All posts in “New”

This Iconic American Brand Just Introduced Its Boldest, Most Affordable Watch Yet

Shinola is a rising name as an American maker of gear, including watches, as well as for its mission of bringing manufacturing back to Detroit. Affordable and stylish has long been part of the brand’s approach, and the new Detrola collection of colorful and fashionable watches is Shinola’s most affordable line yet.

The Detrola collection, debuting today, is a new take on Shinola’s signature watch design. High-grade resin cases make the Detrola lightweight and durable but also offes nearly endless color options — and many of the new models are intensely vibrant. Readers should be reminded that while “resin” is a nicer way of saying “plastic,” plastics science has come a long way, and it offers a range of practical properties — in addition to (often) being economical to produce. The particular resin Shinola used is called TR90.

TR90 can also be transparent, and a very cool touch is that the case backs for some of the new Detrola models offer a view of the quartz movement inside. Made from Swiss parts, the Argonite 705 movement is assembled by Shinola in Detroit and housed in a steel core. At launch, there are seven total variants available, each in different colors with 43mm cases water-resistant to 50m. A scratch-resistant K1 mineral crystal tops it off, and each watch comes on a quick-release silicon band.

Priced at $395, the new Shinola Detrola is limited to 250 units per variant and available directly from the brand.

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Timex X Todd Snyder Military Watch ($138)
Junghans Max Bill Quartz ($495)
Defakto Vektor (~$739)

The $200 Headphones That Punch Way Above Their Weight

The headphone industry has reason to be happy in 2019. With Q1 sales of over $5.9 billion, consumer appetite for the personal audio category has never been stronger. Wireless headphones have led the charge, outperforming all other categories with a staggering 40-percent increase in global sales. The news, however, for on-ear and over-gear headphones has not been as rosy with single-digit levels of growth; the silver lining for manufacturers of luxury headphones is that the average sale price has risen to almost $130 pair.

Consumers are buying more expensive headphones from brands like Audeze, Sennheiser, HiFiMan, Grado and Beyerdynamic, but the market remains focused on brands like Sony, Bose and Apple who are commanding significant market share with their wireless IEM products. An outlier in this mix of global brands has been upstart 1More with their affordable Triple-Driver IEMs and Triple-Driver Over-Ear model that made our recent luxury headphones buying guide.

The Triple Driver Over-Ear have been favorably reviewed by every major headphone publication; their overall performance for $200 makes them a tremendous value in a category dominated by similar products that are 2x or 3x the price. Like many brands, 1More manufactures all of its products in China which has made it possible for them to keep their products affordable.

If you want a pair of audiophile-level headphones that works well with your smartphone and doesn’t need a separate headphone amplifier, the Triple-Driver Over-Ear are a great pair of over-ear headphones — especially for the value.

1More has built a pair of travel headphones that are built to last; my personal pair have survived dozens of plane trips and weekly train commutes from New Jersey to New York and Maryland. The Over-Ear have a stainless-steel and leather headband, along with rotating leather cushioned ear cups, that fits comfortably and then folds compactly when you’re done listening to them.

If you have a large head (like myself), the adjustability of the headband is a major plus. The closed-back design makes them a smart choice for commuting and airplane travel; the ear cups achieve an above-average seal so the level of leakage is acceptably low (you don’t want people to hear what you’re listening, too. On the downside, the earcups aren’t replaceable and the size might be an issue for those with large ears.

Detachable headphone cables are more common with more expensive headphones and 1More provides an excellent sounding copper detachable cable with the Over-Ear model; a feature that has saved them on numerous occasions from my less than elegant arm movement. The 52-inch length of the headphone cable is longer than what is supplied by most manufacturers and gives you some slack if your playback device is tucked away. One negative is the absence of an in-line mic and controls on the supplied cable; which is somewhat ironic as 1More includes this feature on their less expensive Triple-Driver IEMs.

The Triple-Driver have three advanced drivers including a 40 mm titanium dynamic driver, ceramic tweeter, and bass reflector. The 32-ohm impedance makes them smartphone-friendly, and while they certainly sound better connected to the new DragonFly Cobalt DAC/Headphone amplifier from AudioQuest, the 1More offer a very balanced sounding presentation that is consistent with most smartphones via their 3.5mm stereo connection.

While not the last word in bass response, the Triple-Driver Over-Ear offer a fairly detailed sounding presentation with a slight bump in the mid-bass. Vocals are clean sounding thanks to a neutral midrange and their overall tonal balance makes them a solid option for most types of music. If you’re looking for analytical sounding studio headphones, the 1More will not be your cup of tea; they are also not as warm sounding as the Master & Dynamic MH40 ($249).

In a market filled with over-achieving audiophile headphones like the HiFiMan Sundara ($349), and sub-$300 wireless earbuds from Sony and Bose, the 1More Triple-Driver Over-Ear headphones offer a lot of performance for only $200.

The Best Retro Tech to Still Hunt for Today

It’s easy to understand the appeal of heirloom watches, classic cars, or vintage clothes, but it can be harder to imagine how gadgets and gear more broadly classified as “technology” can have usefulness that stands the test of time. Old computers are a fun novelty, but you’ll be hard-pressed to use them in any remotely modern way. Smartphones from as little as seven or eight years ago are often worthless as anything more than paperweights. But there are exceptions to the rule, bits of gear that work just as well — if not better — today, albeit perhaps a little differently. Here are some examples.

Buckling Spring Keyboards

Photo: Wikipedia

If you’ve ever thought about how computer keyboards used to be louder and clickier back in the day, chances are you’re thinking of the venerated Model M. These classic beige beasts were included with IBM PCs starting back in the 1980s and sport a unique “buckling spring” design unlike what you’ll find in a modern keyboard, even a mechanical one. The Model M may be old, it’s not obsolete. Enthusiasts collect, restore, modernize, and even sell these pieces of computer history, and you can use one with your laptop, if you’re willing to pay the price.

Old School Stereo Recievers

There’s no shortage of new hi-fi audio equipment, but classic Marantz equipment from the 70s is not only still functional but still desirable. Not only do Marantz receivers have retro flair, but they offer incredible sound and have stood the test of time for decades already. Models like the Marantz 2270 will cost a pretty penny nearly 50 years on, and you can expect to pay over $1,000 for one, but you can also expect it to be the last stereo you’ll ever need to buy.

Film Cameras

Photo: Japan Camera Hunter

Digital cameras are absolutely terrific, even if the ability to see a picture right after you’ve taken it seems old hat after several decades of dominance. But good old-fashioned film cameras still have their charm, not only thanks to the long, long legacy of film photography and development, but also because they can do things that a digital camera could never dream of—like shooting with no battery power required. There is a whole army of vintage cameras worth exploring, depending on your price range, your preferences, and your access to film, but the Fuji GW690III is a great place to start thanks to its hefty build quality, price, and the size of its negatives.

CRT Displays

Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum

The modern TV and monitor market is obsessed with size and resolution. The age of 8K is on the horizon. But if you’re trying to recapture the warm, fuzzy visuals of classic retro gaming, that added resolution is only going to make your NES graphics look uncanny. If you want authentic visuals, you’re going to need scanlines, those faint, classic, horizontal stripes that define the pre-digital picture of cathode ray tube TVs. CRTs are, for the most part, out of production but plenty of old models are still floating around. Among the various choices, vintage gamers often point to the Sony Triton as an option worth hunting for. And in addition to those beautiful lines, you’ll also have all the retro ports you need to plug in your old Sega Genesis with no need to fiddle with adapters.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Rolex GMT Master Was Featured in One of the Best Movies of All Time. And It’s for Sale

Today seems to be a “cool Rolexes” kind of day. Thought to be lost to time (so to speak), the Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675 worn by Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now,” Francis Ford Coppola’s incredible adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” set during the horrors of the Vietnam War, has surfaced and is hitting the auction block on December 10th. Phillips’s “Game Changers” auction “will be a tightly curated thematic auction dedicated to watches owned by extraordinary people who are considered “game changers” in their fields.”

