Posts for the Next Weeks

Dear Readers,

Due to increased work commitments and engagements my time to write new posts has been little or none. But I intend to make it up in the next few weeks!

I will be posting about some books, some more watches and, since I will be traveling, definitely there will be many photos and stories to make a few posts on Asia.

Regarding watches I expect to review the IWC AT Chronograph model 376703, now discontinued, that I’ve never seen reviewed anywhere and which I am very eager to experience.

L1030717

 

Greetings!

 

 

 

Rolex GMT Master II Ceramic 116710 LN

Hello!

To start let me say that I like Rolex. I do, and I’m not ashamed to say it!

In my many years enjoying and collecting watches I realized, amazingly, that there are people out there that don’t like, or at least think they don’t like Rolex…

Why would that be amazing? After all peoples’ tastes are different and that’s what give us variety, so why should they like Rolex?

Absolutely correct, but the point I’m making here is that probably most of the people who say they don’t like Rolex do it either from prejudice or from lack of first hand knowledge of their products. I read a post some time ago in a well known watch blog that had quite a few interesting insights into the whys and whats of this so I’ll try not to emulate,

I decided to write this post trying to take this subject which is often discussed amongst “watch people” a bit further and to help me do so I am going to review the Rolex GMT Master II 116710 LN, which in my opinion is one of the most versatile watches around.

I’m not trying to promote Rolex, they most certainly don’t need me to promote them, and they are also not paying me to publicize their products, they have experts to do that. (Mmmm… But, anyway, Dear Directors of Rolex if you ever read this and feel like sending me a couple of watches I would really appreciate… Thank you!)

What I’m trying here is to be fair towards a brand that produces really great watches and it’s not by chance that they are one of the most recognizable luxury brands in the world. When during my twenties I started buying “proper” – as in swiss made mechanical – watches, I spent several years ignoring Rolex while buying other top brands that I thought at the time, with all the intensity of youth, were more appropriate to “connoisseurs” due to their longer tradition, their more “exclusive” image or their more complicated movements.

And one fine day I decided to buy one, just to figure out what was it that so many people saw in Rolex. I got myself a Submariner (no date) and I certainly got the point…

To be very clear Rolex is not my favorite watchmaker, but, ever since that first Submariner that I bought in the 90’s, Rolex is up there amongst the top places of my personal ranking. I’ve had a few since then and they are just what you’d expect – comfortable to wear, accurate, resistant, a good match whatever you’re dressing be it sport, casual or a suit and fundamentally they are very dependable.

Now, to the GMT Master II…

This one here is the 116710 LN which means that it’s the latest version of the model that was created by Rolex for the now disappeared Pan American World Airlines when they first started flying Boeing 707 jet airplanes in intercontinental flights and due to their extended range, felt the need to have a watch that would allow the pilots to shift easily between different timezones…

This model has been around for a few years now, and since its launch has been very sought after. The size is 40 mm, which by today’s standards is not considered big, but it has more than enough presence has is. The indexes are quite a bit larger than the previous versions which helps readability and gives it a more up to date look and it was the first model of the brand to come with a rotating bezel in Cerachrom – Rolex lingo for high tech ceramics – said to be virtually unbreakable and scratch proof and with the inserted numerals, representing in this case the 24 hours of the day, in platinum.

The Oyster case, which is carved from a single block of stainless steel and hermetically sealed, is perfectly finished with its surfaces contrasting between polished and brushed. The case back, unlike “older” Rolex models doesn’t have a green sticker with logo and model number anymore, being absolutely clean with no marks or writing of any kind.

The black dial is protected by a thick sapphire crystal, with the typical Rolex cyclops at three o’clock to magnify the date. Legibility is very good, even in situations of intense luminosity or strong reflexion, although it is widespreadly acknowledged that it could be improved with a double anti-reflection treatment.

The bracelet, with the links brushed on the sides and polished in the middle is very good, with a solid and pleasant feel to the touch. Fortunately the folding clasp, unlike some flimsy examples from the past, is now beyond reproach. It comes fitted with an “Easylink” that can be easily deployed, as the name suggests, in case the wrist gets swollen while traveling or during warmer weather.

