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Time to clean up

Four Dress Watches, Four Distinct Styles

Yes, we’re inclined towards utilitarian sports watches, but every now and then a guy’s got to clean up. For those times, do yourself a favor and replace that Panerai with something a little more civilized — a jaw-dropping dress watch. Just how civilized (and how expensive) is up to you, but here are four worth suiting up for.

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Ripped from the dash

Face Value: CT Scuderia Dashboard

Our last look at Italian watch company CT Scuderia involved marveling at their race timer-inspired Corsa, which takes its design cues from vintage racing stopwatches. We’re just as enamored by their new Dashboard series ($1,495+) of automatic watches, another vintage-inspired collection; this time the muse is vintage speedometers.

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From Good to Great

Five Cars that Finally Arrived

Some car models start out great but then topple from grace — the Nissan Maxima comes to mind (as much as we try to push it out). Then there are those automobiles that have only gotten better with time, tweaks, and tender loving care. Some have evolved gracefully, while others desperately needed a hefty dose of attention. Here are five models basking in the glow of recent changes that have brought them into their primes.

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It takes two to fan dance

The Arrival of the Korean Luxury Sedan: Kia K900 & Hyundai Equus

Not that long ago, “Korean Luxury Car” sounded a lot like “Hardee’s Beef Wellington”. Something was clearly lost in both translation and execution — but those days are gone now. Both Kia and Hyundai have brought their own versions of luxo barges to our shores in the form of the K900 and the Equus. Sure, the snob factor isn’t nearly as present as in the German or Japanese offerings, but that could be just what the doctor (or lawyer) ordered. The Korean luxury sedan has arrived in a big way without making a big move for your bank account.

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Head of the C-Class

Quick Spin: The Arrival of a First Class C-Class

In its past several generations, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class has promised drivers excellent entry-level luxury — a promise on which the car has never quite delivered. GP editor Eric Yang travels to the South of France to find the soul of the new C-Class using his right foot.

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Professional grade

Tested: F-Stop Camera Backpacks

F-Stop is a relative newcomer to the camera bag scene, and its St. Louis headquarters is incongruous with its focus on packs for mountain sports photography. But don’t let that fool you. Their packs show a design maturity that could only stem from experience and a smart use of user feedback. We tested both the light-and-fast Kenti ($249) and the sturdier, larger Satori EXP ($379) in conditions as varied as multi-day hikes in New Zealand and peak bagging in New Hampshire.

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Earn Your Turns

Kit: Ski Mountaineering

Ski mountaineering is the ultimate punishment tour in the mountains — moving uphill with heavy gear through deep snow and ice — with a perfect payoff when it’s time to go down. We spent this winter testing the best winter mountaineering and ski gear on some of the biggest peaks in Utah and Colorado as we trained for the Power of 4 Ski Mountaineering Race. If you’re looking to start going further in search of deep powder, look no further for the best extreme-condition gear for any winter climbing mission.

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Taking the Alpha Out of Beta

Testing the Tumi Alpha 2, Concourse-Style

Can a piece of luggage have a successor? Tumi, the venerable brand practically synonymous with domestic airports, believes it can with the release of the Alpha 2. The carry-on/check-in sequel incorporates a slew of improvements — ranging from overdue to practically invisible — in the gangbusters popular flagship line. Across its 30 improvements, the Alpha 2 boasts an impressive 14 patents. To test its mettle, we made our way to the Alpha 2’s arena: airports.

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Two Very Talented Spin Doctors

Want This, Get This: Linn Majik LP12 or Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

Today music lovers are finding more and more of their friends have returned to a beloved 1960s listening form: spinning vinyl. Unfortunately, buying a turntable is daunting. The segment tends to idolize incredibly expensive hi-fi gear, which is all well and good, except that few newcomers or even seasoned vinyl listeners can afford the tippity top of the quality pyramid. Truth is, for the price of an iPod you can be the proud owner of a turntable with great sound and the chops to convey every form of jammery until you yourself are a vinyl aficionado.