Interestingly, the watch has no bezel, as Brando removed it during filming when someone remarked that the watch seemed too clean to belong to his character. Otherwise, it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill (though beautiful) matte-dial reference 1675 Rolex GMT Master, though — and here’s the kicker — this one also happens to be hand-engraved with “M. Brando” on the back, done by the actor himself.

Evidently Brando gifted the watch to his adopted daughter, Petra Brando Fischer, in 1995, after which she in turn have it to her husband in 2003. Following the sale of Paul Newman’s 6239 Daytona, Fischer decided to bring the GMT Master to auction. A portion of the proceeds will go to a foundation set up by the Fischers benefiting children living in hardship due to neglect, poverty or abuse, a cause that Petra says would have been particularly important to her father, who was himself a noted supporter of several charitable causes.

Expect bidding to begin “in the six figures,” according to Phillips.

This Is the Best New Outdoor Gear, According to Experts

While our team headed to Denver’s Outdoor Retailer to check out all the awesome adventure gear to look forward to in 2020, Europe has its own showcase for innovative products called OutDoor by ISPO, which went off last week in Munich. And amongst 203 items in 28 categories, judges chose just four Outstanding OutDoor Award winners. Here’s what caught their attention and is worth keeping an eye out for next year.

Vaude Redmont All-Weather Jacket

Judges loved the sustainability touches in this wind- and waterproof jacket. Vaude eliminated pesticides and herbicides from the organic cotton that forms the building blocks of this coat. All the accents, such as the trims and logo, are made of certified cork, keeping with the earth-friendly trend. Plus, the jacket looks great on city streets and the mountainside.

The North Face Futurelight Jacket

Our team is very familiar with The North Face’s newest technology, Futurelight, thanks to an Aspen ski trip this past winter. It’s no surprise that this waterproof yet breathable coat won at OutDoor by ISPO. Nano-spinning technology changes the level of breathability throughout the jacket, keeping it comfortable and waterproof through winter storms and sweaty uphills.

Petzl Mountaineering Belt Fly

Petzl’s newest harness aims to please ski mountaineers. The combination of metal and conventional buckles is both balanced and lightweight at just 90 grams. The comfort foam is removed to make more space for gear loops that will hold your ice axes, ropes, carabiners and more.

Adidas Terrex Myshelter Parley Jacket

This Adidas jacket passes muster with us too thanks to its cowl-like collar and beautifully tapered fit. The all-white three-layer piece is breathable (surprise!) and built to keep you dry during your commute. OutDoor by ISPO judges liked the blend of performance fabric with a lifestyle cut and design, plus the Parley sustainability mission means ocean plastic makes up at least part of this jacket.

9 Essential Grooming Products for the Frequent Flyer

Unless you’re traveling business class on a long-haul flight, you’re left to your own devices when it comes to in-flight grooming. It’s not like you’re planning a mid-air shave (razors and turbulence don’t mix), but it is the ideal time to give your skin extra hydration, your hair a pinch more lift, your breath a refresh and to check any eye baggage.

Mile-high grooming is a shortcut to landing on the right foot and rolling right into any scenario, be it a work meeting with added confidence, or a rejuvenating vacation mode.

Here are our favorite products to pack along — all carry-on friendly, and all water-less so that you don’t have to use that iffy airplane bathroom faucet.

Use them in this order, too.

Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer

New to Dr. Bronner’s assortment, this lavender-oil hand sanitizer neutralizes germs without drying out the skin. Just as the brand is confident in its soap as an all-purpose cleanser, they tout this sanitizer as child-friendly — even for the kid’s dirty face. That seems a little like a stretch, for you or any child, so we’ll still include a facial cleansing device below. But be sure to start your mid-air regimen with a disinfecting dose of sanitizer, since you’re in essentially traveling inside a bacteria incubator.

Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

For post-gym or mid-flight, Ursa Major’s face wipes are as essential as they claim to be. They have four functions, in fact: removing grime and dirt, cooling and hydrating the skin, balancing oil production and gently ridding of dead skin cells — thus brightening your complexion. They’re the easy solution to not splashing any sink water onto your mug, plus they take up little room in your dopp.

Jack Black Eye Balm De-Puffing and Cooling Gel

Now more than ever, your eyes need a remedy. When you combine the skin-dehydrating cabin with the exhaustion of travel, you land looking hungover and feeling every bit as groggy. Jack Black’s roll-on eye gel is a hydrating and vitamin-rich product that neutralizes puffiness and brightens dark circles within the first minutes. It cools to the touch, and you can feel your eyes firming up almost instantly, too.

Cardon Daily SPF and Moisturizer

After cleansing your face and applying eye gel, it’s time to moisturize. Cardon’s hydrator comes with SPF 30, so it’s doubly defensive, and the inclusion of cactus extract helps cool and calm skin; it’s terrific as a post-shave moisturizer, too, should you require that on your travels. This travel-friendly 1.2-ounce container goes a long way, and allows you to tote it in your day-time bag, too, for SPF or hydration re-apps on the ground.

Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

The entire industry is in awe of Fenty, which offers 50 different concealer tones. Find the one that matches your skin using the brand’s digital shade finder, then tote it everywhere in the event of blemishes or irritation. A small dab, post moisturizer, blends right into your natural skin tone, and it gives you the certainty that nobody will study the red bump above your eye.

Boka Brush

Alright, so this one technically requires water, but you’re 100 percent not using any from the tap, because you’d never put that water in your body. Instead, you can request a small cup from the service staff, or bring in your own water bottle.

And leave the brush-charging station at home, because Boka’s electric toothbrush lasts 25 days without a top off. Its heads are designed for 3-month use, for which you can enroll in automatic replenishment, too. I prefer to tote the head in a separate small baggie, to isolate it from everything else, then reattach it for use, and for air-drying in the hotel later. If there’s a line building up behind you, then the brush’s 2-minute timer might feel a little excessive tacked onto the rest of your regimen, but you could always stop it short once you get a good enough clean. Don’t forget to pack your preferred toothpaste!

DedCool Mint ChazStick Lip Balm

After hours in the sky, your lips are likely the first thing to feel dry; that’s because the skin there is thinner and more susceptible to these types of changes in their environment. DedCool’s oil-infused, aloe-packed, mint-scented, shea-butter lip balm is the post-brushing, post cleansing fix that restores them to their happy, hydrated state and shields them from further dry-air aggression.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Body Builder

If your hair is of stylable length, then save the touch-up until after your face regimen, so that you don’t end up patting any hair product into your skin. Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day spray is like a reset on your style, which has likely turned greasy and limp through the long flight. It adds volume and texture, kind of like a hair paste or fiber in any other setting. Simply spray it on, massage it into place with your fingers or a comb, and walk off the plane with soft, touchable, textured hair, unlike every other passenger who is desperate for a shower.

Byredo Eleventh Hour Hair Cream

If you’ve got that face wipe on hand, then now’s the time to remove any excess product buildup from your mitts. You can leave the bathroom and follow it with another hand sanitizing, before sitting in your seat and applying Byredo’s scented hand cream. This one has subtle notes of bergamot, cashmere woods, fig and tonka beans, but it won’t overwhelm your seatmates. Instead, it gives your dehydrated and product-slogged hands a chance to recover, with the added benefit of a cooling, uplifting tingle.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

You Want a Trackball, You Just Don’t Know It Yet

For decades, the standard set of tools for computing has been more or less set in stone. When you sit at a desk, you use a keyboard for typing in words and you use a mouse to point and click things. If you have a laptop, maybe you use its touchpad. If you’re really out there, you might use a Magic Trackpad or its equivalent. And that’s fine! It’s OK to be normal, but if you really want to the next level of comfort and productivity at your desk, it’s time to put away childish things and upgrade. My friend, you should be using a trackball.

Trackballs, while a little tough to get the hang of, are rarer than they should be. And they’re more comfortable, more useful, more efficient and dare I say cooler than every alternative, and now that I’ve seen the light after years of missing out, I’ll never go back. If you make the switch, and you should, you’ll see what I mean. Let me make the case.

