If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found a vintage Cold War-era military chronograph and a modern one that has the same milspec look.
The SR-71 “Blackbird” reigns supreme as the highest and fastest-flying plane ever built. And we mean reigns: 32 of these pitch black wonders have patrolled the skies above hot spots for over 40 years. To honor this achievement in aeronautics, Bell & Ross is releasing the limited edition BR 126 Blackbird ($6,700), and it’s a worthy, interesting tribute.
Gear worth its weight in...
Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.
Reflecting on the best
When in 2004 Epson released the R-D1, the world’s first mirrorless digital camera, photographers weren’t sure what to make of it. Ten years later every major camera company has thrown their proverbial hat into the mirrorless ring. In fact, with digital sensors equal to those found in DSLRs, interchangeable pro-quality lenses, and magnesium-alloy construction, mirrorless cameras are quickly becoming the choice of many professionals looking to downsize their gear. It’s safe to say 2014 will be the year of the mirrorless camera, and we’ve rounded up our favorites to help you prepare.
CALLING ALL FLYING ACES
The Longines Avigation Oversize Crown Chronograph ($3,500) was modeled after a watch built for pilots inhabiting a cold, drafty, post-WWI cockpit. Thanks to timeless design and a few key updates, though, it works just as well during the cold, drafty days of this year’s autumn.
Puzzling Over Professional Micro Four Thirds
Olympus’s new OM-D EM-1 ($1,400, body only) is way ahead of its time. Effectively an upgraded version of the already-capable E-M5, the E-M1 is an excellent shooter across the board, albeit one that can’t quite find its place in the market. We say: stay different, E-M1.
A few weeks ago we ran an opinion article about so-called “homage” watches. Amid some attention from readers and experts alike, we heard from MKII, a watch company we had discussed in the article. They offered to send us the MKII Paradive, a watch inspired by Benrus’s iconic (and mysterious) “Type 1″ and “Type 2″ timepieces. We found the Paradive a tool watch worthy of homage, itself.
Tubeless, aero, go
As the English proverb ran in the 16th century, “A man can not have his cake and eat his cake,” meaning that one cannot both possess cake and eat cake, simultaneously. The cake paradox may be a source of chagrin across the pond, but here in America we’re able purchase cake, eat cake, and often have abundant leftovers to tuck away in the freezer and unpack for a marathon of The West Wing. This all becomes quite obvious with a ride on the Bontrager Aura 5 TLR wheelset.
Connect to your bike
If you’re riding a bike for exercise or hobby, chances are you’re clipping in and experiencing the pleasure of an efficient ride with optimal power transfer. Though we have three contact points with the bike — pedals, saddle, bars — the connection to the pedals via the shoes is the only one that’s mechanical, so it’s essential that the shoe fits properly. There’s no single good choice — there are a lot of them, at different budgets, with different materials and closures. We’ve picked out 10 road bike shoes that cover the spectrum, letting you become one with the bike. Namaste.
Essentials for a Smooth Trip
Travel pros. You’ve seen them. You’ve envied them. They glide through check-in, make the body-scan look like a photo shoot and sightsee like locals. Sure, part of it might be their passport with 200 stamps, but the right kit makes a world of difference, too. Whether you’re embarking on a shuttle flight or a trip around the globe, there are a few pieces of gear that will improve life on the road dramatically. We’ve got ‘em.
Taming the wake
For me, the reality of waterskiing has always been carving the lakes of Maine on my Dad’s late ’80s LaPoint O’Brien “professional” slalom ski. Then I got the chance to test the Connelly Prophecy ($1,300+), the most advanced ski in Connelly’s tournament series line, and learned just how far waterskiing equipment has advanced since my dad bought his ski.
Size doesn't matter
Big watches still rule the timepiece landscape, but, like dinosaurs and SUVs, their days may be numbered. Much to the relief of small arms (and those who don’t need to compensate with their wristwear), a growing crop of reasonably sized watches are popping up. While 40mm would have been considered gargantuan 40 years ago, nowadays it suits most wrists well and looks appropriate with a variety of apparel. Here are our favorite six watches with diameters at or below 40 millimeters. Big watches, watch out.
Winter is coming
In a bit of ironic timing, the Michelsen Arctic Explorer ($$1,960) arrived on our doorstep on one of the hottest days of summer. Fresh off the plane from Iceland, the watch still seemed to bear the chill of its origins, lending a cooling effect to the dog days of August. Regrettably, we weren’t able to put the watch to the test of an Arctic (a.k.a. Minnesotan) winter. But we still put it through at least some of its paces.
Choosing a surfboard is no simple matter. There are lots of factors to consider, like the shape of the board, the size, rocker and rails, tails and fins. There are eggs and fish — and we’re not talking about breakfast options. The ideal board for beginners is long, wide and thick since it’s stable for both paddling and for taking off on a wave. Here are five that fit that description to a T.
Sleight of hands
If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found an example of übermodern haute horlogerie and an affordable option that gives a similarly avant-garde look.
Lanyard not included
Racing-inspired timepieces are plentiful these days. While wrist-worn chronographs have done the trick for decades, the more common instrument in the paddocks, pits and grandstands during the golden age of racing were hand-held stopwatches, chunky steel timers with oversized buttons for precise stops, starts and resets that were often worn around the neck on a lanyard. Young Italian brand CT Scuderia chose these track-day tools as inspiration for their timepieces, including the Corsa ($1,295).
