How to Buy Your First (or Second) Nice Watch – With Help from H.Q. Milton

Guys don’t wear jewelry outside of a class ring or a wedding ring.  We don’t carry purses.  We have limited options for nice pieces of flare as compared to the fairer sex.  A good pair of shoes or a nice blazer is about as deep as it goes, other than the one shining North Star that adorns our wrist: a nice watch.  A nice watch is investment purchase, it’s something that will be worn for years to come, and eventually be handed down to the next generation.  No man should feel bad about wearing one.  Your insurance agent will agree.

I made my purchase a year ago: a Panerai PAM112.  I love this watch.  It was a tough check to write, but was completely worth it.  It’s a beautiful piece that I wear almost every day (much to the chagrin of my other watches).  I’m not one of those guys that wipes it down with a diaper every night; instead, I wear it.  I chose the Panerai because it met all of the characteristics that I was looking for: it is unique, as in you don’t see to many of these, it is sturdy, so that I can wear it and not worry about the delicacy of the piece, and it fits my personality.

I’m at the point now where I’m in the market for my second nice watch.  I’ve written about this in the past, looking at some IWCs or another Panerai, but at this point, it doesn’t feel like either of those are what I’d like to add to the war chest.  After watching Hodinkee and other sites over the last six months, I’ve decided that I’d like to get something vintage.  Not only will this be a more affordable, but it will have some built in character, as well as a story.

One of the best corners on the Internet for vintage watches is H.Q. Milton.  Founder Scott Kaplan and Partner Jacek Kozubek run the San Francisco-based shop, and they have an online presence as well.  Beware: it’s like watching SFW watch porn.  You can’t look away.  They are experts in vintage watches, and only sell watches that they would wear themselves.

Given my predicament, they were nice enough to sit down and give some advice on making that once (or multiple) in a lifetime purchase, as well as provide some images of their outstanding stock:

How should a guy shop for a nice watch?  The two big options are to shop locally for a new watch from an authorized dealer. If you go out side the AD circuit, then the second best place is to shop online.  Granted there could be local gray market shops, but they exist on the fact that people don’t do their homework and sometimes pay high retail prices.  Do your homework!  Watch forums like and are two great places to start.

What should a guy look for in a nice watch?  A guy should look for something that suits his needs. If you are a dapper guy, then there are many super fun dress watches.  If you want a sport look, there are also a lot of watches to suite your needs.  Don’t buy a piece because you see it on a billboard.  The same people like the latest James Bond stuff could end up buying something completely different than their lifestyle.  Remember, the guys that are on the billboards are modeling a watch, and their personal life is much different than what they are paid to represent.

Is there any specific brands that one should look for?  If you want to see what is actually popular and cool, then look at auctions.  In my opinion, the pinnacle of watch collecting are the same pieces that do well in auction: Vintage Rolex and Vintage Patek pieces.  The other stuff is cool, but these two brands are the best.

What sort of research should a guy do prior to buying a nice watch?  It is important to reference a specific model number and go online and see what everyone else has or has sold.  There are also plenty of dealers to talk to…like us.

What type of questions should be asked when shopping for a nice watch?

Does it run?

Is everything original to the time period to when the watch was produced?

Are there are any major deficiencies or problems with the watch?

What are the benefits of buying a vintage watch vs. a new one?  It’s more of a stylistic thing. Vintage pieces capture a type of feeling that the brands can only dream of touching upon.  There is  a big trend in modern pieces to design them to look like vintage pieces.  I would say vintage watches are like vintage cars.  The new stuff may be built better, go faster, and won’t break, but the older stuff just feels cool. It’s not better… it’s different.

I have a nice watch, and am ready to add a second one to my collection.  What should I look for?  Something that fits your lifestyle.  You can’t go wrong with a vintage Rolex Sport model from the 60′s – 80′s…that’s the way to go.

Be sure to save the H.Q. Milton site to your bookmarks.  You’ll thank me later.  When you tell me what time it is, from your new, vintage watch.

Flooded St. ‘Cooper River Classic’ Limited Edition Shirts

Flooded St. has come back with a fury…releasing their newest design: the Cooper River Classic shirt in red and navy.  These are in a limited release, so get on over and get’chu one (or two).

Available on their site here

Randolph Sportsman Aviator Sunglasses

In mens style, some things change, and some things remain the same.  Aviator sunglasses have been popular since way before Tom Cruise played Maverick.  Aviators have been a consistent ‘must have’ for any guy (and girl for that matter).  They go with everything, and there are enough variations to fit any style of face.

I’ve been on the Randolph train for quite some time.  I really like their company – they are great to work with, and they make killer glasses.  Their glasses aren’t part of the ‘mainstream’ like another brand of easily accessible aviators.  Instead, you have to sort of ‘know’ about them.  They are like Persol about three or four years ago, and are heading on the same trajectory.

