Shinola Black Blizzard Front

Shinola recently introduced its latest timepiece, the Black Blizzard, named for the dust storms that swept farmers off their land across the Great Plains during the 1930s.

While the Dust Bowl marked a time of desperation and migration across the Midwest, the Black Blizzard was designed to honor the tenacity and ingenuity of those who persevered during that difficult period in American history.

The Black Blizzard is Shinoa’s most technically demanding Detroit-built timepiece to date. Constructed of brushed titanium, with an iconic Shinola black dial and matte black top ring, the watch possesses both traditional appeal and signature Shinola design. This distinctive branding carries through to the case’s engraved back plate.

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The Black Storm is available in a 42mm or 48mm case and in addition to the solid titanium link bracelet, it also comes with an custom-made black rubber strap. The watch is driven by the Argonite 5050 high-accuracy quartz chronograph movement and has a 20ATM depth rating.

What’s particularly cool about this new release is that each timepiece comes with a leather-bound coffee table book about the dust storms for which it is named. This historically significant book features rare photos, newspaper clippings, and a concise history of the era.

The deluxe packaging also includes a custom outer gift box, certificate of authenticity, leather card wallet, leather timepiece carrying case, and a hickory presentation watch box.

The Black Storm retails for US $1,500.00 and is now available for purchase through Shinola.com and at Shinola retail stores.

Shinola Black Blizzard Three

 

Shinola Black Blizzard Three

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Shinola BlackBlizzard_Packaging_V4

 

Last week, we traveled up to New York City for the invitation-only party to celebrate the U.S. launch of the new book Rowing Blazers. Held at the newly inaugurated Polo/Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue – opening only days earlier – the event was a fun, crowded,  and sartorial cacophony of colors and patterns.

Penned by award-winning oarsman Jack Carlson and with principal photography by F.E. Castleberry, Rowing Blazers is a celebration of the historic garment upon which that most classic of men’s habiliment, the classic blue blazer, rests.

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Alan Flusser in his office (9.23.14)

Not only did we spend the evening among 700 smartly dressed folks, we also had the pleasure of whiling away the afternoon beforehand with our friend and mentor Alan Flusser (above). It goes with saying that his outfit for the evening aptly reflected Alan’s mastery of color, pattern, and personality.

We also had the honor of OTC’s editor-in-chief being highlighted in Hodinkee’s watch spotting roundup of the Rowing Blazer event (below). For those who don’t know about Hodinkee, it is the web’s premier resource for watch news, product launches, in-depth industry reporting, and fascinating insights into the world of horological curiosities. Only one watch publication was invited to actually attend the Cupertino launch of the Apple Watch: Hodinkee.

Rowing Blazers 49 (OTC)

Rowing Blazers 48 (OTC)

Rowing Blazers Hodinkee Crw

A big thanks also goes out to the brand partners who outfitted our E-in-C for this fantastic event. Bonobos provided the Windsor single vent blue blazer and Heritage Washed Chino khakis; both trim, modern updates of preppy classics. We again joined forces with Deo Veritas to create a custom dress shirt, this time in a light purple gingham check. Still the best online custom shirts we have found. Eye Buy Direct provided us with new glasses and sunglasses for the trip. And to answer the question many folks were asking, yes, that was Frank Clegg’s Courier Messenger Bag in shrunken leather into which our copy of Rowing Blazers went.

Now, on to some great images from the September 23, 2014, New York City launch party for the new book, Rowing Blazers.

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RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

Ivy Style & FYG

Rowing Blazers FYG Shoes

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

Rowing Blazers Pants

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

RALPH LAUREN Rowing Blazers Launch Event

Rowing Blazers (Checv. & Flusser)

Rowing Blazers PRL Display

Rowing Blazers Bulldog Blanket

 

 

Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

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Handmade and totally unique, Da Luca watchstraps are one of a kind. Sourced from new and vintage leathers, they are equal parts  investment and a celebration of craftsmanship. Each watch strap is one of a kind – literally. Every one of this San Diego-based company’s watch straps is an individual creation, never to be duplicated. While there are certain styles and patterns used as guideposts, each Da Luca watch strap is its own singular creation and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

That’s one thing that makes our Cabrone strap so special. At 22mm wide, it perfectly fits our 44mm vintage pilot-inspired mechanical timepiece from Avier, the micro brand founded by Jeff Bernard, of Bernard Watch. Crafted from American alligator, the strap is thick and substantial, balancing the watch and creating a harmonious sense of scale and proportion.

DSC_0548The skin is finished in a slightly dulled gloss that highlights the exceptional detail while keeping the look elegantly subdued, instead of flashy.  Stitching is self-colored to maintain the simple, uniform  design.

