Archive for the ‘Man Accoutrements’ Category

One week from today, the new line from L.L. Bean launches.  It’s called Signature, and early indicators are that it’s going to be really good.  Check it out at llbeansignature.com.


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I’ve argued about what is considered a Chukka boot and what is a Desert boot.  To be honest, I’m not really sure how to make the distinction, but I will say this.  If it’s made by Clarks, I call it a Desert boot.  This is what I’m talking about:

That’s Steve McQueen on a nice Brit bike sporting a pair of Clarks Desert boots.  Cool, right?


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It’s sunny outside.  Chilly, but sunny, which means I’m thinking about Spring and Summer.  And why not?  It’s been an ass-chapping cold winter (for The South, that is) and I’ve been all Bean Boots and Sorels for months.  I’ve worn all of my Patagonia and Fox River socks every single week since before the holidays, and that hasn’t happened since I moved away from the snow and cold 13 years ago.  So I’m ready to be done with that and I’m looking ahead.

When I think of Spring, I think of no socks.  I’m a big fan of not wearing socks.  I’m sitting in my kitchen wearing Bean Bluchers sans socks right now.  But I’m really thinking more along the lines of tennis shoes.  Not specifically for playing tennis, but more the generic sense.  Brits call the trainers.  Some folks call them sneakers or tennies.  Whatever, you know what I mean.  Something familiar, comfortable, easy, functional, etc.


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I’ve worn LL Bean Maine Hunting Shoes (Bean Boots, Duck Boots) for years and years, and I basically love them.  The pair I’m wearing right this very second I’ve had since I lived in Michigan (where I grew up) and they’ve traveled with me to North Carolina, Texas and back to North Carolina.  They are 10-inchers with the light-duty Thinsulate lining from about 1992.  I love these boots.  But… yes, there is always a but… I’ve developed a wandering eye.  Here’s the deal, I’ve got a few issues:

  1. My foot has grown and my boots are only comfortable with thin to medium socks.  I can’t wear my good, thick hunting socks for extra warmth without feeling like my I’ve pulled my car too far in to the garage.
  2. They’re not 100% waterproof.  I think they were, but not any more.  They are like 98%.
  3. They are not super-warm.  They are fine if you are staying pretty active and it’s not to0 far below freezing.  But sitting or standing around and my feet get downright cold.
  4. I wear them every morning to walk the dogs during the cold months.  I am SOOO sick of lacing and tieing these every morning at 5:30 AM, then take them off soon afterwards.  What a pain.  And my dogs are complaining about how long it takes me.

I thought I had a plan.  I’ll get a fleece-line pair of the Bean Boots that are the pull-on style.  Well, turns out they don’t make those any more.  WHAT?  I know.  They do make a zippered pull-on that could work, but they are not going to be shipping until April.  WHAT again.  I know.  So I had to look elsewhere.  I am forced to go back to playing the field and find a new boot that will make my dreams come true.

So, I made my move.  Yep.  Sorel.  Here is what I went for:

Not exactly a Bean Boot, but in the same neighborhood.  I ordered a 9.5 which should allow me to wear any socks, or even multiple pairs if I get all crazy.  The Sorel website says they are 100% waterproof, so I’ll not need to steer the pups away from those puddles anymore.  And they have more Thinsulate, so they should be good and warm.  And, most importantly, they are pull-ons so they are quick and easy.  I’m excited to see how I like them.

Could these replace my beloved Bean Boots?  We’ll see.

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Happy Thanksgiving. I’ve got some great food to eat, some football to watch and in general, some serious relaxing and to do. That’s what holidays are all about, right?

But tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, is not very holiday-like. Black Friday. It sounds so sinister and evil. Or maybe the day the stock-market crashed or the Hindenburg fell in flames. Nope, just the craziest shopping day of the year. I typically don’t partake in Black Friday madness, but I will take this time to begin putting together a wish list of Christmas goodies that I am dreaming of. Here is what has my attention this year (in no particular order)…


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The L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Shoe.  Welcome to the last pair of boots you will ever need.



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Maybe I’m reliving my college days?  Maybe I’m simply getting back to timeless style and proven quality?  Who cares, I guess.  Yesterday I received a box in the mail from L.L. Bean.  I had ordered a pair of the Bean Blucher Mocs, and they had arrived.  I had a pair of these classic shoes back in my MSU days.  Along with a pair of Ray Ban Aviators, crumpled chinos and an untucked worn blue oxford hanging out from a reverse-weave Champion Michigan State sweatshirt, it was part of my standard gear circa 1988.


