Copywriting and Features
Over 20 years experience, with features on gear, music, culture, and more. Examples at the links below, including leading watch-industry websites Scottish Watches and The Time Bum. You can also find a wide range of award-winning ad copywriting on the Radio/Audio page.
PLAYING THE LONG GAME
(OR HOW I FOUND MY BOND WATCH)
BY D.C. HANNAY
Rolex. Breitling. Seiko. TAG Heuer. Omega.
These icons in the world of timekeeping have all graced the wrist of film’s most iconic superspy, Commander James Bond, Agent 007.
And with good reason: A rugged steel sportswatch from a legendary marque is the obvious choice for someone with his proclivity for action.
A watch able to keep up with the exploits of a man who might find himself making a HALO jump at dawn, then battling henchmen in full SCUBA gear beneath the South China Sea at dusk. And if your watch can fire a steel climbing cable, transform its bezel into a buzzsaw, or act as a Geiger counter, so much the better.
And without a doubt, 007 has had some great company along the way: the Rolex Submariner (notably the 6538 and 5513), the Breitling Top Time, the Omega Seamaster 300, and even the Seiko 7549-7009 “Golden Tuna”. Capable timepieces all, they’re sought by watch collectors and Bond fans alike. But a dive watch is hardly the right choice for a black tie affair. Which brings us to a mysterious gold watch. In fact, the very first watch to appear on-screen in any Bond film...
Read more at Scottish Watches
CITIZEN PROMASTER DIVER - WORKING CLASS HERO
BY D.C. HANNAY
...Not that long ago, if you wanted a reliable dive watch that didn’t empty your treasure chest of doubloons, you bought a Seiko. Usually, a Seiko SKX series, the gateway drug to all things dive watch. Sure, you could go with a Samurai, a Turtle, a Sumo, or any number of creatively nicknamed Seikos, but the SKX was the Official Dive Watch Starter Kit. They were cheap, reliable, and durable as all get out.
Unfortunately, Seiko has started an upmarket creep, discontinuing the SKX series recently. They’ve replaced it with the similar-looking-but-not-really Seiko 5 Sport series, with an upgraded movement, downgraded water resistance, and updated price points. You can still find the SKX model, but they now go for about double what they used to, which is kind of a dumb buy when higher-spec Seikos go for less.
So when someone asks me for my recommendation in the entry-level diver category (and they always ask), I have a new answer.
A contemporary classic since its release in 2017, the criminally underrated Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver, shown here on a Marathon rubber strap, is all the watch you need in this post-apocalyptic landscape known as 2021. It has become the watch I grab first when I don’t want to worry about my watch if that makes sense. It’s the perfect watch for someone who’s into watches, but not that into watches. And it’s widely available, usually at a shade over $200...
Read more at The Time Bum
ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS – THE NOOB’S GUIDE TO: FIELD WATCHES UNDER $300
- D.C. HANNAY
A wise man once said, “The road to horological enlightenment is paved with MVMTs”. Or maybe it was Invictas, or Daniel Wellingtons.
More of a wise guy, I reckon.
Bottom line, you can spend X amount of money on an overpriced, shiny trinket of dubious value, or for the same cash, get something nicer looking, with better build quality, and much more satisfying to own.
This is where Absolute Beginners comes in.
Maybe you’ve only worn a sketchy fashion watch given to you by a well-meaning relative. Maybe you want to see what wearing a certain size or style of watch is actually like before you drop the big bucks. Or perhaps you want to give a watch as a gift, but you might not know what to look for in a quality timepiece. Whatever your situation, the impetus behind this guide is to show that a decent watch can be had at virtually every price point (yes, even $20).
And to kick things off, let’s consider the field watch.
What is a field watch, you ask? Loosely defined, it’s a simple, rugged watch with its roots in the military (Google the ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches), with a functional, no-nonsense appeal that pairs with a wide variety of casual looks…sort of a Levi’s 501 of the watch world. The archetypical field watch has a black dial with Arabic numerals, highly visible hands (ideally luminous), in a smallish round stainless steel case. The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, at 36mm, is pretty much the ne plus ultra when you’re talking classic field watches. But many riffs have been written from that original tune, and now, the definition of a field watch is much more broad. They’re great everyday watches, and among the most versatile. The Seiko Alpinist, Sinn 556, and even the Rolex Explorer 1 could all be considered field watches, albeit upmarket ones. But pump the brakes, junior…we’re not ready to dive into the big-ticket horological deep end just yet.