The crown is a “Triplock” (you can recognize it by the three dots underneath the Rolex crown logo) exactly like the one you’ll find in the Submariner models and it screws into the case, rendering it impervious to water and dust. The crown, when unscrewed can be used to perform three operations – 1. wind up the mechanism – 2. set the date and time forward or backwards in increments of one hour (more to that coming) – 3. set the time in the traditional fashion.

The heart of the watch is an automatic self-winding  COSC certified chronometer mechanism, built in house and sporting the “paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring” oscillator – you have to hand it to Rolex, they really know how to come up with cool sounding names – that has a stronger resistance to shocks and it is not affected by magnetic fields therefore achieving higher standards of accuracy. Well, you can read all about it at the Rolex website, what I can tell you is that after approximately three years of usage in the real world the accuracy is nearly perfect staying well within the COSC parameters (-4 to +6 seconds/day).

But the beauty of this mechanism for me resides also in the simplicity of use when you move between timezones. Let me explain – you have the long green hand (as you can see in the photo above pointing at 15 h in the rotating bezel) that gives you the time in a 24 hour scale and that when traveling you use as Home hour, then you have the traditional hour hand that you can move back and forth to adjust to the time at the place you’re going to. Simple, easy, brilliant! So you can forget about all you used to know about not moving the hands counter clockwise and not changing the date backwards, the GMT Master II allows you to do just that, and with such a well built, precise and responsive control that will rarely fail to bring a smile to your lips.

Another small difference from previous models is the inside ring with the word Rolex engraved all around and the serial number at 6 o’clock, it may sound like it “complicates” the image a bit, but in fact you hardly notice it when wearing the watch.

The lume is good. It is not excellent, but the green LumiNova gets the job done, and I feel that for a normal usage is more than enough. The latest Explorer II, Submariner and Yacht Master are using something exclusive to Rolex called “Chromalight” (once again a very cool name) that has blue luminescence and apparently produces better results.

There!

In a nutshell – the GMT Master II  – you can take it anywhere and change timezones with ease, you can see up to three different timezones at the same time, you can take it swimming or even diving (100 m water resistance), you can wear it to any occasion and you can rely in both the build quality and the mechanism’s precision.

What’s there not to like about it?

Well, I understand the argument that lots of people that don’t have a clue about watches buy a Rolex just because they heard about the brand and they like to show off but, that is not a reason for people who do appreciate watches and should snub a great quality product, is it? That’s why you see lots of collectors and people who work in the industry wearing Rolex as their day to day watch.

I’m sure this will keep on being a controversial theme of discussion, but what I believe is that…

There are lots of people with good taste that are savvy enough to appreciate a Rolex.

If you have an opinion on this subject, please make a comment, I’m really interested in hearing what you have to say.

About some sweet puppies

Hello Everyone!

This is just a small post with some photos of “these guys”…

My daughter’s Great uncle brought quite a few of these sweet puppies from Hong Kong to give her…

My daughter took them to school to share with her little friends and, as you can imagine looking at the pictures, it was an instant success…

Not surprising if you consider the age group of 3 to 4 year old and the general “cuteness” of the sweets.

The comments circled around the theme “wow! look at these guys…! They are too cute!”.

I really find it amazing, the imagination and skill involved to come up with such a visually appealing result from such a simple set of ingredients.

And apparently also very tasty, despite the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to eat any (must be getting soft with age), the children had them all surprisingly fast!

Well, before they disappeared I couldn’t resist so I just took these few photos, as a small homage to the ingenuity of the people who came up with this lovely idea!

Here’s a couple of photos to illustrate the scale of the little things…

 

I hope you enjoy watching the photos as much as I did shooting them!

There are some more in the gallery below…

 

Cheers!

Jerónimo

About… iPhone 5

Hi Everyone!

