Monthly Archives: September 2014

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tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — September selection

Speaking of Grails: As September winds down to a close it’s my great pleasure to offer on behalf of a friend a very rare and iconic vintage Porsche Design by IWC Ocean 2000. This cult tool watch classic is crafted in all-titanium with a matching super comfortable and innovative bracelet and is the civilian version of a very famous German Navy-issued Bund military watch. At 43mm in diameter it’s the big size model and dates from the mid-1990s. Best of all, it’s in fantastic condition and not only has it been well maintained during its lifetime with the paperwork to prove it but the watch also comes with essentially every item that this IWC Porsche Design Ocean 2000 came with when it was bought new.

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This is a rare opportunity to own a complete example of this avant-garde IWC diver with exceptional provenance. And while it’s certainly not inexpensive it is a quality collectible that’s well worth ponying up for if it tickles your fancy, as well a watch that has seen a pronounced increase in value the last few years. As the old saying goes: they’re not making any more of them!

Check out the complete ad with many more pictures and full description over at the Timezone.com’s Showcase. NOW ON SALE!

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Watch Collector’s Notebook — Grail mania

If you hang around with watch collectors for any length of time you are guaranteed to hear the word “Grail” mentioned and probably more than once. I don’t know who coined this term for a particularly desirable watch (maybe the late, great Chuck Maddox?) but it has come to be the word of choice for that certain timepiece which most captivates us at a given moment and inspires an obsessive quest to obtain it. Which is not to say that a particular Grail watch remains a constant. On the contrary, the more driven collectors (guilty as charged) will constantly shift their definition of Holy Grail and apply it to multiple watches, especially as their tastes evolve and they wade ever deeper into the seemingly bottomless waters of the watch world.

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It might happen that a beginning collector getting into vintage starts out with a particularly handsome Omega dress watch as his Grail but finds himself being attracted to the legendary Speedmaster chronograph line. So, having acquired his lovely dress Omega, he shifts his Grail designation over to the yet-to-be-acquired Speedy Moonwatch. Then, having acquired a conventional Speedmaster, he may learn through research and participation in the various forums about earlier, scarcer versions that were being used at the beginning of the NASA space program and before the design was completely standardized. And so with his classic Moonwatch acquiring mere “daily driver” status, now a pre-Moon straight lug cal. 321 Speedy becomes his new Grail.

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Likewise, a budding Military Watch collector may start out feeling very well satisfied with a Benrus Type I or II, no small achievement to be sure. But soon enough, through discussion with other enthusiasts, a hierarchy of MilWatches is revealed to him and he discovers that his well-loved Benrus Type, while highly regarded, is nowhere near the top of the pyramid. Continue reading

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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore — Results & aftermath

Reversal of Fortune: Hamilton’s Mercedes finishes first, Rosberg unable to start; Vettel & Ricciardo 2nd and 3rd for Red Bull

Pix from the always excellent GrandPrix247.com

Pix from the always excellent GrandPrix247.com

The title pursuit may have found its turning point on a hot & humid race night in Singapore as Mercedes teammates and archrivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg experienced diametrically opposite fates at the hands of the racing gods. While Hamilton started from Pole and was sprinted away from the field to rack up a relatively stress-free victory under the lights, Rosberg’s Silver Arrow suffered a terminal failure due to a broken steering column wiring lume and was unable to start the race even as his team desperately tried to fix the problem on the grid and in the pits. So with the car’s steering wheel unable to handle its many intricate tasks properly Rosberg was forced to retire and possibly hope that Hamilton ran into similar troubles. It didn’t happen and as Hamilton sailed away flawlessly into the night and on towards victory, the Englishman also wrested the overall Drivers’ points lead away from his despondent German teammate. With luck now seeming to have deserted Rosberg and swung to Hamilton in the last several races and Hamilton having pushed through his own rough patches to recapture the edge in the mental battle with superb results the last two races, it could well be Singapore that we point to as the decisive moment in the 2014 Championship. But with five contests left there is still time for Rosberg to dust himself off and take the fight to the now supremely confident Hamilton… provided he has no more mechanical DNFs.

Finishing behind Hamilton were the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo who took advantage of Rosberg’s absence and the RB10’s excellent handling on the tight street circuit to storm the podium. It was Vettel’s best finish of the season and only the third time the 4-time World Champion has finished in front of his junior teammate. Ferrari performed decently the week after their big team shake up with Fernando Alonso capturing 4th and Kimi Raikkonen taking 8th to earn valuable Constructors’ points, while Williams had a mixed result with Felipe Massa a strong 5th after nursing his tires effectively but Valtteri Bottas out of the points in 11th. Outgoing Scuderia Torro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne made his case to stay in F1 with a very impressive 6th place finish and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg sandwiched Raikkonen in 7th and 9th respectively. Kevin Magnussen grabbed the last point for McLaren with a gutsy drive that saw the young Dane battling severe cockpit overheating problems leaving him unable to utilize the boiling hot drinks bottle and with burns that were treated after the race.

