sevesteen discusses form and function...
ditto from me on appreciation of simple, functional elegance...and watches, cars, and guns exemplify the best and worst of those attributes.
rolex watches were a specialty of mine...it never ceased to amaze and disgust me that so many of these fine handcrafted mechanical wonders would be festooned with diamonds and colored stones on the bezel, face, even the band...heresy, really.
i still come across and appreciate some of the early models and am always entranced as i fondle one and envision the craftsman carving it long ago from a block of gold and skillfully making and assembling that beautiful movement...
cars? how many of us who remember and/or appreciate American detroit iron from the fifties and sixties wouldn't trade our new benz, lexus, or suv for a showroom '67 chevelle ss? screw gps-equipped, ipod-ready, four-wheeled, three thousand pound bundles of microcomputers with an internal combustion engine buried somewhere deep inside and require an electronics degree to decipher!
and is it really possible to improve upon the smooth, sexy functionality that mr. browning designed a century ago?
since turning 50 in '04, i've developed a serendipitous appreciation for examples of these three categories that were all produced in '54, the year i myself debuted.
four years ago for my fiftieth birthday, i got a '54 chevy pickup that had been tastefully hotrodded with a built 350, four wheels discs, ac, etc...it was the last year for this classic body style that is now copied in the new chevy ssr...coincidentally, that same year a local deputy traded to me a very clean unmolested colt cobra snubbie revolver (for a glock m27, which he wanted as a backup to his department issue m22). a little research later, if found that the colt was built in '54 and its lovely fifteen-ounce self has been my regular carryon ever since.
then while cataloging my inventory in '06 as i prepared to turn over my business to a new owner, i took a closer look at an old omega seamaster wristwatch that had been in the showcase for over a year...it still had the original box and certificate and was in near-perfect cosmetic and functional condition. when i traced the serial number on the movement, i found that the range of numbers for 1954 included it...i'd always worn a rolex from the showcase; usually a two-tone datejust or submariner, and occasionally a presidential or cellini dress model...these are all priced in the k's, some way into the k's, and i enoyed wearing them, but mainly it was a sales device; i sold many of them right off my wrist. but the simple elegance of the little seamaster, with it's bumper automatic movement and clean unadorned face is now my everyday watch; it keeps near-perfect time if worn daily and is instantly readable by my 54 year old eyes even at arms length.
so i have kind of inadvertently surrounded myself with mechanical examples that are the same age as me; i depend on them all almost every day, and i have no qualms about trusting them as they are equal or superior to any newer or more elaborate versions available today...and i know that when (if) they do wear out they can be repaired/restored to like-new, serviceable condition...for another 54 years.
i only wish the same could be said for this also-made-in-1954 thing i call self...i'd replace the high-wear parts; a fresh set of laserbeam eyeballs, new springs for my ticker and my step, and maybe even a brand-new, supercharged umm...plunger mechanism...yeah, baby!
I'm not a fan of Chevelles. If I had to have a car in that profile, I'd pick the Oldsmobile 4-4-2 Cutlass. Ahead of either of those, though, I'd pick a '67 GTO or a '72 Roadrunner.
Or even a Nash Metropolitan. ;)
a freakin' metro? weirdo...;)
btw, i do like that goat, not so much the roadrunner...and the '69-'71 iteration of the 442? just a gussied-up chevelle...
The tailfin era was horrible, but other than that many of the old designs are great. I'll take a modern car though--Harder to fix, but needs it less often. I don't miss carburetors and points, and many of today's econoboxes handle better than dedicated sports cars of the 50's and 60's, Hard to beat the torque of a musclecar V8, but many of today's fairly ordinary cars aren't far off the power to weight ratio.
I'd rather have something modern as a daily driver, but if I were to do a hot rod it would be a 1968 Dart. Not sure if I'd go 340 or 440...
For Semiautos, I'll agree with Browning, but move the peak to the High Power. Almost all the advances since are materials rather than design.
Rolex can make a two-tone look good, but it isn't an improvement over plain stainless or gold. Two tone in an ordinary priced watch is almost always in the same league as plastic woodgrain.
sevesteen: even woodgrain can be beautiful if it's real, and that's the differentiating factor for me...
sure, for soul-less efficiency, a toyota beats the fuck out of a vintage chevy...but does it resonate within and become one with you when you drive it? and what do you think it'll be worth in fifty years?
carrying your logic further, the glock in all its austere, functionally flawless glory would surely trump the old colts and brownings...but they're not for me.
and if you have the opportunity to hold and examine as many finely, beautifully crafted timepieces as i have in thirty years, you'll never again dismiss the best ones so superficially...2-tone watches are passe because so many tried to copy what rolex crafted. so you have to see past the design cliche, just as with those wannabe woodies...and see and appreciate the art embodied in the original article...whatever it may be.
Fair or not, woodgrain plastic has devalued real wood as an aesthetic feature, in much the same way that fakes have devalued Rolex. The real versions of each can be fantastic.
I bought a Honda Prelude at a repo auction, without knowing that much about them--I was looking for a commuter car and it was small enough, the AC worked, and it ran smoothly. It turned out to be a fantastically fun car to drive under almost all circumstances, in no way soulless. Didn't have the brutal power of some of the muscle cars I've experienced, but the road feel and nimble handling more than made up for that.
The 1911 feel is fantastic, but the design can stand improvement--It isn't as well-suited to mass production as more modern designs, particularly the locking lugs vs. locking into the ejection port, and the toggle link vs a simple cam. This is to some extent a price-point argument--Most of a 1911's flaws can be mitigated by skilled craftsmanship, while leaving its benefits intact. There's less need to tinker with a Glock, but that also means you can't really progress beyond what the factory supplies.
There are a lot of similarities between a good 1911 and a Rolex--While both remain capable in the modern world, both have been surpassed by technology. Modern replacements cost less, work marginally better, and require less maintenance.
I'm a watch guy, to the point where I've got a repair bench set up with the equipment to clean, oil and do minor repairs on mechanicals. I'm not a jewelery guy--I'm more interested in the movement and history than gold and diamonds. I generally prefer stainless to gold.
Post a Comment