Monday, July 20, 2009

Good Sh*t from Hawaii: Bathys Watch Co. 100Fathoms Automatic

I've lived most of my life in Hawaii and, yes it's paradise. I wouldn't live anywhere else, but really, its greatest claims to fame are Don Ho (R.I.P.) and Hawaii Five-O. Hardly illustrious by the standards of polite society but if so moved, I can give polite society such a philodemic bitch-slapping on the merits of both Uncle Don (Tiny Bubbles. 'Nuff said) and H5O (Jack Lord's sharkskin suit, to begin with) it would be ugly. Honestly though, as much as everyone would love to visit the Islands, not everyone truly appreciates all the different amazing things they have to offer.

And so I hereby inaugurate Good Sh*t From Hawaii, beginning with the Little Watch Company That Could, which, as it turns out, comes straight outta Kauai. Bathys is run, almost single-handedly by John Patterson. John, as far as I can tell is nothing if not a fine time manager (no pun intended), who balances scientific endeavors (i.e. his day job) with horological entrepreneurialism, a love of Hawaiian watersports, and an appreciation of vintage automobiles (old Volvos, SLs, and Willys jeeps).

Bathys hit the watch scene only a few years ago as the only watch company from Hawaii to offer Swiss made precision timepieces. The term Swiss Made is jealously protected by, well, the Swiss, to ensure quality and superlative workmanship, so you know you can count on a Bathys. I have one of the original 100 Fathom automatics, actually a 2nd generation Bathys, in stainless steel with a black dial. I bought it on the strength of the Bathys reputation, which grew thanks to the internet, and because of this very evocative photograph (taken from the Bathys Website):

This image, depicting the arm of an eco-adventurer pal of John, spoke to me. It told me the watch was just a bit different but still tasteful, and I just had to have it. As you can see, this watch sits proud of the wrist, a 41mm beautifully brushed silver stainless steel case on a waterproof leather band with contrast stitching, big green numbers and a blood-red sweep second hand. It boasts a slightly curved sapphire crystal that distorts at flat angles (love it or hate it, the former for me) and thunks reassuringly when you tap it with your fingernail. It also has a beautiful chapter ring indexed both in 60 seconds and 24 hours, also in confident red, black, and white. Lastly, the face is marked with one of my favorite words: "Hawaii", and on the case back John has engraved and labeled the main Hawaiian Islands. Here's mine, serial # 6155, on my lanai railing wearing the original leather strap with deployant buckle (enlarge the image, seriously, get a load of the face!):

And here it is, at a waterfall on Kauai, wearing an aftermarket solid-link stainless steel bracelet. John will be coming out with his own bracelet with fitted lugs soon:

And finally, here we are diving on a pod of spinner dolphins on the island of Lanai and sporting a nylon NATO strap:
Because of the absence of a timing bezel, it can't really claim to be a complete dive watch. However, with a 200 meter depth rating, a spirited argument to the contrary can be made. What the watch is, in fact, is a consumate watersports watch that can be surfed, paddled, swum, or worn diving, as I have done many times, without issue. In that way, it is as Hawaiian as can be. Unlike a pure diver, however, it is stylish enough to be worn to court in a suit, as I have done probably weekly. In that way, it is as OnceWereBachelorean as can be.

In a short span, Kauai resident John Patterson, a man after my own soul (and therefore yours too) has taken his little watch company from internet pipsqueak to cult favorite, a three-time (and counting) invitee to the illustrious Basel Watch Fair in, where else, Switzerland. John has expanded his line of watches to include the classic 100F (my favorite), a variety of imposing dive watches called Benthics, to their newest line of lunar phase ladies watches called Wahine (Hawaiian for, well, woman). Alas, Bathys have made the jump from internet sales only to brick and mortar retail at stores on the East Coast and London, but it's still the same great watch, with the same great customer service and approachability.

So the uninitiated may think that Hawaii is all kitsch and tack, but really if you look hard, you can find a lot of Good Shi*t From Hawaii, starting with Bathys.

For more info on Bathys, go to John's website, Do yourself a favor and let the intro play so you can hear a great cover of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" on ukulele. Make sure to turn it up.

John, I hope you don't mind me borrowing pictures off your website. This is, after all, an unsolicited and unpaid-for testimonial for I am no shill. However, if you want me to remove them, let me know and I would be happy to do so immediately.


M.Lane said...

Great post! Great looking watch.

What I like most though is the watchmaker's story. Someone so passionate about something he got off his butt and DID it. And succeeded madly. Love it.

Also, I can make the argument rather well that H5O was the first watershed television show and did for the second era of TV what Miami Vice did for the third. I love both shows, but I love Jack Lord's clothes more.

I look forward to the next GSFH.


Ben said...

Tintin. Thanks brother. I put in an order, a big one. I've deleted your comment for OpSec.


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John Patterson said...

Thanks for all the kind words.

Big Mahalos from Kauai!

_ John @ Bathys

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