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The thrill of the hunt

The GP Guide to eBay Vintage Watch Hunting

What self-respecting watch nerd hasn’t spent countless hours trolling eBay for that elusive vintage treasure that no one has discovered? The Pre-Moon Omega Speedmaster, the MilSub, the Cosmonaute — the names alone are enough to get palms sweating and the heart racing. While the thrill of watch collecting is in the hunt, enough foiled plans and missed auctions will make anyone gun shy. We feel your pain. The best salve is this guide to vintage watches on eBay, featuring a strong mix of underdogs — those timepieces that fly under a lot of collectors’ radars. Not only do you stand a better chance of scoring one of these collectible tickers, once you do make the final bid, you’ll end up with a legitimate piece of horological history.

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Special Watches Under $1000

The Frugal Watch Nerd’s Buying Guide

It’s easy to become numb to the incredible prices of fine watches. But being a watch enthusiast doesn’t mean choosing between a good watch and a decent used car. By looking in the right places, you can avoid bland fashion watches in favor of well-made, unique timepieces that scratch the watch nerd itch while protecting your post-college pledge to never subsist on ramen noodles again. Here are a few examples of what can be found for less than $1,000.

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Hot Tropik

Time On Our Hands: Halios Tropik SS

Shimmering a shade of blue clearly inspired by Caribbean waters, the Halios Tropik SS ($650) on my left wrist appears candy coated, looking infinitely more confident than I feel. A quick test of my regulator complete, I twist the Tropik’s unidirectional ceramic bezel to mark the beginning of this, my first real dive. I’m in the tropics to test this purpose-built diver on its home court.

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A beast in plainer clothes

Behind the Wheel: 2015 Subaru WRX

The Subaru Impreza WRX (nicknamed “Rex” by loyalists) has a cult following to almost rival the Beatles (smaller and younger, but just as fanatic). New iterations or improvements often make fan clubs and enthusiasts both skeptical and nervous; you can’t mess with perfection, and the Subaru Impreza WRX is pretty close. In November of last year Subaru debuted the fifth generation 2015 WRX ($26,295) at the LA auto show, and we were quick to and hop in line to see if they’d truly made it better or simply messed up a great thing.

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Cooking under pressure

Tested: SousVide Supreme

Cooking sous vide, French for “under vacuum” allows us to bypass this obstacle by cooking at a low and very precise temperature; it’s the equivalent of walking up to the dartboard and pushing the dart into the bullseye. While it’s a technique that’s been around for professional chefs, Iron Chefs and DIYers for ages, the technology has only been available to the average home cook since 2009. As more machines hit the market, we decided to test the one that started the home sous vide revolution, the Sous Vide Supreme ($500).

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A Beefy Refresher

A Cut Above: 3 Artisanal Beef Jerkies

Last year, during our Month of Beef, we surveyed 10 of the best beef jerkies. But as is the case in any group testing, we missed a few solid options. Now, we want to rectify that mistake with this beefy refresher of three more great artisanal jerkies.

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Armoring up for battle with frigid surf

Kit: Winter Surfing

When it comes time to hit the surf and temps are in the 30s rather than the 70s, the right gear is the difference between channeling Bodhi and becoming intimate with the symptoms of hypothermia. While it’s admittedly tough to be toasty in water less than half your body’s normal temperature, with the right kit you can at least pursue your hobby and live to tell about it. Below are our picks for the gear you’ll need for winter surfing.

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Old School Cool

Want This Get This: Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue or Steinhart Racetimer

One of the hottest trends in the watch world is vintage-inspired style, particularly from the colorful chronographs of the 1970s. Instead of bucking the trend with modernism, many brands have been going with the retro flow, releasing altogether new watches with vintage looks, and reviving some of their old references. Today we take a look at two eye-catching chronographs — in two very different price brackets — that could have very well made it here by way of a time-traveling DeLorean.

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Don't Tread on Me

Time on Our Hands: Devon Tread 2

Most of the watches from American brands these days look back nostalgically for inspiration and design cues — Shinola with its round cases, small seconds and wire lugs, RGM with its pocketwatch-on-a-strap aesthetic, or MKII with its ‘60s tool watch vibe. But there’s another American watch company — Devon — that doesn’t bother with the past and may actually be the best brand to wave the banner for American watchmaking given its firm focus on the future and emphasis on innovation. The Devon Tread 2 is that brand’s new and improved take on haute horlogerie, Americana-style.

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Have it your way

Face Value: Martenero Watches

Martenero is an affordable new brand based in New York. Founders John Tarantino and Matt O’Dowd met several years back in a chance encounter on a street corner in Madrid, Spain. A friendship followed, and so did a watch brand.