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I’ve recently completed one of the most difficult competitions of my life.  More physically challenging than running a marathon; more aggressive and violent than the Superbowl. That’s right… you guessed it –

 a Mustache Competition.


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This project Rogers snare drum is done, and honestly, it’s been done for a while.  This was not my most challenging project, to be quite honest.  If you didn’t read the original post, you can check it out here.  I left off with taking it apart, doing some basic crud-removing cleaning and making a short shopping list of bits and pieces needed. 


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This week’s post is on a watch that is not only one of my favorites, but also one that I own.  And this watch is very different than most watches I have owned (or dreamed of owning);  for instance the brand is Italian, the movement is not an automatic, it’s not a chronograph, it’s not a pilot’s watch, and it doesn’t even have a second hand.  But let’s not keep you waiting…

Panerai Luminor Base  (more…)

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My last post featured an IWC, and for some, that is an unknown brand.  For this week, I’m going with what is likely the most well known watch brand ever.  That brand is, of course, Rolex; specifically the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner. 

The Sub is probably the watch that got me interested in watches.  I’ve always loved them from the first time I saw James Bond glance down at his wrist and the camera zoomed in on that great looking dive watch.  I’ve never owned one one but I dare say that I will at some point in my life.


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Welcome back to Favorite Watch Friday which is simply me sharing with you some of my favorites from the world of watches.  Last week was the Omega Speedmaster.  This week I’m featuring a brand and model that is much less well-known here in the U.S.  But not any less awesome.

IWC Portuguese



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I kind of like watches.  Well, more than kind of.  I really, really like watches.  I’m not crazy or obsessive or anything, but I really have an appreciation for great watches.  Sure, I’ll read WatchTime magazine.  Sure, I’ll surf the used pieces on eBay.  It’s a sickness, and I’m infected.

I thought it would be fun (at least for me) to share with the Life Tussle audience some of my favorite watches.  I’ll just keep it simple and give you a little background and why I like it.  I’ll even throw in a photo.  Come on, it will be fun.

So, for the first Favorite Watch Friday post, I’ve selected a classic…

Omega Speedmaster



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Compared to Austin, Texas, or Raleigh, North Carolina, New Jersey is very cold.  I put on my suit this morning along with a overcoat, and I asked the front desk geniuses if the shuttle could take me to my clients office, to which they replied: “sure, just wait outside and the shuttle will be right there.”  Sucker.

So I stand out in the sub-arctic conditions and proceed to get really, really cold.  This is fur weather.  Where is my Sherpa and bottled oxygen?  That dang shuttle took 20 minutes to show up.  Brrrrrr.

Ok, so it’s not really sub-arctic.  But cold.  It would have been fine with some boots, some layers and a good wool sweater, but this “tropical wool” suit ain’t cutting it.

On the positive side, everyone here thinks I am super tanned.

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When I was a kid (oh God, I’m seriously getting old when I say things like that), if you had a manual transmission, you most likely had a four-speed.  Four on the floor.  If you had an old pickup truck or a base-model Belvedere or something, you might have had a three-speed column shift.  Three on the tree. 

As an aside, my 1963 Chevy Impala SS had a four-speed from the factory which was a whole lot of fun.  Much better than the other option; a two-speed Powerglide automatic.  It made that 300 hp 327 cid V8 a whole bunch more fun.  I laid a lot of rubber in that car.  And went through three transmissions in five years (the price you pay for the patent black rubber signature).  Finally, the “Rock Crusher” Muncie was installed and it never let me down.

So, three- and four-speed manual gearboxes did the job pretty dang well for many years.  And the automatics eventually caught up with the manuals in terms of the numbers of gears.  Then we just needed one more.  I think the Germans brought the five-speed manual to the masses, but I’m not sure.  It must have been the Europeans or Brits with smaller engines.  My 300 hp Impala could get away with four gears, but a 130 hp Porsche could really use that extra gear.  And, since it actually handled pretty well and had great brakes too, this was a fun car to drive in other directions than a straight line. So running up and down the five gears was sheer joy.

I had a 1977 Porsche 911S with a five-speed transmission, and it was a great car.  They offered it with a goofy semi-automatic called a Sportmatic which could be called a Crapmatic and should be avoided at all costs.

So, what do you call a five-speed manual?  Five on the ______?  I’ve never heard a good one for that configuration.

