Shopping

PrintPrintEmailEmail
 
Wristwatch MONTANA MASTERPIECE

At the beginning of the twentieth century America produced the majority of the world’s watches. Companies like Hamilton, Elgin, and Illinois manufactured timepieces that set the standard for craftsmanship and reliability.

Three of the six diplomat stamps.
 
united states postal service2006_6_23
Wristwatch MONTANA MASTERPIECE

At the beginning of the twentieth century America produced the majority of the world’s watches. Companies like Hamilton, Elgin, and Illinois manufactured timepieces that set the standard for craftsmanship and reliability.

Today you can count on one hand the number of companies manufacturing watches in the United States. The Montana Watch Company is among an elite group of horologists who are keeping alive the tradition of homegrown, handcrafted wrist and pocket watches.

Each timepiece—the company produces no more than 500 a year—is assembled and hand-finished in the firm’s Livingston, Montana, studio. Cases, machined from a single piece of stock, are available in a choice of metals, including steel, silver, gold, and blue titanium. The watches are powered by mechanical movements regulated and decorated in-house.

Recently the Montana Watch Company introduced the elegant rectangular-cased Model 1930. This style of case, known as the “tank,” was originally designed by Louis Cartier. Inspired by the horizontal section of Renault tanks, introduced during World War I, the prototype was presented to Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, in 1918. By the 1930s the tank, with its Art Deco architecture, was completely in vogue and has remained a favorite ever since.

Like all of the Montana Company’s watches, the case of Model 1930 can be decorated with hand-finished techniques such as engraving and gem setting. The timepiece can be fitted with several straps, including American bison. Very appropriate.— Stuart Leuthner

Fifties Furniture THE SIDE TABLE AS SCULPTURE

In the late 1950s the famous American sculptor Isamu Noguchi set aside the material for which he’s best known and fabricated a few pieces from a very different one. “It seemed absurd to me to be working with rocks and stones in New York, where walls of glass and steel are our horizon, and our landscape is that of boxes piled high in the air,” he explained. “After some experiments, I asked the Aluminum Company of America to supply me with … sheet aluminum and, thus armed, set to work.” In addition to aluminum sculpture, Noguchi designed a few small side tables in the metal, and one of them is the most captivating piece of furniture I’ve seen from the age that spawned the International Style called Modern. While its geometric form, a trisectioned hexagon on three sharply tapered legs, distills that design idiom to its essence, the table also makes a witty personal statement. Noguchi, whose father was Japanese, fashioned something that seems to have been fabricated of folded paper, an allusion to the ancient art of origami that was part of his heritage. The elegantly simple prismatic table is now available in a reissue from Vitra, a European manufacturer that specializes in furniture from major designers, and reiterates its era’s less-is-more doctrine in visual language that elevates applied to fine art.— David Lander

Stamp SOBER SUPERHEROES

Probably no stamps have proven more popular in 2006 than a set issued to commemorate the action heroes of DC Comics. For months now Batman and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman have been superheroically leaping over post-office counters, dispensing thrills and justice to patrons forced to attest that every last envelope they want to send through the mail contains nothing liquid, fragile, hazardous, or perishable. But the consumer patience demanded by our present postal situation should make customers consider purchasing a much less flashy series of commemoratives than the DC Comics set—namely, the Distinguished American Diplomats Collection , which arrived at the post office on May 30.

Among this quietly tireless group of civil servants—none of them household historical names—is the stalwart Charles E. “Chip” Bohlen (1904–74), an early advocate of “containment” and President Eisenhower’s first-term ambassador to the Soviet Union. Bohlen and his philatelic counterparts dashed around the globe in pinstriped pants instead of tights and capes, but they got some awfully dangerous jobs done—in Bohlen’s case, the half-century-long effort to win the Cold War without our having to hear the great thermonuclear “POW!” and “BAM!” that we dreaded for so long.— Thomas Mallon