Thursday, June 28, 2018

Glashütte Spezimatic Cal. 75 "UFO"

With the exit of Germany from the World Cup, I thought about posting on something German. One watch brand that had eluded me was Glashütte. It is of German make and is now classified as a luxury watch under the brand Glashütte Original and part of the Swatch Group. This came about from the privatization of what was VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB) of East Germany after the unification of the country after the fall of the Iron Curtain. My first Glashütte is a bit unusual - the UFO.

Interesting color for the watch face, which shows a date feature
Side view showing the watch thickness and the relatively big crown
Another side view
A front and center photo of the watch - what appear to be lumes on the hands and dial are not but are helpful for reading the time even in poor lighting.
The case back indicates this was made in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or East Germany. The inscription of GUB is there and there is also an inscription showing what looks like symbols of the mining industry - probably a recognition for 25 years of service. "Goldplaque" means this is a gold-plated watch.
The watch on my wrist
I have not opened the watch but this photo came from the seller. This is a Cal. 75, which runs at 18,000 beats per hour
I got this watch from a seller in Poland. It is quite a challenge to find legitimate watches online as vintage watches of this brand are quite popular and desirable for its quality and designs. Earlier, I had tried to get one while I was a trip in Europe but couldn't get the opportunity to explore (I wasn't on vacation but on official travel). Glashütte watches are quite expensive from sellers in the Philippines and it is less expensive to source them from abroad. One seller posted on watches that were priced between 20,000 to 30,000 pesos when similar legitimate models can be purchased for less than half those prices. These were still much less expensive even when you add the cost for expedited shipping through Fedex or DHL.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Chocolate review: Royce Nama Chocolate

The Clairvoyant made a stopover in Tokyo on her way back from the US and made sure to purchase some chocolates at the Royce store at Narita Airport. She wasn't able to get us some chocolate-covered potato chips but got a couple of boxes of the Nama Chocolate that's on a quite different level in terms of taste and texture.

Box of Royce's Nama Chocolate
Back of the box containing details on the chocolate but in Japanese
Opening the box, one sees that the chocolates are in a sealed foil.
Opening the foil reveals the container with chocolate squares and a pick for making "tusok-tusok" the chocolate.
Each chocolate square is enveloped by fine powder cacao.
I cannot say anything negative about this chocolate. It is smooth, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Our daughter loves it and we were amused by her expression the first time she tasted this chocolate. She has been quite picky about chocolates. We don't really give her a lot as it may affect her milk teeth and, of course, there is the matter of her becoming hyper if she had too much sugar.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Up in the Clouds Ice Cream, Maginhawa Street

We were looking for a place to have dessert at after having a quick lunch in the Teacher's Village area when we spotted what looked like a newly opened ice cream shop along Maginhawa Street. "Up in the Clouds Ice Cream" is on the ground floor of the building hosting a branch of Anytime Fitness. It is right across from Bo's Coffee near the intersection of Maginhawa and Magiting Streets.

Shop counter using the ice cream containers as display
Interesting spot in the shop with a lone stool and lamp set-up with an accent wall backdrop. I guess this is more for photo ops than as a seating place to enjoy your ice cream?
Writings on the wall
Ice cream selection
They have some original flavors including a dark chocolate concoction they call "Dark Side of the Frost"
Descriptions of their regular flavor offerings
Other desserts available at the shop
Another look at the counter
Their ice cream is okay though not as creamy as others like Baskin Robbins or Sebastian's. Of course, it is not (yet?) at the level Gelatissimo, Caramia or the other established gelato cafes. I wouldn't even go to comparing it with Carmen's Best or the other local artisan brands out there. Still, it is a nice addition to the collection of restaurants in Teachers Village.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Citizen Homer Second Setting - Railroad Watch

Happy Fathers' Day!

Easily one of my favorites is this Citizen Homer Second Setting manual wind watch. I chanced upon it being sold by its previous owner who was letting go of some of his collections. I was actually inquiring about another watch until he posted photos of this watch and I became curious when he labeled this as a railway watch.

