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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Tag: watches

Omega Speedmaster Professional

Mark Kwak

Source: Omega

Source: Omega

Anyone who knows me, even a little, knows that I'm a huge fan of watches. I've bought, traded, sold, owned, and toyed with too many to count. By the way, tread carefully with watches. It's a fun and exciting world, but frankly a dangerous place for your wallet to be.

Out of all of the watches I've tirelessly researched, seen, or owned, I think there are only four or five that I consider among the pantheon of timepieces. One of these is the Omega Speedmaster Professional, the first watch to be worn on the moon. I actually owned this watch several years ago, but regretfully (oh so regretfully...) sold it during an employment transition in my life.

Source: Watchuseek

Source: Watchuseek

I won't go into all the details around this watch's history, as you can find that info littered all over the web, but I will give you my take on this watch. Long story short, it's a beautiful and amazing watch, but one that will require some patience and hand-holding. Let me explain why.

The Speedmaster Professional is an older watch. It's rock-solid in construction and reliability (hell, it was used to guide Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon, surely it can guide me) but it isn't necessarily a modern watch. By that, I mean it isn't the king of accuracy (could be off by upwards of +/- 10 seconds a day), doesn't have a scratch-proof face, and requires you to manually wind it every other day to keep it running.

And so the question arises- why in the world would you want a watch like that when there are perfectly accurate, low maintenance, highly durable watches out there for no where near the $4k this timepiece demands? I'll tell you why. Because it's beautiful, it has a rich history, it gives you tangible ritualistic satisfaction every time you wind it, will last generations, and is among the most iconic timepieces of all time. This is a watch you can proudly gift to your son on his 18th birthday.

Source: Omega Forums

Source: Omega Forums

God, look at that thing on a leather strap... mesmerizing.

Luxury watches are interesting, some people will never understand why one would shell out thousands of dollars for something you can easily substitute for $20. Again, I won't go into that rabbit hole in this post, but I will say that if you are convinced that luxury watches are worth it, the Omega Speedmaster Professional is one I would highly recommend. It's a classic watch that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Source: Watchuseek

Source: Watchuseek

Some tips in case you're thinking about it:

1. Buy used, the cost goes down quite substantially when you're buying used, and this watch hasn't been changed in spec for many, many years. Probably will never change.

2. There are a lot of Speedmasters out there now. Some with sapphire faces, some with white sub-dials, some with automatic movements... If you want the classic, get the 3570.50 model. That's my choice.

3. Service this watch. I think this watch needs to be professionally serviced every 5-6 years, so just keep that in mind, especially when buying used.

4. If you get the classic Speedmaster Professional, get some Polywatch. It'll help you remove any scuffs or scratches from the glass.

5. This watch comes on a metal strap. Purchase it that way. Then buy an aftermarket leather strap for it, as it looks great on both steel and leather.

Okay, enough writing about this; makes me want to go out and re-buy this watch. Hmm maybe I will.


The Wristwatch - Part 2

Mark Kwak

Ages & ages ago, I wrote a fairly long post about wristwatches. It was originally supposed to be part of a 3-part series, but as many of you may know, I'm a lot worse at keeping up with these things than I hope to be. Sorry! Well, today I aim to continue that series... better late than never right? Just to recap, the last post was about answering the question: what do I need a watch for?

Today is question #2: Which watch should I get? A loaded question if there ever was one.

There are many different types of wristwatches out in the market today. In fact, it's a bit ridiculous how many different styles there are to choose from. Think about it: small, big, dark, bright, on steel, on leather, square, rectangle, gold... you get the point.

Well to me, I think the question of "which watch to get" depends on several factors.

1. How many watches do you intend to have?

2. What is your lifestyle like?

3. How much are you willing to pay?

These three questions will shape what watch you could/should end up with if you ever decide to buy one. So let's venture a bit through these questions.

