Watch your Watch

Perhaps I’m a contrarian, but the bigger wristwatches get the smaller I want mine to be. I understand why one needs a chunky, oversized watch when diving, or maybe when piloting a helicopter, but I don’t understand the point of wearing a clock on one’s wrist. Might as well go all the way, like Flavor Flav, and wear it around the neck— at least that’s original.

I like vintage watches, both for how they look and because they’re often very affordable (I of course like and appreciate the holy trinity of watchmakers; Patek Phillipe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet, but few of us, including me, can afford their wares.) It seems in the past watchmakers made watches to fit on wrist, not to encompass it, and there’s something elegant about an understated watch on a man’s wrist, one that requires the lady seating next to you at the bar to ask you what time it is, rather than merely glance at the monstrosity you’re flashing, which might just tell her it’s time to leave.

The Gruen Curvex, from the forties, is a classic design and can be picked up at any good vintage watch shop, or even on eBay from a reputable dealer for less than the cost of a good leather strap. (I like Cordovan leather straps from Horween— the last supplier of tanned horsehide in the U.S.) The 1940′s Omega military watch, a good size but not overpoweringly so, was purchased at a shop overseas, also for less than the strap cost, and needed a crown (found on eBay) and a minor adjustment— years later it still runs better than most new watches. Then again, if you really need that kind of accuracy, you always have your phone.

True Vintage Style

In the (often faux) retro-crazed first decades of the 21st Century (Mad Men/Banana Republic?), it’s refreshing to look back at true vintage style from the previous century; style we sometimes seem desperate to emulate (Williamsburg, anyone?) Joe Browar (right) and pal strolling down a street in the early fifties look as cool as it gets, and they seem to know it. The haircuts–pomade obligatory–were weekly affairs for a buck or two, the sunglasses were perhaps Raybans or American Opticals, but Joe’s t-shirt is perfection. So is the way he’s wearing it. His high-waisted, deeply pleated pants are definitely not fashionable by today’s exaggerated 1960′s standards, but if you saw this man walking toward you tomorrow, even without the requisite tattoos, would you not think he might be the most stylish person on the street? The pinkie ring only completes the look (hey, Bogie wore one)…

Persian Lambs


My Persian lamb scarf, actually made in Persia (or Iran for the geographically challenged) from Persian lambs by a tailor on Manouchehri Street in Tehran. Possibly the most elegant fur a man can wear, Persian lamb is also incredibly warm, although anything but a scarf or a collar on a coat might be a going too far , sartorially speaking. Expensive, yes, but if you find yourself in or anywhere east of Persia, say in the ‘stans, you can probably have one made for far less than the cost of a half-way decent cashmere scarf in Europe or the U.S. It’s not Prada, but designing your own is so much more fun.

The Persian Knot

Yes: look it up. Believe or not, from the land where neckties have all but been banished comes the Persian knot. Similar to the Windsor in appearance (but knotted differently), it’s a handsome, large triangle, and slightly misshapen. Perfect for wanna-be princes or just chic Americans, but not for Ayatollahs.

Not Just For The Army

I’ve always thought that despite the indignity of airplane travel today, one should not dress for travel as if one just crawled out of bed on a lazy Sunday, or as if in preparation to go for a morning jog. A sports jacket for men, tweed or a blazer, looks good, and can do wonders if asking for an upgrade, checking overweight bags, or in eliciting a modicum of courtesy from security agents. Many people look for comfort, though, and are loath to wear anything that might wrinkle or be even slightly uncomfortable in the cramped quarters of tourist class. Enter Massif; a line of comfortable, stylish, and beautifully made clothes, by the makers of military wear for the Pentagon. Massif has launched a civilian line that is a perfect fit (pun intended) for travel, and the sports jacket pictured, in a wool fabric that feels like felt, is ideal: from the flattering and fashionable cut, which means it can be worn with a tie, to the hidden zipper pockets for stashing passports and cash, or gold coins when necessary. The secret though is in the anti-microbial wool fabric that also won’t wrinkle, and a flip-up collar that can buttoned against the chill, of the aircraft or of the destination. And we all know how airlines can alternate extreme air conditioning with extreme heat, to say nothing of the microbes that inhabit their fleets.

 

 

 

Wovenplay

When it comes to kids’ clothes, there are plenty of stylish choices for parents and for gift-giving friends and relatives (not to mention the inevitable hand-me-downs), from Old Navy to J.Crew. But there are occasions when one wants to splurge on a beautifully made, elegant, and non-Chinese garment, for a boy or a girl, and outside of a handful of outrageously expensive European labels, choices are then otherwise limited. Enter Wovenplay (by New York-based designer Katherine Edmonds, who manufactures right here in the US), which fashions the most stylish duds a boy (or girl) can wear. From the fabrics to the cut and down to smallest detail such as handmade buttons, any child will look better, and be more comfortable, in a Wovenplay outfit. Here, a moleskin topcoat for boys— with removal cape— that will turn heads on Broadway and on Main Street, and a collection of more modern down-filled jackets for those sub-zero days…

 

 

Nest

 We wouldn’t ordinarily comment on a product or item of clothing that has been extensively covered in the media, both for its practicality, usability, and style. Nest is to thermostats what Apple was (and still is) to computers— no surprise there, since the people behind it are former Apple executives— and the eyesore that is in every home has now been transformed into a thing of beauty. Installation is not complicated, but requires some electrical work which, in one case, resulted in blowing out the motor of one friend’s HVAC system. Which brings us to the reason Nest is here on this site: customer service; a thing of the past with so many once-great American companies. Not only did Nest send a technician at 10pm to see what could be done, but have taken full responsibility for any repair costs, despite the fact that they didn’t install the thermostat and despite the fact that it can’t be proven that their product was even responsible for the motor failure. And beyond that, the Nest executive who took charge of the issue left his number for the customer to call in case of any questions or concerns. His cell phone number.

The next generation thermostat: elegant and simple, controlled from anywhere with its own iPhone app. Backed by real people who give a damn. Buy one, or two, or three.