Friday, 26 July 2013

Unusual San Francisco

San Francisco is my favourite US city for several reasons - for one, the scenery.

This photo was taken in October of 2010 when I was there with my friends Harry and Peter. What an usual scenery taken from Sausalito. It was fast approaching the evening and we could see a cloud cover rolling in and also a very colourful sunset over the bay.
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Enjoy the scenery! We sure did.
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And I plan to be back there again real soon.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Parmigiani Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire

Enjoy this shot of one of my favourite timepieces from Parmigiani Fleurier.

Kalpa Hebdomadaire Front White photo ParmigianiHebdomadaire05.jpg

More to come... Stay tuned.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

USA Peaches - Firm, Fuzzy and Oh So Sweet!

Peaches to me has always come in cans instead of the fresh fruit. It was only much later when air transport made it a lot more possible that we started to get fresh peaches. And what a discovery! The fresh fruit is nothing like the canned variety of course but if it is in season, I will never go back to the canned varietal again.

I discovered that peaches come in generally two types - white and yellow flesh. What we typically get here is the white flesh varietal. In this case, we get ours from a local wholesaler who brings in from California from the Wawona Packing Company. Air flown from California, these peaches are the Snow Blaze White Peach variety. Red fuzzy skinned on the outside and creamy white on the inside. To determine the ripeness is to smell the fruit where the stem was. If it smells sweet and aromatic, it is ripe.
USA Peaches Box photo USAWhitePeachesCarton02.jpg

I believe the picking and packing is hand done. Peaches are susceptible to bruising during transport if not handled properly. They ripen quickly in warmer temperature so keeping them out of the fridge for a day or two after arrival will ensure a ripe fruit.
USA White Peaches Bubble Wrap Cushion photo USAWhitePeachesCarton05.jpg

All peaches are quoted with edible wax prior to shipping. The box also states it contains Fludioxonil - pesticides used. So it is best to wash them thoroughly prior to eating as one would for all fruits anyway.
USA Peaches Box photo USAWhitePeachesCarton.jpg

The type of peach is called Snow Blaze and I understand there are many other types of peaches all with very unique names. The skin is fuzzy and the peach is firm on the touch.
USA White Peaches Fuzzy Skin photo USAWhitePeaches06.jpg

When the fruit is cut, it reveals a creamy white flesh, juicy and firm to the bite. It is not as acidic as the yellow flesh varietal and definitely adds to the sweetness. The seeds are easy to remove and while my wife removed the somewhat fibrous insides, I eat the half cut fruit the way it is. And make sure you have tissues nearby as they are really juicy!
USA White Peaches Half photo USAWhitePeachesHalf04.jpg

See how small the seed is?
USA White Peaches Half with Seed photo USAWhitePeachesHalf03.jpg

Some interesting information about fruits - more than 70% of peaches are grown in California and most of them from the central valley area surrounding Fresno. The only difference between peaches and nectarine is in the skin - nectarines are smooth skinned while peaches have a fuzzy skin. But apparently, nectarines are sweeter and more aromatic. See the difference other than the size?
Comparison of Nectarine & Peach photo USAWhitePeachampNectarine01.jpg

There are more than 200 varietals of peaches and they grow between April-November each year. There is even a law determining the grading of peaches!
USA White Peaches photo USAWhitePeaches04.jpg

In this case, each box contains 34 peaches. In order for any variety to be marked "California Well Matured", the peaches have to meet certain requirements - (i) free from insect injuries, (ii) free from serious damage due to cuts, skin breaks, growth cracks, bruises, (iii) final determinations on maturity through the use of color chips etc. These are some of the stringent requirements to be met. One more look at the peach.
USA White Peaches Half photo USAWhitePeachesHalf01.jpg


Monday, 15 July 2013

Feature of The Month - A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph

My fascination with mechanical hand wound movement was pique when I saw the back of the Lange chronograph - many say they would wear the movement side if it were possible. I fully agree. That is why this watch is The Feature of the Month.

The House of Lange is German engineering at its best. I have always admired the brand, technical expertise and the range of watches they have. I yearned for one of their beauties and when I finally got my hands on one, a sense of accomplishment. Here's my favorite Lange piece. The 1815 Chronograph.
Lange 1815 Chrono WG Dial Side photo Lange1815ChronoFront.jpg

Many thanks to my friend Professor Harry Tan who took these pictures at one of our get-togethers. Over drinks, dinner and a nice cigar came these pictures. This white gold beauty has been discontinued and a newer version of the 1815 chrono has been introduced.
Lange 1815 Chrono WG Movement Side photo Lange1815ChronoBack.jpg

And now for the movement side.

I was contemplating between the rose gold black dial version versus the white gold silver dial version and settled for the latter because of the beautiful blued hands.

Taken at the same dinner was a photo shoot courtesy of Prof Harry Tan. Take a look at the poster of some of the collectors and see if you recognize any of them.
Mafia Group at CHIJMES photo GTGDec2012CollageWEB.jpg

The year end dinner was held at CHIJMES, Chef de Tables.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Monkey Business

Monkeys sitting atop a signboard in protest against instructions not to feed them. Cute isn't it?

