Boy, that sure escalated quickly, right? With most of the free world in either government-mandated or self-imposed quarantine, and the watch industry in a collective tailspin due to the sales and manufacturing havoc wreaked by the Corona virus, there’s a spooky air of “now what?” looming amidst all the uncertainty.
But here at aBlogtoWatch, we’ve been experts on working from home and social distancing since 2007 — long before it was cool. Remember, we’re watch nerds, right? Even if you’re new here, though, you probably know the basics already: Wash those hands, look after your neighbors (but keep your distance), and read on to discover how team ABTW is passing the time — literally and figuratively — as we all just wait for this whole thing to blow over.
ARIEL ADAMS: Seiko Prospex ‘King Turtle’ ref. SRPE05
Once again, I’ve found myself gravitating toward eye-catching tool-style diver’s watches and modern Japanese timepiece creations — all well-made pieces with practical underpinnings. From the former camp, I’ve been wearing watches like the Oris Aquis Date, Ball Hydrocarbon Original, Carl F. Bucherer ScubaTec, and Marathon GSAR. As for Japanese watches, I’ve been wearing Orient Star, Seiko King Turtle, Casio G-Shock, and Citizen Calibre 0100.
What Ariel’s reading: I recently finished re-reading what is probably my favorite book of all time, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole. This time around, I realized the main character’s Mickey Mouse wristwatch is mentioned more than once in the novel. Like everyone else, I’m also reading the local news daily to see how everyone else is handling working from home (something that I’ve been accustomed to for over a decade now).
What Ariel’s learning: I make learning a regular part of what I am doing, often via audiobooks. I’m currently listening to a modern history of immigration into Europe and how it has affected culture according to one worldview. In general, I spend a lot of time studying contemporary economic issues in Europe and around the world as it directly impacts the watch industry. I am also studying up on various house renovation techniques so that I can have just a bit of credibility acting as my own general contractor. Next on my list to listen to is a university lecture series on chemistry. From time to time, I get a chance to sit down and learn something new in Photoshop or another piece of media-editing software.
DAVID BREDAN: Breitling Exospace B50 ‘Yachting’
I’ll be wearing my trusty Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting, while also trying to get in as many 2020 novelties to review as I possibly can!
What David’s playing: I started building my LEGO Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collector’s Edition reference 75192 — the watch industry wants its naming scheme back, LEGO! — in December. I’m about one-third of the way to putting all its 7,541 parts together. When not doing that, you’ll find me escaping from Tarkov in a squad with a childhood friend of mine, connected over Skype.
What David’s reading: I hope to finally get to read Kimi Raikkonen and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biographies, a book on Formula 1’s history, and yet once again, Lost Illusions by Balzac (a long-time favorite, once I’m through the first 30-40 pages). Then, if time allows, I’ll refresh my economics studies, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. And when all those are done, maybe I’ll dig into my horological library… I’m sure you’ll understand that if, after eight years I finally had some time off to myself, I would start somewhere else.
What David’s learning: You’ll find me working on my photography and, especially, my videography skills. I have some pretty crazy ideas involving extension tubes and motorized slides… Shame on Fuji Hungary for chickening out of lending me its GFX100 to try — it would have been just the right time to get to know it and maybe upgrade. Besides imagery, I’ll be watching anything and, at some point, everything, on Masterclass.
BILAL KHAN: Eterna Super KonTiki Date
If the original Eterna Super KonTiki was good enough for Nazi-hunting IDF commandos, the re-issue is probably good enough for the West Hollywood Gelson’s in the midst of a pandemic, right?
What Bilal is watching: Better Call Saul is one of the most under-appreciated shows, period. Spinoffs get a bad rap, but I largely prefer it to the original in almost every way. The whole cast is incredible, but the character of Chuck McGill (played by Michael McKean) is absolutely brilliantly written and a truly poignant performance. Even bunkered down during a pandemic, I will watch The Walking Dead as long as it airs, and the show has dramatically improved with Angela Kang at the helm. There’s also a new season of Ugly Delicious on Netflix, which really benefits from David Chang being as good a TV host as he is a chef/restaurateur. Some stuff on the re-watch list: Zodiac, Snowpiercer, King of the Hill (the first seven seasons before Mike Judge and Greg Daniels bounced).
What Bilal is playing: Since playing over 200 hours of Red Dead Redemption 2, I’ve been in a state of frantic indecision on which way to go next. This past week, I’ve sporadically been playing Cuphead, Dark Souls, and Borderlands 3, but none have really held my attention. Maybe I’m just waiting for Doom Eternal?
What Bilal is listening to: The sound of six bottles of Pinot Noir clinking against one another in a bag. I’m also subscribed to a lot of podcasts, most of which are pinko fake news. The Spotify rotation lately has been a heady mix of Slowdive, The Magnetic Fields, My Bloody Valentine, Kate Bush, and Cat Power. I’m really hip and with the times.
What Bilal is reading: I’ve slowly been rereading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon, which is a detective novel set in an alternate history where Sitka, Alaska became home to a huge Jewish population in the wake of World War II. I took a seminar in college on alternate histories (it was a sort of hybrid history/literature class), which is when I first read the novel. These days, I’m pretty frequently bemused and preoccupied thinking about small events and decisions that end up changing the course of history. Seems relevant, somehow.