1. How many watches do you intend to have?

I personally am a 1-2 watch person. The simplicity is nice. I will say, I do know there are giant watch collectors out there that want to have 20 different types to match any given situation. In the case that you're a big watch collector, I can't really help you as much, mainly because you should just get what you like, and whatever fills the holes of your collection. Don't have a chronograph yet? Get one. Have a white faced watch but need a black one? Done.

Well, for the rest of you who don't own any watches, first think about simply looking for one all-arounder. There's something nice about having just one, especially because you don't have to really think about what you're going to strap to your wrist every morning. Now if you already have one watch, I will say that there's something great about adding just one more to the collection, keeping one for more dressy occasions, and one for more everyday situations. This way, all bases are covered.

2. What is your lifestyle like?

If you live a rough and tumble lifestyle, where you're constantly putting your hands and body in dirt, then your watch will need to be rugged. For others where the most rugged activity you engage in is a boardroom meeting, perhaps your watch doesn't need to be waterproof to 300 meters and able to take a massive beating.

This factor will usually determine what band you wear (rubber, steel, leather) and what the overall style of the case will look like (slim and streamlined vs chunky and solid).

3. How much are you willing to pay?

As you may know, watches can range from anywhere $5 to $500,000.  Absurd, I know, but it's just the nature of the game. Only you can decide what you're willing to pay for a wristwatch. I personally would spend more than the average person because watches are like a hobby of mine. I respect the work that goes into a nice wristwatch, and the significance of a good timepiece, so I'll probably be willing to splurge a couple grand on a watch I can have forever.

On the other hand, there are those who aren't comfortable with spending over $50 on a watch just yet. The choices between me and a person like that are completely different.

Now, all of that being said, it basically leads me to the conclusion that I cannot make everybody happy when it comes to answering the question: which watch should I get? However, hopefully it helps you think about what type of watch you're in the market for, and what you're willing to spend to get it.

Just so that I don't leave you hanging though, I will say that I do have some favorite watches in particular price ranges. All different use-cases (some are dressier, some are more utilitarian), but they are awesome in design and function from my perspective. Here they are, in a ton of different price ranges:

$25-$75 : Timex Easy Reader Black ,  Seiko 5 , Timex Weekender

$75 - $150 :  Timex for JCrew , Casio G Shock 7900 , Orient Mako

$150 - $300 : Citizen Nighthawk , Seiko Diver

$300 - $600 : Hamilton Khaki Field , Tissot PRC 200

$600 - $1200 : Archimede Pilot , Tag Heuer Aquaracer , Stowa Antea

$1200 - $3000 : Nomos Tangente , Cartier Tank Solo , Baume et Mercier Classima

$3000 - $6000 :  Omega Speedmaster Professional, Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso

$6000 - $12,000 : Rolex Submariner , IWC Portuguese , Rolex Daytona

There you have it. Watch out for the 3rd part of this series in 2016! Just playin'.

Having just one accessory

Mark Kwak

I think too often, we approach accessories as items we can easily interchange. Magazines and fashion blogs are constantly pushing people to buy a variety of different accessories, just so they can wear one color or fabric on a given day, and something completely different the next day.

Think wristbands, or watches. Sunglasses and scarves. Changing between different types day by day.

Well today, I feel the need to say quite the opposite of all these magazines and fashion blogs. Personally, I'm a fan of a person who consistently wears the same accessories, and ultimately, through repetition, really makes them his own.

I'll give you an example. Ever since I was a little kid, my father wore the same wrist watch day in and day out. This accessory of his became a small, but tangible part of who he was to me. If I saw him without his watch anytime our family went out somewhere, something was definitely a little weird.

One of my roommates is another example. He wears one pair of sunglasses, and hasn't even thought about getting another. "I have one that looks and works well, what's the point of getting another one?" I kind of agree.

Anyhow, I think it's refreshing to see a person wear their tried and true accessories over and over again, without making any changes. As long as they're confidently worn, and out of your choice.

Here are the accessories I think make for good "one-only" pieces:

1. Sunglasses. When I think Tom Cruise, I think Ray-Ban aviator. Him wearing another pair (which I'm sure he does) just doesn't seem right.

