After a long hiatus, I recently fell back into the watch hobby. Those who know, know how dangerous this could be… In any case, I rediscovered a post I wrote eight years ago about my small collection. There’s been some additions since then (and probably a few more to come, and hopefully some subtractions), but I thought it would be nice to repost it as-is.
Definitely a work in progress! Photo links are to external sites and aren’t my photos, just examples from people with more photographic skill!
Watches are awesome. Why? Well, probably the same reason that all guys like things that spin, have gears inside, blow up, blow things up, or make lots of noise.
I guess I’d put photos here of my collection! Which isn’t much. Just some Seiko automatics and a Marathon Navigator that I bought after catching the watch bug, as well as a few cheapo watches I’ve gathered over the years that aren’t as interesting.
Seiko is well-known as the pioneer of quartz watches, but they also make a hell of a lot of automatic mechanical watches. Currently both of these watches are powered by the venerable 7S26 movement, Seiko’s low-end autowinder that doesn’t hack or handwind. Despite the apparent shortcomings of this movement, I liken it to the AK47 of watch calibers: Cheap, durable, mass-produced, and accurate enough. And hey, very few fancy swiss watchmakers actually build the movements inside their expensive watches. Seiko is fully in-house!
Black Monster (SXK779 / 7S26-3050)
The first time I saw mention of this watch (along with its nickname), I thought to myself “man, that’s ugly!” Probably six months after that I owned one, and wear it almost every day. Diving watches are quite popular nowadays and in the past even for non-divers due to their durability and functional look. Seiko has been making automatic dive watches for over 40 years now, with a clear lineage that can be traced from the earliest models to the current “classic” SKX007 200M auto diver. I might pick up one of those in time, but it’s more likely that I’ll get a vintage diver for the classic design. The Monster is not a classic design, however. It’s a bit funky, with the crenelated bezel and rocketship-shaped hands. The Monster is also famous for its incredibly bright lume in the dark. It really does last all night, and the initial brightness after exposing it to light is almost shocking. The overall build quality can’t be beat for the price, including the fantastic solid link bracelet. Highly recommended for the first-timer, but you might get addicted…
This one was somewhat of an impulse buy, and the second Seiko automatic I bought. It’s actually a military-style design, with a dial design that originated with WWII-era German pilot’s watches. The separate hour and minute tracks are neat, as is the white-on-black day/date wheels. It would really throw the look off on this one if the day/date wheel was black-on-white. The overall case is slim and a lot smaller than a diver since it lacks the thick caseback and crystal, rotating bezel, and crown guards characterizing most dive watches. Like most newer Seiko 5s, it has a display back, so you can marvel at the remarkably unfinished 7S26 beating away inside (fun to show to people). The case design is very basic and beadblasted for a low-gloss finish, keeping with the military theme. It’s currently sitting on the original bracelet which is of a rather cheap folded-link design. I’m planning on replacing it with a thick leather strap soon, which should complement its looks nicely. Even though it’s a military-style watch, I’ve been using it as my dress watch as it fits below shirtsleeves more easily than a massive diver!
(Image – Not my pic, but it looks good on a strap)
Seiko Diver Reference – An exhaustive history of the Seiko automatic dive watch from the 1960s till today. With pictures.
TimeZone Article on how a typical automatic watch movement (anchor escapement) works. A perfect first link for learning about the guts of almost all autos.
My first, and second, and probably third and fourth watches as well were digital. That’s just what you had in the 80s! In high school I learned to appreciate analog watches, but still kept some Timex Ironmans around for timing. Those were good watches, and I still have them (but the batteries are dead). Nowadays there are some seriously cool G-Shocks and other digital watches worthy of note. In fact, the original G-shocks were awesome, and perhaps one of the few truly modern (for 1983) classics of watch design! I used to give G-shocks a lot of crap for being generally overstyled and oversized (except for the iconic 5600 series, which were the very first models. A true classic!). But I’ve softened on that, and started to lust after some models. These days you can get all kinds of neat features like Tough Solar (it never runs out of battery since it’s got a solar cell) and Waveceptor (it never needs to be set since it receives time signals over the radio from an atomic clock). You can even get both features stuffed into a case that looks just like the original G-Shock! That’s 1985 style with 2005 engineering and pretty much the most durable watch around. I was even planning on getting one of those…
Casio G-Shock “Raysman” (DW9300)
…But then this particular model seemed to have become a popular item in the G-Shock circles, and I found one being sold on the trading forum for an unbeatable price. Only after ordering it did I realize that it’s actually the THICKEST G-shock around! But the (relatively) subtle styling and reportedly supurb build quality set it apart. It also has all the useful features (including Tough Solar) besides Waveceptor. I think I can live without, as long as I can live with something so big on my wrist!
Unbreakable, a fascinating TimeZone article on the creation and history of the G-Shock concept. Hard to believe they’ve been around for over 20 years!
I love things that are mil-spec. There’s something that rocks about gear created with the emphasis on functionality and durability instead of style. And to me, the ultra-functional aspects of military design creates a style of its own – A fact not lost on the product designers who copy military style! This is true for watches as well. Military watches have a long and varied history of interest to the collector, but are considered by some to be a dying breed. After all, it’s cheaper for the government to buy a product available on the civilian market that meets the requirements than to comission a company to build an item to spec.
