Welcome to Issue No. 48

FRIDAY  /  MARCH 05, 2021
Featured Artist: @ricardorodriguezart
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Difficult conversations


Recently, I had an article published with a theme around ‘being a man’ in 2021. The feedback was positive and diverse and sometimes dissident. No one can agree exactly on what it means to be a man in today’s world (especially men). But everyone seems quite sure of their opinion.

The debate on manhood has followed my generation more than most. Much of it for the better. Like all young men, you become immersed in these topics at university, as the early-adopters of social media, and with your friends or girlfriends. The question permeates everything and almost every decision you make: What makes a man?

There are few things about being a man today that isn’t at least partly political. When I read a magazine (especially a men’s magazine) it seems to want to impose an idea of masculinity that is out of step with most guys I meet. It comes across more like a fanciful idea than a real one. One that insists we’re false to dress, or behave, in the same ways previous generations have (and by behave, I mean acts of chivalry, not anything genuinely outdated). It doesn’t suggest how we could be better men: how we could be more respectful towards women, or more open-minded about new ideas. Rather, it lectures on what we’re not doing, instead of what we could do to be better.

Many headlines I read today, especially in the fashion sphere, start, “Why you should…” or “If you’re not doing this…”.
You should wear pearl earrings, because Harry Styles does. If you’re not considering a unisex skirt or make-up, there’s something wrong with you. Fashion has always tried to lay the ground for the way we dress. But today, it seems more implicative. That by not adopting fluid styles of dressing, say, we’re being somewhat anti-progressive.

Personally, I think that’s silly. I believe in live-and-let-live, and besides I feel confident when I wear traditional menswear, or open a door for someone, and much of that has nothing to do with the way I feel about society. And I’m assuming it’s the same for you, too. But it raises a very interesting question (as you hover over your latest issue of a men’s monthly magazine): are they really discussing men in 2021, or what we should be doing to fit in, instead?

Two men, a race car and a square faced watch


Two guys, Steve and Haig, went to a race in France in 1970. It sounds like the start of a nostalgic tale of a road trip that once happened. However, the story of these two guys, a racing car and a square faced watch, is probably one of the most iconic in history.

Everything about the Heuer Monaco was a race against time from its very birth. Up until its reveal on March 3rd 1969, it had been in a “race” towards becoming the first ever automatically wound chronograph, in steep competition with Seiko and Zenith. So, there was no doubt that the Monaco was bound to be something special from the start. Mr. Jack Heuer was determined to make it stand out to suit the avantgarde movement and therefore sourced the cutting-edge, square faced and waterproof case that is now so iconic. Add to that, the name of one of the most iconic races on the formula 1 calendar, and you are off to a magnificent start.

Every legend needs a hero, but no one could have foreseen what happened, when the King of Cool, Mr. Steve McQueen, chose to strap the Heuer Monaco to his wrist, during the filming of the cult movie “Le Mans”. Actually, his initial choice was the Omega Speedmaster, but as Michael Delaney, Mcqueen’s character in the movie, already sported a Heuer logo on the chest of his racing suit, the field narrowed to either the Monaco or the Autavia. McQueen, surprisingly, took to liking of the Monaco’s peculiar design and thus ... the rest is history.

The story goes, that on the last day of filming, after having blasted down the Mulsanne Straight at 200 mph. Mcqueen pulled up in his Porsche 917K for the last time on the set, walked over to Haig Alltounian, strapped of the watch from his wrist, gifting it to his personal mechanic with the words “Thanks for keeping me alive all these months”.Mr Alltounian being a little reluctant to accept this generous gift, asked McQueen to gift it to someone else, to which McQueen replied, “It’s too late, it’s got your name on it.”


Books do furnish a room


You have a book collection right?
Of course you do. Every man does. Perhaps it’s a stack next to your bed, the oak-panelled library that you retire to in the afternoon, or the middle-aged shelving solution in between. Nothing a man owns says more about him than his bookshelf. Look at the books in a man's home and, as well as a glimpse of his life now, they'll tell you about where he's been and where he hopes to go.

Our bookshelves, not our eyes, are the real windows to our soul. The dog-eared copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X that you read whilst listening to hip hop in your teens. The Virginia Woolf collection that you read to impress that date — but fell in love with. The paperback copy of War and Peace that you tackle each winter, the one with the spine creases that finish like tracks in the snow somewhere around Moscow.
Not all books you read will spark joy — perhaps you donated those books to charity long ago.

Even a light reader however will amass a meaningful collection over time. I have a theory that a man, if he has aspirations to be a man at all, should own 1ft of books for each year of his life. It's a high bar in some circumstances perhaps, but then no one succeeded in life by aiming too low.
Books are an investment in yourself. You won't have read every book on the shelf, that's okay. You won't remember the contents of many that you have read as time passes either. If a book is good, it deserves to be read more than once, and read at different stages of life too. That's why when you move home, that gradual step towards the house with the library, your books move with you.

A good book teaches us something, a great book teaches us that there are other books we still need to read. A bookshelf is a reminder that you don't know everything. Smarter men before us have forgotten more than we'll ever learn and that's fine. Learning humility is all part of that education too. Books aren't a substitute for life, they can't satisfy hunger, but they are important seasoning for the meal when it comes, and may help you get a seat at the table.

Books help us make sense of life, they can't teach you everything but they're often the best place to start and the best place to retire to.

Stories from around the web

How to build a watch collection with $1K, $10K, or $100K
Assuming you're here to join a conversation about getting a watch collection up and running. We've set the budget in multiples of 10: Where do you go if you've got $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000 (lucky you) to get your watch collecting life off to a column-wheel-regulated start?
→ Read on HODINKEE

So you want to be a more “sustainable” shopper?
Shopping used to be a relatively simple activity — you see something, you like it, you buy it. But the pastime has grown much more complicated as individuals seek to align their clothes with their own values, sustainability weighing particularly heavy on shoppers’ minds.
→ Read on InsideHook

What's driving Elon Musk?

He's one of the technology industry's most high profile and controversial figures. Here, his family, friends and colleagues reveal the inside story of Elon Musk
→ Read on WIRED

An underwater wine aging experiment is showing “stunning” results

When discussing wine and spirits, you’ll hear a lot about climate, altitude and terroir. A lot of “land” elements there. Nobody talks about the ocean much, but that might be changing.
→ Read on InsideHook
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This month's Issue was brought to you by Alessandro Coltro, Casper Lundmose, Gary Harrison and Nikki Ximeri.
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Alessandro - Gents Cafe Founder
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