Worn and Well Worn

Patina: 1966 Rolex Submariner (ref. 5513)

August 18, 2011 Style By Photo by Benjamin Clymer

Author’s Note: It’s no secret we’re all about surfacing the latest and greatest, newest and shiniest gear. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a healthy respect for careworn, well-made gear from the past. Because in the end, good quality stuff should last a while, perform for years, and become careworn itself. In this era of disposable and cheap, those things that are built to last stand out like stars on a dark night.

We’re kicking off a new series called, Patina that celebrates the visible evidence of gear that’s been well-used. Whether it’s a well-placed dent on a ’73 Land Rover, scuffed and faded roper boots or a baseball glove that’s seen a thousand line drives, the right patina is indescribable but you know it when you see it. It is warm, it tells stories, and it is imbued with the people who used it. Patina shows good, honest use, not abuse, and the value of maintenance absent of coddling.

It’s only fitting that, for our first Patina post, we start with arguably the best-known and most desirable example: a vintage Rolex sports watch. This 1966 Submariner (ref. 5513) has just the right level of what watch collectors call, “wabi-sabi,” the Japanese word describing the celebration of impermanence and the passage of time. The glow of the lume on the dial and hands, the faded bezel, the scratches on the case; this is a purpose-built piece of gear and bears witness to an era when tool watches were used and maintained but not babied. It is the prototype and the standard-bearer for what we’re after in this series. It is the essence of Patina.

Watch photos courtesy of Eric Wind of Hodinkee

Jason Heaton

I’ve always been a bit of an adventure fiend, a Midwestern boy seduced by the exoticism of adventure magazines and Hemingway novels. So, I feel like I’ve arrived now that I’m writing for Gear Patrol. It justifies as “research” a lifetime of tramping about the planet, climbing mountains, diving wrecks, and having a basement that looks like your local outdoor shop. Though I lean towards the Polarfleece aesthetic, I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional urban weekend in a tweed jacket or an evening in (gasp!) a tie. I only wear mechanical watches, drive my adequately patina’d Alfa Romeo Spider right up until the snow flies, and always keep an open bottle of single malt close at hand. My sporting cred runs the gamut from velodrome bike racing to Nordic skiing. I’ve done adventure races; I golf twice a month in the summer, have summited Colorado 14ers,and have even been scuba diving everywhere from Sri Lanka to Boston Harbor. I’ve traveled extensively in Europe, the US, and Asia, somehow earned an English Literature degree and learned German, French, and Latin along the way. I have studied photography and can make a mean saag paneer. I can’t say where Gear Patrol will take me. But as someone once said: “it’s not an adventure if you know the outcome.” And that’s just the way I like it. I’m here to serve you, my fellow adventurers.

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