The Case Against the Venerable Mouse

For all their popularity, there are a ton of reasons not to use a traditional mouse. First and foremost is the ergonomics. Do you ever get pain in your wrist after a long stint at the computer? I know I used to, and if you’re using a standard mouse, it’s no wonder. It might feel like you are in a resting state, but various parts of your hand and arm are actually tense. If you hold your mouse with a so-called “claw” grip, muscles on the back of your hand are too. Worse yet, standard mouse posture, with your palm parallel to the desk, keeps your forearm in a perpetually twisted state. Twisting your wrist to the left or right as you point and click can cause further stress. Also, you may not have it (yet), but “mouse elbow” is real.

One solution to this problem is a vertical mouse which holds your wrist in a better position like the Logitech MX Vertical. But even a vertical mouse requires precious acreage on your desk. Unless your sensitivity is through the roof, you’ll always need a decent amount of room to slide the dang thing around, lift it up, set it down and then slide it around again. And if a glass of water or can of soda encroaches on that space, you’re asking for trouble.

Standalone trackpads, with their stationary footprint, are an improvement and can offer some fun gesture controls depending on your computer’s operating system, but come with their own downsides. All that swiping and tapping can still tweak your wrist and, worst of all, clicking and dragging becomes a true nightmare. If only there were a way to solve all of these problems at once…Surprise, there is! It’s called a trackball.

Why You Should Try a Trackball Instead

Completely stationary, a trackball lets you dial in a comfortable, relaxed position and keep it all day every day while simultaneously freeing up your desk for mugs, post-its, chargers — whatever you want. There are a wide variety of vastly-different trackballs, so you have creative license to figure out which model works best for you.

The choice between designs that offer a small ball you control with your thumb or a larger ball you operate with your index or pointer gives you a variety of control options and ergonomic setups the world of mice just can’t match. What’s more, trackballs virtually all include a wealth of extra, programmable buttons to customize to your various needs. To top it all off, they’re uncommon, exotic and, by this nerd’s definition, even cool.

Kensington Expert Wireless

My first trackball

• Ambidextrous design
• Four programmable buttons
• Physical scroll wheel
• Included wrist wrest
• Wireless connection by Bluetooth or USB

Price: $75

I started exploring trackballs after a bout of ulnar wrist pain that dogged me constantly and would flare up after long days at the office. Sitting stationary at your desk all day isn’t ideal for fitness, but maintaining a comfortable and healthy posture is crucial to your arm and joint health while you are doing it. And if you don’t have a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) or similar pain from your time with a mouse, good! But it’s worth being proactive to avoid. If you don’t believe me, just ask the guy who invented Kirby.

The first trackball that I bought was the Kensington Expert Wireless ($75), and it was for the extremely shallow reason that I liked the way it looked, but it turns out to have a whole host of other features that make it appealing. I’m righthanded, but its symmetrical design makes it a rare option that also works for lefties. And while folks swear by trackball models that put a smaller, marble-sized ball under your thumb, but I instantly fell in love with the cue-ball design that lets me pilot my pointer with my more dexterous index and middle fingers. Switching overtook a little bit of getting used to, a few weeks of minor fumbling with the cursor, but the improvement in comfort was immediate and extreme. It was love.

Once I got acquainted with my Kensington, I knew I would never go back, but I did want to go forward and explore more. For all its appeal, the Expert Wireless has a few flaws that were a particular problem for me. Chiefly, instead of any sort of scroll wheel, it has a scroll ring that loops around the ball. It’s a joy to spin around and around and around, but it requires just enough wrist movement that it still can cause me a bit of pain. And while its included wrist rest works well enough, its relatively flat design left a little to be desired. So I decided to dig a little deeper.

That’s when I discovered the Elecom Huge ($55), a common sight on Reddit’s haven for trackball nerds. With its mitten-shaped design, it’s almost obscenely comfortable to use, and the thumb-mounted left-click button and traditional scroll wheel mean that I never have to move my wrist at all — a small improvement that feels almost magical in practice.

Elecom Huge

My current trackball

• Hand-shaped ergonomic design
• Eight programmable buttons
• Physical sensitivity switch
• Wildly comfortable sculped palmrest
• Wireless connection by Bluetooth or USB

Price: $55

The buttons on the Elecom Huge are, frankly, a little bit overkill. In addition to left and right click, the Huge has three programmable function buttons, a scroll wheel that clicks in and tilts up and down and forward and back buttons for your browser. Without the help of third party software (I use a program called Steermouse), you won’t be able to reprogram them all, but you’d be hard-pressed to come up with uses for each. So far, having a copy and paste buttons within finger’s reach has been my particular joy.

But what I think I love most about the Huge is its amazing aesthetic. Your mileage may vary when it comes to style, but for my money, it’s a sharp, neo-Thinkpad antidote to the theoretically-all-white-but-eventually-dingy aesthetic of Apple’s hegemonic peripheral mice and keyboard. Its swooping palmrest and the ruby red crown jewel, which is surrounded by an army of buttons, make the Huge seem more like something you’d use to pilot a spaceship than a mouse cursor. It’s a visibly strange and specialized tool, but it’s one that I’ve learned to master. Also, it gives me a nerdy but endless sense of satisfaction whenever I lay hands on it.

That, I think, is perhaps my best argument for trying a trackball. Or at least it’s my favorite. For cubicle cowboys and desk jockeys, it’s easy for an unassuming computer to melt into the background with whatever mouse and keyboard you were assigned by IT. And if that’s not a problem for you, great! But the right keyboard, the right trackball, can give you a sense of ownership and agency that adds a spark of joy to your day when you sit down to get to work. You’re not just using any computer, you’re using your computer, tricked out just how you like. Yes, it’s a nerdy endeavor, but you’re sitting there all day either way. Might as well be comfortable, and maybe even have a little fun.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

These 5 Awesome New Bike Products Will Transform Your Next Ride

Outerbike is a combination of a trade show, a trailhead tailgate and one of those dreams in which you have all the toys you’ve ever wanted and your only worry in the world is wondering which to play with first. Unlike other industry events, Outerbike lets attendees demo the bikes, not just look at them, which makes it a great place to go if you’re interested in picking up a new mountain or gravel bike.

Sun Valley, site of the most recent iteration of the event, offers great riding and a real chance to see what a bike can do. Attendees get lift tickets, lunch, happy hours and unlimited access to the trails for three days. If you’re thinking of getting a new mountain bike, it’s the place to go. If you missed Sun Valley, don’t worry, there are three more events this year. Meantime, here are the five coolest things we saw this past weekend.

Cannondale Topstone

Cannondale’s latest gravel offering picks up the slack between their value-driven alloy Topstone and the shreddy-but-heavy Slate. The Topstone Carbon builds in 30mm of rear suspension using carbon flex and a pivot that Cannondale calls the “Kingpin.” A compliant handlebar, wide tire clearance and a range of bottle cage and accessory bolts (that are actually weight bearing and not just flimsy rivnuts) make this bike a great choice for gravel racing, light bikepacking and comfort commuting. We tested it on trails and dirt roads and it feels fast!

Open WI.DE Frameset

Open more or less invented the gravel bike with the groundbreaking UP a few years ago. Now the brand is reinventing it with the huge clearances on their newest drop-bar adventure bike. WI.DE stands for “winding detours” and that is where Open wants you to go with their new frameset. Clearance for 2.4-inch tires means you can shred singletrack, but a road crank means you can efficiently cover ground in your road position. This isn’t a road race bike or a mountain bike — it’s a little bit of both, and it looks like a lot of fun.

Pivot Shuttle – Race Build

Long travel bikes are great, but they suck to ride uphill. E-bikes are also great, but some aren’t designed as bikes as much as small motorcycles. Pivot makes awesome mountain bikes and added a motor to their trail bike to create the Shuttle, a bike that powers up the trail and shreds down, meaning you don’t have to pile into a smelly van to get to the starting line. With 29-inch wheels, 160mm of plush travel and a weight of 44.75 pounds, this bike is an endure ripper that just happens to have an electric boost — not a moped with some token suspension. If you’re interested in bigger lines and rougher trails but don’t want to drive back uphill, this might bike ticks all the boxes. Yes, it’s pricy, but some of the $7,899 price tag is amortized by potential savings on lift passes and/or beers for the poor person who would be shuttling you otherwise.