When I decided to try a field watch for myself, the origin story couldn’t have been
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT VINTAGE -
THE DANISH DELIGHTS OF THE ABOUT VINTAGE 1926 AT’SEA AUTOMATIC
- D.C. HANNAY
If you love the look of a vintage timepiece, but are concerned about damaging your valuable relic, you’re certainly spoiled for choice these days. There seems to be no shortage of wrist candy inspired by the Golden Age of toolwatches. Would I love to rock an Omega Seamaster 300, Tudor Black Bay 58, or Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57? You bet I would, but food, clothing, and shelter will have to do for now. Lucky for us Budget Ballers, in addition to reissues from some of horology’s prestige names, you’ll also find a submarine-load of microbrands eager to find a place on your wrist, including offerings from Unimatic, NTH, Aevig, Lorier, EMG, Baltic, Marnaut, and more.
And you can add About Vintage to that growing list. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, their 1926 At’Sea Automatic (in black dial and bezel, fully black, and this one in blue) certainly ticks a lot of boxes for fans of retro divers that would rather not thrash their precious vintage piece. Upon first glance, you’ll see stylistic nods to one of the first purpose-built diven watches, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, as well as the seldom seen Gruen Ocean Chief, both of which are way too rare to risk actually getting wet. But if you look a little, ahem, deeper, you’ll find some design touches that set the At’Sea apart.
The overall minimalist aesthetic is decidedly Scandinavian, with the subtle logo just under 12, and the sans serif text of the (overly long) model name above 6. The wide blue/gilt bezel insert, with markings only every five minutes, lends a further uncluttered look. The leaf-shaped hour and minute hands are something you don’t see often, and they just work…at once unique and elegant. My favorite touch? The layered ‘sandwich’ dial hour markers, evoking vintage Panerai. That extra depth adds so much character…so simple, yet so attractive. And speaking of the dial: believe it or not, the only blue watch I ever owned was my very first watch, a tiny, blue-dialed Timex Mercury that I wore during the single digit years of my life, until it finally died, undone by the relentless battering of non-stop tree-climbing and Schwinn-jumping. Wearing the At’Sea had me wondering, “Why did I wait so long to wear blue again?” This dial, in its impossibly inky shade of midnight is, dare I say, one sexy beast. The color is so deep, it can look black in a certain slant of light, but then wide bezel insert, just a shade lighter, reminds your subconscious that nothing says cool like blue.
The 1926 At’Sea Auto clocks in at what I call a ‘Goldilocks’ size…a svelte-lugged 100 meter case in a vintage-correct 39mm diameter…‘just right’ for the majority of wrists, with a trim 47mm lug to lug measurement. The caseback screws down, and features a lovely etched wave design. Height is a reasonable 13mm, considering the profile of its gorgeous domed sapphire crystal. And although not specifically a dive watch trait, the screw-down ‘pearl onion’ crown is another nice vintage tip of the hat...
Read more at Scottish Watches
CMG STUDIOS SARATOGA
World-class sound in a relaxed, creative setting.
Scott MacPherson knows a thing or two about making great-sounding recordings. He ought to, after more than twenty years in the the music business.
A veteran producer and engineer of numerous major-label albums, MacPherson has worked with such diverse artists as Carlos Santana (La Bamba Soundtrack), Reba McEntire, Brian Setzer (Stray Cats), Hall and Oates, and the live recording of the Woodstock ’94 Concert. His experience also extends to a wide variety of major motion pictures and television shows, including Fatal Attraction, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Cheers.
With such extensive credits, one might wonder why MacPherson would open his own studio in the upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs. “I grew up in the area, and I saw the untapped potential of the region.”, he states. Apart from having an interest in guiding local talent through the recording process, as well as the maze of the music industry, Scott sees the location of the studio itself as an attraction to national clients. “Saratoga is a beautiful area, and a real world-class destination.”.