If three and four are good, and five is better, then six must be great.  Motorcycles have six gears.  Race cars have six gears.  So, why not?  I don’t know who had the first six-speed manual but that extra gear improves acceleration and fuel economy.  Of course, you’ve got to do a bit more changing gears all the time, but with the higher-revving engines, you hardly notice a difference.  My 2000 Audi S4 had a six-speed manual and it was butter.  Mated with the biturbo six-cylinder engine and quattro awd, that car was awesome.

But, no catchy phrase.  Six on the ______?  My life was incomplete, indeed.

Now there are seven- AND eight-speed transmissions.  And no good ‘number-of-gear/position-of-shifter’ telling catch-prases either.  What’s up with that? 

Then there are CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmission) that don’t even have gears, offering an endless variety of ever-changing gear-less drive ratios.  With Audi’s CVT, when you stomp the throttle, the engine RPMs rise up until peak power is being delivered, and then it holds that RPM and continuously adjusts the transmission to accommodate the ever increasing speed.  It’s almost creepy – as you accelerate, the engine note remains the same.  And, there is little or no hope of a good line when you don’t even have gears. 

Infinite non-gear drive ratios on the ______?

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It’s a great question.

And the answer depends partly on why you are buying a watch.  If all you need is to tell time, then go buy a nice Timex.  Casio makes inexpensive, reliable, accurate quartz watches.  This is a very functional and rational approach.  In the world of transportation, this person just needs to get from point A to point B, and they would take public transportation or the cheapest most fuel efficient car available.  A Casio F28W-1 is a Chevy Aveo.

But maybe you like a little style, a little panache.  Maybe you want some additional features.  With words such as “like” and “want”starting to enter into the equation, it’s pretty clear that we are starting to leave the functional and rational arguments behind.  We are now talking about what you want versus what you need.  The transportation reference still holds up here.  There are watch designs that make a statement about the owner.  There are features that are unique and only offered on select watches.  There is performance to be considered.  A Rolex DateJust might be a Mercedes-Benz S Class.  A Brietling Navitimer might be a BMW 3 Series.  A Tag Heuer Monaco might be a Ford Shelby GT 500 Mustang.

For the most part, that is all crap.  Some folks want a nice watch.  Why?  A couple of reasons, and there could be more…

·         They appreciate outstanding design, construction, workmanship, materials, etc.

·         They want something different that makes a unique statement about who they are and what they are all about.

·         They just have a ton of money and have found a new way of getting rid of some of it.

And even in the world of “expensive” watches, there is a huge price range.  Where does “expensive” start?  That’s subjective, but I think you are in that category when you are above $1,000.  What can you get in the $1,000 range?  These watches usually have quartz movements, but it is possible to get a mechanical, possibly automatic movement in the price range.  Oris makes some nice watches that are not too expensive.

Above $2,500, you get in to the real watch brands.  Omega and Tag Heuer are good examples.  High quality movements and cases.  Nice materials and finish.

There are a lot of what I call “fashion” watches which are typically nicely designed, trendy watches with a designer brand (that you’re likely to find in sportswear or leather goods like Coach, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Bahama).  I believe that a watch made by a watch company is going to be less prone to falling in and out of fashion as is a non-watch brand.  There are some brands that seem to skirt the line between what is and isn’t a watch brand.  To me, Cartier is a real watch brand, and Tiffany is not.  Cartier and Tiffany are both jewelers, but Cartier makes watches with a true history of innovation.  The Santos is one of the first men’s wrist watches, and in some ways, the first pilot’s watch.  The Pasha is one of the first dive watches.  I feel that Tiffany is basically making jewelry when they are making watches.

Omega and Tag are like gateway watches.  They often lead to more expensive and exotic pieces. 

Why do watches cost more than $2,500?  Because of the movements.  It matters whether the movment is made in-house, or built from a blank made by a third party like ETA.  An in-house movement speaks to a company that is committed to the mechanical watch market and has designed and engineered their own “engines” instead of buying one of the shelf.  It also has to do wtih complications.  Complicated functionality like a chronograph (stopwatch), second time zone or perpetual calendar increase the cost and value of a watch. 

And, of course, precious metals.  Good old fashoned bling.  A gold Rolex may not be your thing, but it cannot be disputed that there is a lot of gold in that case and bracelet, and gold is worth it’s weight in… 

Or becuase the watch brand can command a premium price, such as Patek Philippe who makes beautiful, precise watches that are very sought after and actually increase in value.

If you want to see some nice watches, check out Bell & Ross, IWC, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin and Cartier.  But be warned, watches are a disease and it’s very easy to get infected.

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