“Watches, Stories, and Gear” is a roundup of our favorite content, watch or otherwise, from around the internet. Here, we support other creators, explore interesting content that inspires us, and put a spotlight on causes we believe in. Oh, and any gear we happen to be digging on this week. We love gear.
Share your story ideas or interesting finds with us by emailing our Managing Editor at [email protected].
Header Image Via: James Webb Space Telescope
It’s been quite the year for Watches, Stories, & Gear. We’ve come across some amazing stories and incredible photographs from all over the world, and even a few that stretch all the way to the cosmos. We’ve seen a slew of fast cars, rugged off-roaders and even a flying Land Rover. We’ve recommended books, documentaries and a ton of movie trailers. We love movies so much that we even started a podcast dedicated to the intersection of time and film. Then there was the endless amount of gear; some of which actually made its way into our packs, closet and gear wall.
We’re sure you’ve recently seen us recap the year in watches – from our favorite collaborations and purchases, to what watches surprised us the most. So we decided to do the same for our favorite stories and gear in 2022. Check out the collection of our favorite WSG stories that we found interesting, amusing and moving from 2022. Let us know what your favorite story was from 2022 in the comments below.
Breathtaking Captures By The Jason Webb Space Telescope
This week saw the release of the first batch of images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and as heavily anticipated as they were, they somehow still managed to exceed expectations. The infrared space observatory launched late last year, after initial inception back in the mid-’90s to serve as a next generation telescope to Hubble, which launched in 1990. The first images to come from the JWST provide humanity with their clearest, deepest, and most detailed view of the universe to date, and signal high hopes for what’s to come.
The first image to be revealed takes a very deep look at a very small piece of the night sky. The view is of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which had previously been imaged by the RELICS Treasury Program with Hubble (HST) over the course of nearly 2 weeks. JWST offers a much clearer, and indeed more populated image of the same cluster, which, by contrast, took the new telescope about 12 hours to capture. The view is unprecedented, depicting red shifted galaxies previously unseen, offering a detailed view of the early universe behind SMACS 0723. Additionally, dramatic gravitational lensing is clearly apparent, twisting and distorting light traveling through the immense gravity of the structure. In total, Webb’s First Deep Field offers a tantalizing glimpse of what we can expect in the coming months and years as science experience begins in earnest.
Those were the recent words of eccentric rock climber, longtime surfer, environmentalist. and Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, after he announced that he and his family will relinquish their ownership of the outdoor apparel company after 50 years. We’ve come to know Patagonia as a company that has revolutionized how a company should go about their business in regards to leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible. They’ve found innovative ways during the apparel manufacturing process to avoid using harmful chemicals and dyes, adopted organic cotton and established a repair-recycle program to prevent customers from casually buying new gear, and shifting focus to maintain the things they already have. They’ve even gone as far as putting out a Black Friday ad-campaign one year that said, “Don’t buy this jacket.” Chouinard has also changed the perspective of how employers should treat their employees. In his book, Let My People Go Surfing, he recounts introducing on-site childcare, unlimited PTO and like the title of the book suggests, letting his employees go surfing whenever the conditions are appropriate.
Patagonia has been a leader across all industries and now, is giving 3 billion reasons why other companies around the globe should take note on what it means to stay true to what you stand for. Not to worry, although the Chouinard’s no longer own Patagonia, the ethos and foundation of the company will continue. They’ve made sure of that by establishing two new non-profit organizations; Patagonia Purpose Trust and Holdfast Collective. Patagonia Purpose Trust, which will be headed by the Chouinard family and their closest advisors, will receive 2% of the company’s total worth and will be tasked with ensuring the company stays on track with their mission and commitments. The other 98% will be transferred to Holdfast Collective where all their profits, about $100 million a year, will be allocated to various programs across the globe that are fighting the good climate change fight. Chouinard says it best in his recent letter to the public, “Instead of going public, we’re going purpose.”
We can all learn a thing or two from what Patagonia did this week and what they have done the past 50 years. And when the dust settles from this surprise announcement, we can be comfortable knowing that Patagonia will continue to do what they’ve been doing for the next 50 years.
