watchmaker that I've heard about over the years. He happens to be a 25 minute drive from my house. Back in the days when I worked at the watch store, I used to send this watchmaker a lot of business whenever somebody would bring in a vintage watch, as I had heard from other watch collectors that he was pretty good. Might be time to find out for myself if that's true.

I recently had the Omega Seamaster 300 serviced. The watchmaker that I work with said a fellow that he trained was looking to make some extra money on the side and he'd be happy to service my watch at home.
The watch ran okay, but the seals around the crown made it very difficult to wind and set the watch. My main concern with this is that applying undue pressure on the crown will place undue pressure on the stem which attaches it to the movement. Over time, this may cause the stem to snap. You don't want that.
Anyway, this guy did the service and the crown is much, much smoother now. My watchmaker colleague checked the work afterwards and said the guy did a good job, but there was a part in the movement that looked worn out and should be replaced. He said he'd check through his bank of spare parts to see if he had it.
This was a few months ago now, and I basically began getting tired of waiting. I have an old Tudor Oyster Prince currently in pieces on his workbench. It's been like that for just over two years. Reason being, he's actually there to service the watches that come in on a daily basis, so any extra work for staff watches tend to take a long back-seat to the paid work.
Fair enough, that's what he and I are there for.

Although, I didn't relish the thought of this Omega sitting in pieces under a glass dome for extended periods of time, so I got onto eBay and cast out a lure, so to speak.
About a week later, I found a seller who had a slew of NOS (new old stock) parts for a range of vintage Omega calibres. A quick search through his inventory showed that he had what I needed. And he wasn't shy about charging. Between cost of part and postage, I shelled out around forty bucks. This price was actually around the same as what a parts website was selling it for, so in the end, I didn't feel that I got overly ripped off.

This friction spring helps the seconds hand move smoothly around the dial. It's a very, very small piece and I almost didn't want to take it out of the packaging to take this photo. If this thing fell onto the floor, I'd have a hard time finding it. I tip my hat to watchmakers. Sure, they use a magnifying loupe and have strong lighting, but they must have a level of patience that's beyond me.
So, I'll take this in to work some day soon and see if he has the time to fit it to the movement. Thing is, though, as we're now only about ten weeks away from Christmas, it's getting busy at work and I don't know if he'll have the time to do it.
Plan B is to take the watch to a nearby jeweller that I used to recommend to customers back in my watch selling days. Some collectors told me that he was very good.

I wore the Hamilton Khaki Automatic throughout the month.
I finally finished Graham Greene's classic, The Quiet American. I started reading it in early March. Then I went to Vietnam. Walked the same streets of Saigon that were mentioned in the book. Even had a drink (or two) at the Hotel Continental where Greene wrote much of the book in Room 214 in the early to mid 1950s.

I'll admit that I found the first 70 or 80 pages a little slow. After that, I finally got into the rhythm of the story and began to enjoy it.  The book was made into an okay movie back in 2004 by Phillip Noyce, starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.
The story concerns jaded middle-aged British journalist Thomas Fowler, who is stationed in Saigon reporting for his newspaper back in England on the collapse of French colonialism in the country, and young, naïve American aide worker Alden Pyle, who is most likely CIA. Between the two of them lies Phuong, a young Vietnamese woman who is Fowler's lover. Pyle, being young and naïve, is totally smitten by her upon first meeting and he soon tells Fowler that he's in love with her and would like to take her back to America and be married.
Fowler doesn't perceive Pyle to be a threat. Of course, things change as the novel progresses, and Fowler begins to see Pyle as more than just a pain in the ass that his name would suggest.
The book has some nicely written passages and phrases. I'd forgotten how good a writer Greene was, and I've come to respect him more as I've gotten older. Truth be told, I've only read four other books of his, even though I have another dozen of them on my bookshelves.