My lovely Mother-in-law just returned from the Far East and brought a couple of “visitors” for yours truly and my better half… Here’s one:

Opening the box…

Inside the box

The new “ear pods”

We were a bit taken aback because we knew that now we would need a Nano SIM card, and there’s no way to get it where we live, and there won’t be for quite a while. So, I decided to go “Macgiver” on my Micro SIM (that I previously made from a normal Plug in SIM to fit on my first iPhone 4). I checked here first and then I went here to make sure of the exact measurements and got myself busy with some very sharp scissors and a ruler…

Success! If you are, by any chance, planning to do the same be warned that you’ll have to cut around the metal chip part carefully, and keep the two lines in the middle perfectly centered. If you do, as I did, than it should work! If you live anywhere where they can get you a Nano SIM, be smart, go change your card and save yourself the trouble… The nano card is apparently thinner, but, from my experience, if you cut the Micro SIM exactly you’ll be able to fit it in without too much trouble.

Oh wait, here comes the other one…

In the undying words of Sir David Attenborough – “Let’s have a look…”

It’s curious to note that despite the fact that the iPhone 5 looks at first glance very similar to the iPhone 4/4s when you put them side by side you can really see the differences.

The screen is much larger…

The speakers are also bigger, and the connector as you can see in the center, isn’t the usual 30 pin but instead something totally new and much smaller called “lightning”.

Generally it still has the same premium feel as the previous ones, and the fact that instead of a glass back you now have aluminum doesn’t spoil its charm (as I feared), and the reduction in thickness and weight is truly remarkable.

The now matte black finish on the case side is very elegant, as is the “diamond cut” of all the corners.

Regarding the cameras things are only slightly different, the back camera is 8 MegaPixel and the front one is 1.2 MegaPixel.

The screen is really very nice…

And it woks great, even when outdoors in the sunlight.

From the little time I had to try it, the camera looks sharp and efficient…

As the following two examples demonstrate:

The new chip A6 is supposed to be much faster and I believe it will be.

In conclusion, the iPhone 5 is another beautifully made Apple product, it appeals to your senses and yes, it is, in a way, like all the previous iPhones and in another significantly better. As we are used to by the company from Cupertino – evolution in continuity…

Hope you enjoyed!

Jerónimo

A great place to relax and enjoy…

…in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

We were in dire need of some restful moments after a few weeks of over intensive work and were considering to stay at a certain lodge and restaurant where we had the pleasure of having lunch and dinner a few times but never stayed overnight, unfortunately it was fully booked for the weekend so we had to find an alternative. After careful consideration I decided to take a chance on a 5 star rated lodge that I’ve never heard of, but looked very promising… the “Jatinga Country Lodge”.

They had two accommodation choices – Superior Rooms or Luxury Suites, both being a bit on the expensive side I decided that the small difference in price might be worth it and opted for the latter.

We arrived there just after the sunset and doing the last few kms in a dirt road.

So, since an image is worth a thousand words I’ll start with the photos and go along with some comments.

This is what was waiting for us:

A lounge/sitting room with fireplace, a set of sofas, TV, refrigerator, a selection of coffee and tea, some extremely nice home made shortbread cookies and a few books & magazines.

The room itself, also with fireplace and a four poster bed.

Another angle of the sitting room.

And the brilliant (!) bathroom…

Let’s be fair, it’s not brilliant in a “The Venetian” slightly excessive marble & gold way, nor in the absolute elegance of “Intercontinental” Hong Kong. But it is brilliant, just in its simplicity of bare stone and painted walls. It feels really comfortable and adequate.

And yes, it comes with an enclosed patio with outdoor shower…

Isn’t that a very nice detail…?

All in all a positive first impression.

Now regarding dinner… The restaurant was said to be “gourmet” so, despite the fact that sometimes the word is used in a very broad sense, we decided it was worth a try…

The tables are properly set and the classic colonial decoration is consistent and agreeable.

The menu offered only two choices on starters, two on main course and surprise (!) two desserts… Which at first glance feels a bit too little, but… And this is really what matters, the food IS GOOD, it is actually VERY GOOD.

