When traversing with photography equipment, you need a camera bag that can travel the same way you do: with a minimalist’s panache. We recently spent a weekend in New York City with something that fits the bill: the Billingham Hadley Small ($204), a handsome shoulder bag with a hefty woven strap, adjustable compartments, and an understated sophistication.
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.
Flying on water
Back in June, we went out to San Francisco for a glimpse inside preparations for the 34th America’s Cup from the perspective of challenger Emirates Team New Zealand and its timekeeping partner, OMEGA. We were out in the city by the bay again recently, this time as a guest of TAG Heuer, a sponsor of the reigning America’s Cup Defender, Team Oracle USA. Finally, the focus was on the sailing
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.
From the deep, for the deep
As men were pioneering ways to explore and live in outer space in the 1960s, another groundbreaking initiative was taking place closer to home, in an equally hostile environment: the ocean. Parallel efforts by the U.S. Navy, the French commercial diving firm COMEX and diving legend Jacques Cousteau were developing a way for man to live on the ocean floor by breathing a gas mixture made up of a majority of inert helium combined with oxygen. “Saturation diving”, as the new method was called, greatly increased possibilities for living underwater by removing the need to frequently come to the surface to decompress.
But a problem was discovered: the crystals of divers’ watches were blowing off upon decompression at the end of their time on the seabed. A new dive watch was needed, and Rolex responded with the now-legendary Sea Dweller.
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).
A look beyond the usual suspects
Once you’ve got your bike, which you should by now, the next step is to pick up the appropriate accessories. For commuters, second only to a helmet is a suitable bag that holds the necessities and, beyond that, meets specific, personal work- or looks-related criteria. The next thing to consider is the style of bag — backpack, messenger or something else entirely? We’ve got all of the above, with a preference toward backpacks.
The Pilot's Pilot Watch
When he was asked about the prominent bit of bling (or “B’ling”) on his wrist, a former test pilot for the U.S. Air Force replied, “I need a Navitimer so I can do my calculations!” That brief anecdote may tell you something about how the Breitling Navitimer is viewed by the guys who fly jets for a living. The bit about calculations would be in reference to the Navitimer’s most recognizable feature, the “navigation computer” — a circular slide rule located on the rotating bezel that a pilot can use to handle all the calculations they need to make when planning a flight. We examine the pilot’s watch.
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.
Uncomplicated, for your wallet
Watches that simply tell time are a dime a dozen, and sometimes close to a dozen a dime. But start adding more functions and things can get complicated — and expensive. While we’re just starting to forgive the quartz watch for dealing a near death blow to our beloved mechanical timepieces, there’s no denying that when you want more bang for the buck, battery power is the way to go. You’ll pay dearly for dual time zones, flybacks, alarms and tide trackers on the mechanical side of the fence, but if you’re willing to put up with a tick-tick-tick seconds hand, we’ve found five watches that are happy to complicate your life for under (or around) five hundred dollars.
Shock and Awe
What do rapper Eminem, snowboarder Louie Vito, basketball player Brook Lopez and actor James Marsden have in common? They make way more money than us. Oh, and they all were at G-Shock‘s 30th Anniversary bash in NYC recently, where the Casio subset released a new slew of timepieces. We were there.
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.
Looks best through any test
Can denim constantly adapt to your lifestyle? That’s the question premiere denim lifestyle brand 7 For All Mankind set out to answer with their newly announced line of men’s Luxe Performance jeans. In the quest to create the “most compelling jeans for guys”, the brand teamed up with a premium Italian denim maker to create an exclusive fabric — one made from a unique blend of woven fibers that feels soft to the touch on the inside (like cashmere) while still exhibiting 95% recovery.
The sincerest form of flattery?
Within the watch industry there exists a thriving category of timepieces that is wholly unoriginal. This is the realm of the so-called “homage” watch. While legions of fans gratefully purchase these ersatz Grail timepieces, homages also have their detractors — those who write them off as mere derivative copies that don’t deserve attention.GP’s Jason Heaton dives into the debate.