Monkey Sitting on Signboard photo MonkeyOnSignboard3.jpg

Actually, they do have enough to eat but I still see members of the public throwing food out of their vehicles to amuse their children... They just don't learn.
Monkey Sitting on Signboard photo MonkeyOnSignboard02.jpg

Picture taken on my regular jogging route along Lower Peirce Reservoir. It is an interesting running route - plenty to see and clean air too. More of that to come in another post.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Singapore's Own Watch Maker - Reed Tan

Several years ago, I chanced upon a local watch brand in Singapore - Reedsco. Reed Tan, the watch maker was just starting out and he was assembling homage pieces but with a custom dial. He also had his own design which was just taking off. But what I was really interested at first were his custom dials.

Thanks to my friend Prof Harry Tan who captured these shots in an earlier meeting with Reed.
Reedsco Harry Tan photo ReedscoHarryTan-1.jpg

The first piece, which I have since passed on to another friend, was a custom dial made to resemble an "aged rusty" dial. So I asked Reed to design a special dial - I left it to him to come up with the design and after several tries, this was the result.
Reedsco Pyramid Nbr 1 photo ReedscoPyramid04.jpg

Reed calls this the Pyramid dial. As to how he came about this design, all he will tell me is that it took a lot of hard work and some luck to come up with this dial. Mounted on the watch is a Unitas type movement, slightly decorated and runs well. I believe he sources his movements from China.
Reedsco Pyramid Movement Side photo ReedscoPyramid06.jpg

Impressed with his effort, I asked that he make another one. So now I have a set - one for me, and one for my wife. Mounted on Number One is genuine croco strap with matching color stitches - courtesy of Jason of JnS Strap. And on the Number Two is strap made from a baseball gloves.
Reedsco Pyramid Pair photo ReedscoPyramid07.jpg

I wear the Pyramid regularly especially on the weekends when I dress down and want something different. I shall be posting more Reedsco specialized dials in future posts. You can visit his website at Reedsco

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cufflink Craze - Watch Movement Collection

It started when I was working for The Royal Dutch Carrier KLM. Regular visits to Europe got me noticing cufflinks and the varied types available. My first pair was a quartz watch movement cufflink from Tateossian. Bought it from the inflight sales of KLM no less. That was the first pair of cufflinks and I never looked back since then.

Since I started collecting cufflinks in 1994, I have amassed more than 1,000 pairs of cufflinks. I house them in several cases - three custom made to house trays of cufflinks sorted by category. Among my favorites are mechanical watch movements and ceramic tiles. Some I made myself too. Today, I am featuring the first part of the mechanical watch movements.
Cufflinks in Tray photo Cufflink13.jpg

Many of these cufflinks come elaborately engraved and some skeletonised. One of my favorite is this pair of skeletonised movement cufflinks. Wind the crown and the balance wheel will oscillate.
Steel Skeleton Cufflinks photo Cufflink05.jpg

A close up of the movement.
Steel Skeleton Watch Movement photo Cufflink01.jpg

This one is the automatic version. See how the rotors are engraved? Not exactly Swiss standard of engraving but then again you can't tell from a distance. These cufflinks are made with China movements - likely Seagull movements. Each cufflink is 2cm across.
Steel Auto Movement Cufflinks photo Cufflink12.jpg

A pair of steel and rose gold plated automatic cufflinks. The balance wheel oscillates when the rotor winds the main spring.
Watch Movement Auto photo Cufflink07.jpg

There are those which is octagon shaped - AP looking pieces. Similar ST6 movements mounted on the cufflinks. Comes in four variations - steel, black, yellow gold plated and rose gold plated. Shown here are the steel ones.
Steel Octagon Cufflinks photo Cufflink11.jpg

These are some of the earlier pieces - round cufflinks with mechanical movements. This one without rim.
Round Watch Movement photo Cufflink15.jpg

And this one with the blue rim around the cufflink.
Round Watch Movement with Rim photo Cufflink14.jpg

Then there are the smaller oval shaped ones - also with moving balance wheel when fully wound. This one steel.
Oval Watch Movement photo Cufflink16.jpg

And this one rose gold plated.
Oval Watch Movement photo Cufflink17.jpg

Then there are those with gears - non-moving though. But a nice addition to any collection. This one here is a square piece.
Gears Square Cufflinks photo Cufflink02.jpg

And the round equivalent.
Gears Round Cufflinks photo Cufflink06.jpg

These are the first of the watch movements type and will be posting more of them periodically.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The JLC Atmos - Perpetual Mechanical Clock

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos is truly a perpetual clock that requires no winding or any other power source other than the change in temperature or more accurately, atmospheric variations. I was truly intrigue by this technology that I bought one for myself.