The relaxed atmosphere and international flavor of Saratoga, as well as MacPherson’s experience and reputation, make CMG Studios Saratoga a natural draw for recording projects in all facets of the industry.
After a day in the studio, clients can unwind in any number of ways. The studio lies in the heart of downtown Saratoga, convenient to shopping, dining, nightlife, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the world-famous Saratoga thoroughbred racetrack.
The facility itself is a very relaxed and inviting space, conducive to creativity, with an open control room, high ceilings, plenty of natural light, a full kitchen, lounge, and even a rooftop patio! All part of the CMG difference.
For quality, experience, and service, without the high cost of admission of big-city studios, CMG Studios Saratoga fits whatever production project you have, perfectly.
• MCI 24-track 2” analog
• Vintage MCI JH 636 inline console
• Unlimited digital tracks
• All major DAW suites
• Wide array of microphones from Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, and more
• Classic and modern outboard gear from Neve, Manley, Universal Audio, and more
• Westlake, Genelec, and Yamaha monitoring
• Open control room
• Spacious tracking room with 16’ ceilings, and abundant natural light
• 2nd post-production studio & editing suite
• Full kitchen
• Artist lounge
• Rooftop patio
• Dining, shopping, and nightlife just steps away
• 24-hour on-call maintenance
CMG STUDIOS SARATOGA
BLOC AROUND THE CLOCK: THE COLD WAR CHARMS OF THE VOSTOK AMPHIBIA
A brand-new vintage dive watch, at a bargain basement price? Is that even a thing? Well, sign me up, comrade!
Given the explosion in watch prices for everything vintage, from top-tier Swiss houses, to humble sub-brands, how is that even possible? Well, pull up a chair and pour yourself a Stolichnaya, my friend. The watch in question isn’t from a secret cache of undiscovered new old stock, gathering dust in the back room of an elderly watchmaker’s shop. Nor is it from a faux-vintage microbrand built in an undisclosed Asian factory.
It’s vintage because they never changed it.
The greatest legit watch nerd bargain, hands-down, has to be the Vostok Amphibia, a Cold War relic of the former Soviet Union, and serious piece of horological history, available in enough dial and case variants to satisfy almost anyone. They have some serious street cred in the engineering department, and their durability borders on the ridiculous (more on this later). Unbelievably, they can still be had for less than $80 bucks any day of the week. It’s like getting a brand-new ‘vintage’ tool watch for almost nothing.
Here’s their website, where you can read all about Vostok’s history, enjoy some highly entertaining Russian-to-English translations, and see some very sober portraits of the staff.
When you buy a new Vostok, it’s like you’re a time-traveller to an era when gas was 35 cents a gallon, classic rock was just called rock, and we lived under the threat of mutually assured thermonuclear destruction. Nearly unchanged since the sixties, the Amphibia has been discussed on forum pages for years, yet somehow, they remain a cult curiosity at best to the majority of watch collectors. It’s one of the most, pardon the expression, ‘inside baseball’ watches you can own, and one that holds its own compared to its more widely known (and higher-priced) competition.
And you should own one.
A bit of history: Vostok, the state-run maker of clocks, watches, and other timing equipment for the Russian military since before World War II, were tasked in the 1960’s to build their first legitimate dive watch, to better compete with tool watches coming from Switzerland, such as the Rolex Submariner. Faced with restraints of cost, materials, and the lack of capacity to machine parts with the same tolerances as their Swiss counterparts, the engineers were forced to come up with some innovative solutions.
When you first handle an Amphibia, you notice a few things. You might think “Oh, an acrylic crystal, no wonder it’s so cheap”.
And you’d be wrong.
The thicker than normal 3mm crystal was designed to withstand tremendous pressure at depth, and actually flexes slightly, creating a more water-resistant case.
The same goes for the stainless steel caseback. Instead of a single screw-in piece sealed with an o-ring, the design is a two-piece bayonet/lock ring affair, with a wide, specially formulated rubber flange acting as a seal that increases water-tightness the further you dive down, similar to a supercompressor design.
The Amphibia is renowned for water resistance well beyond the stated 200 meters, with ridiculous endurance tests all over YouTube, like this one of some guy exploding his in the name of science. Spoiler alert: this one doesn’t give out until around 500 meters...
Read more at Scottish Watches