The clasp is polished silver of a Panarai design and includes the small Da Luca hallmark; the only visible concession to branding on the entire strap.

In appearance and execution, Da Luca watch straps are a great alternative to the often generic options out there. Our strap has begun to break in nicely and is comfortable to wear. Because it is such a thick watch strap, it’s going to take a little while to soften up, but that’s fine. The length is just right – not too short or too long – and the keeper holds the strap snugly in place.

Da Luca sources their leathers from some pretty unusual places. In addition to traditional virgin leathers, their line of Vintage straps come from old bomber jackets, ammunition pouches, belts, and even worn out shoes. The worn-in nature of such leathers makes perfect sense and the one-of-a-kind production model means that these limited sources are not a problem. To the contrary, such a dearth of unique and interesting materials and finishes adds the the brand’s cache and value. While not inexpensive, the Cabrone went for US $180.00; for what you get, it’s a fair price indeed.

In addition to its ready-to-wear straps, the company can also craft you a made to order watch strap. You can choose the type of skin, width, length, and even the strap’s thickness. Da Luca also offers a variety of other strap styles, including some amazing and colorful suede NATO straps, belts, and a selection of small leather accessories.

While we don’t say this too often, companies like Da Luca straps are one of the reasons we founded OTC to begin with. Total commitment to their craft, a dedication to excellence and quality, made in America, and products that live up to the expectation. Such companies should be celebrated, and that’s what we do.

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Go Take A (Day) Hike

Now that the endless winter weather that has gripped much of the Northern hemisphere appears finally to be receding, it’s time to head outside for some much needed sunlight and fresh air.  One of the great pleasures of outdoor activities, apart from actually being active, is acquiring new equipment and gear designed for your back-to-nature inspired endeavors.

Purpose-built bags, clothing, and accessories help to orient your thinking and get you in the mood for day hikes, longer runs, or just an urban adventure to the cool section of town.

We have had the pleasure of recently checking out a few pieces from three great performance-driven brands; Granite Gear, Vasque, and Timex.  While they do possess a certain color-coordinated outdoor performance look, it was pure – if inspired – coincidence.  And, although each has great technical eye appeal, what ultimately matters is how the products perform.

DSC_0607We have actually been testing out the Timex Expedition Shock Chrono Alarm ($58) for about two months and find it to be a fantastic timepiece for everyday informal and active wear, be it working out, running, hiking, or any other activity where the possibility of deliberate or accidental watch abuse exists.

The moderately-sized watch is very lightweight but also sturdy and extremely comfortable on the wrist.  Its soft rubber strap is flexible, unlike the G-Shock’s, and gently hugs your wrist, keeping the watch in place without bulk.  A pleasingly functional case, clear and easy-to-read negative display, and one-touch Indiglo illumination, all make this a true favorite.

The Granite Gear Athabasca 24 day pack ($129.95) is another item that combines technical capability with functionally cool style.  First and foremost, this company makes gear for use in the actual great outdoors.

Athabasca 24Every strap, tab, zipper, pocket, and loop on this bag is there for a reason and built to withstand the abuse of serious backwoods tracking.  At the same time, their days packs are infused with features that work in a more urban, less mountainous environment.

The sturdy hip belt, perfect for supporting a fully loaded back for an afternoon on the trail, is also removable for everyday commuter use.  There is a sleeve designed for a hydration insert that doubles a secure slot for a small laptop, and an easily accessible outer pocket is equipped with key lanyard and assorted pockets.

A good pair of sturdy shoes is vital to a comfortable and safe trek, whether on a trail or down the block.  These Vasque Grand Traverse kicks ($129.95) are a nice hybrid multi-sport shoe designed to handle true back country trails and daily errands with ease.  It’s the performance of a hiking boot wrapped in the comfort of an athletic shoe.

The dual-density EVA footbed and molded EVA midsole provide superior support over rough terrain while the Vibram® Ibex sole gives you stability and grip, even on wet pavement.  It’s even a comfortable choice for going sockless and walking the dog on a warm evening – we’ve tried it.

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OTC: What We Carry Everyday

What I Carry Picture

OTC was recently asked to contribute a photo to the British site Everyday Carry UK showing what our editor-in-chief has in his bag and on his person any given day.  As bags and the stuff of life have always been a big part of OTC, we were happy to oblige.

While the sack may change based on need, style, and mood, what’s inside is fairly consistent.  When we tried to edit all the stuff down to a manageable representation of gear, one item inadvertently left out of the photo was a fantastic Chester Mox wallet that keeps his all-important Metro pass secure.  In addition, although out of view, the bag used that day was the Courier Messenger Bag from Frank Clegg.

This brief exercise reminded us of the many great brands, creative companies, and exceptional individuals we have met over the years.  We have linked to a few of those brands represented here.

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