OTC for the Holidays: 2010 Wish List

It’s that time of year again, when OTC looks back, forward and all over the place to try to track down some interesting ideas for holiday gift giving.  So, whether you are looking for the right present for that special guy or just something for yourself, take look at our picks.

There are literally hundreds of things we could have put on the list, but what you see here is an edited, creative collection of items at varying price points that has a little something for everyone.  Also, you may not recognize some of the names and that’s by design; meet some new brands and learn a little more about a few you may already know.

Travel Speaker from Tumi

We are not too big on gadgets here at OTC – and iPhone, Nikon D80 and laptop are about it.  Maybe Santa will bring us an iPad?!  Well, add one more thing to the list – this Tumi travel speaker.

This little thing is a wonder.  Connect it to your iPhone/mp3/laptop and hit play; the speaker uses the hard surface on which it rests to create the rich, well-rounded sound.

There is only one speaker and that’s all you’ll need.  It’s a pretty amazing little tool that we will make sure to have on the carry-on.  And when you are ready to get going, everything zips into a handy Tumi ballistic travel case.

Repp Tie Quilt from ...quilts by kate…

Have a whole bunch of old ties that no longer make the daily cut but you can’t part with?  Here’s a pretty cool solution; pack ’em up and ship them off to …quilts by kate… and she’ll create a custom quilt like this.

Something different, snazzy and kind of green too – it is a form of sartorial recycling.  And you may want to put it down for a father’s day gift as Kate already has a months-long backlog.

Is this for everyone?  No.  But if you’re intrigued make sure to check her out because yes, she makes a darn cool quilt.

Elementum Ventus Sailing Watch by Suunto

Reviewed on OTC last year, this Suunto Ventus is a sophisticated yet elegant sailing timepiece with features that help predict upcoming weather, an advanced compass for navigation and a sailing timer for the perfect race start.

It’s digital and thoroughly modern looking but has ocean-tested functionality that makes it truly unique.  Also, the leather strap is a work of art that helps bridge preppy and modern particularly well.

It’s a real tool watch, something that was purpose-built and made to be used and we love that.  Typically, we wax poetic about the mechanical Swiss thing, but in this case it’s all about Finalnd, because that’s where each one is made.

Classic silk pocket squares from Drakes London

Pretty much anything from the workshop of Micheal Drake is worth having, so if you have the opportunity, have at it.

His accessories are especially outstanding and  these hanks are both exquisitely crafted and timelessly classic.  In fact, Drakes makes some of the ties and square carried by the likes of Alan Flusser.  And the company is modern enough to have partnered with Monocle magazine on a few items for their retail shop.

These pocket squares, or ‘hanks’ to you Anglophiles are a great example of the Drakes’ standard. They will never go out of style, work with everything and give you that touch of flair to pull your outfit together.

Expensive? Yep.  Worth it? Yep.

A couple of new Dot Pois ties from Andrews Ties

This improbably named tie maker from Milano is probably one of the best deals out there you’ve never hear about.  Most of their hand-made all silk ties are $49.  Yes, that’s the correct price.

Weighty, densely woven and well-proportioned, these are darn good ties.  Keep an eye peeled for an outlet near you.  And if you’re passing through Washington D.C.’s Union Station, check out the surprisingly large shop near the Amtrak counter.

The No. SS0921 from S&S Apron and Bag Company

Stanley & Sons was founded in 2008 and makes some pretty amazing bags one at a time – to order.  That means each one is unique and honestly one-of-a-kind.  Take the SS0921 over here – it’s made from old conveyor belts.

Now that’s re-purposing with a purpose.  It also means they’re not many to be made, so hurry up and get your order in.

Stanley Grodzki, the founder’s grandfather owned the original Apron & Bag Company and this new Brooklyn based incarnation adheres to the original focus on quality and construction.

Washed Saturday Wear shirt from New England Shirt Co.

Custom, vintage-inspired and American heritage shirts are all over the web these days.  Shirts seem to be the new jeans – a style and make for every taste.

The New England Shirt Co., however, seems to have a real sense of honest history behind it, and it shows in the product.  Vintage enough to be cool but modern enough to have the fit and detail of something twice the price.

And these guys are the real deal.  As they like to put it, “In our 200 year-old factory in Fall River, Massachusetts, skilled craftspeople work very hard to create beautiful, honest, long-wearing shirts with a strong thread of integrity running right through them.”  Amen.

Subscription to two of the best magazines out there: Monocle and THE RAKE

Contrary to popular belief print is not dead.  It’s in the process of reinveting itself into something you cherish, come back to and carry around in your bag just so it’s nearby.

Both Monocle, with its world view approach and outstanding cultural reporting, and THE RAKE, with its elegantly detailed examination of menswear and sartorial life, are must-haves for any regular OTC reader.

Both of these subscriptions are by no means cheap, but if you follow Monocle’s weekly podcast, you are already versed on the future of print publishing and are happy to support the cause.

Where Monocle is witty, urbane and very neo-moderne,  THE RAKE is a celebration of male peacockery.  THE RAKE is that magazine – the one you always said should have been made and now, finally, is.

Panerai Luminor GMT from Bernard Watch Co.

For anyone looking to make a great impression on OTC, here’s a hint – send along a Panerai Luminor GMT.

It doesn’t even have to be brand new; check out Bernard Watch Co., one of the leading secondary watch market sites.  OTC has worked with Austin, Texas-based, owner Jeff Bernard on numerous occasions and he’s a class act.  Bernard offers some of the best Swiss timepieces on the web at fair, market-based prices.  The 40mm version is just fine.  See, we’re easy.

A 360 Roller Ball Pen from Omas

Italian pen maker Omas makes some of the most distinctive writing instruments out there.  And of their entire line, the 360 collection is the most striking.

The triangular-shaped barrel and cap are stunning in their simplicity of line and complexity of execution.  Though we clearly have fountain pen pictured here, and it is a great picture, the roller ball is the most practical version for most guys.  Regardless, any of the Omas 360 writing instruments will  say a whole lot about your personal sense of style when pulled out at the board table.

Alden Longwings from J.Crew

Alden is an American classic; based in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and about as old school a footwear company as you can get.  Think they were excited to have J.Crew come calling about a partnership?  No so much.

Head J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens told me that they had to call back three times and explain to the owners who J.Crew was and why on earth they wanted to sell Alden shoes.

Well, thank god they did, because these are beauties. Classic but updated in an elegantly casual way – something that J. Crew has gotten very good at under Mr. Muytjens watch.

    13 Comments

    1. Mark

      Muytjens is wearing Polo Darltons, from what I understand, not Aldens. Please correct me if I’m wrong, though! Don’t think he’s wearing a longwing brogue, if you look closely at the pic.

    2. File this under “still editing at 2:00am after rest of family went to bed.”

      1. Thanks for the Finland correction.
      2. I meant to point out that the Omas pictures is obviously a fountain pen; just could not find as good an image of the rollarball.
      3. Grabbing a new pic of the Aldens, hang in there.

    3. Alex – I can’t speak for anyone else but I have nothing but positive experiences with the company and would not hesitate to buy from them again.

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