Rotor 1x 13

Rotor’s new 1×13 groupset is more than just an incremental step past the existing 11- and 12-speed standards. Why? Because a 2×11 setup has 13 unique combinations, meaning that you can get the same range and the same jumps as most existing road bikes without a front derailleur on Rotor’s new system. The closed hydraulic system will never need charging and won’t ever suffer from cable stretch. The system does use its own hub and offers four cassette sizes from 10-36 to the enormous 20-52 as well as chainrings in two tooth increments from 26-54t.

Moots ROUTT YBB

Moots bikes might have a timeless look thanks to their largely round tube titanium construction, but they’ve got much more to offer than classic looks. The ROUTT YBB uses a “softtail” micro suspension that ’90s mountain bikers will recognize. Mountain bikes have moved on, but for gravel bikes, the 20mm of rear axle travel might be perfect for taking the sting out of long days, especially when combined with the huge 700x45mm tire clearance. Also making a comeback, thankfully, is a threaded bottom bracket that shouldn’t creak like many press fit designs on modern bikes. Moots is offering select builds for 2019; these options promise a faster build and delivery time than their standard bespoke builds while still allowing buyers to upgrade everything from the groupset to the decals to make their bike unique.

The Best Thing About This Speaker Isn’t Just How It Sounds

The high-end British audio company Naim Audio makes some of the best audiophile-grade wireless speaker systems you’re likely to find. Its Mu-so range, consisting of the Mu-so and smaller Mu-so Qb, is also notable for the huge glowing volume dial on top of both speakers. If you’re a big fan of volume dials and love some great “knob feel,” then the Mu-so speakers and their associated dial are simply as good as it gets.

Earlier this year, Naim Audio announced the Mu-so 2 ($1,599), which is second-generation version of the original Mu-so ($999) that was released roughly five years ago. Though the two speakers look strikingly similar the Mu-so 2 has been totally gutted and revamped. It has six, new, individually amplified drivers, a new processor with 10 times the power, the ability to stream tracks up to 32bit/384kHz, support for AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, support for Tidal, Spotify Connect, Roon, and Bluetooth, all topped off with HDMI ARC and optical connections so you can use it as a soundbar. And yes, also a new volume dial.

The new dial on the Mu-so 2 has an entire new interphase and more functionalities, including 15 touch sensitive buttons to quickly play favorite playlists or switch inputs. Its famed “halo” light that forms a ring around the dial now has a proximity sensor and automatically lights up when you hover your hand over it. It’s undoubtedly the coolest thing on the whole speaker.

On the Mu-so’s volume dial, the new interphase allows you to save playlists from Spotify or Tidal, or even radio stations. This way you can play music without needing to pull out your smartphone or open your computer.

Simon Matthews, the design director at Naim Audio, is one of the main brains behind all of Naim Audio’s products. I was able to chat with him about the new Mu-so 2, as well as what makes what I consider to be one of the coolest volume dials in all of speakers, so special.

The below interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: How did you look to improve the volume dial on Mu-so 2?
A: Well, firstly, it’s important to say that we certainly set the bar high with the original Mu-so’s volume dial. Customers have really expressed with enthusiasm that they love our tactile, well-executed volume dial and that it delivers precision and pleasure in equal measure in use. There is a very funny and equally disturbing Youtube review of the volume know of gen 1 Mu-so called ‘knob feel review.’ It’s had 100,000 hits. Watch it at your own discretion, here.

So although we really nailed the principle of an oversized, bearing driven and highly responsive volume dial, with all product user interface elements internally located, for Mu-so 2 we completely redesigned all the elements from the ground up. Firstly, we needed to do this to accommodate all the new features and connectivity that Mu-so 2 offers over the original Mu-so. Secondly, we wanted to get closer to the iconic design language of volume control on our $270,000 Statement amplifier. So now we have an acrylic cylinder, mirrored on the inside, which transmits light magically from deep in the product to create a very distinctive ‘halo’ design language which clearly differentiates the Mu-so 2 from what has come before.

Naim Audio Mu-so 2

Key specs

Speaker: wireless multiroom stereo speaker system
Drivers: six drivers; six 75-watt Class D amplifiers
Total power: 450 watts
Connectivity: Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast Built-in, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Roon Ready, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, 3.5mm (headphone jack), optical, HDMI ARC

Price: $1,599

Q: Why did you add the proximity sensor?
A: In terms of proximity, it wasn’t a customer-driven requirement but we could see a lot of benefits to the end user. Now the product can present itself as ‘always ready’ and wakes up magically with the waft of a hand. It just feels like there is now one less obstacle between the user and the music that means so much to them.

Q: Are there any volume dials on other speakers or vintage audio components that inspired the Mu-so?
A: For sure, there is a world of sexy volume dials over the years that have stuck in my mind. Dieter Rams’s work tends to be ‘ground zero’ for me in terms of perfection of placement and form. Every designer in the audio industry owes some debt to his groundbreaking work. Jonathan Ives and the development at Apple of the iPod wheel is also an iconic ‘portal’ into a music collection and deserves a round of applause. Beyond audio, I am always inspired by great science fiction and its representation of an exciting future way of living. If a little of the monolith and HAL 900 from 2001 slipped into my subconscious during the design phase then I won’t complain!

Q: What about sensitivity of the volume dial?
A: Sensitivity across both generations is the same. We have 100 discreet step changes with very sophisticated algorithms controlling bass management and loudness to ensure that when the volume changes the character of the song always remains the same. Sensitivity was determined by a complex set of criteria looking at all likely input sources, understanding the gain of our state of the art digital architecture, and mathematically ensuring we always operate within safe boundaries whilst not always respecting the neighbors. In the end, all the science is in service to the music and that’s what gets the Naim R&D team out of bed every day.

Q: In this age of streaming, where most people are either adjusting the volume via an app or using voice commands, what is the importance of Naim’s volume dial?
A: I think that as we take on more and more all digital experiences then it is clear to see that people crave a reaction to this trend, and the “analog” experience of a gorgeous tactile volume dial answers that need beautifully. It appeals to the child in all of us and it’s important we always find time to listen to that child because it’s often when we are our happiest.

The Best American Audio Companies That Are Keeping Passive Speakers Alive

Wireless smart and active loudspeakers have taken a considerable slice of the pie in the past three years; the category generated more than $3.2 billion in revenue in 2018 and has experienced a level of growth not seen since the launch of the iPad and Android-based tablets. But before you stick a fork in passive loudspeakers, it’s worthwhile to point out that the category still generates billions in revenue; passive loudspeakers are also able to deliver superior sound quality at both the entry-level and extreme high-end.

Passive loudspeakers may not represent the future of home audio, but dozens of manufacturers around the globe, and particularly three in the United States, are holding firm: their passive speakers sound better than the vast majority of speakers out there.

Magnepan, Zu Audio, and Spatial Audio are all located in the states and build their products domestically. Each audio company offers something different than the traditional passive loudspeaker you might find in your local Best Buy.

Quality doesn’t come cheap and it should be noted that you can’t drive any of these passive loudspeakers with A/V receivers and expect great sonic results. It’s true that each company has a very different philosophy when it comes to transducer technology but they all share one thing in common; their products offer world-class levels of transparency and resolution that could make you rethink how a loudspeaker is supposed to sound.

Magnepan

Magnepan is an audio company based in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, that has been manufacturing full-range planar loudspeakers for almost forty-eight years. Its planar magnetic loudspeakers — which utilize very low mass, razor-thin film ribbon drivers — have a specific dipole design; there’s no speaker cabinet and the sound radiates from the back and front of the loudspeaker. The effect is that the sound has a level of openness and transparency that you don’t hear from conventional loudspeakers.

Magneplanar speakers utilize a full-range ribbon tweeter and quasi-ribbon driver to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum of sound; the trade-off is that the panel needs to be larger to accurately reproduce mid and low bass information. And you shouldn’t expect subterranean bass from this type of driver. Magneplanar speakers are known for their resolution, speed, clarity, and the illusion of soundstage depth and height. They require space (a minimum of 2-to-3 feet from the wall to allow their sound to really open up) and a very powerful amplifier to work properly; 100-200 watts at a minimum.