King of the Underworld
If the Rolex Submariner was the original sports watch, then the Explorer II was the original extreme sports watch. Introduced in 1971 as a timepiece for cave and polar exploration, the Explorer II remains a favorite of ours thanks to its purpose-built design, intended use and legendary Rolex build quality. Singular in purpose and entirely uncompromising, the Explorer II was a pure tool. We got our hands on a new Explorer II and an ancestor, a rare, straight-handed reference 1655 from 1972.
Elegant sportiness or sporty elegance?
Despite a recent set of understated accomplishments (and a rather aristocratic-sounding name), Maurice Lacroix has managed to largely escape notice. Then last year’s BaselWorld came around, and the introduction of the diver’s chronograph Pontos S ($4,440) made dive watch fans and industry observers sit up and pay attention. We strapped it on for two weeks of testing.
Slopes? We'll take our water flat, thanks
Sprinkler, fire hydrant, beach or pool: they’re all great ways to cool off when the mercury spikes. Then there’s waterskiing. Often overshadowed by its alpine brother, waterskiing is a heck of a lot of fun and doesn’t require donning a neck warmer. There’s nothing like carving a perfect turn and throwing up a 15-foot wall of spray behind you, all under sunny skies and, preferably, with some bikini-clad babes close by. Here’s the gear you need to get there.
Gentlemen, we can build it
For a long time our options for buying a bike were limited to what was at the local shop, which was a roll of the dice in terms of selection and service. But with e-commerce consumers have limitless information available at a mouse click. What does this mean as a bike buyer? You have options.
With the experience of working in a bike shop under my belt and a good idea of what type of bike I wanted, I decided to try the “internet bike build” myself. With a budget of $2,000 I set out to best some of the similarly priced complete bikes for sale at the local shop.
39 HOURS IN A DAY
The Seiko Astron ($2,115) is billed as a World’s First: a watch that recognizes all 39 current world time zones by tapping into the global network of GPS satellites for location and time. It also does so while remaining remarkably uncluttered. We break it down.
You've never seen anything like this
Laser beams. Why aren’t laser beams everywhere? It’s 2013 — we’re supposed to be living in yesteryear’s science fiction by now, right? Leave it to the not-so-mad scientists at LG to second that notion. This 100-inch Smart TV (but one of many Smart TVs from LG) has a laser diode-based light source, which means more displayable colors with richer saturation, and since lasers are, well, lasers, the picture is fast enough to practically eliminate motion blur.
Just add water
While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.
Three top chronographs go head to head
The popularity and prevalence of chronographs might just make one think that it is an easy watch complication. Everyone from Hamilton and Tissot on up the line to the loftier likes of Patek and Lange & Söhne have one in their lineups. Something about the asymmetrical cases — those buttons poking out from under a shirtsleeve — and the gauge-like dials with tachymetric scales and multiple subdials seems irresistible to men everywhere.
So when we recently got our hands on three of the best available in-house built automatic column wheel chronographs from three legendary companies — Zenith, OMEGA and Girard-Perregaux — it presented an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We’ll call it a shootout — loosely.
Newman or Everyman?
Today we’ve got a vintage version of “Want This, Get This”, and its timing couldn’t be better. 2013 is the convergence of two important events in the watch world: it is the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Daytona and also the year in which Tudor makes its American market comeback. One is virtually unattainable to mere mortals and one will give you the same look and Rolex pedigree without having to mortgage your home.
Attacking the mountain in style
The Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the GoPro Summer Mountain Games is one of the most unique multi-sport events in the world. You’ll navigate white water, race up and down the ski slopes of Vail Mountain Resort on your mountain bike and in your running shoes, and finish with a grueling road bike time trial up to 9,500 feet in Vail Pass. Of course, it’s also the perfect excuse to update aging gear and even splurge on a great bike or even a paddle board. Here’s a look at the gear that got us through the race.
Crepas Watches out of Malaga, Spain is a niche dive watch company that elicits true horological lust. Each of Crepas’s three previous releases sold out, if that’s any indication. Using classic dive watches as their muse, Crepas issues one watch per year, and their latest release, the Cayman 3000 (~$1,190), found its way to our doorstep this summer.
There once was a watch from Nantucket
There are few scenes that conjure up summer more than white sails against a blue sky, whether you’re cruising in a 12-meter out of Newport, rounding buoys in a Laser at your lake’s weekend regatta, or just sitting on the beach watching the action. Our country’s lore and style are steeped in sailing culture, and watch companies haven’t ignored the nautical theme. Even if the closest you come to a boat all year is your company’s annual booze cruise, you can still channel a little bit of the maritime vibe and look like an old salt with any of this year’s fleet of nautical watches.
Zenith has had its share of ups and downs. After decades of success making watches for everyone including Mahatma Gandhi, the brand may have reached its zenith (sorry) in 1969 with the release of the El Primero chronograph, arguably the world’s first full-rotor self-winding chronograph. The ’70s and quartz bottomed out the brand, but it has since recovered. We break down Zenith’s Stratos Flyback Striking 10th ($9,500), released in tribute to the Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner, the man who would jump from a balloon 130,000 feet above the Earth — with this watch on his wrist.