Showing posts sorted by relevance for query men's stuff part. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query men's stuff part. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, May 30, 2011

My love affair with watches, men's stuff part sixteen

My love affair with watches began in the 4h grade when I received my first Timex wristwatch. It had a simple white face encased in stainless steel with black Arabic numbers, and its only "complication" was a sweep seconds hand. I remember carefully synchronizing my Timex with the school bell so I could count out the seconds for the end of the day, or secretly timing events with the sweep second hand.

In Junior High, for Christmas, I received my second watch. It was a digital Texas Instruments with red LED (like the one pictured above). You had to press the button to display the time, and the red numbers were so dim you couldn’t make them out in daylight, but it didn’t matter. In my mind I was James Bond. I had seen Roger Moore wearing the Hamilton Pulsar in the 1973 movie Live and Let Die and I thought digital was the height of cool. From there, my watch collection just began to expand; and today, it’s not unusual for me to strike up conversations with fellow watch aficionados on airplanes or social situations.

My love affair with time pieces continues. Below are some blog posts I wrote about some of my watches:

(Photos- The top photo is what my Texas Instruments Watch looked like. Sadly that watch disappeared years ago, so the snapshot is just off the net. The lower photo however is my actual Rolex Submariner in its case.)

WatchTime Magazine - This is, in my opinion, the best watch publication for people wishing to learn more about the watch industry. Unlike many other watch magazines, WatchTime is extremely well written. It doesn’t just have a lot of pretty photographs with rewrites of company marketing copy. – This is a legitimate site for collectors wishing to buy or sell their watches.


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, men's stuff part nineteen.

Let's talk men's watches.

In terms of quiet elegance for daily life, my Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Grand Taille (pictured left) takes the grand prize over all the other watches I own.  It was a Christmas gift from my wife in 2013 and I've grown very fond of it over the past year. 

As a watch enthusiast I had lusted over the Jaeger Reverso for a number of years, but was on the fence about my next major watch purchase between a Reverso or a PaneraiLuminor 1950 GMT. I had finally decided on the Reverso, and was actively pondering which Reverso model I was going to purchase when my wife gave me the Christmas surprise.

My wife’s choice for me was a simple stainless steel GT with only one complication- a small inside dial for seconds.  The strap is light brown alligator leather with a stainless steel butterfly clasp assembly.  I also have a second alligator strap in black. The watch tastefully understated. It's an inconspicuously branded luxury good that is likely to be recognized only by other watch aficionados/enthusiasts.

For a watch enthusiast, the Reverso requires no introduction.  Its art deco design still shines as brightly today as when it first made its worldwide splash with the cafĂ© society in 1931. The watch was supposedly designed for British military officers who played polo in British Colonial India.  The polo players kept breaking their watch crystals during play, and the Reverso solved the problem by enabling them to “swivel” the crystal face into a reverse position- exposing only the metal back. Hence the name, "Reverso."

Originally the back was a plain metal surface, but with time, Jaeger LeCoultre began decorating the backs of Reversos with everything from the watch owner’s initials to elaborate designs infused with diamonds, enamel, and other creative resources.  One model, the Reverso Duo, has a second watch on the back that can be used like a GMT for a second time zone.

Today, the Reverso is still considered Jaeger LeCoultre signature watch and is available in multiple models, with a large variety of complications, and ranging in size from the small classic size measuring only (L x W) 38.5 x 23.1mm, to the new large Squadra models measuring a full 50.5 x 34.9mm.

In addition to the Reverso collection, Jaeger sports a number of watch lines on its official website, most of which are in traditional round faces.

The company, Jaeger LeCoultre, has been around since 1833 and has had quite a history with royalty, celebrities, and the infamous.  For example Queen Elizabeth II wore a Jaeger 101 movement on her coronation day, and the scoundrel mountebank Bernie Madoff had a Reverso Dou that was seized and auctioned off after his fraud conviction. 

One Caveat- Size Matters when it comes to choosing your Reverso

Having sang its praises; the caveat with the Reverso is its size.  For many men today, who are used to large watches, the original classic size feels too small- at only 38.5mm by 23.1mm.  I think this is the reason Jaeger introduced the uber-sized “Squadra” Reverso that measure a wrist imposing 50.5mm length and 34.9mm width.

Size then, not the complications, was my main concern when choosing my Reverso.  A couple of online bulleting board comments, from dissatisfied purchasers, had stuck with me.

One disappointed purchaser stated he had had to trade in his classic sized Reverso for a Squadra Reverso, at a significant monetary loss, because he simply could not get used to the small size.  With the classic, he had always felt like he was wearing a ladies watch.  (If you want to see how small it looks on a man’s wrist, Google photos of Mad Men’s Don Draper for the first season.)