Top 10 finishers & times here:

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 60 2:00:04.795 1 25
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 60 +13.5 secs 4 18
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 60 +14.2 secs 3 15
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 60 +15.3 secs 5 12
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 60 +42.1 secs 6 10
6 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 60 +56.8 secs 12 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 60 +59.0 secs 15 6
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 60 +60.6 secs 7 4
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 60 +61.6 secs 13 2
10 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 60 +62.2 secs 9 1

Complete results for the Singapore Grand Prix available at Formula1.com.

With the next race 2 weeks away at the storied Suzuka track in Japan, team Mercedes should have just enough time to banish all gremlins and insure that the Drivers’ Championship is decided on merit and not reliability issues. We’ll find out together the weekend of October 5th at spectacular Suzuka!

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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore — Qualifying results

Hamilton takes Pole over Rosberg by mere thousands of a second, Ricciardo a strong 3rd

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It was truly last man standing Saturday under the enchanting lights of the Singapore street circuit as Englishman Lewis Hamilton pipped his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by a very Bondian .007 seconds to take Pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Even as it seemed that first the Williams of Felipe Massa and then the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo had done enough to grab the top spot, the Silver Arrows surged in the dying seconds of Q3 as they have so frequently this season. Ricciardo was left with the consolation of 3rd position on the race grid, while Massa was pushed down to 6th when the other Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel took 4th and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso grabbed 5th.

It made for a strong day for the Scuderia a week after long-time leader Luca Di Montezemolo got the sack by Fiat-Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne with the big boss also taking over Ferrari’s race operations. If not for software issues that brought Kimi Raikkonen’s Q3 session to a premature end Ferrari’s resurgent day might have been even better. With the tight Singapore street circuit favoring downforce and handling over top line speed, as well as almost always featuring a Safety Car period due to shunts, it could be Red Bull’s or Ferrari’s chance to upend Mercedes’ seemingly inevitable script of weekly victory.

Rounding out the top 10 were Massa’s young Williams’ teammate Valtteri Bottas in 8th, McLaren’s rookie Kevin Magnussen out-qualifying veteran teammate Jenson Button again for 9th and Torro Rosso’s 20-year-old Russian sensation Daniil Kvyat grabbing 10th.

Top 10 Quali results:

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:46.921 1:46.287 1:45.681 17
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:47.244 1:45.825 1:45.688 19
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:47.488 1:46.493 1:45.854 12
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:47.476 1:46.586 1:45.902 15
5 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:46.889 1:46.328 1:45.907 16
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:47.615 1:46.472 1:46.000 20
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.685 1:46.359 1:46.170 14
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:47.196 1:46.622 1:46.187 18
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.976 1:46.700 1:46.250 18
10 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:47.656 1:46.926 1:47.362 21

 

Full Qualifying results via Formula1.com.

Live coverage of tomorrow’s night race at the beautifully lit Marina Bay Street Circuit, one of the most visually captivating and physically demanding on the schedule, begins tomorrow at 7:30am Eastern on NBCSports.

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Cars we want — Maserati Ghibli S Q4

All right, so the Ghibli is Maserati’s “entry level” 4-door model with all the attendant compromises that implies for such a storied luxury marque. But it still flies that stylish Trident flag very impressively. Especially considering you can have all that panache and performance in a 5-seat sedan for a bit over $70k for the deluxe “S” version, certainly comparable with the attractive but Teutonically restrained (and much, much more common) Audi S7 and Mercedes CLS.  And if the interior quality is not quite up to the Germans in terms of quality and tech savvy, the sexy exterior and only-from-Italy engine note is guaranteed to turn many more heads. And isn’t that a big part of why you fall in love with Italian luxury cars in the first place?

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In its most appealing “S Q4” configuration, the Ghibli features rear-biased all wheel drive and a Maranello-designed twin-turbo 3.0 liter engine that puts out an impressive 404 break horsepower with 406 lbs of torque, which can shoot the rather hefty 4100 pound chassis from 0-60 in a decent 4.7 seconds. With the option to control the 8-speed automatic transmission semi-manually via the steering wheel paddles and the symphonic Sport mode selected, the Ghibli excels as a mid-size performance machine, more growling jungle cat than sedate sports sedan. Of course, you pay the price in gas mileage for all that uniquely Italian exhilaration at just about 20mpg highway and so you’ll constantly be filling its 21-gallon tank. But that’s because you’ll be driving the hell out of this beautiful machine.