2. Eyeglasses. One of my buddies alternates between two glasses. However, he used to wear just one type before. I like his image wearing just the original pair.

3. Watches. I personally have two watches I'd like to rotate between, but there's something really cool about someone who just wears one watch everyday. As long as it's relatively conservative in appearance, why not?

4. Wallet. Don't really see the point of alternating between a bunch of wallets since it's in your pocket most of the time.

5. Keychain. Same argument as wallet.

Sure, some people like to rotate between different types out of each of these accessories because it can be boring to have the same one all the time. I don't disagree with you! Nonetheless, I'm saying there is some virtue to just having one.

My suggestion is to get a worthwhile, high quality version of each of these accessories, and stick with just one of them. People will associate the accessory with you, and there will be a sentimental aspect to that said accessory over time.

Plus it makes your life simpler. You'll be a simpler man. Yep I went there.


Random thought of the day

Mark Kwak

I had a random thought today that I wanted to share with you all. Would love to see what your thought on this particular topic is:

Screenshot 2013-09-04 22.34.35

Samsung just announced the Galaxy Gear, a smart watch that is supposed to complement your phone. The release of this makes me think that smart watches will be a normal, everyday thing soon enough. The question is, do you think people will wear REAL wristwatches in say, 5 years? I sincerely hope so.

Maybe we'll wear our real wristwatches on one wrist, and these things on the other?


The wristwatch - part 1

Mark Kwak

 Image Source: Rolex

There's no secret about it. I love watches.

In fact, I'm so fascinated with watches that I've been intentionally holding off on writing a post about them. Truth is, I have no idea where to start. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually much, much more to watches than their simple ability to tell time.

Just take a gander at This behemoth of a site is solely devoted to watches, and it's perpetually overflowing with information. Self-titled "Watch-Idiot-Savants" gather there to discuss their horological passion in gruesome detail, and of course to flaunt their latest five-digit purchases.

Anyway, all this to say that when talking about watches, things can get hyper-detailed and overtly complicated. So instead of inundating you with confusing info, like the intricacies of gravity-defying tourbillons, I figured I'd start with the basics, and simply answer the three most overwhelmingly common questions I get asked about watches:

1. I have a cell phone, what do I need a watch for?

2. What watch should I get?

3. How many watches do I need?

Let's start today with question #1. "I have a cell phone, what do I need a watch for?"

watch and phone

Well good sir/miss, you ask a very loaded question that I have a difficult time answering. Why? Because it makes me want to stand on a pedestal, clear my throat, and initiate a speech longer than a Rand Paul filibuster. In the interest of time and your attention span though, I'll try to keep things relatively short.

First off, let me clear the air and say that I don't think there is anything wrong with using your phone to read the time. It's convenient, logical, and obvious, and I do it all the time. However, this question makes the presumption that there is no more significance to a watch than its mere ability to tell the time. I very much disagree with that presumption, and will go into it in more detail below. However, before I start, let me first outline a couple trivial, but tangible reasons for why a watch is still good to have around, even when you own a cell phone.

1. Watches are often waterproof, cell phones are not.

2. Some watches will take a beating far better than a phone will.

3. Watches are much better at keeping their battery life.

4. A flip of the wrist is more convenient than a struggle to get your phone out of your pocket.

5. Watches are aesthetically pleasing.

6. You can more easily check the time without looking rude.

Now, if the reasons above aren't enough to persuade you to strap a watch onto your wrist, allow me to to go a little deeper.

As I've already said, I believe a watch's purpose is far greater than just its practical functionalities. In our society, a watch can embody multiple traits, and in many ways, takes on the role of (inhale) social status symbol, fashion statement jewelry, subtle indicator of punctuality and effort, up-leveler of classiness, family heirloom, and brilliant display of human craftsmanship. See below for more detail:

Social status symbol: A nice watch has the potential to subtly show others that you're of some worth. That maybe you're important in some way, and that you can appreciate the finer things in life. Please don't flaunt your watch, or really even mention it, but there's no harm in wearing something that helps improve others' perception of you.