The first one I read intrigued me when I first heard about it in the late '80s.
It was called The Tenth Man. Green wrote it as a film treatment/manuscript while under contract with MGM Studios in 1944. It was unearthed from their archives around 1983 and published in novel, or rather, novella form soon afterwards. I recall reading a review of the book which gave a brief synopsis. The story is set in a prison in Occupied France during the War. Two of the men in one cell block both own pocket watches and each of them is adamant that their watch shows the correct time. Two other prisoners owned wristwatches, but one day, they were led out of their respective cells and were never seen again. A short time later, some of the remaining prisoners notice that a couple of the guards are wearing the wristwatches.
But this is not what the overall story is about.
The book is short, numbering 112 pages, but John Carey, writing in the Sunday Times back then, had this to say about it;
"A masterpiece - tapped out in the lean, sharp-eyed prose that film work taught Greene to perfect." 

I read it back when I was 21 and it was a beautifully paced book. The main character is a former lawyer who is now languishing in this prison. I don't know much about Greene beyond the fact that he was a heavy drinker, had worked in British Intelligence during the War (Kim Philby was his supervisor), reviewed films back in the 1930s, and was an atheist, despite becoming a Catholic in the 1920s.
The late biographer Norman Sherry wrote a staggering three-volume biography of Greene over the course of a decade, traveling to countries circled in red on a map given to him by the author, with instructions to visit those places and talk to (and not to talk to) certain people.
I have the first volume. It's over 800 pages.
That's gonna take me a while.

Okay, that was longer than I'd planned it to be. Time to wrap things up.
I also wore the Oris Diver Sixty-Five this month;

Man, I gotta get back into exercising. I've got forearms like Bart Simpson's. And my waistline is straining. I have to work towards a body like one that author Phillip Kerr described in his book, The Five Year Plan. The guy has just gotten out of jail and had the kind of build where "his jackets were now too tight and his pants were too loose."

Yeah. That would be cool.

Right. 10:28pm. All for now, and thanks for reading!

Saturday 28 September 2019

Still Here, Still Busy - Part 3 | 8:00pm, Saturday, 28th September, 2019 - Car Headaches, Bad Books, & New (old) Watches

Took another stab at cleaning my desk. Time for a typecast, since it's been a while. I can't say that I'm overly happy with the photos throughout this post. The Windows Photo Editor's enhance feature seems to be playing up and I've been unable to lighten the pics. I've looked up various methods for fixing this, but nothing seems to be working. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next Windows 10 updates. 

I can download a Free Trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements and give that a bash! Which is what I did. So, I'll attemptto tidy up some photos here wherever possible.

And a close-up. I love the four different textures of the dial. Five if you include the applied numerals. Basically, the numbers at the hour markers aren't painted on or glued on. They're attached with thin metal prongs that are slotted into tiny holes drilled into the dial.

Car Trouble.
                     My wife and I took a drive out to a seaside town a few weekends ago. On the freeway coming home, I took the last major turn-off and heard a sharp snap, while at the same time seeing a small crack instantly appear along the lower edge of my wind-screen. Dammit, a stone chip.

I called a windscreen replacement company the following Monday on their 1300 number. I was hoping that it could be repaired rather than replaced.

Is the crack bigger than a five-cent coin?, she asked.

No, it's a little smaller than that, I replied. The crack was about 15mm in length, with a chip in the centre.

Whereabouts on the windscreen is it?

About ten centimetres from the lower edge and around 20 centimetres from the right-hand side edge.

So, it's on the driver's side of the windscreen? (Right-hand drive in Australia, folks.)

Yes, it is, I replied.

Oh, well then it'll have to be replaced if it's on the driver's side. That would be $295.oo.

I then decided to call on their regional repairer, which was located five minutes from home. This would be the place where they would send my car. The guy there had a look at the windscreen and he said they could fill in the crack with a resin. For $95 bucks.
Cool. I asked him if the crack might get worse if I hit a pot-hole or something and he said it might, in which case, he could offer me a six-month warranty on the work with the option of then replacing the windscreen for the $295.oo price minus the $95 that I would have already paid for the repair.
Sounded okay to me, so I booked it in for the following Friday morning. It would take about an hour.

