Watches | A Continuous Lean.

Oh, Did You Want to Talk About Watches?

Aug 4th, 2015 | Categories: Video, Watches | by Michael Williams

It seems to me that the reason Ben Clymer ascended to the top of the watch media food chain (or more significantly, the online media food chain in general?) has to do with his ability to put things into perspective. Ben’s got a nose for watches and obviously lots of other very cool things, but the thing i’ve admired most about him is his deft skill at describing subtle things in powerful and insightful ways. You’ll catch these interesting little takes in everyday writings on Hodinkee, and in all sorts of other places like this Mr Porter Aficionado piece. At the minute twenty six mark Ben talks about the significance around his Universal Geneve Tri-Compax and the larger importance the original owner’s grandfather had to horology. Clymer then goes on to connect those things back to his own grandfather, to watches and the larger meaning all of those things have to him. Those are the moments and circles of thought which impress me most about Ben and Hodinkee. I like watches a lot, but obviously not on the same level as him. But I like the way in which Ben talks about watches and what makes them important and interesting.

I think that it is perfectly fine to just own things simply because you just like them. It’s also fine to own nice things that you know nothing about. And it occurs to me that nothing must be better than being at a cocktail party or dinner and blowing someone away with hyper in-depth knowledge of your specific timepiece when someone makes a small remark about liking your watch as Ben must be able to do. “Did you want to talk about the weather or were you just making chitchat?

Clymer’s combination of good taste, sense of significance and attention to detail should make us all think a bit more about what we own and why we own it. Or maybe even what we aspire to own — a 356 and a Paul Newman Daytona doesn’t seem like a bad way to start that list.





The Greatest Generation | IWC Portugieser

May 4th, 2015 | Categories: Watches | by Michael Williams

IWC PORTUGIESER WATCH COLLECTION 2015

Above, IWC’s excellent new IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days “75th Anniversary” edition.

If one were to ask me to name my list of favorite brands, inevitably IWC will be there right near the top. It’s the type of company who never stops to impress me with its combination of brains and good looks. The first real mechanical watch I ever owned was an IWC. That was a deliberate and hard fought experience. It took me five years to make it happen — a personal, career and aesthetic life challenge all-in-one. An IWC was something that I lusted after, saved for and eventually came to own. I still have that watch (Portuguese Automatic) and every time I wear it people remark how much they like it. Each time I put it on my wrist I am also reminded of the satisfaction of working hard to get something which I will own my entire life.

Needless to say considering my history, I have a deep connection with both IWC and the Portuguese family of watches. So when the news of the update to the Portuguese family (for the collection’s 75th anniversary) in January, I was a bit nervous for what was to come. Thankfully IWC didn’t disappoint and the new 2015 Portugieser collection managed to get even better. There’s a few subtle changes —smaller case diameters, adjusted case shapes— which add another level of refinement to this already stellar group of watches.

IWC PORTUGIESER WATCH COLLECTION 2015

The handsome new 2015 Yacht Club has been sized down to 43.5mm.





Final Destination | Tudor Heritage Ranger

Jul 2nd, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Watches | by Al James

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A little over a year ago I started thinking about watches. I know I wasn’t the only one. Fine timepieces were popping up all over – magazines, newspapers, blog posts and photo shoots – they were inescapable. My interest also grew because I was consciously moving away from being tied to my cell phone. I wanted to know the time, but not necessarily who was emailing, calling or texting while I was out for dinner with friends or fishing for steelhead before work. I bought an L.L. Bean Field Watch and a couple NATO straps and I was good to go. My time-keeping issue was more or less solved, but my curiosity with watches wasn’t going away.

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Inside Cartier’s Tank Factory

Nov 13th, 2013 | Categories: Watches | by Michael Williams

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The whole point of this blog, from the beginning way back in 2007, was to find out more about the things that have stood the test of time, to delve into the things that we love and find out why and how they are made. Not long ago, I traveled to Switzerland with Cartier to learn about the history of its famous Tank watches, and to see the newest member of the Tank tribe, the Tank MC, come to life. To be able to have access to the people, process and history that goes into something as unique and important as a Cartier watch, let alone, a Tank, is an important moment for both ACL as an aesthetic minded medium, and also for me personally. Because, there are few things in this world that as closely link men and style together more than the Cartier Tank watch. If I were never allowed to see another factory after this, deep down I would always know I went out on top.

The Cartier factory sits in a small town called La Chaux-de-Fonds, situated squarely in the valley between the Jura mountains. This long basin between Geneva and Basel in Switzerland is colloquially known as “Watch Valley,” for both its historical ties to many prominent watchmakers and the area’s continued role at the center of  fine watchmaking. Stand basically anywhere in the area and you can see at least one famous watch brand. I can’t think of another place anywhere in the world where you can find as many significant luxury brands together in one area.





Walking the Walk | Shinola

May 13th, 2013 | Categories: Accessories, Cycling, Detroit, Watches | by Michael Williams

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The demise of Detroit has been widely documented, almost to the point of nausea. I grew up hearing a similar song in Cleveland. If you live there or are from there, it makes you want to fight even harder. I can understand how Detroit feels; that underdog spirit is what makes me fly the Cuyahoga flag high every chance I get.

What’s crazy is what is really going on in the Motor City. There’s a beginning of change and some pretty astonishing things are happening. The road is long, but the desire to rebuild is there. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to this great American city.

A few years ago Steven Alan (the man) introduced me to a few guys who had an ambitious plan to start making watches, bicycles, leather goods under the long mothballed shoe-polish brand Shinola. As much of the product as possible would be made in America, that’s what they told me. Made in Detroit to be specific. To say I was intrigued was an understatement. They asked me to come out to Detroit a few years ago (early on in this process) to see everything, but as I often do with brands I wanted to wait a bit and wait and see what was going to happen. It’s easy to talk the talk, it’s hard to actually make these kinds of things happen.

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Hand Made Watches from Brooklyn

Jun 18th, 2012 | Categories: Brooklyn, Watches | by Michael Williams

David Sokosh makes watches one at a time by hand in his studio in Brooklyn, New York. The watches are all crafted from from automatic movements of 70s era Swiss pocket watches. It’s a slow process (he’s currently has a 16 week back order) that produces really cool and one of a kind timepieces.

He started Brooklyn Watches after he was forced to shutter his Dumbo-based art gallery after the recession slowed things down. As he explains in yet another intriguing and genuine video from Etsy, Sokosh started making watches to sell at the Brooklyn Flea, just to give him something to do and to make some money. Eventually though, the watches gained a following and the endeavor turned into a full fledged business. It’s a great story and one that is beautifully captured in the video above. If there there were a silver lining to the recession, David Sokosh and Brooklyn Watches are certainly part of that narrative.





IWC x NYC

Apr 24th, 2012 | Categories: New York City, Retail, Watches | by Michael Williams

This could be dangerous…

IWC aficionados can rejoice, the Swiss watchmaker finally opened a New York store this week right in the heart of the menswear action on Madison Avenue. The shop is modeled most closely on the company’s outpost in Hong Kong, with each model family getting its own themed room and experience. Even though there are different environments for each collection, the rich wood that runs throughout the space serves to connect each area and creates a refined, yet unpretentious setting in which you avoid work while lusting over well-made watches. The expansive entrance — which is set up to be a sort of nautical looking lounge — beautifully houses the popular Portuguese collection. That main room also plays host to several steamer trunks that house the Portofino range.