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A Triumphant Return to the (kind of) British two-seater

Behind the Wheel: Jaguar F-Type V8 S

When Jaguar introduced their iconic E-Type in the early 1960s it turned heads and changed lives; new for 2014, the Jaguar F-Type ($69,000) looks to do exactly the same thing. First coming to life as the C-X16 concept, the production version debuted at the historic Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012 and, thanks to thrilling driving dynamics and a competitive price point, could be the most exciting offering from the Brits (under Indian ownership) since the tea trade routes.

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Five Oceans, Five Cameras

Buying Guide: Underwater Imaging

Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options — everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all — will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.

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Get wet, stay warm

Tested: Patagonia R1 Wetsuit

Patagonia has always been a company with one foot in the mountains and one in the sea — climbing and skiing one day, surfing and paddling the next. When they introduced wetsuits to their lineup a few years ago, it was a big leap for the company, but not one they were unqualified to make. In fact, their experience building warm, lightweight and bombproof alpine gear transferred well to wetsuits, which we found out recently while testing the R1 wetsuit during a week of diving in Belize.

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Gear for the jungle and the reef

Kit: Underwater and Underground in Belize

Packing for a tropical getaway usually only involves deciding what color swim trunks to pack. But when your plans include jungle hiking, cave exploration and scuba diving, things get a little more complicated. The key is versatility — you need gear that works underground or underwater just as well as it does topside. For our week in Belize we made sure everything we took did more than just one thing well. This saved space in our luggage and let us be nimble yet well prepared. Here’s a sampling of what we took.

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Changing the landscape of home lawn care

Tested: Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment

The Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment ($149-$399) lineup is Lowe’s new family of cordless yard care products. With two lawnmowers, a string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower, pole saw and chainsaw available at launch at affordable price points, their comprehensive collection seems aimed at homeowners who are ready to wholeheartedly embrace the cordless revolution. With a full selection charged, ready and waiting just outside of Jacksonville, we ditched our parkas and went to work.

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SET IT AND FORGET IT

Testing the Swatch Sistem51, a Horological Landmark

Back in 1983, the first Swatch quartz watch had 51 components. For a 30th anniversary celebratory piece, Swatch took up the challenge to make a mechanical watch with the same number of parts. This is the Swatch Sistem51, a revolution in mechanical watches that hasn’t yet come to American shores. We recently got our hands on one.

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Eight Small Steps for Timekeeping

Out Of This World: The Best Space Watches

A space watch is more than just branding. Torture tested to excel in the most inhospitable of environments, these timepieces are designed to survive instantaneous 200 degree shifts in temperature, acidic humidity and extreme g-forces (shocks up to 40 Gs). Much like the explorers who don them, there are but a lucky few that have earned special recognition. These are our eight picks of the best space watches (or their modern reinterpretation) available for the rest of you dreamers out there.

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Another automotive kidney punch to us Yanks

Power Wagon Reborn: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Packed with the same kind of rip-roaring five-door flavor as the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon and the Audi RS6 Avant, Jaguar’s XFR-S Sportbrake does up the wicked and track-ready XFR-S sedan with more cargo space and a nice big rear door for all those Home Depot runs.

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Big Boned Bikes

Buying Guide: 5 Best Fat Bikes

The Global Fat Bike Summit reported that fat bike sales doubled from 2011 to 2012, then doubled again from 2012 to 2013. The category is growing, and the ease with which the oversized tires float over sand, snow and technical rock sections is to thank. Whether you’re looking for something to ride casually through the winter months or a race monster, we’ve got five bikes to cover your needs.

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Gear for the diehard winter rider

Kit: Fat Bike Racing

Fat bikes can effortlessly glide over snowy conditions like a set of snowshoes, and they’re cushy enough for riding in frigid temps without shattering your frozen tuchus. But the bike can only take you so far. Staying warm and dry — and returning home with all your fingers and toes — requires the right set of gear for when the weather decides to take a serious turn for the worse. These winter fat biking essentials will help you battle the worst Mother Nature can throw your way.

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Big wheels keep on turning

Breakdown: Borealis Yampa XX1

Since 2005, loads of companies have introduced fat bikes in their lineups, spurring technical and design advances and bringing the fatties up to par with traditional mountain bikes. Case in point is the impressive Borealis Yampa XX1, a carbon-fibered, wide-tired beast that contains plenty more design features than meets the eye.