The Fratello Holiday Gift Guide 2022
It’s that time of the year again! The holidays are just around the corner, and the gift-giving season is here. Are you looking to buy a gift for your watch-enthusiast friend or loved one and need some inspiration? Have you already been asked what you want this year and didn’t know how to answer? Or maybe you’re just looking for something for yourself? Whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered! We set our editors to it and came up with a handful of gift ideas.
From big-budget splurges to more affordable stocking stuffers (including a selection from the Fratello Shop), we have it all. So don’t worry about struggling to find the perfect gift; check out our suggestions below! Without further ado, Lex kicks things off in style.
Lex’s pick: Faction Studio 1 IWC Collab Ltd. skis
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” (ref. IW389105) made my Top 5 of the best watches released in 2022, and now I can get the matching skis. IWC partnered up with The Faction Collective, a Swiss high-end ski brand, and the result is the Faction Studio 1 IWC Collab Ltd. The handmade skis are limited to 55 pairs, and they’re the first Faction skis with a luminescent design. The “LAKE TAHOE” and “IWC” lettering on the white top sheet glow in a greenish tone in the dark. Both the color of the skis and the letters perfectly match the white ceramic pilot’s watch.
The skis are not just for show. Eileen Gu — IWC brand ambassador and double Olympic gold medalist — uses skis that are engineered to the same specifications. You get a carbon-rubber reinforcement under the binding area that adds stability for heavy landings, for instance. The Faction Studio 1 IWC Collab Ltd. skis (€699) are available in a limited edition of 55 pairs in two sizes (171cm or 178cm) on The Faction Collective’s official website. And when you buy a pair of skis, you also get the option to purchase the €11,800 limited-production Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” in matching white ceramic.
RJ’s picks: Demonstrator pens, a green leather strap, and a Moonwatch-related item
The gifting always starts early in The Netherlands, as we have this phenomenon called “Sinterklaas” on December 5th. And yes, this old saint inspired the Santa Claus character (if you’re interested in the similarities between these two friendly gift-giving guys, click here). Anyway, we also celebrate Christmas. The funny thing is that kids here believe in Sinterklaas but see Santa Claus as a fictional character. It’s amazing how the brain works at a young age. With a young daughter and a young niece, I’ve been tending to the wish lists for weeks, so I am more than ready for the gifting and had time to think about my list as well.
Transparent fountain pens
My first pick is a demonstrator fountain pen. As some of you might know, I collect fountain pens and enjoy writing with them. Like watches, they can range from inexpensive to bizarre price tags, depending on the quality and craftsmanship. A demonstrator fountain pen is one that is transparent, much like the sapphire case back on a mechanical watch. It allows you to see the ink-filling mechanism and also, importantly, to see how much ink (the pen’s power reserve) is remaining for you to write with. Some pens come with small windows to show you the ink reserve, but a demonstrator shows everything. Most fountain pens are made of resin, a fine word for plastic. Expensive pens are often referred to as writing instruments. Well, now you know there are more similarities between watches and fountain pens.
I decided to show you a somewhat expensive demonstrator and a very affordable demonstrator pen. I’ll start with the latter, a pen by Lamy. This German manufacturer is known for its Lamy 2000 fountain pen (look it up) and the so-called Lamy ABC fountain pens that kids use in school. However, Lamy also has fountain pens for those who don’t want to spend a fortune but still want to have a nice writer.
This is the Lamy Safari, a praised plastic pen that comes in different colors. Each year, Lamy has “limited editions” in different colors. In this series, there’s also the Lamy Safari Vista, and this is the demonstrator version of that pen. It costs €15.70 (excluding VAT), and you’ll be surprised how well it writes. You have to choose the nib (pen point) when ordering and select a Fine, Medium, or Broad nib. If you order at Appelboom (click here), you get an additional 10% discount using FRIEND as a voucher code.
The other demonstrator is a bit more expensive, but also of a different quality than the Lamy. The Japanese Pilot brand has a wonderful selection of fountain pens with gold nibs. The Lamy has a steel nib, and the Pilot has a 14K gold nib, ensuring a smoother writing experience. Compared to pens from Montblanc, Montegrappa, or Pelikan, the Pilot still has a very acceptable price tag of €161.16 (excluding VAT). Also, you can get the same 10% discount when you use the FRIEND voucher code at Appelboom. Click here for the Pilot Heritage 92 demonstrator pen, and choose your nib size. Tip: Japanese pens often have finer nibs, meaning that a Fine for a Japanese pen translates into an Extra Fine for European and American pens.
Green and gold go together well, so after I sourced an 18K gold Rolex buckle, I got a strap from our signature collection (and yes, I paid for it.) It turns a watch like the Day-Date into a dress watch, but it also looks very good on my Speedmaster X-33, for example. You can find and order the strap here, but also look at our other strap collections. This one is also quite the hot seller. Our straps start at €65 (including VAT), and the pictured Baranil Olive Green is €129 (including 21% VAT). VAT is adjusted upon check-out.
Every year in our holiday gift guide, I recommend the Moonwatch Only book (third edition) because it’s the standard work on the Omega Speedmaster. But to most, spending €275 on a book is a hurdle, and I get it. So the authors of Moonwatch Only came up with a cheaper alternative — A Moon Watch Story. This €55 book covers the story of the Moonwatch and touches upon the developments of the Speedmaster. It also includes an overview of the most important Speedmasters from 1957 till now. This book has over 220 pages and lots of photos inside. It makes a great gift for the Speedmaster enthusiast in your life or even for yourself. Click here to order the book from our shop.
Thomas’s pick: The Datejust book, obviously
I know, I know, this is a rather shameless self-promotion. But I do stand by my own product, which I hope makes up for it. In any case, I think you might be able to bring Christmas joy to a watch geek with The Vintage Rolex Datejust Buyer’s & Collector’s Guide.
