Happy New Year!

New Year 2015

It’s been a rewarding and fun year for us here at SOTD. We like to thank our increasing number of unwavering supporters, fellow bloggers on WordPress who have been subscribing to our posts, the many who encourage us to wish (and those disgusted by our wishing), as well as those who read us because they have enjoyed perusing what we have to say.

We wish all of you a happy and rewarding 2015!

Two Of A Kind: Block Party

Swatch & SonySwatch Touch (left) and Sony Smartwatch 3 (right)

Both have oblong faces and appear to wrap the wrist, and both allow touch-screen operation. But one is just smarter than the other. When Sony’s Smartwatch 3 made its appearance last month, and we had the chance to handle it recently, the device—better categorised by the fancier and geek-worthy name of “wearable”—immediately reminded us of the Swatch Touch. Put them side-by-side, however, the similarity immediately evaporates. Keep them apart, one reminds us of the other.

The Swatch Touch is clearly a piece of pre-Android Wear wrist fashion. With its curved digital display, and font that looks like an art deco take on Arabic script, the Swatch Touch was refreshing at the 2011 launch, given the tired looks of the standard Swatch offering. With Swatch’s fading popularity, the Touch appeared, even momentarily, like an attempt by the Swiss company to re-write the design of inexpensive fashion watches. Until Android Wear came knocking and gadget makers opened their doors.

Sony’s third iteration of the smart watch—this time, Android Wear-enabled—looks completely different from the previous two, just as the predecessor is unlike the debut piece. But while most of the competitors are making theirs look more like a watch (i.e. round-faced, such as Motorola’s Motor 360 and LG’s G Watch R), Sony’s is decidedly geeky, almost a toy, and rather Swatch-like. Not that that’s a bad thing. Far from it. For gadget that’s Dick Tracey-worthy, we prefer them to sport a rectangular screen in portrait orientation. If we’re going to use our watch to tell time as well as mirror some of the functionality of our smartphone, we really prefer something that comes across as an extension of our smartphone. Who really prefers to look at holiday shots or city maps cropped into a circle?

Time may be running out on 2014, but it’s only beginning for the smart watch. Okay, Google!

Swatch Touch, SGD195, and Sony Smartwatch 3, SGD298, are available at authorised dealers

There’s Never Too Many Totes!

Nanamica tote

A tote was, at one time, considered not too attractive to carry. The fact that it is an offspring of a shopping bag added to its lo-tech, no-school standing. But, in the end (or at present), practicality wins. The tote has become a firm favourite, one bag sans frills to hold all our worldly posessions when these are not atop shelves or kept in cupboards. And for those who must have a tote with clearly masculine leanings, there’s this roomy version by Japanese label Nanamica.

Going by the odd misnomer Briefcase, this is one tote with an unabashedly sporty personality. It is, in fact, a Nanamica signature style. What sets this apart is its roll-down opening, lending it an outdoorsy, gone-camping touch. The body is constructed with Cordura, that tough, water-repelling fabric so loved by Japanese bag makers (after Harris tweed!), and secured by leather buckled straps. Any executive with an office out in the woods? Or Pulau Ubin, maybe?

Nanamica was founded by Eiichiro Homma in 2003, and has largely remained one of those labels hankered after mostly by folks in the know. Eiichiro Homma is considered one of Japan’s most revered menswear designers and always regarded as the creative force that spearheaded the North Face Purple Label (exclusively sold in Japan), the precursor to The North Face Standard, currently considered to be the country’s best kept style secrets.

With an approach to design that draws from outdoor wear and gear, Nanamica has always captured the Jap spirit of merging utility heft with near-traditional designs. These are not wayward styles but amalgamations that are practical yet stylish.

Modern classics in the making? You bet.

Nanamica Briefcase tote, SGD 420, is available at Surrender, Raffles Hotel Arcade