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Quibbles about the Chrysler-borrowed interactive touch screen system, which probably controls too many facets of the interior functions, and seats that look great but are not actually that comfortable are put aside when you put your foot down on windy, uphill roads and the Ghibli really begins to shine. With exceptional power-to-weight distribution and road handling ability, especially if you opt for the pricey but telepathic Skyhook adaptive suspension, plus an ingenious system for electronically controlling the torque distribution between front and rear, the car seems to perform better the faster you go and the curvier the road. Chances are, it will have you singing like Pavarotti as you blaze your way up California’s Route 1 or New York’s Taconic. Control, power and finesse in a beautiful package that always turns heads, all at a price that won’t break the bank? Now that’s amore.

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Road & Track’s positive review of the S Q4 is here.

Car and Driver’s rather less complimentary review is here.

And a video review from Hooniverse.com:

Classy Antonio...Classy!

NFL Early Results…Where To Go Next!

We’re now two weeks into the new NFL season, and to date, there have been far more headlines devoted to the off-field missteps of several star players than the action between the sidelines.  I, for one, am a purist, and while I have my opinions about Mr. Rice and Mr. Peterson, I much prefer to focus on the early season trends and keeping my eyes on the prize (specifically another weekly pick ’em title come season’s end).

To that end, let’s see what’s happened in the first two weeks of the season, shall we.

Now, if you look back to my first post, you will notice the one (almost unfair) piece of advice that I gave.

“Pick lots of underdogs in the first three or four weeks of the season, as they do have a tendency to cover.”

If you look at week two, here were the four largest spreads:

Denver -12.5 vs. Kansas City
Green Bay -9.5 vs. New York Jets
San Francisco – 7.5 vs. Chicago
New Orleans -6.5 vs. Cleveland

I’m guessing that I don’t need to tell you that all four dogs covered the spread and two teams won outright (should have been three).

This trend will continue into weeks 3 and 4, but as the season wears on, big favorites are more and more likely to cover, so take advantage of it while you still can.

Here’s another piece of advice that doesn’t have an expiration date.  One trend that will not fade is home dogs within the division.  They tend to cover all year round.  If you need and example, look no further than the Miami Dolphins.  The Fins were a huge dog at home and beat the Pats in week one, only to lose as a favorite on the road in Buffalo week 2.

As for the action on the field so far, it’s been terrifically enjoyable. Injuries to established stars have provided opportunities for some young players, and they have not disappointed….especially the young receivers (Watkins, Cooks, et al).  My favorite play thus far was the karate kick by Antonio Brown in week one (pictured above).  Not since Necessary Roughness and The Replacements have I seen such a blatant disregard of the rules, or such a violent kick to the neck/chest area.  A close second is the resurgence of yet another Antonio, Antonio “I-ain’t-done-yet” Gates, who had three touchdowns in week two (one of which was utterly spectacular).  It’s great to see a true hall-of-famer still competing at the highest level.

So, make sure you keep to your plan.  Have a strategy and stick with it….you will find yourself near the top come December.

-DB

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What we’re listening to — Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet

If you are just starting a Jazz collection there are a few seminal records you should acquire right out of the box. Anything by the Miles Davis Quintet from the 1950s, any of Coltrane’s Atlantic recordings, Stan Getz’s Bossa Nova years just to name a few. Another certain must-have is 1959’s Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Looking nothing like reefer-smoking beatniks with their spit-and-polish suits and heavy frame glasses, this classic ensemble featured Brubeck on piano, the great and super smooth Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass and the wonderfully nuanced Joe Morello on drums. But the four were actually radicals in geeky disguise. Inspired by Turkish and Bulgarian folk music, the whole album features compositions with weird time signatures like 9/8 and 6/4 and “Take Five”, credited to Desmond, swings ever so propulsively in 5/4 time.

Radiating cool and sophistication, “Take Five” sounds as fresh today as it did in 1959 even as it has permeated the entire pop culture subconsciousness with its omnipresence for over 50 years. It’s a must-have for the beginner, intermediate or expert Jazz fan because it is quite simply one of the greatest compositions in 20th century popular music. Put it on the hi-fi then slip into your smoking jacket, mix up some ice cold martinis for you and that special someone and see if you don’t feel like Hef at the Playboy Mansion.

Somewhat amazingly, you can get free unlimited streaming of Time Out and a ton of other classic Jazz albums with a subscription to Amazon Prime.