The next day, on the morning drive in to work, the battery warning light came on. Driving home later that evening, I  noticed that my headlights didn't seems as bright as I thought they should be. As a precaution, I lowered the instrument/dashboard lighting and switched off the heater. My windscreen wipers also appeared to work a little more sluggishly than I thought.

I managed to get home and then called my mechanic the next morning to tee up dropping it in for repair. Was it the battery? Was it the alternator? I'd find out soon enough.
Driving it in to the workshop the following morning, the battery light was on and, whenever I'd drop into second gear to turn a corner, the steering would stiffen up and the power steering malfunction light would flicker briefly.
Man, I was gonna kill myself on a six-minute drive to the mechanic.

Got the car and myself there in one piece and they gave me a Jaguar(!) as a loaner. It was a model from about fifteen years ago and it drove lousy. Sluggish on take-off and it took a while to get up to speed. Nice enough once it cruised along, but took a while to get there.
And I'm no expert on cars.

Left work early that day because I wanted to be sure I had the car ready to take in for windscreen repair the next day.
The mechanics told me that it was the alternator. They reconditioned it and said it was as good as new.

DO YOU WANNA KEEP THIS CAR CRAP IN? It's pretty poorly written. Your heart and/or mind wasn't in it, really. Ahh, what the hell...leave it in. They can skip it if they get bored. God knows I did!

Anyway, I picked up two new watches recently.

Australia phased out one and two dollar notes in 1984 and 1988 respectively, and replaced them with coins. I have some small metal tins that I throw all of my loose change into. Over time, I take these coins to the bank and deposit them into my account. Like a ten year-old kid.  I have a small Whitman's Sampler tin which is probably the same size as an Altoids tin. This holds about fifty one dollar coins. 
I have another tin which holds about $240.oo in $2 coins, and another round tin that holds about eight-five bucks in 50c coins. 
Sure, it can probably take a year or so to save any meaningful amount, but it's a nice casual way of saving for the frivolities.

These coins pretty much paid for the two new watches. Well, that plus a small chunk of my recent tax return. 

First one to arrive was this late 1960s hand-wound Seiko Skyliner. 
At 37mm in diameter, it's a slightly larger than normal size for the era. Close inspection shows that the dial and hands are in very, very good condition. 
The winding crown does feel a tad small and, therefore, it's a little harder to grip with the finger-tips, but this is such a small concern that it's hardly worth mentioning. Once you get the hang of winding it, it's not an issue.  
I can't fault Seiko. The phrase "Made in Japan" has a certain cachet to it and it conjures up memories of 35mm Nikon film cameras from the 1970s and National Panasonic transistor radios of the 1960s.
This piece is as well put-together as anything coming out of comparable Swiss brands at the same time.

Whenever I finish a bottle of alcohol, I tend to soak the labels off them. I like to use them as bookmarks. Some of these are harder to remove than others. I place the bottles into hot water for about fifteen minutes and this works with some labels and not others. A guy at a nearby bottle shop (liquor store) suggested good old WD-40. I may give that a shot.

This Gin Lane 1751 label was coming off nicely as I gently peeled it away from the glass. Only problem was that I held on to the same section of the label during removal and managed to rub away the first couple of layers of paper.
Ahh, well. Looks like I may have to get another bottle of Gin Lane at some point.
I wore the Hamilton Khaki Automatic during this exercise. I keep thinking that this watch might look a little better with a couple of scuffs and scratches on it, to give it a lived-in kind of look, but I've yet to put a mark on it. No hurry, I suppose.

I'm still reading Graham Greene's The Quiet American, but I picked up a book of short stories called Paris Noir. 
You know, gang, life is too short. I decided some time ago that I would avoid bad movies and books wherever possible, because there's a tonne of good movies and books still unwatched and unread, and I ain't getting any younger.
I got as far as the first two stories before I added this book to the pile of stuff to go to the nearest Op Shop (Goodwill/Thrift Store).