May I present you a starter… Springbok, very thinly sliced and folded, with balsamic vinegar and peppers, over a salad. The springbok is a type of gazelle from southern Africa. And was it delicious…

Butternut soup, it might not be as impressive as the springbok, but still very good.

Main couse…

The line fish, in a lemon and cream sauce and over a potato. Delicate, cooked to the perfect point in which it melts in your mouth…

And the lamb, rich and flavorsome.

Our daughter was presented with perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, with a bit of paprika…

I have to say I was impressed… So much so that when dessert arrived I even forgot to take a photo and dedicated myself thoroughly to the pleasure of sharing a two tone chocolate mousse with our daughter…

View of a table in the cellar.

In the morning… Perfect weather.

The suite as seen from outside.

Through the garden, on the way to breakfast

The breakfast, something that is taken very seriously here, as it was presented at our table:

Selection of cheese and cold cuts, selection of fresh fruits and bulgarian yogurt with a cereals…

Fruit juice,

Toast, croissants and wonderful home made muffins…

And excellent freshly brewed coffee. Since this is not considered enough, the waiter will bring you the list with all sorts of different options… I decided to have just a simple omelet with cheese and bacon:

Allow me to tell you that, the omelet not only looks perfect, it is perfect. It’s actually just the best omelet that I’ve ever tried EVER. Trust me, I’ve had my share of five star hotel’s omelets across the world and this one takes first prize without discussion, it wasn’t an omelet it was a song, an ode to the egg. Perfect, so perfect that I wasn’t believing my own tastebuds after the first try… When a Chef manages to turn something so simple into such an experience, it’s someone that really deserves the title Chef.

To digest the wonderful breakfast nothing like a walk through the grounds…

And enjoy the view over the stream and the surrounding bush from the observation deck.

The suite’s bathroom during daytime… The outdoor shower is a must try, absolutely wonderful experience with something deeply atavistic to it. Also enjoyed the rough stone shower room, ever since I first showered in a rough stone shower room, in one of my cousin’s in-laws country house more than fifteen years ago, I’m a sucker for it. Don’t get me wrong, I like a shower room of polished marble as much as the next person, but once again, like with the outdoor version, there’s something to it that appeals to the “stone man” in me (did they have shower??? Hmm… Maybe not… But they sure had waterfalls!

To be continued…

About Something Completely Different…

Hello,

For something completely different I thought about posting here a few photos of a wonderful miniature racing car transport truck… And a matching miniature racing car.

The truck is a Mercedes Benz, the miniature model in 1/43 scale of the one used by the Porsche Martini Racing Team in 1976. This one particularly was made as a limited edition by a german company – Premium ClassiXXs – and it is carefully put together and wonderfully detailed.

For good measure I’ve thrown in a Porsche 935 Martini Racing also from 1976, this one another limited edition, also in 1/43 scale, but produced by Minichamps, another german company.

I feel that they really enhance one another… And just to add a bit more color to the story, let me tell you that they’ve been together for at least five years in a display at the Sogo Department Store in Taichung, Taiwan. Since 2007 I’ve been looking at both in this big glass cabinet in which some of their best miniatures are taken from their boxes and displayed. Several times I felt compelled to buy this truck, but somehow I felt the price to be slightly excessive and always ended up buying one or other Bentley from Minichamps. I’m very partial to them and Minichamps is Bentley’s official supplier for their miniatures.

 

During the years I was always expecting to find the truck gone on my next visit, but it kept on being there. I simply don’t understand how come no one bought it…

Then, a few months ago, in what was my third visit to Taiwan (this year), I went to Sogo and I just could’t take it anymore and took the pair home with me. Even the very nice person in charge of the scale model section was very happy (he actually gave me a discount and even offered me a present!!!). I reckon after five years of seeing me admiring the setup he also felt that there was, at last, a proper happy end.

So, that’s it, when I arrived home I just couldn’t resist and I took a set of photos, part of which I’m now sharing with you… Both scale models are now in our house in Taiwan where they will be properly cherished. To view the complete gallery of photos just click on any of the miniatures below, I hope you’ll enjoy!