Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A New Classic - Victorinox Swiss Army Infantry Chronograph

I've been after a new watch for a while, however decent time pieces can be a trifle pricy. So, the idea was put off as none essential and I soldiered on with my slightly embarrassing Sekonda.

Step in my dearly beloved wife. I hit the ripe old age of 38 last week - not a milestone I particularly wanted to celebrate. The Mrs, Hanna, lives in Copenhagen and I'm stuck in London for the forceable future. On the day I grumpily went in to the office as normal and thought no more of it. 

Well, my other half flew in last Wednesday and, after the obligatory shower of kisses, started to make vague hints about some sort of belated birthday surprise. In short this is how I found myself in the Victorinox flag ship store in Bond Street the following morning.

Victorinox Infantry Chronograph

Being Swedish, my beloved is a terribly efficient sort and had done extensive research it to the best available watches for a budget of under £500. Victorinox came up as the best answer, offering precision made Swiss chronographs at pretty respectable prices.

The range that caught her attention was Maverick - quite chunky contemporary time pieces with a large face. They look fantastic but as I have the wrists of a 16 year old girl they didn't quite work for me.

Victorinox Infantry Chronograph

Perhaps predictably I was immediately taken with the Infantry Chronograph range - as the name suggests the pieces are inspired by WWII era military watches. (As a cavalryman I'll ignore the fact they've named it after the infantry..)

Quite small by modern standards the watches sport a Ø 40 mm face and are outfitted with a Ronda 5030-D quartz movement. 
It displays three counters on the dial, as well as traditional pushbuttons to the right of the case middle on each side of the protected crown.

Victorinox Infantry Chronograph

The chronograph functions allow for 1/10th of a second precision timing and a small second and 30-minute counter.
Available in series of finishes I opted for the white face with a tan leather strap. If you're clumsy like me the tough scratch resistant sapphire crystal glass and stainless steel casing will see you right for years. 

The movement is not automatic, so you'll have to change the battery as needed but that's it.

For the money, £450, this is a quality Swiss watch that will last a lifetime.

Check out the range here.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Buzz Rickson 1942 HBT Trousers

Summer is here.. even in England. A good thing,  however my trusty 19oz Pike Brothers jeans are getting a my legs a little too toasty. I do have lighter denim, but to give me a break from indigo I began looking for something different.

Buzz Rickson's Herringbone Twill 1942 Trousers

Herringbone Twill (HBT) is just as rugged as denim. So much so that the material was widely used by WW2 era militaries for their uniforms.

Introduced by the Americans in 1941 to replace denim working dress, US HBT uniforms are still widely reproduced - today the best by far are the stitch-for-stitch recreations offered by Buzz Rickson's. 

Buzz Rickson's Herringbone Twill 1942 TrousersBuzz Rickson's Herringbone Twill 1942 Trousers

So, for me, they were the natural place to start for an alternative to denim. Buzz Rickson's produce HBT trousers in several different patterns. I opted for the US Army 1942 version.

Made from high quality, military spec HBT, Rickson's argue that they feel and wear like a wartime original.

Buzz Rickson's HBT 1942 Trousers - coin pocket

Buzz Rickson's don't appear to have the '42 pattern on their site any more. However, they now do a '41 US Marine Corps (USMC) version.

The '42 Army pattern differs in that obviously they don't sport the USMC logo on the back pocket, have army buttons and a natural white twill lined waist band. Rather than utilitarian patch pockets they sport smarter sash pockets - including a coin pocket.

Buzz Rickson's HBT 1942 Trousers

So they don't feel too military - useful if you don't want to look like you're about single-handedly re-take Guadalcanal.

Confusingly these trousers, in cut and detailing, are exactly like the first 1941 pattern that gradually replaced pre-war denim fatigues, so I'm not sure why they're billed by Rickson's as 1942.

There were several shades of Olive Drab (OD) used over the years, and these are in the early war lighter sage green shade.

Buzz Rickson's Herringbone Twill 1942 Trousers

In any case, several patterns were worn widely until the end of the war - soldiers just sported what they were issued by the QM. So, unless you're a geeky re-enactor and get het up about such things, you need not worry.

As with several other items of military clothing their rugged utility, mixed with a pinch of nostalgia, give them an enduring stylishness that transcends the garment's original function as a working uniform. Simply put, for chaps seeking an excellently made vintage inspired pair of trousers, these are for you.

I found mine from Burg & Schild in Berlin, one of the city's best shops for quality denim and heritage menswear - and they still have a few pairs left. I urge you to go and visit these guys if you're in town, however if you can't make it the trousers are available online here.

(With thanks to Thomas at Burg & Schild for all the help. Pix ©Burg & Schild.)