Field Report: Becky Kagan Schott & Seiko Return To Explore Antarctica
Becky Kagan Schott is one of those people where it’s hard to describe what she does because she’s so proficient at so many things. She’s an accomplished technical diver, experienced underwater photographer/videographer, consummate explorer and oh, an Emmy Award winner (five of them to be exact). Last November, Schott and Seiko teamed up for an expedition to the Matanuska Glacier located in Alaska to do what very few people have done, and that’s to dive inside a glacier and document their findings. From making multiple gear runs in an R44 helicopter just to get situated at the dive location, braving temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit and accessing a stable Glacial Moulin (essentially a pothole in the ice) to dive in, the expedition was a true adventure. The real danger lies within the dive, as the glacier could unpredictably move and drain at any moment, but what Schott was able to successfully reveal were the unique and spectacular underwater glacial caves beneath the ice.
Well, Schott and Seiko are back again for another expedition and this time it’s to the frozen land of Antarctica. The project will involve documenting the environments that they encounter with the intention of showing how the landscape is being impacted, whether by human or natural causes. Schott and Seiko have shared their experiences with us over the past couple of days as she and her team traveled to Ushuaia and embarked on a ship through Drake Passage encountering swells up to 30 feet. Below is the most recent check-in from Schott.
January 5th, 2022 “We just passed the South Shetland islands and are entering the Antarctic peninsula. The seas today were much calmer around 5-10 feet. Our first iceberg came into view and it was stunning! A massive piece of ice that just kept getting bigger as we moved closer to it. A few penguins jumped next to the ship welcoming us to Antarctica. It feels surreal to see one of the least explored places on the planet. Tomorrow we will go ashore and take the zodiacs around the icebergs and glaciers”
World Record For Solo Flight Around The Globe
This past week, Zara Rutherford completed her record breaking solo circumnavigation of the world. Her entire journey took approximately 5 months in which she flew above 52 countries, covering over 32,000 miles of flight travel in a Shark UL ultralight aircraft. And, get this, she’s only 19 years old, making her the youngest female to ever complete a solo flight around the globe. She’s also the first Belgian to make the trip solo, and the first woman to do so in an ultralight aircraft. A project like this doesn’t come without obstacles, especially when you factor in country visas, unpredictable weather, and extended periods of time flying over landscapes where a rescue would have been impossible in the event her plane’s engine were to stall. Many of us are familiar with the logistics and stress involved in flying from one place to another, all without the added challenge of actually piloting the plane. Rutherford handled everything like a pro, and managed to make it back in one piece. Not bad for a 19 year old. Check out the full storyhere.
James Barkman’s 30,000 Mile Adventure Along The Pan-American Highway
Here on WSG, we’re suckers for a good story and a proper adventure. Recently we came across a relatively new podcast called Seager Storytime produced by the folks behind the old west grit inspired apparel company, Seager Co. On episode 2 of the podcast, the guys hosted the talented photographer and mountaineer James Barkman. Barkman goes into detail about how he got into photography, climbing mountains and the journey that ultimately led to his 30,000 mile adventure along the Pan-American Highway. Between the obstacles of riding a motorcycle for a little more than a year straight, encounters with avalanches at high altitudes and the lengths that Barkman went to get the right photo, his journey has it all. Listen to his full story on the Seager Storytime podcast and if you want some great imagery from this adventure, check out his feature article on Iron & Air.
Countdown To The Artemis 1 SLS Launch
This whole week has been one giant countdown for the uncrewed launch of Artemis 1, NASA’s Space Launch System mega-rocket. It is the first of three launches that will ultimately lead to a crewed mission with Artemis 3 and a lunar landing. That’s right, we’re going back to the moon (fingers crossed)! The mission for Artemis 1 is to send the Orion spacecraft into space, then into our moon’s orbit, and then back to Earth, testing all crucial systems in preparation for a crewed flight in later missions. The Artemis 1 will use 8.8 million tons of thrust to leave Launch Pad 39B and to clear Earth’s atmosphere to begin its journey to that tiny rock in the sky we see every night. Weather and technical systems permitting, the Artemis 1 has the green light to launch on Monday August 29th, between 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM EDT. You can tune in live to the current mission briefings happening throughout the weekend, or a live shot of the Artemis 1 SLS mega-rocket through the free online NASA broadcast.
A Watch Auction Benefiting The World Kitchen’s Efforts In And Around Ukraine
We’re dedicating this edition of Watches, Stories, & Gear in its entirety to a watch auction being organized by our friends at RedBar and Revolution for the benefit of the World Central Kitchen. This organization has been on the ground in and around Ukraine feeding people in regions affected by conflict, and bringing aid to those looking to flee.