Magnepan’s loudspeakers can be surprisingly affordable by high-end standards; the .7 ($1,395) and 1.7i ($1,995+) full-range models are $1,450 and $2,200 respectively, but the new LRS (Little Ribbon Speaker), which retail for $650, offer better sound quality than most loudspeakers below $1,000.

Zu Audio

If Magnepan represents the old guard of American high-end audio, Zu Audio is new money. Based in Utah, the company focuses on full-range single-driver loudspeakers housed in beautifully finished cabinets that don’t require a lot of power. Zu’s product range is comfortable with 5-400 watts of power, but your choice of solid-state, tubes, or class D amplification will have a significant impact on the final sound.

The Omen MK. II loudspeakers ($2,250), for example, are its hook. The 10-inch full-range driver is augmented with a super tweeter and the 36-inch tall cabinets are built to last. Every Zu loudspeaker inspires confidence with its heft and high level of finish quality.

If you’re looking for an audiophile loudspeaker that is overly focused on imaging and soundstage depth, the Omen MK. II is not for you. Zu’s speakers create a wall of sound that flesh out great sounding recordings with midrange punch and a lot of detail; which can also be too much of a good thing with bad ones. A small nitpick is that they are sensitive to placement; a few inches in either direction can have a significant impact on the sound.

Spatial Audio

Spatial Audio is another Utah-based company, but they are better known for their M-series open baffle loudspeakers that have turned a DIY concept into an innovative piece of industrial design; the speakers not only look sleek and expensive, but sound impressive as well.

Open baffle loudspeakers have always had a big following in the DIY audio community; the absence of a cabinet that can negatively interact with the room and drivers, and the ability to experiment with a combination of driver technology are just two of the advantages. The disadvantages include not sounding great in smaller rooms, the need for a relatively large baffle, and not being very forgiving of bad recordings. The reality is that very few have succeeded in bringing this type of loudspeaker to market in a way that most people would consider them for a living room or den.

Spatial Audio builds and assembles its products in-house; its custom full-range drivers are mounted in a 2.5-inch thick multi-layered HDF slab that screams Ikea chic. The M4 Turbo S feature two 12-inch full-range drivers per speaker and are a very amp friendly load. What sets the Spatial Audio products apart from the other designs that have failed over the years are the room-friendly baffles; the M4 Turbo S work well in smaller spaces and the controlled directivity of the drivers minimizes their interaction with the room.

The M4 Turbo S delivers layers of resolution and impressive low-end performance. Their high sensitivity allows them to work with low-powered tube amplifiers, and even moderately powered integrated amplifiers. Their neutral sounding tonal balance makes them a good loudspeaker to experiment with if you want to compare the differences between solid state and tube amplification and they are very spacious sounding.

Give them enough space and drive them with quality amplification and you may not understand how a pair of floor-standing loudspeakers can disappear in a room like a pair of the world’s best bookshelf loudspeakers.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The 3 Best New Coffee Roasts to Try This Month

Seasonality is everything in coffee. So when it comes to choosing the best beans to brew at home, our recommendation is simple: just look to what’s new. Here, three fresh batches from some of the country’s best roasters — Merit, Huckleberry and Blueprint.

Merit Nano Genji

One of the first harvests from a brand new coffee washing station in the heart of Ethiopian coffee country, Merit’s latest is a lightly sweet, bright and floral tribute to coffee’s most-loved origin. Best brewed pour-over.

Origin: Jimma Zone, Ethiopia
Roast Level: Light-Medium

Huckleberry Burundi Gitwe

In her first year on the competitive coffee roasting circuit, Huckleberry’s head roaster Shelby Williamson took America’s top prize: the U.S. Roasting Championship. This new bag, a Trade exclusive, grows for years on Gitwe, a mountain in Africa’s Eastern Rift range before harvest. The roaster’s tasting notes include peach, graham cracker and tangerine.

Origin: Muramvya Province, Burundi
Roast Level: Light-Medium

Blueprint Gamatui Community

The best way to understand the enormous effect processing has on beans is to try a coffee that’s undergone natural processing. Grown on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda, Blueprint’s just-harvested medium roast is the perfect place to start. The beans boast huge sugar and acid content, making for a fruit bomb of a bag (Trade describes it as “deeply reminiscent of your favorite berry-flavored cereal”). The beans are harvested from three coffee plant varietals, including SL34, one of the best plants for coffee quality in the world.

Origin: Kapchorwa, Uganda
Roast Level: Medium

Your Apple Watch Deserves a Strap This Robust

Never leave your Apple Watch behind

Your Apple Watch Deserves a Strap This Robust

<!–

Sponsored

–>


Urban Armor Gear makes some of the sturdiest protective cases and accessories on the market to meet the demands of an active lifestyle. The rugged and innovative designs allow modern wanderers, outdoor enthusiasts, athletes and world travelers to always keep what they need — a phone, a tablet, even a laptop — with them through just about any scenario.

The latest evolution of that dedication to ruggedness is UAG’s Active Strap for the Apple Watch. This is an elevated NATO-style strap made from a high-strength nylon weave that can be fitted to any generation of the Apple Watch. It features custom stainless steel hardware, a hook and loop fastener for outstanding security, and a one-year warranty. No matter how high, low or far you’re going, you can rest assured the Active Strap is up for the challenge.

3 Must-Buy Bourbons, A VR System You’ll Actually Want and Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Tucker Bowe reveals the all-new Oculus Quest VR gaming system; Oren Hartov recounts a trip to Switzerland to study the history of the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch collection; and Will Price philosophizes about – and samples – what makes three specific bourbons his “unicorn” bottles. Plus, our writers weigh in with one solid Mother’s Day gift idea each and J.D. DiGiovanni unveils Just Get This, Gear Patrol’s new one-stop shop for top product recommendations in every category.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Flipboard, where quality content from the world’s best publishers and storytellers of every type is discovered.

Featured Products

Oculus Quest VR Gaming System

Oculus Quest is an all-new, all-in-one VR gaming system. It’s the big brother to the Oculus Go, which is best used for watching videos and live events. Set up the Quest with an app, and everything else is self-contained. Quest comes in two storage sizes: 64GB ($399) and 128GB ($499) and is avaialable now for pre-order.

|

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Collection

Designed and engineered in the early 20th Century to protect watches worn by British officers while playing polo, the Reverso Collection dates back to 1931. The body of a Reverso can be flipped 180 degrees. Original Reversos featured a metal caseback on the side opposite the watch face; contemporary versions may feature a second face like the one shown in this episode.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is next Sunday, May 12. That means you have ample time to shop for a great gift. These are the products our individual experts recommend, but if you want a more complete guide check out The 60+ Best Mother’s Day Gifts of 2019 now.

Featured Suggestions:
ARROW 5 Minute Beauty Kit ($16)
Opinel No10 Corkscrew Folding Knife ($35)
Rancourt & Co Lily Camp-moc ($210)
Sonos One Speaker ($199)
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Just Get This: Our Top Product Recommendations, All In One Place

Just Get This is Gear Patrol’s comprehensive list of the most noteworthy products on the market right now. If you’re in the market for a product and want a top-level recommendation, look no further. For quick and convenient access, check out the main website navigation for a link.

Three Bourbon Favorites

Staff Writer Will Price has a philosophy when choosing bourbons: among other criteria, a bottle must be accessible and affordable, but also special. These three bourbons qualify and then some: Elijah Craig Small Batch, Knob Creek Single Barrel and Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old Green Label.

Watch Now: This Week In Gear, Episode 4

In last week’s episode: Tanner Bowden reviews the all-new, magnet-construction Leatherman Free; Josh Condon rock-crawls in Jeep’s latest concept trucks; Will Price demonstrates Vermicular’s waterless cooking appliance; and Jack Seemer reveals the ultra low-cal now IPA from Dogfish Head. Also in this episode: Meg Lappe gives a one-minute rundown of the JaxJox KettleBellConnect. Watch Now

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here. In some instances, brands have provided access to, or loans of, the products included in this episode.