Simple watch face with dauphine hands and arabic numerals. The brand and model are written in cursive script. It is a very functional, practical design given that train drivers and station staff use this for what could be the most punctual train services in the world.
Side view of the watch
Side view showing the crown, which bears the brand logo 'CTZ'
The engraving reads: Top - Showa 48 (Refers to the 48th year of the reign of Emperor Hirohito = Showa and translates to 1973). Middle - watch number (this was issued to railroad staff, particularly to those running the trains). Bottom - First two kanji reads 'Koku Tetsu', which is an abbreviation of Kokuritsu Tetsudo (National Railways). The Kanji in parenthesis refers to the Japan National Railways division where the watch was issued; in this case the first kanji is likely to be for Kanazawa and the second is 'division'.
It's easy to fall in love with the simpler, non-luxury watches like this Citizen Homer. And to be honest, I would prefer to wear these kinds of watches for most days, which is also the main reason why I have preferred to wear my old Seiko Kinetic after all these years.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Chocolate review: Vanini Dark Chocolate 74% with cocoa nibs

It's nice to have some chocolate on rainy days like the ones we are now experiencing in Antipolo due to Habagat. And this is not limited to the hot chocolate that we can enjoy any time of the day. We opened one of the Italian chocolates in our cache. We selected a bar that I remember we got from Bacchus at Shangri-la Edsa. That store had a pretty good selection of Italian chocolates and we never fail to pick up a few to go with the wines that we purchase there once in a while.

The maker prominently states the use of Bagua Cocoa, which is a superior quality cocoa originating in Peru
Details on the chocolate at the back
Information on the cacao and the principles in making this chocolate including fair trade and the use of non-GMO cacao.
Nutrition information, ingredients and the manufacturer. If you hover your smart phone on the label, it will detect the code and prompt you to open the company's website.
We were surprised when we opened the packaging to find more information about the chocolate inside.
Detailed information on the cocoa/cacao used for this chocolate, which is Bagua cocoa. This is supposed to be the original cacao from the Amazon that was later on spread to other countries.
The company's slogan and intentions are good. We can just hope that they are really helping make these realities at present.
This was another excellent chocolate that goes very well with wine, coffee, tea or even hot chocolate. I don't exactly recall the price but it did not exceed 150 pesos, which is pretty good bang for the buck for 100g of excellent quality chocolate. We'll definitely get more of these the next time there's an opportunity.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hiding behind the numbers

Warning: This is an opinion post.

It is amusing to me when we try to get too technical as if we are trying to convince ourselves that something is right because of the technicalities. It is like hiding behind the numbers and it gives a new meaning to "lost in translation".

One example is the brouhaha about what was first reported as a statement by a government official on the monthly income required to survive for a family of 4. Ten thousand pesos per month seems to be a very low figure for those from the middle to upper income classes. But then it is a lot from the perspective of minimum wage earners. And a lot of us can do the math and show that this amount is not enough for a decent living. We can debate about benefits (e.g., free education, CCT, etc.) and assumptions but realistically we cannot deny that 10,000 pesos is only for survival, which is quite far from a decent living. I pity friends in that agency who are trying to explain their bosses' statements. They make poor apologists for something that's indefensible unless you get "technical".

An acquaintance opined that the reporter was editorializing. But then what was reported was how people, in this case many if not most of the reporters, understood the statement made. Later a more senior official made another statement in an attempt to clarify the numbers mentioned earlier. It only showed how far from reality certain officials are in their views. As another acquaintance puts it - the official is in denial about the difference between minimum wage and the income required to have a decent life in this country. I wonder what adjective you can use for those not earning this "decent" income level? And before I forget, one journalist has proof that the earlier statement on 10,000 pesos was literally expressed - the journalist has a recording of the statement.

The same acquaintance opted to stick with his opinions and cited more numbers, using statistical terms that actually would make no sense to the very people that are the subject of discussions on income. I was personally disappointed with the person whom I thought was quite objective and sometimes critical about economics during the GMA and PNoy times. What's changed with him? I'd rather not say here.

Meanwhile, many of our countrymen are toiling to make a living just to survive...


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Doxa manual wind watch

Doxa is another Swiss brand that almost disappeared during the 1970s when quartz watches, mainly those made in Japan, flooded the market with relatively inexpensive watches. It was supposed to have survived but to me somewhat seems obscure compared to the more popular Swiss brands. In fact, I have been to many international airports including Dubai, Schipol, Narita, Changi, Hong Kong and Incheon but haven't seen their watches there.

Simple watch face with pencil hands and no day or date complications. I like watches with sub-seconds. Its probably why I took this one.

The case body and particularly the back has been polished. I was actually more curious about the mechanism with the leather strap. Its a quick release of sorts that allows you to detach the straps from the watch.

