We’ve recently had a couple of really cold winter days here in New York City; the kind of bone-chilling weather where the wind whips at your face, your feet can’t ever seem to get warm, and you wouldn’t dare take a step outside your front door unless you were layered like an onion. On days like these, have you ever wondered how your automatic watches keep ticking away while everything around you freezes over? I know I have, and luckily, so have watchmakers. While you may need to brace yourself against the winter chill, watchmakers and their engineers have long considered the effects of temperature on a watch’s functionality and throughout the years have devised ways to fortify your favorite timepieces against the elements. One such advancement has been the use of synthetic oils, which offer far more latitude in colder climates and ensure that most of the timepieces in your stable function in even the most extreme of conditions.
But if you’re a tech nut like me, someone who loves over-engineered timepieces made for handling extremes, then I’d like to present to you a watch that takes cold-weather functionality to another level: the recently retired Sinn Arktis 203.
The Arktis is an engineering marvel, developed by Sinn in collaboration with renowned extreme diver, Mario M. Weidner. Their goal was to create a highly water-resistant mechanical divers’ chronograph capable of withstanding both the glacial temperatures and the extreme temperature ranges found on polar expeditions. For such purposes, the Arktis was built up with a lot of proprietary Sinn tech, including EDR seals optimized through the use of Sinn sealing grease 30-288 (responsible for creating a lower gas permeability rate than an ungreased ring at the same compression and temperature) and a movement lubricated with Sinn oil 66-228 (a fully synthetic oil that allows the 203 to run accurately from -45°C to +80°C). Aside from being a built-up beast, the Arktis is also a beauty. Sharing much of its DNA with the popular 103 series, the Arktis stands out with its wonderful blue galvanized dial. It was one of my highlights at the WatchBuys road show this year, and it’s definitely a shame that Sinn has put the Arktis out to pasture.
So what does one pair with the Arktis? Unless you’re Mario Weidner, it’s doubtful that you’ll ever encounter the extreme conditions the Arktis was designed to withstand. And let’s be honest, most of you out there are desk divers anyway, but I’m sticking to a theme here and given that it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, here’s my wintery take on a wardrobe worthy of the Arktis.
1. THE WINTER PARKA
When the weather dips into the single digits, it’s time to consider function over form. Put away that wool topcoat and get yourself a parka. The winter parka, invented by the Caribou Inuit and perfected by the military, has made a stylish return in recent years and is offered by many companies in a number of styles at varying price points. On the cheaper end, there’s Spiewak and Uniqlo, two brands known for putting out attractive, high-quality wares that won’t break the bank. I own this year’s Uniqlo parka-which comes in a variety of colors including olive, black, red, and khaki-and it has been my go-to jacket all winter. If you aren’t lucky to have a Uniqlo nearby and Spiewak doesn’t strike your fancy, then take a look at Canada Goose. Though pricier, Canada Goose is a well-respected brand made famous for their functional extreme-weather coats that many swear by. The Arctic Program Collection in particular features a number of attractive styles to choose from-the Langford being a personal favorite.
Uniqlo: approximately $160
Spiewak: approximately $300
Canada Goose: $600-$800
2. INVERALLAN SWEATERS
There are sweaters, and then there are Inverallan sweaters. Hailing from the Aran district of Scotland, Inverallan is responsible for putting out some of the finest hand-knit sweaters on the market. Made of 100 percent Scottish wool, each sweater is made by hand, a process so laborious that a single sweater can take one irreplaceable knitter at least 90 hours to complete (the tags are then signed by the knitter). The end result is a sweater as attractive as it is bulletproof. Seriously, these things can take a beating, and will likely outlive you and your kids. Inverallan no longer takes direct orders (something about the demand being so high that they now only deal with retailers) but there are a handful of e-stores who do stock their goods. I am partial to the 6A Shawl Cardigan, as I like to keep my neck nice and toasty in the winter.
Inverallan Wool Sweaters – $250-$300
3. TOUCH SCREEN LEATHER GLOVES:
I love leather gloves, but in the age of smart phones and touch screens, they’re just not practical. Not wanting to settle for fingerless gloves, which in my opinion are practically worthless on truly cold days when you need gloves, I found my answer from Mujjo. Using fine ingredients like Ethiopian leather and Egyptian cotton, Mujjo has created several styles that are not only attractive, but also compatible with touch screens. If the price is a bit much, they also offer more affordable options through their line of knitted and double-layered gloves, which look just as smart and would certainly pair well with your new parka.
Leather Crochet Touch Screen Gloves – $100
4. NAKED AND FAMOUS JEANS
To say that the premium denim market is oversaturated would be a massive understatement, and aside from a few Japanese and American companies producing high-quality wares, most of the overpriced jeans out there are just not up to snuff. One Canadian brand, however, comes to mind as a counter to that trend: Naked and Famous. At first glance, the brand may appear gimmicky, with their X-rated logo and more outlandish creations (scratch-n-sniff denim.) But looking deeper, one can see that Naked and Famous is actually producing interesting jeans, some of which are perfect for those single-digit days. Jeans too thin? Then try their super thick 19-ounce heavyweight option. Can’t deal with the heft and thickness of heavy denim? Then check out their windproof Snowpant denim. Available in a number of different fits, there is an option out there for every man.
Naked and Famous Jeans – $150-$300
5. L.L.BEAN SHEARLING-LINED BOOTS
American-made L.L.Bean Bean Boots are an American staple. If you don’t believe me, go treasure hunting in your grandfather’s closet; it’s likely he has an old pair tucked away somewhere. Seriously, when it comes to cold, wet, and slippery conditions, Bean Boots simply can’t be beat. L.L.Bean not only offers the original Bean Boot, but also a number of variations on the beloved design, including this great shearling-lined variation. With the waterproof design of the classic Bean Boot, its shearling-lined brother will ensure your toes stay dry and toasty all winter long.
L.L.Bean Shearling-Lined Boots – $199
by Ilya Ryvin