A second frustrated purchaser also made a size comment. He complained his Reverso was too long in length, and uncomfortable.  What he meant was that because the Reverso pivots, the watch back case is flat and it does not curve to the wrist upon its length like some square watches do.  As a result the purchaser complained that the watch was always slightly uncomfortable on his wrist, and because of this, he didn’t wear it often.  I believe the model he was referring to was the Ultra Thin model.
From here you can see the flat back back surface, no curvature to the wrist. For the blog photo, I removed the watch's serial number which is etched on the bottom below the emblem.
Lastly, I had personal reservations against a Squadra Reverso because (A), I felt the oversized Squadra Reverso lacked the elegance of a more traditional Reverso, and (B), I thought the Squadra would be too big for my wrist. My wife had the same thoughts about the Squadra models when she was shopping for my watch. 

For me, my wife’s gift of a Reverso Grand Taille (GT) was the perfect “Goldilocks” size for my wrist.  At 42.2mm Length and 26mm Width, it’s both comfortable and elegant, and fits well underneath my shirt cuff.  It’s the opposite of today’s monster sized overstated watches.  At the same time, I don’t feel I’m wearing a woman’s watch.  I think my wife made a great selection with my Grand Taille.

If you want to get an idea of how it looks on a man’s wrist from different angles and distances, catch the 1999 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair.”  In it, Pierce Brosnan's character, Thomas Crown, wears a Reverso Duo, which is the exact same size as the Reverso GT.

As an interesting aside, the Reverso worn by Pierce Brosnan in "The Thomas Crown Affair" was actually owned by him (it's said hes' a big Jaeger fan), but the "Jaeger LeCoultre" lettering in the face was edited-out in close-ups of the watch. Presumably this was because Brosnan had a promotional contract with Omega at the time due to his James Bond films.  
With my pen and reading glasses, this photo provides size scale for the watch.
One last caution- in the online watch review by “The Talking Hands,” one of the online reviewers warned, “They should warn you that these things are made of butter.”  He was observing that just as the watch is extremely beautiful, it is also extremely vulnerable to scratching.  I have found that to be true even of my stainless steel model due to the high polish finish. You do have to be mindful while wearing it.

For more information on these beautiful watches, I've placed below a couple of YouTube Links.  

One is a short 13 minute review of the Reverso by “Talking Hands," specifically the Grand Reserve with an 8 day power-reserve-indicator on the back. This is the one where we are warned about the watch's "butter" like delicacy to scratching.

The other is a simple demonstration of the pivot action of a Reverso GT. Incidentally, it does show the "correct" way to flip your Reverso.  Push it in halfway (left to right), then flip the face to the back, then push the rest of it in sideways until it locks in place (again, left to right). This prevents accidental scratching of your Reverso.

-John P.

If you're a watch enthusiast, here are some additional watch related posts:

Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) wearing a stainless steel Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso GT with brown strap in "Money Never Sleeps," the sequel to the classic 1987 movie Wall Street.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Acqua Di Parma, men's stuff part five

For Christmas 2006, my wife gave me a new cologne, Acqua Di Parma. I had run across some references to it during hobby reading, and I was curious.

Acqua Di Parma is an Italian citrus based scent first made in 1916. After many years of being relegated to an isolated niche product, the fragrance was purchased in 1994 by three investors. The new owners then expanded distribution to reach the eager dollars of the Hoi Polloi. The company claims it was “THE” cologne among the beautiful people in the 30s and 50s, and drops the names of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. (Of course the fact that they’re both dead makes corroboration difficult at best.)

For my part, I’ve taken a fancy to it. It’s more declarative than my beloved Trumper’s Extract of Lime, but to its credit it does tastefully dissipate when properly applied. I’ve worn it for the month of January and I haven’t tired of it.

The package paper describes it as combining more than ten natural ingredients (no knock-off lab synthetics) to produce "smooth notes of Sicilian citrus, rose, & lavender with base notes of oriental woods." And to its credit, it's not boring like say the traditional (and overly known) prep scent of Eau Sauvage. It's definitely something different and has the flair Italian craftsmanship is known for.

If you’re looking for an alternative, I would recommend giving Acqua Di Parma a try.

The only caveat I’ve had is that it came in a spray bottle, and hence impractical for air travel with the new security limitations on liquids. If you pack it in your wet pack with your checked luggage, the altitude may affect the spray pump. I’ll have to see what is available in plain bottle format for future use.


