Having not worn a watch regularly since my high school days, I recently took the plunge and bought my first “adult” watch, a self-winding automatic Swiss timepiece.
I had several criteria I wanted to meet. Firstly I wanted a self-winding automatic, because I liked the idea of owning a Swiss watch and I wanted one that, at least in theory, has a longer lifespan than a battery-powered quartz timepiece. Secondly, I wanted to keep my purchase sub-$2,000. Thirdly, as a watch novice, I was looking for something that would be as multipurpose as possible.
After some research, I settled on a watch from the Longines Master Collection – buying it in a dedicated brick-and-mortar store rather than online, so that I could try it out in person before buying.
From the iPhone to the iPad, immediate reactions are always mixed on new Apple products, as the public struggles to wrap its head around Cupertino’s next bold idea. And so we hear a lot of warrantless criticism until the product actually lands on shelves.
One refrain we’re hearing a lot from Apple Watch critics is that Jony Ive may have dropped the ball with the Apple Watch design. The problem? To these critics, the Apple Watch’s casing looks shockingly thick.
As it turns out, though, this is largely an optical illusion. The Apple Watch isn’t really any thicker than a Rolex.
Tag Heuer says it won’t ape the Apple Watch when entering the smartwatch field. Photo: Andreas Knudsen/Flickr CC
Now that Apple has entered the watch game, even the horological old guard is starting to take notice. Just a few days after Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer has announced that it’s planning on making a smartwatch too … although they say they don’t just want to copy the Apple Watch.
A good piece of gear can make your life better. And, just as surely, a crappy bit of kit can turn an ordinary task into a profoundly irritating experience. This month's Lust List items keep us moving in the right direction.
Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C
Pushing my bike into what can only be accurately described as a head-sided tailwind and attempting to navigate the tourist-riddled Golden Gate Bridge towers, I was once again thankful to have the Cosmic Carbones mounted to my whip.
There are faster hoops. There are rims that have spent more time at the salad bar. But if you are looking to go faster, over more “epic” terrain, with nary a concern about how precious your carbon wheels may be, then the Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C (1,990 euro a pair list) should be on your upgrade shopping list. They will get you where you need to go regardless of the condition of the tarmac or what the weatherman has in store for you.
On that recent trip across the international orange landmark, I experienced just about every microclimate and terrain known to man. The braking surface worked surprisingly well in the wet foggy conditions, the climb up hawk hill was a joy and only during the nastiest of crosswinds did I notice the Carbones’ deep rim. Mavic took its sweet time releasing their first full-carbon clinchers, but they nailed the Mavic tradition of building bombproof, lust-worthy wheels. — Jim Merithew
You know what I hate about Apple computers? The precious keyboards. They look lovely, with their sleek designs and tiny little keys, but they absolutely kill my wrists and fingers. That’s why I plug a grimy old Goldtouch keyboard ($129 list when they made ‘em) into the MacBook Air that I use for work. I even take the weird-looking A-frame keyboard with me when I travel. It’s not an elegant-looking solution, but it’s a lifesaver.
I’ve dealt with typing-related RSI for decades. While I use voice recognition when I have to write something lengthy, it’s not the perfect tool to accomplish every task in every situation. Sometimes I need to hammer away on a keyboard, and when I do, the Goldtouch makes the experience far less painful. It’s split down the center, with a ball joint that lets me adjust the angle between the two halves as well as the height at the center. And the soft-touch keys just feel good to me. — Lewis Wallace
I'll admit it: I checked out Rocket Girl from my branch library
out of a thing for cat-eye glasses and an ingrained curiosity about
smart women that history has forgotten about.
Even if you don't care about either of those things, pick up this biography about rocket
scientist Mary Sherman Morgan. It's written by her son George D. Morgan,
who found that the Los Angeles Times was unwilling to print the obit he
wrote because so much of what she accomplished "couldn't be verified."
So he painstakingly pieced together her story — from her
hardscrabble childhood to some tendencies that today we'd probably call
OCD — while tracing the history of rocket science in
Rocket Girl ($18) reads like a novel (and, in fact, the work first debuted
as a play at CalTech). The story about Mary’s now-credited invention of
liquid fuel Hydyne, which powered the Jupiter-C rocket, is super-compelling.
It's a great read, whether you care that she was our first female rocket
scientist or not. — Nicole Martinelli
Sailing at the local Friday night beer can races used to be more humiliating than fun: The dispirited crew of Baby Blu almost rechristened the boat Dead F***ing Last before I got armed with Garmin's quatix marine GPS watch ($449.99 list).
As the defacto crew tactician of the decrepit Cal 20, I followed the oldest advice from racing sailors: Start first, keep ahead, finish first. Now that I'm sporting a good countdown watch and can accurately gauge the distance and time to the start line, we are often first off the mark. The navigation aids and speedometers on the quatix help us with the “keep ahead” part, though they can't do much to cover the fact that the old lady we sail desperately needs a face-lift. The best part: I got to keep our first commemorative beer glass from the first win. Arr, thanks quatix! — Stefano Maffulli
The first time I saw a Vinturi wine aerator in a Sonoma County tasting room, I pegged it for a gimmick. The woman behind the bar opened a bottle of red and poured some into a glass. Then she poured some of the same vintage slowly through the Twinkie-size plastic contraption into another glass and invited us to try the two side-by-side.