This watch is current issue for the US military, although it doesn’t seem that Marathon’s military-issue watches are very widely distributed in the armed forces these days. Most of our guys seem to be sporting Timex, Suunto, or G-shocks. Still, the Navigator traces its design all the way back to the Benrus Type I and Type II dive watches issued to special forces in the 60s, so the design is pretty classic. The similarity ends with the basic case design, since the modern issue watch is made out of fibeglass/nylon composite (aka “plastic” to you and me) with a domed acrylic crystal, and houses a cheap but durable quartz movement. The neat part about this watch besides the military heritage is the dial and hands. They feature tiny glass tubes filled with tritium gas and coated with a phosphorescent compound. Tritium is radioactive, and as it decays it causes the phosphorescent compound to glow. So no matter what the light conditions are, this thing is glowing constantly without requiring exposure to light to charge it up.
(Image – 2000 issue version, mine’s a 2003 with less dial text, otherwise the same)
Military Watch Resource – The authority on all things milwatch. Good forum here with some seriously hardcore folks.
County Comm – Good guys who sell military watches (including the famed SAR) and other cool gear. I’ve spent too much money here.
I didn’t even know you could “Reblog” on WordPress, but since my blog is moribund, I could do a lot worse than to repost an article about the legendary Jobst Brandt by the also-legendary Laurence Malone. From the legendary blog of Ray Hosler!
Laurence Malone hustles during a cyclocross race in Santa Cruz in December 1985. (Ray Hosler photo) It was only fitting: Back in May 1980, Laurence Malone wrote the definitive article about Jobst Brandt for Bicycling Magazine.
He never rode with Jobst, but as the country’s best cyclocross rider (6-time national champion, counting his Masters 35+ win), he knew exactly what it was all about.
Two weeks after Downieville (in a post yet to come), I made my way to Santa Rosa for the Annadel XC race (a Bikemonkey joint). I figured that it’d be easy after Downieville, right?
Dave Watt and I rolled to Santa Rosa on Friday night, after deciding that paying for a hotel was preferable to getting up at 5am. This was the right move, even though the free breakfast left a little to be desired. Rested and fed, we signed in and and rendezvoused with the SUPERPRO team bus. A huge crowd of soupies made it out, including our fearless ringleader Murphy and his partner-in-crime Emily, Zach, Scotty, Jim, CDB, Sasha, Kelleigh, Adam G and Adam H (finally back on his own working bike), Carrie, May, and a triumphant Sarah H, marking her return to racing in style. Support staff included Simon the dog, Xton the pirate, and Jason the cowboy. There was also a cast of hundreds of familiar and not-so-familiar faces.
The non-neutral rollout
650 racers lined up on 3rd street in downtown Santa Rosa. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, it turns out, as the start was a very hectic place. I took it moderately easy and just concentrated on avoiding [everything]. Some weren’t so lucky, I caught a glance of the unfortunate intersection of a rider and a hazard board placed the middle of the road. Otherwise, it was a battle of concentration to avoid getting taken out. There was a police escort to keep us clear of traffic, and it worked at least 50% of the time. Yikes. “Slonie, use your roadie skills!” came the call from a teammate behind.
“I am,” I yelled back, “I’m still upright, aren’t I?”
Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea
The race hit the edge of the park and pavement quickly gave way to a wide dirt climb. But the field was still charging six-wide into the chute, and it was pandemonium. One racer dropped their chain and got of in the middle of a charging field, stepping backwards (!) down the hill as racers were riding up. I put my hand on their bar to guide their bike away from crashing me out whole assuring the owner that everything was okay. Some other random stuff happened, like a guy yelling “let the singlespeeders through!”
I understand what he was getting at, but… What are you gonna do? One problem is that the start didn’t have any separate waves, and even if it did, the singlespeeders had it tough on the flat road section leading to the first climb. I did see the full-face-helmet-cyborg dude fly past me, then drift back, alternating between 200rpm and coasting.
There’s me… Still in the easy part. (Also pictured: Full-Face Cyborg Guy).
There was also at least one part where a bunch of people were hiking, and so it was pretty hard to ride. I got off too, electing to save energy. Of course, this resulted in the groans and protests from the guys who were good enough to ride it. Whatever, get in front next time. On the other hand, I now realize, hiking might be contributing to potential cramps… But we’ll get to that later.
Racer Number 9
After clearing Howarth park (which had a cyclocross course feel), we hit Annadel proper. I found myself dueling with a 9 year old racer who was primarily concerned with (and succeeding at) dropping his dad. Future champion, that one. Otherwise, I had things under control. In a couple cases I had to get off due to people stopping in front of me (or to limit losses), but nothing much interesting happened. I got complimented on my lines by the guy behind me, so that was nice (my lines = Trying to avoid the rocks that bounce me around like a pinball, i.e. all of them). By then I had realized that my dark glasses were a liability on rocky singletrack that goes in and out of the trees, so I took them off and suffered through the sun and dust.