(For related subject matter see September 16, 2006 entry, “On Wet Shaving, men’s stuff part two.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Easter Day with a Cuban gift; men’s stuff part sixteen

I celebrated Easter with a Cuban “Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill Tubo” - pictured left. It was a gift from a relative (Mr. T) during Lent and I was overjoyed to get it.

I’m not sure if he researched it prior to gifting, but he hit a home run with this present. This Short Churchill was the top rated robusto cigar in the February issue of Cigar Aficionado Magazine. The filler, binder and wrapper are from Cuba, and it scored a near perfect 93.

A robusto is defined as a short-fat cigar, usually around 5 1/2 inches long with a large 50 or so ring gauge. It's supposed to be more intense than average, and recommended as an after dinner cigar. This Romeo Y Julieta was mild and pleasant, not the least bit overwhelming or harsh. I’m happy to report that the tube did its job and delivered the cigar in perfect condition.

Thanks Mr. T!

-John P.

For more info on cigars, visit my post "On Cigars, men's stuff part thirteen."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Rolex Submariner, men's stuff part three

Bond: You expect me to talk Goldfinger?
Goldfinger: No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

As a boy I saw the Rolex Submariner watch for the first time in the opening scenes of Goldfinger. In it, Sean Connery sets explosives at the bad guys’ base while in scuba gear, changes into white-dinner jacket, and then nonchalantly waits for the charges to go off. His clothing changed from commando-action-gear to sophisticate evening wear, but the watch remained the same; a Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner. I was hooked.

I’m not alone in this. If you carry on a conversation with a Submariner owner long enough, eventually you will hear some similar James Bond childhood influence.

The watch is about the size of an Oreo Cookie (40mm) and fits comfortably on the wrist despite its thickness. It’s water proof to 300 meters or 1,000 feet. (This means it can go places you can’t go.) It has a uni-directional black bezel to mark elapsed diving time. It also has an extension link on the stainless steel bracelet so that it can be worn over a wetsuit.

Most men will never use the diving features. (Lord knows I haven’t.)

What I do use frequently is the bezel, which is marked in minutes, to monitor elapsed time on flights or tasks. The glow-in-the-dark-face is also easy to read in low lighting situations.

Its technical specifications, while impressive, are of little relevance to aficionados. Instead, if you had to define its appeal in one blurb, it would this- the watch is manliness defined, period.

The watch is unaffected and masculine. It runs the gamut world wide. I’ve seen it on the wrist of a successful stockbroker in Manhatten; and I’ve seen it on the wrist of a bus driver in Rome. The Stainless Steel Submariner is the ultimate go-to-watch for a man. It can fit every occasion. It goes well with every outfit, every activity, and doesn't look ostentatious.

Aside from the basic stainless steel Submariner, there are also Submariner versions with yellow gold embellishments and blue faces, as well as a 50th anniversary model with a green bezel. As a purest, I’ve always held men who wear gold modified models as suspect. A man wanting an ornate dress watch would be better served to purchase a gold Oyster Perpetual Day Date or similar IWC, Patek Phillip, Zenith or Jaeger-LeCoultre offering.  (And please don't get me started with the after-market-bling-jobs I've seen in which diamonds or other precious stones are added to the watch face. Trust me, they don't impress.)

As a point of humor on this, I was once in the middle of a software sales presentation with the owner of a business and his key subordinates, when one his lieutenants cut in, “I don’t know boss, this guy is wearing a Rolex. I think he’s going to take us downtown on the price.”

The owner replied, “No, No, it’s OK. It’s only stainless steel. It’s the jackasses with the gold ones that you have to worry about.”

John P.


OK let’s answer the basic question: Is the Rolex Submariner really a super 007 action watch?  Is it in fact virtually indestructible? The evidence says yes.  Remember it is stainless steel, and waterproof to 300 meters.  That translates to about 433 pounds per square inch on not only the metal case, but the crystal as well.

However there are two caveats.

The first is that if you plan to use this watch for business wear, you need to be aware that the stainless steel on the Submariner will scratch, especially on the wrist bracelet. If you have nice things, you have to take care of them.

The second caveat is more important. Like Achilles, this watch does have a weakness – the winding crown.  While screwed in place, the crown guard does a great job of protecting it, but while unscrewed (for winding or changing the time) it is the one delicate part of the watch you will come in contact with.  Remember to treat it gently. This will save you the embarrassment and expense of an unnecessary repair.

An added benefit, chicks dig the watch

Labradors dig the watch too. When I can’t find my Submariner I know it’s because my Chocolate Lab “borrowed” it. (She is after all, a "watch dog.")