Fashion statement jewelry: Let's be real, a watch is acceptable man jewelry. What is jewelry's purpose? To bring your look to the next level. You can consider a watch as the cherry on top of your already stylish outfit.

Subtle indicator of punctuality & effort: Believe it or not, just by strapping a watch on your wrist, you subconsciously give people the impression that you are both punctual and hard-working, even if you're not.

Up-leveler of classiness: If you wear a proper watch, you're almost effortlessly up-leveling your classiness. You look and generally feel more like a gentleman, and the opposite sex probably agrees.  If anything, it shows that you care.

Family heirloom: Unlike most men's clothing or accessories, watches are very appropriate heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation. I mean, imagine being passed down your grandfather's Omega Speedmaster Professional, aged with the perfect patina. Glorious.

Brilliant display of human craftsmanship: Whether it's a simple Mickey Mouse quartz watch, or a full-out tourbillon chronometer, a watch is quite a fascinating device. It crams hundreds of small moving pieces into a tiny chamber that mechanically keeps the time as accurately as a computer would. I've seen videos on the making of a Rolex watch and am enamored by the precision and skill it takes to build one of these things. It's a shame most people don't know what goes into the process.


Well, so much for keeping things short huh?

Of course, at the end of the day, it's completely your choice as to whether or not you want to wear a watch. All I'm trying to say is that there are a plethora of reasons as to why you should, and those reasons shouldn't be ignored so easily. Do yourself a favor and buy yourself a timeless timepiece (pun intended). If anything at all, it will up your style game.


Style rules - part 2

Mark Kwak

Welcome to the second installment of simplerman's commentary on Ralph Lauren's Rules of Style. Gentlemen, it looks like today is all about accessories. Let's do this.

You know, it's very strange. I didn't use to be a fan of tie bars. I actually thought they gave off a bit of a pretentious look that I wasn't fond of. Well thank God, because the times have changed and I'm now very much on-board the tie bar train. I want to slap my old self for thinking the way I did.

Anyway, yes, definitely make sure your tie bar is shorter than the width of your tie, as otherwise, it can look ridiculous. I recommend having the tie bar hit at least the middle of the tie, but don't feel the need for it to extend all the way out and match your tie's full width. 1 and 1/2 inches is a good length I'd say. Also FYI, I only shop at one place for tie bars: it's The Tie Bar.

Sigh, I love watches so much. This particular accessory has a special place in my heart, and I promise to you that I'll be writing about them soon enough.

The interesting thing about this rule for me, is that I agree with it wholeheartedly, but think that you can make one exception. I'll get into that exception in just a second, but yes, you shouldn't be wearing digital watches to any formal event (or any event that isn't extremely casual, in my opinion). As a general rule, larger/thicker watches are for more casual events, and slimmer, smaller watches are for more formal events. The ideal dress watch is slim, simple, analog, on a black or brown leather band, and under 38/40mm in diameter. Casio G-Shocks should be left for going hunting or hiking, and blingy/oversized fashion watches should be left for... never.

So the exception I'm talking about is regarding the ability to use a nice diver watch (metal band, a bit thicker and bigger than a normal dress watch) in dressier situations. Big watch snobs will tell you that you should never do it, but I disagree. I think a nice diver watch, as long as it's not too thick or loud-colored, can look amazing underneath the cuff of a nice suit. Just my humble opinion.

So this rule is pretty self explanatory. Just like the rule about watches, this one is about wearing your accessories appropriately. Don't pair a business casual outfit with Nike Wrap Sunglasses. Save that for when you're wearing a track or wet suit. Trendy hipster glasses probably aren't the best fit with a semi-formal/formal outfit either. Use common sense on this one, and remember, the less flashy the eye/sunglasses, the more appropriate they probably are in most situations.