Citizen Has Made the World’s Most Accurate Light-Powered Watch, Though It Doesn’t Come Cheap

Like most world records, “the world’s most accurate watch” is a moving target and almost always requires some qualification. The technology was announced in 2018, but the wristwatch to contain the super-accurate Citizen Caliber 0100 quartz movement debuted at Baselworld 2019. It’s accurate to within one second per year, powered by light with Citizen’s Eco Drive technology, and prices start at over $7,000.

To put this in perspective, most quartz watches measure their accuracy per month, and even the most accurate traditional mechanical watches measure per day. Citizen beats high-end quartz watches like those from Grand Seiko with estimates of +/- five seconds per year. The difference between five seconds and one second per year might sound insignificant, but consider it five times more precise, and refinements at this level get exponentially more complicated. While some watches use various external sources via the likes of radio signals or internet to regularly synchronize with atomic clocks (and some have even managed to make an atomic clock semi-wearable on the wrist), Citizen can claim to have the most accurate, light-powered, autonomous movement.

The brand explains that one thing they did differently for the Caliber 0100 was to replace the quartz crystal’s typical tuning-fork shape with something called an “AT cut” (previously used in watches only very rarely). This has a number of benefits for stability and resistance to temperature and position changes, but it also oscillates at 8 megahertz rather than the 32 kilohertz of the traditional shape (256 times faster). Citizen goes into the technical details of how it all works in this video, and there’s a lot more cool stuff going on with this watch if you care to put on your nerd glasses.

Citizen combined other technologies such as an integrated circuit designed to correct minor temperature-caused deviations. One cool feature of the new watches is that the brand displays the movement through a case back window, which is very uncommon for quartz watches. The wristwatches containing this remarkable movement measure 37.5mm wide and a thin 9.1mm with 50m of water-resistance. Versions in hardened titanium cases will be priced $7,400 and limited to 200 pieces for a mother of pearl dial and 500 pieces for the black dial model. A white gold case version will cost $16,800, and all will be available in Fall 2019.

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Longines Conquest V.H.P. Watch ($1,300)
Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE227 Watch ($5,600)
Breitling Professional Chronospace Military Watch ($6,110)

We Field-Tested Two Military Watches in the Army and This is What We Found

I’ll be frank: much of the watch-reviewing I get to do happens while I’m sitting at my desk, in a very comfortable office, somewhere in Manhattan. It’s a nice desk. There is coffee. As much coffee as I want…

And yet.

When the opportunity presents itself to actually review a watch in the environment in which it was meant to be worn, I jump on it without thinking twice. Field tests! In an actual field! What could be more appropriate?

Recently, after a few days at the Baselworld Fair, I had the opportunity to test two military field watches (a Marathon Navigator and a Mk II Paradive Gen. 3) during some training with my reserve paratrooper battalion in the IDF. While there was unfortunately no paratrooping to be done, there was plenty of marching in the rain, a healthy amount of live gunfire, and a distinct lack of sleep.

Review

Day 1: At about 11pm on Day 1 of training I found myself standing in the a steady rain, soaked to the core, waiting for a forced march of unknown length to begin. I was glad that I was wearing the Mk. II Paradive, which is water-resistant to 200m and features a screw-down crown and case back. The NATO strap I was wearing it on, a Crown & Buckle Supreme NATO, was thoroughly drenched, but thankfully the watch wasn’t fogging up. The Paradive is a 44.5mm stainless steel diver/field watch modeled after the famed Benrus Type I and II military watches of the 1970s. It features an asymmetric case, sapphire crystal, screw-down crown and case back and multiple bezel options. The version I used was equipped with an aluminum 12-hour bezel and no date.

The second watch I carried was a Navigator from Marathon Watch Co, which I leant to a buddy for testing purposes. Though this model is water-resistant to 6 BAR (roughly 60m), I was admittedly more nervous about it, given its non-threaded crown and snap-on case back. However, after a thoroughly wet night of marching and maneuvers, it proved just as water-resistant as the Paradive, though the Phoenix NATO it was strapped to was definitely waterlogged. Unlike the Paradive, the Navigator features tritium tube illumination on the hands and indices, a Hesalite crystal, a fibershell case and, in my case, a date function. Several different dial and case color options are available.

Day 2: I tried to catch a few winks of sleep after the previous night’s maneuvers, but alas — all my clothing was soaked and I didn’t have spare socks or a uniform top on me, none of which made it easy to catch any Z’s. Plus, sleeping on the floor of a concrete building used for urban warfare simulation is hardly comfortable, especially when said building has no doors or windows to help block out the wind. I found myself checking the Paradive frequently for the time, which advanced ever. so. slowly.

My one gripe with the Paradive is this: the bezel action is much looser than I’d like. I often wear a military-style fleece over my uniform top when it’s in the 50s or 60s outside, and this fleece has built-in lycra-type material that slips over your wrists like a sort of glove for added warmth. If I elect not to slip my thumb through the hole built into this sleeve for said purpose, I can use it as a window through which to view my watch — the only problem being that when I sslide the jacket on and off, this elastic material snags on the watch and is enough to turn the bezel. This would never happen on, say, my Submariner, and I admit that it annoys me. The watch is an utter tank otherwise, and if not for this one gripe, would be all but perfect, to my mind.

The afternoon brings some CQB training (close quarters battle) — for all intents and purposes, urban combat training. The occasional smoke grenade or flashbang goes off, and there is a special operations unit practicing not far from us with what sounds like live fire. For the most part, this part of the day is moderately subdued, and doesn’t involve rolling in thorn bushes or smacking my watch hand into a rock. More of that tomorrow.

Day 3: Finally, some sunshine. It’s still muddy everywhere and my boots are caked in it, making them heavy, but at least it’s moderately warm and bright outside — as it should be in Israel, damnit. I take a look at the Navigator on my buddy’s wrist — he’s a Negev light machine gunner and has to carry around this 17-lb. weapon everywhere he goes, in addition to ammunition. There’s lots of potential for beating the crap out of one’s watch when crawling around with the Negev, and I’m wondering if it’s endured any damage.

I do notice that the Hesalite crystal seems to have gotten a tiny nick in it, but that’s the magic of acrylic — you can buff scratches right out with some Polywatch and a cleaning cloth. There are definitely some tiny nicks in the fibershell case, too, but it’s functioning just fine. After all, with a hi-torque quartz movement and a design specifically meant to function at ultra-high altitudes and during rapid changes in pressure, it’s no surprise that the Navigator deals with some crawling and water without a hitch.

The watch’s 12-hour bezel is bi-directional, and the action just slightly tighter than that of the Paradive. I aligned the 5 o’clock marker on the bezel of both watches with 12 o’clock on the dial, thereby calculating the 7-hour offset with the East Coast of the U.S. for keeping track of time back in NYC.

Overall, though these watches have a very similar design (asymmetric case with 12-hour bezel, analog dial, etc.), the feel on the wrist couldn’t be more different. If you want a tactical timepiece with some heft, the Paradive is the watch for you — there’s no mistaking that this thing is on your wrist, and despite subjecting it to some abuse over a four-day period, the case wasn’t so much as smudged.

The Navigator, on the other hand, is so light that you barely feel it on your wrist. The crystal and case scratch more easily, but the watch also costs $195 (discounted from an MSP of $300, as new models with steel crowns and sapphire crystals are just now debuting) — what more do you want at this price point? The easy-scratching fibershell case and acrylic crystal are worth the lightness on-wrist.

Day 4: In the interest of finishing strong, this day involved more urban combat training (this time with the entire battalion), followed by two exercises in a beautiful, green valley, one of which was “dry” (no live fire), and the second of which was “wet,” and involved lots of booms. Leading up to the CQB training, there was a fun jaunt through the woods — I elected to carry too much gear on me in this instance and found myself smacking into rocks and thorn bushes, as I didn’t have use of both of my hands to steady myself.