ZACH PIÑA: Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic ‘True Second’
If the latest virus du jour doesn’t kill us, I’m convinced that a steady stream of bad news delivered directly to our fingertips in the form of push notifications absolutely will. For awhile, I thought that the “proper” watch to wear as we battened hatches and fought strangers for toilet paper would be a G-Shock or a Ploprof. But the last thing this world needs right now in a sea of misinformation, uncertainty, and gallows humor is more brute force. I instead reached for my Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic on Monday morning, timing the pour-over bloom while dissolving sugar for my hummingbird feeder. Clean and unfussy, it tells time with a knowing smile, backed by a long history of scientific precision and progress. With every confident snap of its seconds hand, I am reminded to trust the process. Tick. Tick. Tick. It’s going to be ok.
Zach is watching: I haven’t owned a Playstation since my now-wife and I started dating, but I’ve watched pretty much every pre-launch breakdown video on Doom Eternal, and I’m just not sure I can fight the urge any longer. Assuming I am able, though, Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” is every bit as exceptional as everyone’s been telling you. Heed those recommendations and dive headfirst into this one — you’ve got two seasons to enjoy now that the first few F1 race weekends have sadly been canceled.
Zach is reading: Maybe it was Monster: the Zodiac Killer podcast I recently finished, or just the constant barrage of cancellations and updates on the growing pandemic, but I recently found myself in dire need of a screen break and a mental cleanser. I ordered Soul of an Octopus on a whim from Amazon (likely alongside cat food, CR2032 batteries, and other random oddities), and it fit the bill perfectly. Mixing just the right amount of high-level marine science with arresting real-world encounters, Soul explores the astonishingly complex cognitive world of the octopus — suggesting that the “higher intelligence” we’ve been seeking from extraterrestrial research might have been right here on our big blue planet all along.
Zach is listening to: Luckily, the “shelter in place” order still allows for solo, “no-contact” exercise, so between my first coffee, email catch-up, and subsequent conference calls, I’ve been squeezing in a 90-minute lunch ride — a habit that’s long been a cornerstone of preserving my personal and professional mental health. Rather than list off some obscure podcast or band that you’ve never heard of though, I put together a 90-minute playlist of some of the most recent music that’s been filling my headphones — give it a listen here, and use it for your next run or ride, whether you’re joining me outside, on Zwift, or just at your laptop, writing the next great American novel.
TRAVIS CANNATA: Nodus Avalon
I’ll definitely be rotating through watches I don’t otherwise get to wear often. My Orange Nodus Avalon doesn’t get much wrist time, as it’s often difficult to match. So, why not pop it on while I don’t care who sees me? Also, the Timex Q is a close second. When I went through my Pepsi kick, this was inseparable from my wrist and went with me everywhere. I often find it a bit neglected in lieu of a more universal look. I will definitely be circling back to it during this time.
Travis is playing: I’ll go ahead and be that br0. Call of Duty: Warzone dropped at the opportune time; I decided Apex Legends is just losing its appeal and overall competitiveness. If I’m going to punish myself with the Battle Royale hellscape during my solitary confinement, I feel it should be with something new and exciting. As someone who isn’t typically into the COD franchise, giving it a whirl for a few weeks feels fresh. Also, I guess I really need to finish Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I know, I know — time got away from me, and I’m willing to admit I let it go too early.
Travis is watching: I slept on The Outsider. The eerie adaptation of a relatively popular Stephen King novel about the supernatural murders in a small Georgia town seemed absolutely perfect for me. I let it slide in order to finish Silicon Valley, and subsequently Locke & Key, but I won’t let that happen again. If I get that done in time (and let’s be honest, I will), I’ll finally get around to the last two seasons of Better Call Saul (sorry, Bilal), Hunters, and Castle Rock.
Travis is learning: Like any proper 30-year-old, I’ve taken up a bit of horticulture lately. After binge-learning some of the benefits of clean eating and the “lifestyle” surrounding it, I became interested in starting a small garden in the backyard, and growing some of the easy things. I would in no way consider myself successful at it, but I have found a bit of Zen in the trial and error surrounding the entire practice. And since I’ll have nothing to do outside in public, I can at least be outside in private, doing ridiculous little horticulture things.
AARON SHAPIRO: IWC 3777 Le Petit Prince
Honestly, for the first few days I didn’t even strap a watch on. (Don’t tell any of my editors!) But I quickly realized that choosing, setting, and wearing a watch can help keep a sense of normality in a world that’s currently in upheaval. That being said, I’m gravitating towards my IWC 3777 Le Petit Prince. This watch was somewhat of a “white whale” for me when I bought it; always something I was interested in but I could never quite secure one. I wound up making some pretty tough decisions selling other pieces to acquire this (new from an AD no-less). Once I did, I found that it fits my lifestyle in nearly every way. Quarantine aside it’s generally what I pick these days and sees the most wrist time of them all.