Leave loud colors and patterns for casual-wear, and stick with tortoise, black, or metal-colored frames for formal-wear. I recommend just buying a pair of Ray Ban Aviators or Wayfarers and calling it a day. Those classics work in basically all situations.


So there you have it- some rules to keep when wearing accessories. Basically the main takeaway is that you should consider how your accessories will work with the rest of your outfit. Matching/pairing appropriately will make a huge difference, and it's important to remember that.

Really quickly, I'm also going to say that I believe less is more in the case of men's accessories. It's definitely cool to "up the game" of your outfit with some nice accessories, but sometimes, I say it's okay to put down the pocket square, eyeglasses, diamond studs, and bracelets. Just put on a wristwatch and call it a day.

One day: outfit for the office

Mark Kwak

You've woken up, taken a shower, and opened your closet. Gentlemen, it is time to get dressed. Let's talk about your first outfit- your outfit for the office.

Going to the office can differ from person to person. Those who work in the tech industry, like myself, have much more freedom to wear casual clothing day-to-day. Jeans, T shirt, even flip flops are all fair game. Clearly a stark contrast from the days when I used to work in financial services. Back then, it was business casual on a daily basis, with the occasional suit for important client meetings.

Since occupation really matters when it comes to proper attire, please take my words with a grain of salt. Some people have to wear uniforms, some work from home in their sweatpants, and some work at places where the job requires constant physical activity. In all these situations, outfits will obviously differ from what I propose, so let's just say my recommendations will cover more of a generic office setting.

1. In an office setting, no matter how casual, I think it's still important to look as good as you can, so my first preference is to ditch the T shirts, polos, and short-sleeve dress shirts, and stick with a long sleeve button up shirt. The more casual the workplace, the more casual the button-up can be. Here are some things that distinguish a more casual button up from a more formal one.

Can have a button-down collar
Doesn't have to be tucked in
Material drapes easier (flannels, linens, oxfords)
More patterns
Usually spread, point, or semi spread collars
Needs to be tucked in
Needs to have a "pressed" look
Less patterns

I say stay away from being too formal. Leave most accessories attached to the shirt at home (tie, tie bar, cufflinks), and roll up your sleeves if it gets too hot or you'd like to be even more casual.

2. Now for pants, it again depends on the environment you're in, but I think your best bet is a pair of solid-colored slacks (grey or navy). If you'd like to be a bit more casual, I'd try a solid pair of dark-wash jeans or slim chinos/cords. Shorts are a no-no, patterns like camo and designs on back pockets (apart from simple lines) are also a no-no. This is not an area that you want to attract attention to. Keep it conservative, but of course well-fitted.

3. Shoes need to be a form of leather. Unless it's casual Friday and you have leeway to wear whatever, I would make sure to stick with some sort of leather shoe, whether it be dress shoes, suede boots, or whatever. This is critically important in my mind, because shoes actually make a far larger impression on other people than you might initially think. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... leather shoes distinguish a boy from a man more than any other piece of clothing in your outfit (in my opinion, that is). For more formal situations, go with cleaner designs (like staying away from wingtips or any type of brogues), and stick with black or brown only. Oxfords and derbys will be your best bet more formally, loafers can be good once you get more casual.

4. As for accessories, I would say a watch and belt is about all that you really need. Stick with leather or steel band watches (of normal size... as watches larger than 47mm are kind of gaudy at the office) and belts that roughly match the color of your shoes.

5. Now, to top it all off, you should enter the office with some sort of outerwear. Whether you keep it on during the workday is up to you, but having a sports coat / jacket / overcoat / sweater is a good way to mix things up a bit between being at the office and being outside of it. 

There you go! Maybe you knew everything here, maybe you didn't. Either way, I think your office-wear is going to be what you have on for the longest part of the day, so it's important that things FIT well, and are matched well in colors / patterns / etc. When in doubt, keep it simple, and remember, this is not a setting where you want to stick out like a sore thumb.