Continuing with books, my first edition hardcover of John Le Carré's third book of the Karla Trilogy arrived in the mail this week. Smiley's People concludes George Smiley's intricate game of cat-and-mouse against his Russian counter-part. Smiley is a spymaster in British Intelligence and Karla is his Moriarty.

The first book in this series, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, was filmed as a highly acclaimed mini-series back in the early 1980s with Alec Guinness as Smiley and then remade as a movie with Gary Oldman in 2011 and it concerned Smiley being brought out of retirement to ferret out a mole in MI6.
It's as far removed from Bond as you can get. I bought Tinker, Tailor back in 1981 and got up to page 48 before I stopped reading it. I was too young for it, I think, and I found the pace slow. Of course, now I'm older and appreciate character development a little more, so I think I'll take another shot at it at some point. May even re-read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, while I'm at it. That was Le Carré's breakout novel back in 1963. A classic of the espionage fiction genre.
I'll keep an eye out for the hardback versions of the two other books in the trilogy, TTSS and The Honourable Schoolboy. 

The other watch that arrived recently was this Rado Golden Horse, which dates back to 1957.
I had a 1970s model at one point and I stupidly sold it. At the time, though, my rationale was that it looked very much like a Rolex DateJust model and I felt that, if I kept this Rado, I might never get around to getting a DateJust. Well, that was about ten years ago and I still don't have the DateJust.
Anyway, this one arrived and the seller's photos did not do this watch justice. It's in very clean cosmetic condition. Rado brought out a re-edition a couple of months ago and it's virtually identical, save for the colour of the dial. For this new model, they opted for a plum-red dial. Nice.
Picture below lifted from Fratello | Hot Take: Rado Golden Horse Collection

The watchmaker that I work with told me that Rado was a very popular brand throughout Asia in the '70s and he had good things to say about these watches. Rado was one of the smaller brands coming out of Switzerland and it was acquired by The Swatch Group at some point. I sold quite a few Rado watches back in my watch selling days. The brand did very well with its Integral range which had a very thin black ceramic case and integrated bracelet with gold accents.

This Golden Horse that I got does have a few stains on the chapter ring surrounding the dial, but this is nothing that can't be solved by an ultra-sonic cleanse. We have an ultra-sonic cleaner at work. It's basically a small tank that you fill with water and cleaning solvent. The tank then heats up the water. When you turn on the cleanse function, a tiny vibration is applied to the tank. This vibration dislodges any dirt that might build up on a watch case or jewellery. You only need to leave items in the tank for about thirty seconds. They come out looking sparkly clean.
I have read, though, that prolonged exposure to the tank while in operation can actually kill the nerves in your fingertips, thus reducing their sensitivity. We always use wooden tongs.
I've noticed over the years that dive watches tend to be really dirty when they come in for servicing. Build-up of grime in between the bracelet links and on the underside where the bracelet joins the case at the end-links and lugs.
It almost seems that the more water-resistant the watch, the less likely that it has actually been in water. I'm always careful with these filthy watches. It's all too easy to handle one and then inadvertently rub your eye and, before you know it, you risk some conjunctivitis or something.  

My wife got me this photo!

It's a reproduction, sure, but it's still nifty having his autograph on it. Judging by how he looks in this picture, I'd say it was taken in the mid-1940s.

Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart are my two favourite movie stars of the Old Hollywood era. My daughter's been binging on old movies in recent months and she's developed a liking for 1920s fashions, Lauren Bacall's eyes, Ingrid Bergman's nose, Katherine Hepburn's cheekbones, and black and white movies.
We watched Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) recently and I mentioned that I have a poster of the film somewhere. I'll have to dig it out and frame it. I got it back in the late 1980s and I'm sure it would be near impossible to replace.

And, just in time for my daughter's birthday, a couple of black leather straps arrived for the Oris. I put one onto the watch and it suits it nicely. It's got a crocodile pattern embossed on it. Gives it more of a 1930s flavour.