I was in need of a new pair of aviators for my upcoming nuptials in an undisclosed Caribbean location…enter the Randolph Sportsmans:

These are outstanding.  They have a really sturdy feel at all the joints.  They aren’t heavy, but they are substantial.  I like the sweat bar, as it adds a bit of panache to a relatively bland world of aviators.

The other important part to me was polarized lenses.  Check.  98-100% of the UVs will be blocked from my Lasik-ly corrected eyeballs.

And they are made in the USA.  Yep.  Thumbs up from this homeboy.

Getting Floral, Guys

Looking to expand your Spring and Summer wardrobe verticals?  Get on board with some florals, guys.

The general perception in the US is that floral designs lean towards a feminine palate, but in fact it’s just the opposite – as long as it’s the right floral designs.  I’ll argue that 95% of Lilly designs worn by men are GTH, therefore more ‘costume-y’ than anything else.  Now, it takes a bit of attitude to pull off some floral designs, and it’s safe to say that you need to be confident in your style before dipping your toe into the floral end of the pool.  When done right, it looks great.  Really great.   Here’s the stuff that I like:

From top left:

1. Double-faced Floral Tie from Bloomingdales:  An excellent option for Easter.  There is a good texture feel to this that gives it some depth.
2. Floral Linen Sport Shirt from Saks:  Linen shirts are a go-to for Spring and Summer, as if they are the warm weather replacements for chambray.  Linen doesn’t have to be solid, and this one with small white flowers is very versatile.
3. General Knot Vintage Flame Rose & Indigo Tie: This great looking tie will make a statement under a blue blazer.
4. Tommy Hilfiger Duncan Floral Shorts:  A muted version of the GTH pants, these shorts would be perfect on the course or at the pool with a white polo or oxford and bit loafers.  Of course – after they are shortened just a bit.
5. The Knottery Patterned Nato Watch Strap:  Because solid watch straps get boring.
6. Strong Boalt Royal Blue Urchins Board Shorts:  Strong Boalt makes some very legit Palm Beach-ish swim trunks.  Get ‘em now on Five Mile for under $70 a pair.
7. ASOS Floral Chambray Pocket Square: There is no such thing as too many pocket squares.  Oh – and this one only costs $11.
8. Sid Mashburn X Liberty Pink Peppers Button down:  Liberty of London is the de-facto floral pattern designer for men.  They do work with some of the greats, including Sid Mashburn.  Since these button downs were released, they can’t keep them in stock.
9. J. Crew X Liberty “Chatham Bay” Floral English Cotton Tie:  Another bold tie option, this one in blue and white tones has a vintage feel that can be dressed up or down.
10. Vans X Liberty of London Canvas Sneakers:  Yeah, Vans.  I know.
11. General Knot 1960s Royal and Red Bandana Print and Tan Leather Belt:  Bandanas usually have some sort of floral pattern, so this made the list.  Not to mention that it’s a pretty badass belt.

10 for 10 – The 2014 Preseason College Football Rankings (and 10 hat giveaways)

How refreshing is it to see college football news and reports starting to frequent the Interwebs and the local sports reports?  With Spring practice in full swing, it’s a great sign that we are only a few short months away until kickoff.  With that, I’ve put together the Red Clay Soul pre-season College Football Rankings, sponsored by my friends over at State Traditions.  I’ve picked my top ten, and to commemorate the event, the boys from Birmingham want to give away ten hats and koozies to ten lucky readers:

1. Florida State Seminoles – 8 returning starters on offense including Jameis Winston and 6 on defense…no reason that they won’t be back at the dance this year.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide – They have a machine in Tuscaloosa.  They just reload.
3. Auburn Tigers – Will the 2013 luck continue into 2014?
4. Oklahoma Sooners – Sophomore QB Trevor Knight is the real deal, folks.
5. Oregon Ducks – An easy schedule and Heisman frontrunner QB Mariota.
6. Michigan State Spartans – Wins over Ohio State and Stanford in 2013 will provide some serious momentum.
7. Stanford Cardinals – They’ve played in four straight BCS games, and don’t show any signs of slowing down.
8. UCLA Bruins – Averaging almost 10 wins a year and a strong returning offense.
9. Baylor Bears – They may rack up a million yards on offense this year.
10. Georgia Bulldogs – They have as much talent as anyone in the country.  If they can stay healthy, look out…

As I mentioned, the good folks at State Traditions want to give away a hat and a koozie of their choice to ten lucky readers.  Leave a comment to this post with your thoughts to enter.