I recorded the storage twice for this watch and I got an average of 52 hours on full winds. The watch though runs late and loses about 21 minutes per day! So I had it serviced and learned the back was actually made of zinc thus the unusual feel of the material when it was removed to show the movement. I was not able to take a photo of the movement but it was unsigned so it may be a generic movement unlike the other watches I've featured that were all signed and could be verified as either Swiss or Japanese made.

I got back the watch a couple of weeks after, and my watchman told me that it had a Swiss movement and beat at 18,000 bph. He was also surprised to learn it ran for more than 2 days after observing it a number of times. I observed it twice since and recorded about 52 hours each time.

Here's the watch on my wrist.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Rest in peace, Mama Puring

Another beloved aunt recently passed away. Purissima Fajardo-Ermino or Mama Puring as we fondly called her was the younger sister of my mother. I had photos of her in my old album but that, too, was destroyed by the flood of 2009 (Ketsana/Ondoy). The following collage was created by a cousin who posted about our aunt's passing early last Friday, June 1st.

Mama Puring succumbed to complications after she suffered a massive stroke earlier last week. My uncle, her husband, who is a retired police officer decided against her going under surgery as the prognosis was not promising and upon conferring with relatives thought they would just be prolonging her suffering as there was no assurance of a recovery. 

Mama Puring was a public school teacher; one of many in both sides of my family. She practically raised two of my cousins from another aunt who went home immediately after learning of her stroke. She and her husband didn't have their own biological child but have an adopted daughter who was there by her side when she expired. I knew of her mostly from my mother who related on how my aunt was very generous with my cousins back in Sorsogon. Their side of the family was not an affluent one. An older aunt and uncle depended on farming to raise their two children; one of whom became a registered nurse. An uncle, the youngest among the siblings, had to work many jobs including factory worker, bus conductor and farmer. He and his wife persevered, too, and now my cousins are better off than their parents were with one cousin now with the Marines. Mama Puring helped bridge the financial gaps particularly when it came to my cousins' schooling. Hers was a very generous, unselfish heart.

My siblings and I were careful in breaking the news of her stroke to my mother. We were afraid that she would become depressed after learning of the condition of her sister. So far, so good it seems and she took the news pretty well and resigned to the fact that this was something more serious than what she herself experienced.

Paalam, Mama Puring. May your soul rest with Our Creator.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Chocolate review: Alluvia Chocolate Cocoa Nibs

I mentioned a second Alluvia bar. I opened this while the Clairvoyant was away last May but felt I had to seeing the 'Best Before' to be a year after the production date. It was a good excuse. :)

Alluvia's dark chocolate with cocoa nibs
Details on the chocolate at the back of the package including the price tag
The cacao used for the chocolate is from an area in the Mekong Delta
There's no mention about the minimum cacao content and not so much details about the nutritional value.
The wrapper reminded me of the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with its golden ticket
Seal for this high quality chocolate
This bar turned out to be a good one despite it being way past the "Best Before" indication. I didn't get a tummy ache from eating this chocolate (over a few days) so I think its time in the refrigerator preserved it enough. It was not as smooth as the first Alluvia bar but then perhaps that's because I didn't eat it at at time it was supposed to be eaten. Add to that the cocoa nibs infused in the chocolate that also influenced the taste. I would recommend this chocolate for those who go to Vietnam and want to find some nice souvenirs. The quality, for me, was a pleasant but not a big surprise considering they should be able to grow high quality cacao in Vietnam where they already produce top quality coffee.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Laco manual wind vintage watch

An interesting watch in my collection is this Laco, which I got from a seller from Greece. This is the same one I got my Helbros alarm from. This is a watch from 1937, and easily the oldest in my collection. It is older than my Jaeger (ca. 1948) and my Timor (ca. 1945/46).

The watch has a simple face with a width of 33mm except for the crown. The lighting doesn't do justice on this watch.
The side view provides a better angle for appreciation of the patina on this watch.
Another side view showing an old watch in very good condition
A clear view of the crown

The watch back is pristine and shows gold plating and Laco emblem
This watch does not have spring bars but has a bar solidly connecting the lugs. I was glad it came with a customized strap as it would be difficult to find straps for this beauty.
This reads: 20 microns gold-plated
I have not opened the watch but it is supposed to have been recently serviced. The photo above of the Durowe 410 movement is from the seller. This beats at 18,000 A/h and is supposed to last about 40 hours on a full wind.
Here's a photo of the watch on my wrist as I submitted grades last Friday.
The watch keeps very good time. On a full wind, it is supposed to last about 40 hours. I timed it to about 43 hours! This came as a pleasant surprise for this 81-year old gem of a timepiece that's made in Germany.