I presented the watch to her after dinner. She'd forgotten that I even had this watch. Good. It packed more of a surprise wallop that way. That was a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy to report that she hasn't taken the watch off since.

Anyway, that's another month down. This year has flown by, that's for sure. I trust you've been well, reader, and I'll see how I go before my next post.

Thanks for reading, and take care, all!

Thursday 5 September 2019

Still Here, Still Busy - Part 2 | 10:11pm, Thursday, 5th September, 2019 - My Kingdom for a Shirt Pocket!

The Oris Diver SixtyFive (40mm, blue & black dial) got a lot of wear in recent months. Here it is, back in May,  in a restaurant while I awaited some calamari. It was a lacklustre meal, to be honest. Lightly (actually, too, too lightly) grilled, it was an entire tube of squid with cuts half-way through it. If you think that doesn't make any sense, then neither did the taste. 
And it wasn't very hot. Barely warm, in fact. Just as well it was on the company dime.  I was having a quick dinner before a work function where there wouldn't be any food. It was gonna be a long night. And it was.

The Rolex Submariner also got its fair share on the wrist. I took this pic for my Instagram and then felt like adding some text to accompany it;

Ritts glanced at his left wrist. The mixture of perspiration and grime between the bracelet links had produced an oily residue that left a stain on his skin. 
He glanced at his watch on the table. He’d been at the safe-house since 4:00am and Al-Waleed never showed. Nothing more to do for now. He’d try again tomorrow. Ritts took a deep breath before letting a sigh hiss through his teeth. He then picked up the pressed rose that the inn-keeper’s daughter had given him when he first walked in. The inn-keeper himself, upon seeing Ritts in this disheveled state, reached under the bar and produced the bottle of single-malt. Ritts could have kissed him. After the second glass, he caught a brief whiff of his own body odor as he reached forward to put the rose back on the table. He needed a shower. A dead rose couldn’t disguise that fact. But he needed a drink first. ‘These people are beautiful’, he thought to himself as he dropped fifty Dirham on the table before he reached for his wristwatch.


In my previous post, I mentioned a jacket that my wife had found for me in a thrift store (in Australia, we call them Op Shops, which is short for 'Opportunity Shop') and I put an asterisk at the end of the sentence;

                   My wife is always on the lookout for clothes for me whenever she visits an Op Shop. I never tend to have the same kind of luck whenever I visit them.

Like I said, I put an asterisk at the end of that sentence, with the intention of elaborating a little on the subject. 
And then I forgot to elaborate on the subject. 
Anyway, here I go... 

You see, I have this theory about men and women, and the kind of stuff that they donate to thrift stores, and the methods and thinking behind their respective donation strategies (if any). 

Let's talk about something such as a tailored jacket. You know, corporate-style cut and design, in a sober colour, made from a nice wool. Women may buy said jacket and wear it for an entire season. They'll look after it, get it dry-cleaned when required and then they might take it to a thrift store as soon as they've had it for a couple of years or it's style or cut has gone out of season or fashion. 

Men will buy a cheaper type of tailored jacket and wear it to death. Guys will sweat in the jacket, drape it over the back of a chair, leave it on when they get behind the wheel, rub a wet paper napkin across the sleeve to remove some spilled sauce, toss it on the end of the bed when they get home from work, etc. 
Basically, a guy won't look after his jacket. He'll keep it too long, won't look after it properly and he won't get it dry-cleaned. The back of it will be creased and misshapen from being crushed and stretched between his back and the driver's seat, it'll have that sheen across the shoulder from where the seat-belt has rubbed against it over time and the armpits will smell. 
AND THEN he'll donate it to a thrift store, rebuking his other half's protestations with something like; "What? It's still in good nick (condition). Somebody's gonna get themselves a bargain."

My wife has here own take on this. I'll let her explain it 'cos she's better at it;

Okay so....a few extra things to add. Tee is right. Men - not having been bombarded with the cultural expectation of being 'fashionable' or the peer/vanity expectation of 'looking good', are less concerned with the shallower aspects of clothing -  care, original style, and price. 

