Category Archive 'Consumerism'

29 Sep 2016

The Hermeneutics of the Expensive Watch

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rolex

Matt Meltzer wore expensive watches (rented from this company) on several different occasions, and found that people treated him “wayyy differently.”

Many long years ago, an art dealer friend from Yale asked me to accompany him to look at a collection, pretending to be a wealthy interested collector. (I forget exactly why bringing along a ringer was desirable.) Before we departed for the meeting, my fashion-plate art dealer friend looked me over, decided my contemptibly ordinary Tissot wristwatch would never do, and hurriedly lent me a solid-gold Corum to wear.

My poor old Tissot finally died of old age, I replaced it, and the next one died as well after about a year. I bought a Timex, but I didn’t much like it, and it died even quicker. Going to a watch dealer to get new batteries put in constantly seemed to be a nuisance, so I decided finally to buy a better, more durable watch. I was also really sick of scratching watch crystals and needing to get them replaced. An expensive watch commonly has a practically-indestructible artificial sapphire crystal.

My choice (pictured above) was perhaps boringly conventional. I bought the gold-and-steel version of the Rolex DateJust with the Jubilee band.

Rolexes are sport watches, which you can wear doing manual labor and outdoor sports. The gold raises the watch’s formality just enough that the same watch is also perfectly appropriate for formal evening wear. With this model, one only needs one watch.

Once I started wearing my Rolex, I began noticing covert wrist glances from other people at business meetings and social occasions, and before long I found myself also taking other peoples’ wristwatches as a strong clue to each individual’s professional and social level, overall affluence, and adult sophistication. Wear that Rolex or Girard Perregaux, and you will catch new acquaintances making small facial expressions of approval after that covert questioning glance at your left wrist.

When you reach a certain point of middle-age, not owning a real watch, i.e. an expensive name brand watch, tends to suggest that you have never at any one time had a whole bunch of free cash and/or that you are some kind of Puritanical hippy with an ideological thing about high-end consumerism.

Pari passu, wearing too complicated a watch tends to make your viewing audience suspect that you are a Walter-Mitty fighter pilot/racing driver wannabee. Wearing a truly hideously expensive watch avec complications tells people you are a deranged watch collector who probably has a hedge fund. A watch is a form of self-expression that requires some exercise of personal judgement and taste.

I must confess, though: Watch prices have gone up so much that I would never ever buy my Rolex today.

08 Apr 2015

The Apple Watch

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AppleWatch

The Verge:

As an object, it makes sense that the Watch is not nearly as cold and minimal as Apple’s recent phones and tablets and laptops. It has to be warmer, cozier. It has to invite you to touch it and take it with you all the time. Take the bands off and it’s a little miracle of technology and engineering and manufacturing, a dense package containing more sensors and processing power than anyone could have even dreamed a few decades ago. It’s a supercomputer on your wrist, but it’s also a bulbous, friendly little thing, far more round than I expected, recalling nothing quite so much as the first-generation iPhone. It is unbelievably high tech and a little bit silly, a masterpiece of engineering with a Mickey Mouse face. It is quintessentially Apple.

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Gizmodo has collected multiple reviews.

You can pay between $350 and $17,000 for one of these.

01 Nov 2014

Latest Hipster Atrocity: Artisanal Ice

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artisanal-ice

The Washington City Paper notes another watershed mark of decadent hipster self-indulgence.

A Manhattan will set you back $14 at forthcoming downtown restaurant and bar Second State. Want it on the rocks? That will be a dollar more—for a total of $15.

The Pennsylvania-themed spot, which is set to open in the former Mighty Pint space at 1831 M St. NW on Oct. 21, will be the first place in D.C. with an ice surcharge listed on its cocktail menu. (Most bars eat the cost or build it into the price of the drink.) Granted, these are no freezer-burned, generic tray cubes. This is the fancy, unclouded artisanal stuff from D.C.’s boutique ice company, Favourite Ice, founded by local bartenders Owen Thomson and Joseph Ambrose. Second State bartenders will chip off the eight corners for a more spherical shape that sits in the glass like an iceberg.

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Mother Jones reports that ice cube connoisseurship is actually already a national fad (and the green-on-the-outside-pink-on-the-inside left is all in a dither about its environmental impact).

Yes, artisanal ice is now a thing. In hipster meccas from Portland to Williamsburg, bars are serving up their drinks on extra-dense, extra-clear cubes, produced through a laborious process of freezing and carving. Cocktail connoisseurs swear the difference in flavor is worth the extra effort: In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, the cubes’ density and relatively large size mean they melt more slowly and dilute your drink less. …

Demand for artisanal ice grew out of the past decade’s “cocktail renaissance”—the rise of small-batch liquor producers, the rediscovery of pre-Prohibition recipes, and an increasing emphasis on fresh, homemade ingredients. …

[Artisanal ice is made] in a special type of freezer called a Clinebell machine—the same device that ice sculptors use to form the blocks they carve into statues for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Most freezers chill water from the top down, which traps air bubbles under the upper layer of ice and leads to a cloudy cube. Clinebells cool from the bottom up, circulating the top layer of water to get rid of bubbles until it’s all frozen. Every three days, the machine spits out two 300-pound, crystal-clear chunks of ice, which [the specialist dealer] then break down with saws and deliver to clients around the city.

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Die Hipster grumbles:

Is this the end? The end of the hipster and the new beginning for normal people? I doubt it but its wishful thinking. One would think that when a couple of douchebag ****** ******* hipsters decide to charge people extra for “artisanal” ice in their drinks, that we’ve hit rock bottom and things are sure to get better. May lightning strike these ******* ***********.

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