Andrew Revitt

M Magazine Issue 1

30 March 2015

M Magazine

Published by Leica Fotografie International M Magazine is dedicated to photographs from the legendary Leica M camera. Issue No.1 features photographers; Bruce Gilden, Trent Parke, Alex Webb, Jan Grarup, Anton Kusters, Ciril Jazbec amongst others.

M Magazine

Running to 194 perfect bound pages and printed on a fine quality thick paper, the photographs are as well presented as you would expect from LFI. Retaining the classic Leica M look throughout without gloss or embellishment, this is more book than magazine. Certainly better quality than LFI's own magazine. With no advertisments and minimal amount of type set in a simple serif typeface, it's a fine way to illustrate the Leica M's merits.

The content has something for everyone and maintains the photo journalistic bent Leica M is known for. Probably not the most iconic collection of photographs and no information on the upcoming printing schedule would be the only downsides. A obvious purchase for the M aficionado.


The Rise and Fall of TAG Heuer

25 March 2015

Founded by watchmaker Edouard Heuer in 1860 and orginally known as Heuer, the company was purchased by the TAG Group in 1985, becoming TAG Heuer. In 1999, the TAG Group sold TAG Heuer to the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy).

Heuer was a reputed watchmaker and the Heuer watches were and are, respected and sort after. Even after TAG bought the brand, TAG Heuer was making fine watches and timing equipment, albeit with little innovation or imagination. Since LVMH took over things have been in a steady decline.

It what appears to be either the final nail in the coffin or the saving of the brand, depending on your viewpoint, Jean-Claude Biver annouced at Baselworld a partnership with Google and Intel to develop a smartwatch. Well known Swiss cheesemaker and former CEO of Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver has a long history with in the watch sector and has a fine collection of watches himself. Patek Phillipe's mind, not any LVMH brands. He is widely known for Hublots resurgance and is a board member of LVMH.

Hublot is a polarising brand not loved by watch collectors but has developed the current business model for high end watch sales - limited models and celebrity endorsement and of course the push into China.

As JC moved onto the board of LVMH and installed Ricardo Guadalupe in his place, Stephane Linder took over as TAG Heuer's CEO. Linder appeared to favour the older Heuer way of doing things and had slated some new models with echos of the old brand. The CH80 shown at last years Baselworld had favourable press but with only one year into the job JC gave him the axe and is running the company himself.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01

At Baselworld 2015 the new models made it obvious where JC is taking TAG Heuer. The latest Carrera, the Calibre Heuer 01 is obviously influenced by Hublot's Big Bang. JC is also looking to move the pricing down. This is a good move, TAG Heuer's pricing has been wrong for a while. The original F1 was less than £200 and has climbed over £2000, for basically the same quartz watch, in a larger size. Making a Monaco Grand Complication and celebrity models smacks of the same Hublot mentality.

So what of the smartwatch? This is even more troublesome. JC has some strange reasoning on this. He believes that Switzerland doesn't have the technical ability to produce it, when they already have under the Frederique Constant founded MMT platform, which he congratulated himself. He also cites (Google's) Android platform's 70% market share as a plus point, when everybody else seems to realize market share is the wrong indicator to measure. People with free or cheap contract phones aren't buying TAG Heuer's, even if their smartwatch is going to be less than £1000. If the aim is to produce a standalone watch, as it must surely be, the platform it's built on isn't relevant anyway.

The fact Google hasn't produce a single hardware product of any note or quality doesn't seem to bother him. In fact Google is well know for it's cut and run mentality with hardware or software, Google Glass, Google Reader anyone?

It seems a sad fate for a once great watchmaker. The time has past when they could go back to being the Heuer brand and producing racing chronographs and on the dash timers. Thankfully those timepieces are still going and no doubt will be long after the smartwatch.


Review: Zero History by William Gibson

24 March 2015

| Amazon

I hadn't picked up a William Gibson book since Neuromancer, a book that launched cyber punk amongst other things. Zero History came as a surprise, straight out of the science fiction section of the book shop but no imagined futures here. ZH is more Hypebeast than Matrix.

Based around Hubertus Bigend, an ad agency bigwig, ZH takes us into the world of brand fetishm and non marketing. Hubertus employs ex-rock star Hollis Henry to locate the mythic founder of Gabriel Hounds, a secretive brand only known by the few. His hope is to win major army contracts for clothing based on clothing patterns employed by Hounds.

This is a bang up to date look at a modern cultural thriller, Gibson's use of the latest technology and ideas demonstrates a fine understanding of the Hypebeast culture, no doubt informed by his own use of such brands as Acronym.

It's a clean, twisting plot and one that offers the observation that the future is now, and we no longer need to invent new universes.

Zero History concludes the informal trilogy begun by Pattern Recognition, 2003 and continued by Spook Country, 2007.


Review: AIAIAI Capital Headphones

23 March 2015


Capital is a durable, foldable and flexible on ear headphone from Danish audio design company AIAIAI - pronouced (eye eye).

AIAIAI Capital

They are made from reinforced fiberglass with a lightweight rubber over the head brace and their primary function is as a travel headphone. In fact they claim "it's tested to withstand rain, snow and dirt while delivering clear and crisp sound from the protected 40mm driver". I haven't tested it in those conditions, but it certainly appears that way. The white version I have wouldn't look so good covered in dirt though but has yet to mark, which is impressive.

It's a well thought out minimal design. They compact down very well and would fit in a large coat pocket. The cable is the downside as with all headphones, it does wrap around the headphone when folded and the cable clips behind one of the earpiece adjusters. It's a bit of a faff but as good as I have seen.

There isn't much sound leakage, which is good when travelling in the company of others, and they aren't as outlandish as over the ear headphones worn in public. I not that keen on the earpiece ratchet adjusters, not a very smooth or fine ajustment but they don't slip and haven't worn.

Sound quality is obviously in the ear of the wearer but I found these to have a neutral sound which I like. Adjustment to your preference by way of EQ is my preferred method and these allow that. Not heavy on the bass or trill on the treble. A nice middle without the over bearing sound of many popular headphones. I found I was pushing the volume fairly high on some standard iTunes tracks.

AIAIAI Capital

The earpads are very robust and as such I don't find them particulary comfortable. An hour is my limit. I would have preferred a softer pad but then it wouldn't be as robust. The cable is 135cm long and ideal for travel but less so for desk use. They include an inline remote for music control and a microphone for phone calls. The 3.5mm jack is angled which is nice for mobile applications and is very well constructed.

So not a headphone for wearing for hours indoors but ideal for commuting, or outdoor travel of an hour or less.