My Chocolate Lab is a little far-sighted resulting in nose prints on the crystal. Fortunately she periodically licks them off. (The watch reads 7 pm, that's really 2 am in dog time.)

"So when are we going to get a Rolex Pepsi GMT like Tom Selleck’s?"

Detail close up of my Submariner, sans nose prints, next to my wedding ring for scale.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Edwin Jagger Chatsworth, mens stuff part seventeen

"Wet shaving is suited for the man who wants to elevate his everyday life above the pedestrian. It adds pleasure to the day’s routine, provides a pensive time for the thinking man, and results in a much closer shave." 

The quote above is from my first blog post on the benefits of wet shaving in September of 2006: “On Wet Shaving, men's stuff part two.”

About 12 years ago, I received an Edwin Jagger Chatsworth shaving set from my wife as a birthday gift. The set had a shaving brush (best badger), an ivory handle for Gillette Sensor razor blades, and a silver wire stand that held the brush and handle. Earlier this year, as a self-gift for my birthday, I decided to update my home shaving gear.

Unfortunately over those 12 years, my old shaving brush had grown worn, and Gillette Sensor cartridge blades had grown unreasonable in price. I then decided to order not only a new shaving brush, but a new shaving handle that used safety razors.  I was already familiar with safety blades because I originally learned how to shave using my father's (now vintage) Gillette Super Speed Razor Handle. - By the way, I still have the vintage handle and use it even today to shave occasionally.-

I ordered both replacement items in the Edwin Jagger Chatsworth style, that way I could continue using the same wire stand.

After using my new safety razor for a few months, I can say that I’m very pleased. The Chatsworth safety razor has good balance. By safety razor standards, it would be categorized as medium aggressive. That means it has an average blade gap and angle, for blade contact with my face. It didn't take me long to master a "feel" for it.  The benefits are that I also get a closer shave, and save money by buying safety blades (which are cheaper per unit and last longer) as opposed to overpriced cartridge blades.

My new razor came with some Derby blades, however in the past few months I’ve also sampled BIC, Wilkinson Sword, Sharp and Merkur. Out of the lot, my personal preference is the Merkur blade made in Germany. In choosing a blade, it’s important to remember that the best blade for you may not necessarily be the sharpest. For well written piece on choosing a blade see "Choosing the Right Blade" at Shaving 101.

If like me, you've reached the end of your tolerance for silly prices on cartridges, I would highly encourage you to go "retro" and use a safety blade. However I do offer a warning. If you are a cartridge razor user and are thinking of switching to a safety razor, you should know that the transition could be difficult. It's very likely that you will cut up your face at the start. The reason for this is that you’re used to the inherent ease of a pivot head, and are probably prone to using too much pressure. Safety razors are very sharp and demand respect. If you want to learn how to shave with a safety razor, I suggest you start on a Saturday or any other morning when you can take your time and carefully develop a "feel" for your new razor.  As I stated earlier, it didn't take me long to get a "feel" for my new razor handle, but remember that a) I initially learned how to shave using a safety razor, and b) prior to this purchase I was already using my father's 1960's Gillette Super Speed Razor occasionally.

So am I saying "Au Revoir Mr. Gopher," to cartridges entirely? 

In a word, no. Unlike some wet-shaving-purist, I DO think that cartridge pivot razors have their place. The one obvious example is that TSA will not allow safety razors blades in the aircraft cabin. That means that if you don't want to check your bag, you have to pack cartridges. So we can't quite do a requiem mass for the cartridge just yet.  In my Trumper travel wet pack, I have a cartridge handle.

However my complaint against cartridge blades remains- their price is silly. I don't mind buying nice things and paying for their worth, but I do object to being robbed for small block of plastic with two miniscule strips of metal in it.  I also think the latest growth fad of adding more and more blades to the cartridge is silly.

Lastly, I will return to my warning of treating a safety razor with respect. If you switch you will probably not only nick yourself, but also probably cut your thumb over the next 12 month. I think every safety razor user has a story of deep hand cut because of careless handling of the blade. If you don’t believe me, Google it for some amusing stories.  My last cut occurred because, in a reflex action, I tried to catch a safety razor in mid-air after accidentally dropping it.

For shopping, here are some useful URLs:

The Gentleman's Shop - "Established in 1988 by Robert & Charlotte Johnston and trading online since 1999."  I have found them to be reliable stockist over the years with a good selection of shaving gear and related product.

Geo F. Trumper - Considered by many to be the apex of the shaving world.  Established in 1875 Curzon Street in London, and holder of many royal warrants over the years.  (I'm an Extract of Limes man myself.) Their web site has improved considerably over the past ten years.