The Atmos was first introduced by Jean-Leon Reutter in 1928. Called the Atmos 0, is was encased in a bell jar and air tight sealed. However, the Atmos did not take off until JLC took interest and worked with Reutter to modify the mechanism. The first JLC Atmos was shipped out in 1933 and like they say, the rest is history.
Atmos Front View photo JLCAtmos01HarryTanFrontView.jpg

This is a simple Atmos with no complications. But the mechanisms look wonderful especially on closer inspection. From what I understand, a single day of variation can power the clock for up to 30 days.
Atmos Mechanism photo JLCAtmos03HarryTanMechanism.jpg

Measuring 19.5 x 17 x 22.5cm (L x W x H), this Atmos requires very little adjustment. The accuracy of this clock is remarkable - I only need to adjust every two to three months. Some remarkable information - the balance wheel of the Atmos oscillates twice per minute and consumes 100 times energy than a wristwatch. Plus, no lubrication is needed for this Atmos and the slow moving parts in seems has very little wear and tear. I just wish wristwatches were like that too.
Atmos Mechanism Close Up photo JLCAtmos04HarryTanMechanismCloseUp.jpg

Another close up shot of the mechanism.
Atmos Mechanism Close Up photo JLCAtmos05HarryTanMechanismCloseUp.jpg

And another look at the Atmos clock. Sits proudly in my living room right beside the Baguette Clock. One day, I look forward to owning another (complication) Atmos.
Atmos Table Shot photo JLCAtmos02HarryTanFrontView.jpg

Many thanks to my friend Prof Harry Tan for lending his expertise in producing these wonderful pictures.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Bangkok Fruit Market, Or Tor Kor - Part 3/3

My earlier years eating mangosteen was not really pleasant - a hit and miss, mostly miss. When you get poor quality mangosteens, they are sour and I dislike sour... Until I was introduced to the Thai variety at Or Tor Kor Market.

Mangosteens are supposedly "cooling" in property as opposed to the heath fruits like durians, mangoes and lychees. So when one eats too much heath stuff, one needs to balance it with mangosteens. Because it is in season, several stalls sell mangosteens and the purple skin are a sight to behold.
Mangosteens in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketMangosteens02.jpg

You can see from the green stems that the fruits are fresh.
Thai Mangosteens photo OrTorKorMarketMangosteens06.jpg

When you peel the mangosteen, be careful the purple sap. They stain your clothes and it cannot be washed off.
Thai Mangosteens photo OrTorKorMarketMangosteens05.jpg

The flesh is soft, juicy and sweet. You can taste a tinge of sourness but overall, they are sweet. The correct way of eating is to wait for the green petals to turn slightly brown and that is when it is at its sweetest.
Thai Mangosteens photo OrTorKorMarketMangosteens03.jpg

I was told the rambutans are also nice. But alas, my luggage can only take that much fruits. And I am also not a fan of the rambutans even though I was told these are superbly sweet and in this case, grown by the seller in their orchard.
Rambutans in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketRambutans01.jpg

Rambutans remind me of my childhood years when we used to have a rambutan tree growing in our backyard. Plenty of black ants when the fruits are in season. But when there are no fruits, a good place to practice climbing. Way before rock climbing became a sport!

And I am looking forward to returning to Or Tor Kor Market for another marketing trip. Who knows what's next.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bangkok Fruit Market, Or Tor Kor - Part 2/3

I have been going to Or Tor Kor Market in Bangkok for my local fruit fix for years and I never knew it was so close to the famous Chatuchak Market. Chatuchak is where one goes for a bargain for everything from household items, to clothing to just about anything you might want.

Between Chatuchak and Or Tor Kor, I take Or Tor Kor hands down. Not as crowded and always full of seasonal fruits. How can one forget about the mangoes in Thailand. They have several types of mangoes including some varietal imported from Australia and now grown locally. Red skinned and almost oval in shape, I was told they are grown in the northern parts of Thailand.
Mangoes in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketThaiMangoOZVariety01.jpg

Then the regular mangoes. And again several types and sizes but the kinds they have are just so sweet that it is like drinking honey. The flesh is yellowy orange in color and each fruit is about 350 grammes - pretty large and much flesh. The kernel is rather flat so you get a lot more flesh.
Mangoes in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketThaiMango02.jpg
Mangoes in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketThaiMango01.jpg

And my favorite dessert… Mango with sticky rice and coconut milk.
Mango Sticky Rice in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketThaiMangoampStickyRice01.jpg

And the star of this season must be the lychees. These are the varietals from Thailand. As juicy as the ones from China but their seeds are much larger. The Thai varietal are not as sweet as the China ones but they are just as juicy.
Thai Lychees in OrTorKor BKK photo OrTorKorMarketThaiLychees01.jpg

The China lychees are packed in a cane basket and weighs about one kilogram each.
China Seedless Lychees in Bamboo Basket photo OrTorKorMarketChinaLychees01.jpg
China Seedless Lychees in Basket photo OrTorKorMarketChinaLychees02.jpg

And my are they sweet, fleshy and juicy!
China Seedless Lychees photo OrTorKorMarketChinaLychees03A.jpg
China Seedless Lychees photo OrTorKorMarketChinaLychees05.jpg

Next up will be the post on mangosteens. Stay tuned!