Ketch of the Day
The nautical lifestyle, with its mix of refinement, adventure and expensive equipment, makes a natural fit for luxury timepieces. Officine Panerai does things a little differently than other brands. Rather than go for the cutting-edge carbon fiber multi-hull racing scene, the storied Italian watchmaker takes a more nostalgic view on sailing by sponsoring a series of classic yacht regattas up and down New England. We were invited to the first of the three American regattas, the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta, in the charming maritime port town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. It was a proper mix of flapping Dacron, wooden-hulled 12-meter yachts and cocktails at no less than three proper blue-blood yacht clubs. Oh, and there were a few cool watches, too. Read on for the full photo essay.
A WEATHER STATION ON YOUR WRIST
A lot of people are calling the Breva Genie 01 ($163,000 in pink gold) a “weather station on your wrist,” and our gut reaction is to look for another (less tedious) name. Trouble is, it fits. Weather is the real function of this timepiece.
The Maine Event
Since its creation in 1935, the modern boat shoe has been an obscure sailor’s footwear, a prep staple and, since the ’80s, a mainstream fashion icon. They’ve come back into vogue recently and are available in hundreds of fabrics and colors; for the true boat shoe experience, though, you’ve got to look towards Maine. Whether because of their maritime history, manufacturing prowess or stalwart New England pride, the Mainers do boat shoes right. Here are five of the best boat shoes the Pine Tree State has to offer.
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.
To refer to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as a mere icon is to almost willfully ignore the importance of the watch, the line it inspired, or, indeed, the genre that it gave birth to. Few, if any, timepieces have so thoroughly altered the industry or impacted our conception of watchmaking as the Royal Oak, and for good reason. This timepiece didn’t just save a company. It single-handedly created an entirely new class of watch.
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.
UNDER THE DOME
The Ressence Type 3 ($30,555) is a totally modernistic design, unique in every sense of the word — something very refreshing in today’s horological world of “my watch has more tourbillons than your watch”. Its interesting take on the regulateur style comes together in a timepiece you need to touch and feel firsthand to truly appreciate. We give you the next best thing in our breakdown above.
You’ve got to hand it to Adidas: while the leading edge of innovation for most running companies is minimalist footwear with the occasional proprietary shank to keep things moving forward, in the Adidas Springblade ($180) the company has made a running shoe that artfully combines the looks and swiftness of a Ferrari with… I don’t know, a viperfish? Steven Seagal in Glimmer Man? Charlemagne’s Joyeuse? We got to try the cool-looking things out.
Cue the tiny violins
IWC is thoroughly Swiss and proud of it. So proud, in fact, that they’ve put together a little video in honor of Switzerland’s national holiday, which falls on August 1st, with a team of watchmakers playing the Swiss national anthem on suitably sized instruments. The conductor of the group is none other than Kurt Klaus, appropriately a national treasure and designer of some of IWC’s greatest complicated timepieces. Happy National Day, Switzerland, and keep the great timepieces coming!
There are dozens — if not hundreds — of guys making custom leather straps these days, and a few doing nylon. You can too. All it really takes is some serious time on Google and YouTube looking for information, a leather supplier, a few knives, needle and thread, and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice.
In case you don’t have that kind of time, we’ve rounded up some top current strap makers for your sampling pleasure. And lest you think these guys are dilettantes, at least two of them parlayed their passion into an OEM manufacturing concern for well-known watch brands.
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.
Telling shit from Shinola? That's easy
Here’s the thing about Shinola: it gives off the right appearances, the right ethics, just the right amount of chip-on-the-shoulder pride; and then those things end up also being true, rooted in concrete examples like a city and the fingers of idealistic workers (who, outside of watches, also build excellent bikes) or abstract things like the American Dream. So it is with the Shinola Runwell ($600), the brand’s flagship watch, which found its way onto my relatively inexperienced wrist with an obvious, immediate question: was this an American watch (the American watch) worth buying?
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.