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!

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