For them, if they wore a garment only a little bit, they confer a value to it that means when they are finished with it, logically someone else might want it and get a few wears out if it. It's sweet, really.

And I suppose it demonstrates that men are all about the utilitarian aspect of clothing, that it's fit for purpose whereas women are generally more concerned with the superficial aspect; is it in style or, horrors, out of style?
After all, it is said that women dress for other women.

But I also believe that when it comes to Op Shops there are two types of men's clothing; the first, as identified by Teeritz - the thrashed and trashed beloved item, donated only because it no longer fits, but with a genuine desire to pass on to the next lucky wearer an excellent piece of clothing that will stand him in good stead.

The second type is the one I bring home for Tee. New or near new, often with tags still on, and the crispness of fabric that has never been against a warm body. Why? It was the present (gift) bought for a male by a female partner/friend/relative, that was just NOT to the recipient's taste. 
Too floral, too patterned, too tight, too 'extra'. Luckily, Tee does not mind a pattern and is on the thinner side. But the racks are full of such clothing - all showing the thwarted attempts and hopeful expectations of womenfolk to get their men to be fashionable. 
Hence my 'luck' at Op Shops. I should also add that I am never restricted by size as it's sooo often misjudged by Op Shop staff. So I look through all sizes and at all kinds of items. There are always size and style mix-ups. 
A cool head, a keen eye and patience are all you need.

Yep. Thanks, hon!

Staying on the subject of clothing, I've lately been having a pretty hard time finding decent shirts with a breast pocket on them.
All I want is a cotton business shirt, with  button cuffs, a sharp collar, and a pocket, and it should ideally be a slim-cut shirt, as these are better suited to my thin build.
I'm trying to avoid a repeat of what I wrote about five years ago (my God, was it that long ago?);

"Oh My God, I'm Wearing a Dad Shirt!" | A Lesson in Dressing for My Body Type

In recent weeks, I've visited numerous menswear stores with rows and rows of shirts and not a damn one of them has a pocket. Unless I go for an 'Easy Iron' (read poly-cotton blend), which I refuse to do, since I find that poly-cotton doesn't 'breathe' like cotton does.

Okay, so I prefer a shirt with a pocket. I always carry a pen, while I'm sure that 99% of men these days don't, because they have their precious mobile phones for jotting down notes with their thumbs and stuff like that. And, from what I've seen when somebody sends in a watch with a hand-written note, legible handwriting is becoming a rare thing these days.
It's a particular shame when the note has been written by somebody who explains that they bought the watch for their 40th Birthday TEN years ago. Did they dictate this note to their five year-old kid?
'Cos that's how the writing looks.
But I digress.
Aside from wanting a shirt pocket for carrying a pen, I also wear glasses and the pocket comes in handy for those times when they're not on my face. Am I the only man in the world who wears glasses? Has everybody gotten laser eye surgery?

At one store, I asked the salesman (who was probably my age or older); Why don't shirts have pockets these days?
His reply? "Because they don't look good. They break up the lines of the front of the shirt."
Okay, I get that, but shirt pockets have been around for as long as I can remember.
"And also, nobody smokes anymore, so they don't need pockets", he added. 
Man, he wasn't presenting me with a very convincing argument. I left him to his duties and got the hell out of there.
Aside from pockets, I have a few other stipulations;

