Monday, September 29, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name

Long time readers will note that it's hardly just now I've stumbled on to an obsession with mechanical watches. I've always been fascinated with tools, aesthetics and Military influence on design. At the center of that intersection (6 corners in Chicago parlance) lays the Submariner. Rolex made a small batch of Submariner watches especially for the British Navy. There were probably less than 2000 made, ever. Rather than recite the whole story here, I'll simply direct you to Gear Patrol's informative article about the subject, here. But as long as you're here, look at the pretty picture:

Beautiful, right? Well, it could cost you about $80,000-$100,000. Doesn't look so hot now, does it? Unless you have that kind of scratch laying around, in which case, good on you. The whole purpose of these watches was that they were tools - tough, waterproof watches with automatic movements, designed for legibility - "sword hands" replacing the usual Rolex hands, and work, with no option but to wear a military strap, the bars being fixed to the case. They shouldn't be six figure status symbols, but supply and demand being what it is, scarcity makes it so.

Enter Steinhart Watches. Due to patents no longer preventing designs from looking like this, they've created what in watch circles is called an "homage" watch to the above design, the Ocean Vintage Military. Looking much like the above watch, but in a 42mm case (instead of a 40mm case that Rolex Submariners have long used), it is made of well machined 316L stainless steel, powered by an ETA 2824 automatic watch movement, which is built like a tank, with ubiquitous replacement parts available, and a 300 meter waterproof depth rating, if you feel like diving that deep and seeing what time it is. While it will never be a Rolex, it's not $100,000; It's $500. Though beautiful, it is a tool, not a status symbol. If you want a full review of this watch, you can't do better than Worn&Wound's review of it, available here.

And it made a lovely 40th birthday present to myself.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Waxing

I've lived in San Francisco fourteen months now. In that time, all notions of seasonal apparel learned in a lifetime of living in Chicago have fallen by the wayside. This is not an entirely bad thing. While in some ways, my sartorial skills have atrophied - no one needs to wear suits anywhere, unless you work in Finance it seems. My dress shoes, long a staple of my day to day in Chicago for work in the not-for-profit space now seem only to exist to occupy a spare corner of my closet.

Days are now spent in search of the perfect fitting t-shirt, a button down that looks best un-tucked, the ideal pair of sneakers, the right pair of jeans. My sneaker game has never been stronger - multiple pairs in white, in black, from several manufacturers, abound in my wardrobe. This past week, I saw on sale a pair of Vans I have eyed for many months now. On sale. Part of the "Van Doren" Era collection, but no longer on the site, I couldn't pass them up. So I didn't.

Lovely shoes, but I am a tinkerer. Remembering that somewhere in the house was a bar of Otter Wax, I thought, well, hell, I live in San Francisco, I bet these would look great if I waxed them. Theoretically it's damp and rainy here much of the year, and waxing the canvas to help waterproof these would really help turn them into year-round shoes. So armed with a bar of wax and a heat gun re-purposed from my wife's craft bin, and a bit more patience than I normally exhibit, I'm now ready for the city - whether the drought continues or not.

The process couldn't be simpler - take out the laces, and rub the bar of wax on the whole canvas upper, working in sections. Then use the heat gun to melt the wax into the fabric, being mindful not to scorch anything. "Don't scorch anything" sounds dire in a check-that-door-for-heat-Tim Backdraft way, but it's actually really easy; apply heat to a small section of the waxed shoe, wait for the wax to shimmer, turn off the gun, and work it in with your fingers. Do this over the surface of the entire shoe. Repeat with other shoe and BOOM! Done. Break your arm patting yourself on the back.