D.R. Harris - D.R. Harris proudly boasts to having supplied the needs of customers ranging from "Ambassadors and Statesmen, Field Marshals and Admirals, to rakes and dandies - all those who appreciate quality and distinction."  I like their Arlington scent range.  Like Trumper, they also hold a number of royal warrants, and like Trumper their website has also improved dramatically over the past ten years.

For my personal story on how I discovered wet shaving and why I'm an advocate, please read my September 2006 post, On Wet Shaving.  "If by writing this I have saved one poor soul from the boorish practice of extracting foam from a can, or worse, electric shaving, then my work here is done."

Here you can see the crater like wear on the old brush (rear) versus the full head on the new one (front).

The Chatsworth Handle for a Gillette Sensor Cartridge is on the left, the safety razor handle is on the right.

The Chatsworth Safety Razor Handle Disassembled.

Top view of the Chatsworth Double Wire Stand, with my new safety razor. 

After sampling Derby, BIC, Wilkinson Sword, Sharp and Merkur, I decided the German made Merkur blade was my favorite.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Fuss Over a Travel Watch , men's stuff part twenty

A couple of years back, my wife grew concerned about my travel while wearing an expensive watch.  She had read about a robbery in which a man had been shot for his Rolex.  It happened at a popular restaurant in Houston, at the same time I was visiting Houston with my Rolex Submariner.

At her uber-strong-suggestion, I started looking for an inexpensive watch to wear on certain travel.  

While searching, my 4 requirements for a travel watch were a) a bezel or chronograph to show elapsed time on flights or a task, b) a large display for easy reading, c) a stainless steel non-ostentatious case, and d) appropriate to every day business wear and working out.

The winner for me turned out to be an inexpensive Wenger (Swiss Army) Terragraph Men’s Watch with Swiss quartz movement. 

The watch came with 3 complications-
  1. A 12-hour chronograph function, enough to track most tasks and flights.
  2. A sweep second hand in a small inner dial (next to the 3).
  3. A day of the month display

When asked to describing the watch, my wife said, “utilitarian.”

Cosmetically the Terragraph has an attractive white textured face with luminous hands and markers, a Swiss Army Brand Emblem at the 12 o’clock position, and a sapphire crystal on the stainless steel case.  It looks solid, and at 43mm, it’s an easy read even without my reading glasses. In that sense it reminds me of an IWC Portuguese

The one thing I could not abide was the cheap wristband it came with.  It was a very dark brown (almost black) calf leather band that was stamped to look like croc.  With time, the faux finish began to chip and show the lighter leather beneath. 
The original calf leather band.
There is also an issue with a leather band, namely smell caused by perspiration.  With time even a high quality band will begin to acquire an odor.  Most of us with expensive propriety leather watch bands (like Jaeger LeCoultre) are mindful of this and are careful not to wear the leather bands in summer where we’re likely to be outside perspiring or similar situations.  This type of care considerably extends the life of the band and lessens the need for an expensive replacement in a year or two.

The solution I found for my Wenger travel watch was to purchase a unique rubber and leather watchstrap from Rubber B.  They make watchbands that have alligator leather on top, with rubber on the bottom. I chose a 22mm with a “Jet Black” rubber base on the inner side, and alligator leather with a "Cognac" finish on top.  So when I travel, I have perfectly respectable leather band, which is not affected by perspiration odor.  The one caveat is that because of the unique dual rubber/leather construction, the band was stiffer and took longer to break in for comfort.

The small irony here is that the watch band cost more than the watch.  But in this case, it was well worth it. 


For travel where security is not a concern, my go-to-travel watch is still my Rolex Submariner.  Aside from it’s inherent indestructibility, the metal (non-odor catching) Oyster Bracelet come in handy.  I don’t have to worry about changing watches to work out in the hotel’s gym or pool, or if I want to go out for an exercise walk in the area I’m visiting.  At the same time the watch is completely appropriate for most business meetings or business dinners. I have the old “pre-ceramic bezel” 16610-case, which I believe more elegant than the present day 116610-case.  While both cases measure 40mm, the new 116610 looks more “bulky” due to its larger crown-guard and lugs which are almost twice the size of the older model. I find the new crown-guard particularly unaesthetic.

-John P.

Wenger Terragraph Men’s Watch
Stainless steel case
White textured chrono dial
12 hour chronograph function
Luminous hands and markers
Date display
Swiss quartz movement
Sapphire crystal
Original Strap-Dark Brown (almost black) calf leather strap, stamped to make it look like croc.

Claim it’s water resistant to 100 meters.
Price- $150 (estimate)