Clint Classen’s wife was shooting pictures on this trail, and I thought the one she caught of me accruately illustrates the visual acuity I had during the dustier sections of the race (and upon waking up the next day, as well)
As a side note, this video from Murph is a good illustration of the lighting conditions… I was as blind as the GoPro when the light came through the trees. Luckily, I was traveling half the speed, so I didn’t get tossed off my bike when a rock or root came out of nowhere, just (further) slowed down.
We hit the Burma climb and I was starting to think about asking for a point-by from the guy in front of me, who seemed to be having issues with his drivetrain, or his pedals, or… His breakfast. He threw up off the bike without stopping. “Are you okay?” I asked, and his reply came quickly “Better now than I was before.” I went for the pass immediately after that. I’m putting that one down as a good one to have taken.
Dave Zabriskie volunteers to re-enact at the Tour of Colorado
And there goes my group…
When I reached the split between the short and long courses, all the people around me turned right and disappeared. They were the smart ones… Another racer caught up to me on the doubletrack, and I asked him for tips on what was coming. He said there’d be a fast descent, then a road climb, then a two-step dirt climb, and that was it for the climbing. Cool.
Got your Bak
Free insulated water bottles! I wish they had electrolytes in them. But at least plain water meant I could dump it on my head. That was the best. But the road immediately turned upwards yet again, on pavement this time. A few roadies on mountain bikes motored away as I tried to once again conserve a bit… I had eaten all the enduralytes that Dave gave me and was trying not to cramp. But I was still passing people whose spirits had been crushed by the heat.
Speaking too soon
As we got back on dirt, the rocky slightly-technical climbing continued. I started to think, and speak, about that free beer at the finish. Big mistake. One moment’s inattention and I had to unclip my right foot. Whoops. The cramp hit me, and I had to get off the bike. A few riders passed and asked me if I was okay. I told them I was suffering from “The C-Word,” careful not to invoke its actual name lest I get it even worse. Shortly thereafter I was able to get back on the bike and get back on it.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The long course merged back up with the short course soon after, and traffic started to pick up again. The short course riders were really good about getting out of the way, which was nice of them. I guess they’d already been softened up by the entirety of the fast folks plowing through their ranks… I even managed to reel in the guys who had passed me while I was cramping. Yay!
Of course, they may have passed me again at the final aid station, where I made half a banana and a handful of kettle chips disappear in a blink. Whether the salt and potassium would truly help with my cramps or not, it didn’t matter. They was glorious. With my newfound power, I
I ended up cooped up behind a guy on a Santa Cruz squishy bike, who was really taking it easy on any section that was smooth and/or flattish. But there really wasn’t anywhere to pass him, and he was actually going fast on any part of the trail that was tricky. So I yoyo’d behind him until the road opened up, and lit it up. Never saw him again.
The Last Mile Problem
I was big ringing it down the fireroads towards the finish and didn’t know quite how close I was. Now the twinges of cramps on my calfs and quads were making themselves known again, but I had things under control. Then I saw a Superpro kit up ahead. It was Adam H, and he needed a 26″ tube. Nobody has those anymore, right? Except me! Since I knew we were close to the finish, I stopped an handed him my whole Camelbak, then clipped back in ad hammered towards the finish. Oh, right, that means I unclipped again. My right leg immediately started to cramp up again, but I backed off and favored my left leg to until I could will the cramp into submission.
It turns out that I was only a mile or so from the finish… The giant Bikemonkey arch was a welcome sight! I ended up “sprinting” it out with a Luna lady for whatever place. (turns out I actually got 14th in U35 sport, at 2:54 or so)
Back in the finish village, all was not right. Dave came up to me with bloodstains on his elbows and thighs. It turns out he went down near the finish and cut his elbow pretty bad. The medical tent bandaged him up, but strongly suggested that the next stop should be the ER. Caitlin and I attempted to hitchhike back to the start, but neither of us were successful (neither a sob story, nor a cute bike racer would do the trick, apparently), so we rode back to the start to get the cars.
Dave emerged from the hospital a bit over three hours later, with two stitched up lacerations on his elbow, prescriptions for antibiotics and painkillers, and a little souvenir that the X-Ray tech had initially identified as a bone fragment, but was actually a razor-sharp substantially-sized rock shard that had hitched a ride from the race to the hospital inside his elbow. Ow.
PS: Here’s the race report from race winner Clint Classen, which not only covers the details of the course much more accurately and in much better detail, but was probably written and posted before I crossed the finish line on Saturday.
And here’s his Strava file for the race, in case you want to see what it takes to go 50% faster than me.
Jalopnik asked me if they could syndicate my BRZ Manual post. And just as with Norcal Cycling News, I said hey,why not?” It’s the same post, except that 13,00032,000 people (and counting) have seen it, and there’s a lot of good captions in the comment thread… Make sure you click on “All” to see ’em!
Recently, it came to my attention that the Subaru BRZ owner’s manual has made its way online. There are several complicated diagrams and lots of technical information inside, so I thought I’d provide my readers with a guide to some of the most important points about this new and exciting car.