The World Central Kitchen was founded by Chef José Andrés in 2010 after an earthquake devastated Haiti. Since then, Andrés and his team have “created a new model for disaster relief helping devastated communities recover and establish resilient food systems.” When conflict began affecting regions of Ukraine, the WCK wasted no time in hitting the ground to reach those in need. Read more about the work they’re doing in full right here.
CEO of RedBar Group, Kathleen McGivney, on finding a way to help:
“As I saw the events in Ukraine unfolding, I wanted to do something to help. I had the idea to do a watch auction to support World Central Kitchen’s efforts in and around Ukraine, so I reached out to Wei Koh of Revolution and asked him if he’d like to join forces to help. He immediately said yes, and we both got started with outreach to brands and collectors to donate pieces for the auction.
The response from the industry and the community has been absolutely incredible. I’m thrilled and heartened by the outpouring of support and am excited to see how much we can raise to support World Central Kitchen and their ongoing work on the ground distributing nourishing food and fresh meals across the region.”
Field Report: Bremont Ambassador Kristin Harila Sets Her Sights On Phase 2 Of The Bremont 14 Peak Challenge
It was only two weeks ago when Bremont Ambassador Kristin Harila completed Phase One of her Bremont 14 Peaks challenge. This in itself is an incredible feat considering she climbed (in order) Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in just 29 days. Harila also broke her previous record that was set last year for the fastest female time to summit Everest and Lhotse in which she completed in a lightning quick 9 hours. In a recent interview with Explorersweb, Harila describes some of the challenges she encountered during Phase 1 of the challenge, “On Annapurna, you could feel the place was dangerous. On Dhaulagiri, loads and loads of snow to deal with. And on Makalu, the beginning of the summit push was terrifying.”
Harlia’s forays into the Himalayas may sound familiar as this is the same challenge Nimsdai Purja completed in 2019 with his “Project Possible”. Nims knocked out all 14 peaks in an astonishing 6 months and 6 days, breaking the previous record of 8 years. Harila will attempt to match Nim’s record and it already seems that she’s ahead of Nim’s pace (Nims completed the first 6 summits in 31 days) after her completion of Phase 1. Harila has been very open about her approach to the challenge and her use of climbing aids via supplemental O2 and helicopter transportation, as well as the assistance from her two highly experienced team members Dawa Wongchu Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa.
Accompanying Harila on wrist throughout her expeditions is the Bremont S300 which has already proved its reliability and durability in Himalayas. Harila’s main goal for the Bremont 14 Peak Challenge is to raise awareness for all female mountaineers and she looks to continue her success starting with Phase 2 and her attempt at summiting Nanga Parbat. Stay tuned to this space as at some point we’re looking to chat with Harila one on one about her experience, obstacles and all things gear during her Bremont 14 Peak challenge.
If You Think You Know Toto Wolff … Think Again
Mercedes is not having the season they expected to have when they put the W13 car out on the track during testing earlier this year. Between both Hamilton and Russell, they have a total of 14 podiums this year, but with only three races to go, they have yet to finish first. Uncharted territory for a team that has dominated the last decade of Formula 1. And amidst all the talk that Mercedes is down and out, team principal Toto Wolff seems stoic as ever.
Toto Wolff doesn’t seem phased by much. Sure, there’s the occasional emotional outburst during the race, which in my opinion have been justified reactions based on the decisions made by the FIA dating back to the Abu Dhabi GP last year, but I’ve digressed. Whether he’s at his usual spot sitting in the garage monitoring the race or answering pressing questions by the media afterwards, he’s the same even-keeled individual. But in a recent New Yorker article written by Sam Knight, we find out how insanely competitive he is and the lengths he goes to stay on top of his entire team. From sending company wide motivational emails encouraging each employee to do better than their Redbull counterpart, to showing the hygiene manager how to clean the toilets properly. It’s a fun (and long) read. And if you’re a Mercedes fan, you’ll come away confident that they’ll be back and competitive as ever with Wolff at the helm.
Making Connections: Old Porsches & New Porsches
Via Porsche / Car & DriverAs fabulous as some of the modern Porsche offerings may be, the old stuff is where you’ll find much of the brand’s considerable personality. Car & Driver, in their infinite wisdom, got a batch of old and new Porsche models together to compare and contrast against one another. The results were about as you’d expect, but seeing the older cars alongside their modern (kinda) counterparts proves a keen reminder of the legendary roots of this legendary German brand. While there’s nothing too insightful about the road tests, it’s worth it for the snaps of the 914/6 alone. Head over to C&D for the full story.