It is December 22. There are only three more days until Christmas and the first night of Hanukkah. I hate to break it to you, but if you haven't done your gift shopping by now, it's not looking good. You can try to rush something to your doorstep with express shipping or make a last minute stop at the mall to pick up something - anything - for those last few people on your list, or maybe just scribble some coupons for free back rubs. It's up to you, but I'm not here to help you with that. You see, while most holiday gift guides suggest things for you to buy other people, this one is all about things you should buy for yourself.
Now before you get all judgmental on me, consider this: you are the one who waited until the last possible minute to do something nice for your loved ones, not me. You put off your shopping for as long as I put off writing this article. Am I holding it against you? No, I am not. I am merely suggesting you kick back and celebrate yourself. Why not? You've been good all year. You've worked hard. You've earned it.
Orion Watch Project
I reviewed the Orion 1 by Orion Watches (formerly Watches By Nick) earlier this year and just loved it. The slab-sided 38mm case, pouty crown guards, and broad knurled crown set the watch apart from the crowd, while a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal, applied markers, and a Seiko NH35 automatic movement brought it home. You can still get one for $450 (and take another $50 off the Orion 1 red or blue with code "timebum50") but maybe you would prefer something a little bit different. For that, I'd recommend you click the "Orion Special Edition" page and feast your eyes on the Blackbird, a full DLC version with ghost hands a blue-green lume for $625. Note that the markers may appear gold in some pictures, but they are silver. It's just a reflection. Other special editions are available as well but act now because quantities are limited and they appear to be selling fast.
Speaking of which, be sure to check out the fully engraved versions. There are none in stock now, but I hear one or two may be ready for sale in a couple months. Head over to OrionWatches.org and check them out.
Undone Urban Chronograph
If you are reading this blog, then you probably want a watch. Why not get one customized to your own personal specifications? Undone is ready to deliver. I already featured the Aqua, a large, automatic diver's watch. They are now taking Kickstarter pre-orders for their second model, the Urban Chronograph. It is a departure from the Aqua in size (40mm), and movement (Seiko MechaQuartz), but it continues the tradition of full-on customization.
The Urban Chronograph has some of my favorite vintage watch design elements: a domed crystal, a stepped bezel, a convex dial, and a sensible size. There are five distinct pre-configured models, and while none is a straight homage, each takes its cues from one of five iconic watches: Jean-Claude Killy Rolex Dato Compax, Breitling Navitimer, Heuer Autiva, Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, and Omega Speedmaster. These are going for $155 each. They are perfectly lovely (the Killy is my personal favorite), but for true individualists, only full customization will do. For that, choose the $170 Build Your Own option and go wild. A host of colors, layouts, hand sets, and straps awaits you. When you are done with that, upload your own artwork to be reverse printed on the display case back. You will get exactly what you want and for an absurdly low price. What's not to like?
Pre-configured models should be ready by the end of January 2017, custom watches in February and March.
Retro style is great, but there is no substitute for the real thing. If you are willing to drop a little more cash, you can pick up some beautiful and truly distinctive vintage timepieces for an excellent price. Other people may not get it. "It's used," they'll say, "it looks old, and what if it breaks?" Avoid these people. They don't appreciate the finer things in life. But you know better. You know these hardy little machines can stand the test of time. You understand that patina is a sign of a life well lived. You get it, and that is why you need to buy yourself a sweet vintage watch. Here are some charming and distinctive options available now.
RetroWatchGuy.com always has a healthy selection of affordable watches like this 1960's Edox Dyno-Mat for just $375. It has a newly serviced 21 jewel ETA automatic, a remarkably preserved 35mm square case, and a magnificently mottled gray dial. This tropical aging doesn't happen overnight, and it presents a nifty contrast to the otherwise vibrant colors surrounding it.
Over at ClassicWatch.com, you will find an eclectic mix with prices ranging from a couple hundred to tens of thousands. For a Bum on a budget looking to express his individuality, I'd suggest this glorious 1950's Elgin Direct Read for $1,599. It has a hand winding, jump hour movement and a minty 14k gold filled case. You won't see one like this every day.
Were you good all year? I mean really good? Do you have a wad of holiday bonus money burning a hole in your pocket? Then how about a 1970's Heuer Bund? These German Air Force issue mechanical chronographs are 42mm wide and run a 17 jewel, hacking Valjoux 230 movement. ClassicWatch.com has two of these badass beauties in stock for $4,595 and $4,795.
So you've bought the perfect watch, now you need the perfect strap to go with it, and for that, you should head on over to Combat-Straps.com. As you might expect from its martial name, they make straps from ammo pouches and WW2 vintage canvas, but they also offer a dizzying array of strap materials, colors, and other options to create the strap of your dreams. Each strap is made to your specifications so you can be sure it is exactly the size, length, and style you want. Best of all, prices start at just $150.
Do you want shell cordovan, Alcantara, or ostrich leather? They've got it. Fancy some hand painted fighter nose art on your canvas? They'll do it. Looking for something more exotic like shark, python, or polished stingray? No problem. Want a pink toad strap with red stitching and an orange keeper? Well... I suspect you might be color blind, but they can do it.
So there you have it. The Time Bum has given you permission to treat yourself and pointed you in the right direction. Now go buy yourself something nice.