For additional entries:

  • +1 (2 Total) ‘Like’ State Traditions on Facebook
  • +1 (3 Total) ‘Like’ Red Clay Soul on Facebook
  • +1 (4 Total) ‘Follow’ State Traditions on Twitter
  • +1 (5 Total) ’Follow’ Red Clay Soul on Twitter
  • +1 (6 Total) Tweet the following about the giveaway ‘The Preseason CFB top 10 from @statetraditions X @redclaysoul and I entered to win a new hat! Go here to enter:’

Entries must be in by midnight on Monday, March 31st.  I’ll announce the ten winners on Tuesday, April 1st around lunchtime, who gets a State Traditions hat and koozie from the school of their choice.

Special thanks to State Traditions for providing the goods for the giveaway…

Friday Jam: Phil Collins – ‘Sussudio’

In honor of my new record player, and stack of insanely awesome vinyl, let’s celebrate with a classic

Onward Reserve Spring Wishlist…Bloggers Unite

I always get excited in the Fall and in the Spring.  Those are the transition times for my favorite season: college football in the Fall, and golf in the Spring.  Wardrobes change as well.  Spring is about rebirth – whether it’s my golf game or my closet.  They both need some work this time of year.

While my usual day-to-day attire is mostly conservative, office appropriate attire, I do like to add a little of my own style into the rather mundane monotony.  I buy classic pieces that are going to last for years.  Whether it’s ‘in-style’ or not, the pieces will work in outfits ten years from now.  Now, since I have to get dressed everyday, I do it right, and focus on style, fit, and quality.  I shop in the right places and don’t take a disposable attitude towards anything I buy.  I want it to work for the long haul.

The good folks over at Onward Reserve reached out and asked what I would pick for my Spring Wish List…there is so much, but here’s what I’ve settled on:

In no particular order…

Martin Dingman Field Jacket in Ticking Weave – A great tan jacket is a must for spring.  It can be worn with jeans, khakis, and even wool slacks in neutrals.  Martin knows what he’s doing, and in his second season of his Countrywear line, he has knocked it out of the park.

Onward Reserve Gingham Button down in Aqua – You can’t have enough gingham.  It goes with everything.  The Onward shirts are great – they have just enough non-iron fabric in them that they don’t need ironing after every wash, but they don’t feel “plastic-y” like a lot of other non-iron shirts.  The aqua color will get a lot of play this time of year

Southern Proper Plaid Shirts – I am so glad to see the ladies bringing those big plaids back.  It has been tight around the plaid shirt jungle over the last few years, and the big plaids actually work better with any non-tie outfit.  Pair these with jeans or khakis, or un-tucked with shorts or over a swimsuit and you are ready to rock.

Barbour Ashby in Navy – It still gets cool at night during the spring, and Mother Nature likes to dump some rain at the most in-opportune times.  The Ashby is a trimmed down version of the Bedale, and the Navy color is much more spring appropriate than Barbour’s typical olive.

Onward Reserve Shorts – I make no bones about my distaste for man-pris.  No guy can call anything longer than a 7” inseam “shorts”.  Onward Reserve released their private label shorts and they are spot on.  They are very comfortable, pleat-less, only sport a 7” inseam, and all the colors are the new neutrals.

Criquet Player’s Polo Shirts – I’ve owned Criquet Player’s shirts for years, and the biggest issue with owning a Criquet shirt is this:  you’ll want to own all of them.  They have a style all their own: the updated version of the 70s and 80s Arnold Palmer polo in soft, organic cotton and in a prime choice of colors.

Strong Boalt Geometric Swim Trunks – I prefer my swim trunks to be unique, and Strong Boalt is a great way to stand out from the crowd.  The fit is spot on, and the designs are whimsical without being annoying.

Smathers & Branson Bonefish Needlepoint Belt – Since I’m getting married down in the Bahamas later this year, we are planning on getting some flies in the water after some bonefish on our honeymoon.  Only seems appropriate that my belt fits right in.

Martin Dingman Callahan Suede Loafer in Chestnut – I really like casual loafers this time of year.  Not as formal as a pair of bits and not as casual as a pair of driving loafers.  These Dingman jobs hit the mark.  The knotted detail and the chestnut suede are perfect for church, casual Fridays, or even with a pair of shorts.  Never with socks, though.  Never.

Onward Reserve “On the Rocks” Hat – Now is the time when I start breaking in my hat for gameday this Fall.  The Bulldogs look like they might be on the upswing, even without Murray (think UT after Peyton graduated – yeah, they won the National Championship).  UGA Mascot UGA looks great chilled out on a bag of ice…a red one with a summer’s worth of fade will look mighty fine in Athens this fall.

You can read more about this over on The Gazette.  Oh – and want to see what my good buddy James Farmer picked?  Go check out his selections here.

Happy Spring, folks.