1) - a sharp collar. Don't ask me to name the exact style. I read about them all the time, but I couldn't tell the difference between a Spread and an English Spread, etc.
If pressed, I'd say a Forward Point, as this is the most classic collar style in my view.
Basically, something like what you see in this pic.
And I'd prefer them to have those thin sheathes underneath where I can put in my own collar stays. You know, those little plastic surfboard-shaped thingies that keep the collars from curling.
I had a small jar filled with them, but I bought three pairs of stainless steel ones some time ago and my plan is to get three or four more of them and then get rid of all the plastic ones. The plastic ones get misshapen in the wash if you forget to remove them prior to throwing the shirt in the wash. The collars need to look sharp. They're the first part of a shirt that somebody will notice when you walk in the room.
2) - Narrow sleeves. I saw a lot of shirts labelled as 'Classic Cut' or 'Contemporary Fit' and they had very billowy sleeves.
The sleeve you see here could definitely do with being about 25% narrower. In my desperation to find a shirt with a pocket, I found three full-cotton shirts at a nearby store and they had interesting patterns, POCKETS, and were a decent fit. They were a Medium size and, in hindsight, I should have probably gone for a Small, but I think these were all that they had left at the time. They're a little roomy around the neck. I read on a website that your collar sizing should allow you to get two fingers between the shirt and your neck when the top button is fastened. I think these have a little more space in them than that. No matter. I'll get some decent wear out of them.
Or maybe some lucky fella will snag them at an Op Shop sometime soon!

Anyway, the passive search continues, but it looks like I may end up going through one of these websites that does semi tailor-made shirts.

This Oris watch has gotten some regular wear lately. It's a model from circa 1995, based on an Oris watch that was first done in the late 1930s.
The Big Crown series was designed primarily for pilots, so that they could set the time and wind the watch while wearing gloves, hence the oversized winding crown.
The date consists of 31 numbers arranged counter-clockwise around the outer edge of the dial and that little crescent clicks over to each date at around midnight. Oris still makes a Big Crown model today and it's perhaps one of their more well-known pieces.
I tried it on a bracelet recently, but i have to say that it's a watch better suited to a strap. Give it  that vintage vibe.
This model is 36mm in diameter. I had originally bought the smaller 33mm model, but as soon as I tried it on, I knew that it was just too small, even for my school-girly wrist. My daughter saw it and said that she liked the 'aesthetic' of it. So, at the time of writing, it's being serviced and with a little luck, it should be ready in time for her 17th birthday in the third week of September.
So I suppose that's one more piece that will be leaving my collection. Which is good, as I continue to slowly whittle it down to a set of watches that get worn more often.

Another piece that will go soon is this one;

It's an early to mid 1970s (I think) Camy Club-Star. A nice hand-wound watch that was given to me by a watch forum member some years ago because he knew I liked vintage watches. He said I could have it for nothing, on the proviso that I don't sell it to make a profit on it.
That was a lovely gesture on his part and I wore the watch quite a bit over the years. It has a nice silver dial, with gold-plated hands and hour markers. I very nice colour combo.
However, in the interests of moving watches along, in order to replace them with those that I really want, this one is gonna go soon.
I speak to a guy from time to time who works at a jewellery store interstate and he too has an interest in vintage watches. He's sent me a couple of old watches to have serviced. I told him that I had a watch that I don't wear much anymore and I thought he may be interested in it. He said he'd be happy to take it off my hands.
So, in the interests of paying it forward, good karma, and just doing something nice for somebody, I'll be sending it off to him soon. No charge, as per the gentleman's agreement that was made when I first received the watch.
At some point, though, I'd like to get something with a similar silver-and-gold colouring, but that's a daydream for another day. For now, let's just get some watches out the door first and we'll see where we're at when the dust settles. Have to say, though, that this Camy runs quite nicely. Winds nice and smooth and keeps fairly good time, though I'm sure it could do with a service.
Still, it's a nice piece. I hope he likes it.

My Bond hardcovers collection is progressing nicely.

They're all reprints, with the exception of the last two titles, The Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy. These were Fleming's last two Bond novels and, as such, they were printed in large quantities, which makes them reasonably easier to find.
The ones I'm missing are Live And Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker and Dr No, but those titles, while nice, don't have the classic cover art by Richard Chopping.
So, I don't think I'll lose any sleep over not having them. Pictured in the frame also is the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, which saw some wear through May. I tend to get more wear out of this watch in Summer.
Here's hoping for a hot one this year.

Okay, I think I'll stop here for now. I added more, to this post, but it threatened to become a long one.

I'll start the next post this weekend and see where it leads me.

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