It was an effective demo.The flash-aerated wine clearly tasted better: richer, fuller, a little bit softer. More balanced and less brash. The Vinturi ($39.95 list) opened up the young wine, allowing its true character to shine through. Wine snobs have been decanting their vino forever, but dumping a bottle into a separate container and letting it “breathe” properly takes patience. The Vinturi gets the job done in seconds flat. The strange sucking sound it makes is air that’s getting mixed into the wine as it flows through the funnel-like device (thanks to the Venturi effect). It’s not for everybody, and not for every wine, but when you pop a cork and you don’t want to wait around, it’s a fantastic time-saver. — Lewis Wallace
The Shape Shifter and I just returned from a photo shoot in Utah. I could not have asked for a better travel companion. I stuffed two camera bodies, three lenses, a Q-Flash, various cords, cards, batteries and battery chargers, my laptop and oh so much more into this gear-swallowing beauty. And then I carried it on and stuffed it under my seat. Amazing.
I have also put a minimal amount of kit into it and zipped the compression zipper shut, so I could commute on my bicycle with this pack. It has waist and chest straps to keep it securely in place and plenty of pockets to help you organize your life.
Think Tank builds serious camera bags for serious photographers. If you like to travel light, like to work out of the same bag you travel with, or only carry a minimal amount of gear, then this thing is overkill. But if you travel with a pack of cameras, love adventure photography or just like to get your shit organized, I can’t say enough positive things about the Shape Shifter ($264.75 list). It’s the perfect bag for the photographer who likes to go loaded for bear. — Jim Merithew
When the standing desk craze took off, I thought it was
another overblown trend created by the same fitness yuppies that
turned gluten into the most dangerous edible compound since
trans-fats. Then I got a NextDesk Terra (starts at $1,497) and
I’ll never go back to a boring, sit-in-your-chair-till-your-ass-is-numb
The design is perfectly simple. The stained bamboo top is gorgeous and
enormous. But the best thing about the NextDesk is how smooth and
quickly it moves up and down, thanks to the 18-volt DC motors in each
leg that raise it up to a max height of 50.5 inches.
Fast-forward 18 months and not only have I cut my Red Bull dependency in half by
moving around to stay alert, I’ve become a master at typing while
dancing as Google drones through another painful three-hour keynote. — Buster Hein
For the first time in my life I was hailed a DJ hero at a picnic thanks to two things: 1) I’d downloaded the great 20 Reggae Classics and 2) I brought a Harman Kardon Onyx Bluetooth speaker.
Sitting up by the Russian River in the baking sun, there’s nothing better than the incredible sounds created by Jamaica's legendary Trojan label. And the Onyx did them justice, thanks to the four speakers and two passive radiators packed into its distinctive round enclosure. The Onyx has a stainless steel handle that makes it look a ringed planet. It’s big for a portable speaker, and well-built, but it’s light and easy to carry.
Best is that it sounded great — rich, balanced and loud. It has every connection option under the sun, including AirPlay (via Wi-Fi), DLNA and NFC/Bluetooth for our Android friends. Buttons are touch-sensitive and there’s a simple, easy-to-use app that can be downloaded from the App Store. Battery life wasn’t great (five hours unwired/ eight hours wired), but it was adequate for a long afternoon’s partying. It’s a bit pricey ($399 on Amazon) but for a speaker of this high quality, well worth it. — Leander Kahney
For iOS users, the Pebble Smartwatch has largely existed as an exercise in frustration. While Android users can tie the Pebble Smartwatch into their smartphone’s central nervous system in all kinds of ways, the feature set of the e-ink proto-iWatch has been comparatively worse.
Case in point? Pebble Smartwatch owners who have an iPhone in their pocket couldn’t even get email notifications on the face of their watch. That’s a big deal: getting notified of new emails is seemingly one of the big things you’d want a second screen on your wrist to do. Luckily, that’s being rectified.
The Filip is a smart watch for kids, complete with a built-in cellphone, a tracker so you can keep an eye on them wherever they are, and messaging so you can continue to harass and berate them even as they try to build their own sense of independence.
I haven’t worn a watch in a while. I’m used to using my iPhone as a way to check the time when needed and I wasn’t a fan of having to have a watch that would be suitable for going to the beach and one for more formal occasions – or try to find one that would be versatile enough for both.
Then Modify Watches sent me one of their watches and my problem has essentially been solved. And right now they are offering Cult of Mac readers a 50% savings on a watch face and two bands – just $35.
Included in Bloomberg’s big story this morning on Apple’s iWatch was a small paragraph that said Jony Ive and his team ordered a bunch of watches made by Nike in the mid-2000s.
Maybe Ive and his design team just liked the Nike watches, but according to Scott Wilson, who was Nike’s Creative Director at the time, Ive might have ordered the watches so his team could study them for inspiration on the iWatch.
Cuckoo works with your iPhone and lasts for a year on a single button cell
The Pebble watch is pretty neat and all ($10 million can’t all be totally wrong), but even with e-ink and low-powered Bluetooth it still needs charging way more than a regular watch. It’s also rather plasticky and dorky-looking.
The Cuckoo might not be able to fix the second part, looking as it does like a rather dull take on a Swatch, but it can certainly fix the first.
RunKeeper and Pebble? It's an exercise geek's match made in heaven.
RunKeeper makes fitness apps for a variety of smartphones and is widely considered the premiere platform for tracking and sharing workout information. Today the company announced that it will be the first third-party service to partner with the Pebble watch, a record-breaking Kickstarter project that has collected over $8 million in funding. Pebble sports a customizable interface that can connect with apps and smartphones like the iPhone and Android.
Thanks to the partnership with RunKeeper, Pebble owners will be able to see live fitness data and control RunKeeper without touching their smartphones during a workout.