As it’s part of our combat doctrine to have sleeves rolled down any time one has a combat vest on (i.e. anytime one would actually be operational), there was always something covering the Paradive’s dial from harm. However, it’s also (theoretically) required to cover one’s watch with a dedicated watch cover. These serve a dual-purpose: a cover protects the watch, of course, but more importantly, it prevents a dial from reflecting and giving away one’s position. Most of the time I kept the Paradive’s dial covered by a small piece of elastic band, so between the watch cover and my sleeve, it was reasonably well protected from damage.

However, just because the watch had a cover over it didn’t mean that I didn’t fall several times in the woods leading up to our urban combat training — at one point I lost my footing and the muzzle of my assault rifle smacked right into the watch, which was thankfully covered and protected (I checked it anyway just to make sure — there’s nothing like banging up a watch that doesn’t belong to you). Phew.

For the final event, an old-fashioned assault on a hill, in two parts (“dry” and “wet”). These “wet” iteration of these exercises are always simultaneously fun and nerve-wracking, as they involve a heavy weapons platoon absolutely lighting up the area just ahead of where you’re about to assault: Mortars, machine guns, sniper rifles…all of these things are involved. The trick is to try not to end up on the receiving end of any of these weapons. The second trick is trying not to end up on the receiving end of any of the small arms carried by the guys next to you — in an ideal scenario, you and your buddies are all shooting in the same direction.

I checked the Marathon Navigator on my buddy’s wrist before the exercise, which he didn’t have covered by a watch cover, and it was still in good shape (despite a few scratches). Toward the end of the “wet” exercise, a commander in the field decided that he had been “injured,” which means that we had to evacuate him to a Hummer by carrying him and all his gear (no stretchers were available). He disappeared for an hour or so while the medics stuck him with needles and fluids, and wasn’t thrilled by the time he came returned. Looking at the Navigator, it didn’t seem to have sustained any more damage during the exercise, despite all of the gunfire, rolling, crawling, and occasional falls that we all took.

The four days of exercises ended with lunch, a box of Cuban cigars and some closing remarks from our company commander. Looking over the Paradive, I was thoroughly surprised that I hadn’t managed to put so much as a discernible nick anywhere on the watch, which I had explained to Bill Yao, founder and owner of Mk II watches, might happen. Admittedly I was almost disappointed in this respect — I feel like I could wear this watch for years of service and there was a solid possibility that it would show no signs of its history.

The Navigator, despite similar aesthetics, is built very differently from the Paradive, with a fibershell case, acrylic crystal and steel snap-on case back with integrated battery hatch. It was noticeably beat up after the week’s exercises — with a small scratch to the acrylic, some nicks to the case, and dirt embedded in small crevices (most visibly on one of the 12-hour bezel’s numbers), but it was nothing that hampered the watch’s utility, and I sort of appreciate the watch more for its new scars.

I would say that both watches performed roughly as I’d hoped, and both are solid choices for different reasons. If it’s a solid, heavy, tough-as-nails military watch that you’re after, I’d go with the Paradive, so long as you don’t mind bezel action that’s a little looser than on, say, a Submariner, and the price tag that goes with a watch of this quality ($895 — which is still quite reasonable, in my opinion).

If you want something you’ll barely notice on wrist and that you can beat the living shit out of, and you don’t mind the fact that it’s quartz or the fact that it’ll show scratches and dings more easily, then the Navigator is the move ($195). The newer Navigator, which has since become available on Marathon’s site, features a steel crown and a sapphire crystal for improved visibility and durability, and sells for $300, so this is also an option to keep in mind.

Ultimately, a dedicated analog military watch is admittedly somewhat superfluous today. A G-Shock will do anything you need it to do (I used one myself during my service), and you can pretty much run one over with a main battle tank and it’ll be fine (I haven’t yet tested this theory, but confidence is high).

However, for we watch fans and those of us who enjoy military history, there’s something undeniably attractive about a modern timepiece that echoes those types of watches that our fathers and grandfathers might have used (my own father used an automatic Timex in the army — go figure). They recall another era, and that feeling of nostalgia is sometimes enough to drive away inclinations toward practicality, for better or for worse.

What Others Are Saying:

• “On the wrist, the Navigator wears very well. Aesthetically, it’s simply very cool. The classic military elements mixed with the vintage feel of the domed crystal, finished off with the modern resin case come together for a unique watch.” — Zach Weiss, Worn & Wound

• “All in all, the Gen. 3 Paradive from MK II’s ready-to-wear series is a winner, and it’s an excellent follow-up to the already successful Hawkinge range. So, if you love the watch and the watch it pays homage to, and if you want something that you can comfortably wear around and even bang up, then the Paradive is certainly worth your attention.” — Ilya Ryvin, Worn & Wound

Key Specs — Navigator

Movement: ETA F04 High-Torque Quartz
Case Material: Fibershell
Case Width: 42mm
Water Resistance: 60m
Notable Functions: Multiple dial options; 12-hour bezel; date or no date

Key Specs — Paradive

Movement: Seiko NE15
Case Material: Stainless steel
Case Width: 44.45mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Notable Functions: Multiple bezel options; date or no-date

Marathon and Mk II provided these products for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Four Roses’s First Mainline Whiskey in 12 Years Riffs on a Cult Favorite Bourbon

After 12 years of nothing new but limited editions and one-offs, Small Batch Select is joining Four Roses’s small and highly praised permanent collection, and it has a lot in common with one of the brand’s most coveted drops ever.

According to Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliot, the brand wanted the new expression’s flavor profile to mirror that of its domineering 130th Anniversary Small Batch — a bottle that earned the title “World’s Best Bourbon” from the World Whiskies Awards. Thanks to Four Roses’ unique approach to recipes, bourbon blending and penchant for total transparency, we know this isn’t just smart marketing.

Where most distilleries select a mashbill and start distilling, Four Roses reaches into its toolbox of recipes. Each of the 10 recipes appears as a four-letter code that clues you into what the stuff is — the first letter tells you it’s made in Kentucky, the second tells you the mashbill, the third tells you it’s straight whiskey and the fourth tells you the specific yeast strain. (If you’re confused, Four Roses has a handy explainer on its website.)

Small Batch Select’s predecessor, the 130th Anniversary bottle, features OBSV, OBSF, OESV, OESK recipes. Small Batch Select is a blend of six Four Roses recipes, including every one of those found in the award-winning bottle — OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK and OESF. Both bottles are cut to similar proofs, too, with Small Batch Select at 104 and the 130th at 108 (Small Batch Select has the highest proof of any mainline Four Roses).

From there, differences emerge. If you’re able to find the 130th Anniversary bottle, it can run you more than $500 — Go Bourbon is reporting Small Batch Select will run you between $50 and $60 and will eventually become.

Small Batch Select is also a non-chill-filtered bourbon, meaning it isn’t subjected to filtration processes that remove some residual fat and protein compounds in the juice (sort of like a natural wine). The effects of non-chill filtration are controversial — some say it’s just murkier bourbon, others say it gives the whiskey a more rounded mouthfeel. Elliot says it’s mostly a matter of preference. Finally, Small Batch Select is a mixture of six- and seven-year-old bourbon, significantly lower age statements than its pricey relative.

Four Roses says Small Batch Select is available now at the Lawrenceville, Kentucky distillery and will roll out to Kentucky, New York, California, Texas and Georgia soon in the coming weeks. Elliot also confirmed that the bottle will be pushed nationwide over the next couple years. No information on pricingn is available yet.

The Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy

Everything you ever wanted to know about America’s favorite brown spirit, including, of course, the best bottles you can actually buy. Read the Story

Watch Now: An Oven for Pizza Idiots, the 2019 BMW X7 & More

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Eric Yang and Will Price test Breville’s countertop pizza oven, Henry Phillips discusses the $5K Leica Q2 and Nick Caruso raves about the all-new BMW X7. Also in this episode, a Bryan Campbell reviews the Honda Talon side-by-side – in 30 seconds – and AJ Powell explains why the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are the last thing he bought.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit crownandcaliber.com/gearpatrol to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

Featured Products

Breville the Smart Oven® Pizzaiolo

“This thing is fuckin’ awesome at what it does. It works for the pizza idiot to the pizza savant.”

|

Leica Q2

“All the improvements feel iterative, deliberate and genuinely helpful to the end user. The Q was my general price-no-object recommendation for a great camera for basically everyone. The Q2 takes that place no problem.”

|

2019 BMW X7

The X7 very well may be everything great about BMW, fully realized.

|

Honda Talon SxS

“Add an exciting application of DCT technology and it’s fair to say that while the Talon 1000R and 1000X aren’t necessarily game changers, they’ve sure as hell raised the bar.”

|

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds

“I believe the Momentum earbuds could replace each headphone in my current rotation — including my Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones.”

|

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Casual Shirt Is Designed to Take a Beating

This spring, countless brands are offering fresh iterations of the classic rugby shirt. Though the designs offer new colors and patterns, the garment is essentially unchanged. The tough, long-sleeve shirt is made with heavyweight cotton, reinforced seams and a tough collar. Originally designed to take a beating on the field, this shirt is ideal for everyday wear through the shoulder season. There are countless options available in stores now, but to get you started, here are a few of our favorites.

J.Crew 1984 Rugby Shirt

The rugby shirt became a fast staple for the brand after it was first released in 1984. This reproduction of the classic style utilizes a harlequin-print style introduced in 1990 along with traditional rubber buttons.

Mr P. Rugby Shirt

This take on the rugby shirt from Mr Porter’s house brand showcases a non-traditional colorway that is seasonally appropriate. The ribbed cuff and hem give the relaxed-fit shirt a shilhouette typically associated with sweatshirts.

Battenwear Pocket Rugby Shirt

Battenwear based its rugby shirt of the style championed by Patagonia in the ’70s. It is cut from 12-ounce cotton jersey and features a chest pocket, twill collar and reinforced seams.

Rowing Blazers Ireland 1895 Authentic Rugby

Made with 14-ounce heavyweight cotton jersey, this rugby shirt features an oversized five-sprig shamrock emblem. Made in Europe, it has an off-center rugby collar (based on the original design), a three-button placket and rib-knit cuffs.

Remi Relief Rugby Shirt

Made in Japan, this rugby shirt has a serrated stripe running across the chest. The relaxed-fit style features a two-button placket, a split hem and ribbed cuffs.

AMI Rugby Shirt

Made in Europe, this rugby shirt has a bold striped pattern and a traditional boxy fit. Made from heavyweight cotton fabric, it features a twill collar, understated logo and side slits for mobility.

Aimé Leon Dore Rugby Shirt

Inspired by the classic style, this rugby shirt is knit from lightweight cotton. It features a three-button placket, slim fit and ribbed trims.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Watch This Week In Gear, Episode One: We Review the All-New Porsche 911, Apple Airpods & More

Welcome to the premiere episode of Gear Patrol’s first video series: This Week In Gear, the ultimate news show for gear enthusiasts.

As the definitive executive briefing on what’s new in product culture, every week we’ll be talking shop about the latest and best gear, from outdoor & fitness, automotive and tech to home, style, grooming and watches. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Eric Yang, every episode will feature insights from Gear Patrol staff experts as well as field tests, interviews, buying advice and beyond.

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Nick Caruso gives a rundown of the all-new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S; Tanner Bowden introduces The James Brand Ellis multitool; Jacob Sotak explains just how hugely advanced the Orvis H3 fly rod is; and Tucker Bowe describes what’s new in Apple’s second-generation AirPods. Also in this episode, a lightning-round Q&A with Staff Writer Meg Lappe.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit crownandcaliber.com/gearpatrol to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

Featured Products

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Porsche’s all-new 911 is, as expected, a tremendous performer.

|

The James Brand ‘The Ellis’

The brand’s first multi-tool is a gorgeous shot across the Swiss Army Knife’s bow.

|

Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod

“Without a doubt, the most scientifically accurate rod ever produced.”

|

Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case

The second-generation earbuds feature incremental tweaks, which means they’re still great.

|

Advertisement

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This New Facial Cleanser Is Worth the Investment

My skin isn’t naturally sensitive, but a bad habit puts it at risk. I overwash, to the tune of four or more times a day. That’s because my skin is oily, no matter how hard I try to balance it with toners, or neutralize it with blotting papers and powders. I cleanse in the morning and before bed, but also after the gym and typically when I get home in the evening. None of that is accounting for what I do on hot or humid days, either — or the fact that I test products for my job and often have to have a clean surface to do so.

So it’s better for me to use a gentle cleanser instead of one targeted for oily skin — I tend to use something engineered for sensitive or dry skin instead, since that’s the territory into which I’m teetering with this frequent washing. It’s not a habit I intend to stop, either. It’s just how I choose to cope with my own genes, and my job.

In my six years of doing this, I have never pledged loyalty to a cleanser. They’re more interchangeable to me than most other grooming categories. Aesop’s latest launch, however, is changing that. Today, the company is launching its Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk, which has been thoroughly scrutinized over in its labs under the supervision of Dr. Kate Forbes, who is the Aesop’s General Manager of Product. If you’ve got dry or sensitive skin, or if you’re a habitual over-washer like me, then Aesop’s cleansing milk is something you should try, too.

The Good: Before you even learn about the product’s ingredients, you can tell from its consistency that this product is more soothing and far less abrasive than a garden-variety cleanser. It’s milky, as the name states, and feels more like you’re applying a serum than a cleanser. For that reason, it’s a little harder to lather, and won’t require as much water when you apply it. This is largely because the formula is rich in olive oil, which helps gently pull oil and grime from your skin without dehydrating it, while giving the formula a silky texture. (Maybe don’t apply actual olive oil to your face, and leave it to the pros like Aesop who formulate their products using the best recipes and ingredients.)

Its other key ingredients include grapeseed oil, which preserves moisture levels in the skin during the wash; provitamin B5, which lingers after the cleanse to do the same; as well as sandalwood and lavender which soothe the skin while banishing dryness and irritation.

Who It’s For: There are four key categories of people whose skin would benefit from this cleanser:

People with dry skin who need a gentle cleanser — one that adds moisture instead of stripping it.

People with sensitive skin who often get irritated by harsher, moisture-depleting formulas.

People who wear makeup and need a safe and efficient cleanser, especially considering that they’ll likely wash their face twice in one day, both before and after the makeup is off.

People who overwash their faces, out of necessity or bad habit. They need a cleanser that preserves moisture levels, given that the frequent washing will put them at risk of blemishes, breakouts, and rough patches.

Watch Out For: The too-generous pour. It comes with a screw-off lid, so don’t overdo it. It’s good that it doesn’t have a pump, though, because that would be too generous, too. Try to land with a dime-size amount in your hand, unless you’re doing something more tedious like removing a bunch of grime.

Alternatives: OSEA’s Ocean Cleansing Milk — which, despite its name, doesn’t fix oil spills or save the coral reefs, is also a good option. It uses algae and amino acids to hydrate and prevent further signs of aging. It’s a little tougher and more familiar than Aesop’s cleansing milk. Both are great; I prefer Aesop’s.

Review: I’ve been using this for a week straight, and am only a fraction of the way through the 6.8 fl. oz (200 ml) bottle. I have washed an estimated four times per day, and have earned no new breakouts or blemishes. It’s one of those products I proudly display on my sink ledge, and that I genuinely look forward to using. (It’s not like it “makes grooming fun,” but it is a soothing process that allows me to appreciate and savor my skincare regimen.

I think the one person it is decidedly not for is the oily-skinned man or woman who only cleanses once or twice per day. You might require something more powerful—Surprise! Aesop has that too.

Verdict: I’m all in. If you’re near an Aesop store, test one out. You can also opt for the smaller bottle (3.4 fl. oz, $35) if you want to give it a test run for a couple months, instead of investing in the 6.8 fl. oz one at $53. But you do the math: The larger one is a great bargain, especially if your daily face-wash count is a higher count than most.

Key Specs
Key Ingredients: Panthenol, grape seed, sandalwood
Texture:Non-foaming, water-soluble emulsion
Aroma: Woody, herbaceous
Dosage: Half a teaspoon

Aesop provided this product for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.