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!


  1. That Skyliner looks great!

    This idea of soaking the labels off alcohol bottles and using them as bookmarks is pretty awesome. Chapeau - I might have to steal that. Although I so rarely polish off an actual bottle of liquor these days (not counting box wine! I'm cheap) that I probably wouldn't get too many.

    I could use it as an excuse to buy more liquor, actually. Done and done.

    Off to google more pictures of that Skyliner...

  2. Beautiful watches. I really like that Oris, and I can imagine adding one to my very small collection (just two Bulovas). Dare I start a new addiction?

    McFeats (Untimely Typewriter)

  3. Well, busy isn't terrible. I hear ya on car troubles - our Honda has over 200k on it, so the litany of parts replacement does get monotonous sometimes. At least you got in some time with the SM2! (:

  4. @ B McMolo, yeah, I have a tonne of various paper items that I use as bookmarks, but the bottle labels are cool. When you soak them off, let them dry, sticky side up, as some of the residue can linger, and then glue them onto some cardstock to make them last longer. If you use a nice thick cardstock, you can then use the labels as coasters if you cover them in book-covering plastic, like schoolkids use.

    And as for the Skyliner, you could do much worse than snagging one of those. Bear in mind that Seiko vintage parts can be tricky to come by, but that's part of the pleasure/curse of watch collecting.

    @unnamable, if you think typewriter collecting is addictive, then the slippery slope of watch collecting is an absolute monster. If searching for that kind of Oris, check my previous post to this one where I listed the model number of the slightly larger 36mm model. However, the Big Crown range has a lot of variants to choose from. Current models are nice, but pricier than the older ones that I have. Thanks for stopping by, and welcome!

    @ Ted, yes, better to be busy than not. And the car is behaving itself. Honda, huh? Parts for those are generally more expensive here in Australia than other Japanese makes. Still, they do make a fine automobile.
    And the SM2 sure does purr along nicely.

  5. 37mm sounds perfect. I have bought a Seiko Lord Marvel half a year ago and its 35mm is just a bit too small, even for my wrist. Love the aesthetic of these old Seikos, so I'll definitely keep it!

    1. Hi Stijn, 35mm tends to be the classic size for the majority of these '50s and '60s dress watches. The Lord Marvels are a very nice watch, too. Definitely hold onto that one. Yes, these old Seikos are sweet. They bring up images of old Sanyo transistor radios and Mazda 1500s.