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Classic Movie Watch — Sorcerer (1977)

For years, decades even, William Friedkin’s 1977 existential thriller Sorcerer was more infamous legend than actual cinematic experience, a sort of ghost story used to scare overly ambitious directors. And this was for the simple reason that almost no one had ever seen it. Coming off the double-barreled successes of The French Connection and The Exorcist, Friedkin chose to follow that incredible duo up with a re-imagined remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s excruciatingly intense and fatalistic Wages of Fear. But instead of continuing his winning ways at the box office the film very nearly ruined Friedkin’s career. To be honest, as a “force” he was never quite the same having spent all his accumulated juice to make this flawed but compellingly nihilistic epic. And so it became one of the famous “disasters” used by Hollywood studios to claw back the power that they had ceded to the creative types during the brief but fruitful “Auteur” period of the late 60s and 70s, the beginning of the end of letting the inmates run the asylum and a sort of bookend to 1980’s Heaven’s Gate.

Sorcerer was a quixotic, almost resolutely anti-commercial endeavor pushed by a hot director, went predictably well over budget and then was relegated to near total obscurity by the seriously bad timing of its release against a movie that completely changed the Hollywood paradigm: Star Wars. As Friedkin has aptly put it, when Lucas’ sci-fi epic erupted in 1977 it was a vacuum cleaner that sucked audiences from nearly all competing movies leaving very little oxygen for more challenging works. So Sorcerer never had a chance and literally lost something like $10 million dollars, which used to be a lot of money. To make matters worse the inherent risks in the production led to two studios co-producing the film so that in future years, when Sorcerer might have been re-released into the lucrative home theater market first on VHS and then DVD, no one had the legal authority to do so until Friedkin sued to recapture those rights. That finally enabled Warner Brothers to assume control of video distribution so Friedkin could remaster and reassemble his lost classic for DVD and Blue Ray. And that is a great thing for cinephiles in general and especially for those of us preoccupied with 1970s films.

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Because while Sorcerer may not be the greatest film ever made, it is certainly a damn site better than most of what passes for cinema today and absolutely holds its own in terms of intensity with Friedkin’s two more commercially successful predecessors. Expanding on HG Clouzot’s superb original, Friedkin devotes the beginning third of the movie to the backgrounds of the four outcasts who will come together to haul nitro-leaking dynamite in jerry-rigged trucks over treacherous Central American roads to an oil well that is burning out of control. Continue reading

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F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Results and aftermath

Hamilton regains momentum with determined run to victory at Monza, Rosberg 2nd after error; Massa 3rd, Bottas 4th for Williams to move team ahead of Ferrari

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(Pictures via the excellent GrandPrix24-7.com)

After yet another stroke of misfortune for Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Italian Grand Prix it would have been easy for the Englishman to play it conservative and cede victory to Nico Rosberg, his teammate and archrival for the Drivers’ Championship. But “conservative” has never been in Hamilton’s vocabulary. Facing an electronic problem to start the race at the spectacularly fast Monza circuit that pushed Hamilton from Pole to 4th in the space of an eye blink, the feisty former champion fought his way back to harass Rosberg until it was the German who blinked. Directly after both had stopped for their one and only tire change, Rosberg was still leading the race on lap 29 but locked up his tires for the second time while breaking for the first chicane. Rather than flat-spotting them he again took the slow runoff route and this time Hamilton was close enough to pounce and take command of the race. Hamilton never looked back and still had plenty of rubber and fuel at the end to hold off Rosberg by over 3 seconds. After his unforced error it would now seem to be Rosberg’s turn to have a moment of doubt as to whether he can hold on to his most cherished dream, to be crowned World Champion of F1. One thing is for certain: Hamilton will keep on coming to grab another Championship no matter what fate throws his way. He’s already had a season’s worth of bad luck with 6 rounds left to be run and he is still a mere 22 points behind Rosberg overall lead. The current points leader had better buckle up and toughen up if he wants to be crowned champion because Hamilton looks to have regained the upper hand in the mental war between the two contenders.

Felipe Massa came home a distant 3rd for Williams. The veteran Brazilian, who saw so much success and heartbreak when he was a driver for Ferrari, was warmly cheered by the fans after his strong if unspectacular drive for the last spot on the Podium. His young Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas had good run after a poor start from 3rd on the grid forced him to fight with several drivers, most notably McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, to regain positions. Bottas was able to fight his way to 4th and in doing so lifted Williams, whose disastrous 2013 campaign seems like nothing but a bad dream now, over Ferrari for 3rd place in the Constructors’ Championship. Not at all coincidentally, it was announced that both drivers will be retained by Williams Martini racing for 2015, completing a very ecstatic weekend at Monza for the team.

At the other end of the spectrum, the great Scuderia Ferrari had an awful day at their home Grand Prix, which is just a pleasant ride on the autostrade from home base in Maranello. Continue reading