What Aaron’s playing: I’ve always been a 4x Strategy game fan and Steam couldn’t have chosen a better time to put Stellaris on sale. This game really reminds me of the mid-90’s release of Masters of Orion 2, but it’s way more complex. Think top-down strategy aimed at conquering the universe. So, I’m trying to keep my mind (and eyes) off the doom/gloom in the news by sending science vessels to survey uncharted system. Who knows what I’ll find?
What Aaron’s watching: I’m taking this opportunity to restart the Westworld series. With such a long gap between each season, I can’t remember everything that happened in Seasons 1 and 2. With Season 3 starting, I want to make sure I don’t miss any nuance. Apart from that, I’m also keeping up with CBS’s reboot of Jean Luc Picard’s story, Picard. I was extremely cautious in my expectations of this show, but they are doing a really great job in my opinion.
What Aaron’s learning: I recently started a 25-gallon “lagoon-style” saltwater reef tank. I’m learning a lot about coral growth and fish-keeping. Lots of forum-reading and YouTube videos for me. Hopefully, when we come out of this, I’ll have a few happy and healthy fish, as well as a nice crop of mixed corals getting established. Fingers crossed I can still mail-order my supplies over the next couple weeks. Some of the stages of a new tank are somewhat time-critical.
SEAN LORENTZEN: Sean Lorentzen: Speedmaster Professional Mark II
Being stuck at home has given me plenty of opportunities to swap between watches in my collection each day, but the piece I keep coming back to most lately is my vintage 1970 Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II. It’s the rare design that feels both like a product of its time and completely evergreen, with a clean cushion case and unique internal tachymeter bezel that really does feel like a natural evolution of the classic Speedmaster formula. The dial is pure classic Speedy with just the right amount of faded patina, while the hand-wound Caliber 861 movement is a tactile link to over 50 years of Omega history. It’s the vintage sports chronograph experience, distilled, and one of the largest reasons I’m a complete Speedmaster geek.
What Sean’s playing: Although the rocky lootbox-filled launch for this game back in 2017 was historically bad, the resulting two-and-a-half years have seen Star Wars: Battlefront II perform one of the most dramatic comebacks in modern gaming. There’s a truly mind-boggling amount of content to explore here, and there’s something viscerally exciting about exploring the dusty and chaotic streets of Mos Eisley or carving through waves of Rebel scum as Darth Vader himself that speaks to the kid in all of us. It’s one of the most immersive and satisfying Star Wars experiences ever crafted and some of the most fun you can currently have in a multiplayer shooter.
What Sean’s learning: I’m a writer to my core, and when I’m not drafting news for the loyal readers here at aBlogtoWatch, I write short stories and novellas, everything ranging from Cold War-era historical fiction to Lovecraftian horror and beyond. I’ll be taking this time during social distancing to dig further into these stories. In addition, I’m hoping to record my first novelette as an audiobook. Exploring the challenges of voice acting and audio editing has been an exciting change of pace so far.
What Sean’s watching: While I typically bounce among several shows at once, and just completed the excellent Revolutionary War espionage story Turn: Washington’s Spies on Netflix, the show that keeps drawing me back during this difficult and uncertain time is the original ‘60s Star Trek. There’s something about the mix of optimism, camp, and its unwavering dedication to both telling important stories and just being pure fun that doesn’t seem to exist in modern television, and that feels like a warm and comforting blanket at a time like this.
MATT REUDINK: Damasko Dsub3
My newest acquisition, a Damasko DSub3, just arrived yesterday afternoon, and I have a feeling it’s going to be spending a lot of time on my wrist over the next few weeks. Why? Because it’s a fun watch with bright pops of orange that simply makes me happy when I look down at it. It’s a beast of a watch — 44mm of German submarine steel — and is keeping me occupied testing it out on a variety of straps, from Isofrane to NATO-style straps, and I just ordered an Erika’s Originals Black Ops strap.
What Matt’s watching: Netflix has some outstanding foreign language shows that I’ve been devouring recently. Top on the list is the dark French mystery Black Spot (“Zone Blanche”), followed closely by the mind-bending time travel show, Dark, and the chilly and chilling Icelandic mystery, Trapped. Next Up in the queue are The Valhalla Murders (Iceland) and Twin Murders: The Silence of the White City (Spain).
What Matt’s reading: I can’t think of a better time to hunker down with a good book. I just finished Cold Storage by David Koepp (perhaps a bit too on-the-nose at the moment, given that it’s about an ultra-virulent fungus), but I have mysteries by Peter May and Peter Robinson on the bedside table. I’m also digging into a couple of non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to read, including Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari and Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution, by Menno Schilthuizen.
What Matt’s listening to: I’m a huge audiobook addict, and the absolute best way to listen to audiobooks is by downloading the Libby app to access thousands of titles from your library. For free. Seriously, it’s amazing, and all you need is your library card. Recently, I’ve been on a Scandinavian mystery kick with Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankel. For podcasts, I’ve been listening to the Two Broke Watch Snobs for a weekly dose of irreverent humor and watch talk. Other podcasts in my queue include: Hunted, Passenger List, A Whisperer in the Darkness, Lore, and my all-time favorite, The Drabblecast.