My aim in writing this book was to do justice to the incredibly rich world of vintage Rolex Datejust. It is such a popular and collectible vintage watch, but it did not have a book of its own yet. I felt that had to change. I had unique access to large numbers of vintage Datejusts of all kinds. This enabled me to chronicle the history of the mighty DJ. The goal was to write the book I wish I had before buying my own vintage Datejust. To that end, I included an overview of references and an extensive buying guide. It includes how to spot issues, the correctness of configurations, restoration jobs, and more.
The book has become a massive passion project. I devoted countless hours to researching, doing photography, hunting down rare variants, and, of course, writing. It has become a milestone in my professional and personal life. And to be honest, the idea that my labor of love might find its way to Christmas trees all over the globe fills my heart. My kind colleagues here made the book available in the Fratello Shop.
Dave’s pick: One for the lume-lovers — the Horizon ring from Black Badger
On these dark winter nights, allow yourself or your loved one to inject a bit of light into their life. OK, when I say “a bit,” I mean “a helluva lot”. If you’re not familiar with the work of James Thompson, aka Black Badger, then all you need to know is that he’s called “the God of lume” in some circles. His rings and watch collaborations make liberal use of his own specially-developed luminous compound, known as Badgerite. It’s based on Swiss Super-LumiNova, but it’s like the Canadian genius has injected it with steroids because it glows with a ferocity and longevity that you won’t find anywhere else. I own one of his Horizon rings, so I am speaking from first-hand experience when I say I could wake up at 4:00 AM and still read a book by the glow it emits. It’s nuclear (figuratively speaking).
Black Badger counts a whole host of celebrities as customers, including F1 driver Lando Norris (who can often be seen wearing his ceramic Horizon ring), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr. James offers a whole host of rings in his webshop, but my favorite, which I own, is the Horizon ring. I went for the titanium version with the standard green lume, but you have plenty of choices. You can take either a titanium or ceramic base ring, and then the two channels can be the same or different colors of lume. I have my eye on the ceramic “Gulf” version (€450) next. Santa, if you’re reading this, here’s my wish for 2022!
Take a look at the Black Badger website for the full range of glowy goodness!
Nacho’s picks: A brilliant handmade spring-bar tool from Hassler Instruments, The Watch Annual, and an excuse to go spend a cold winter day at IKEA
Season’s greetings, dear Fratelli! I know it’s still a bit early, but there’s nothing wrong with getting in the mood for the holidays already. There’s also nothing wrong with getting a jump-start on your shopping and gift-giving. And I’m here to share with you some things that I would love to find under the tree this year, which, hopefully, will serve as inspiration.
The first gift idea is something that I purchased for myself several weeks ago. As someone who regularly changes watch straps, a solid spring-bar tool is essential. And trust me when I say that not all are created equal. In what I can only label as a “dignity breakthrough,” I decided to invest in one that should last a lifetime. Made to order, by hand, in small batches by Tom Bushey in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Hassler Instruments Bolt Action Spring Bar Tool is as good as it gets.
To place an order, you can reach out directly through the Hassler Instruments Instagram page. Do keep in mind that because these are handmade to order and that it’s a one-man operation, there is a waiting list. As such, this is more of a pick for future holiday seasons. The stainless steel tool will set you back $125 (not including shipping and possible import fees).
Must-haves for all watch enthusiasts
My second pick is a little more affordable but equally essential to all watch enthusiasts. I’m talking about The Watch Annual. Self-described as “a book for watch lovers, by watch lovers,” it’s a compendium of some of the year’s best and most exciting watch releases. Available starting tomorrow, December 1st, for £29.99 (with £2 of every sale going to charity), it’s a perfect stocking stuffer.
Finally, if you haven’t done so already, head down to IKEA and pick up a couple of Elloven desk organizers as Daan suggested in his “Ultimate Watch Strap Storage Solution” article. Those will set you back around €25 each, but compared to other strap/accessory storage solutions, it goes above and beyond its price. That’s it from me this year! I hope you liked my picks, and wish you all the best for the holidays and the coming year.
The Hassler Instruments tool arrived, and I’ve already enjoyed my first few strap/bracelet swaps. Thanks, Tom!
Daan’s picks: A capless fountain pen, a 120g notebook, and a leather watch box
When I started working at the Fratello office this year, I noticed that quite a few of my colleagues used fancy pens. I, however, was still using a regular old ballpoint pen. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to find out what writing with a fountain pen was all about. So I went to a store and tried out a bunch of pens. The Pilot Vanishing Point came out as my number one. It’s a capless pen, which means you can retract it with the push of a button, just as I was used to with my ballpoint pens. It writes so smoothly, and the matte black color in combination with the polished steel gives it a nice business-casual look. Prices of these pens vary quite a lot around the world. I got mine for about €240.
What I noticed when I started writing with it in my Moleskine Weekly Planner, though, was that the ink would leak through to the other side of the pages. So I went back to the store and asked for a solution. The staff recommended me this notebook from Leuchtturm1917 with 120g paper. It doesn’t leak through at all and makes the writing experience even smoother. So if you have a lover of fountain pens around the house, this notebook is a very easy pleaser! It’s available for around €25 in various colors.
And now for a more watch-related gift, the Bulang & Sons leather watch box in Prussian blue. I bought this one as a gift to myself last February, and I’m so happy that I made the splurge. At €950, it’s certainly not as cheap as most of the options you’ll find on Amazon. But I’ll probably use this one for the rest of my life, and it feels so soft and luxurious. It’s exactly the thing you’d expect your valuable watches to feel comfortable in. I got myself this blue one with slots for eight watches. But there are also smaller options and other colors available. They’re handmade by J.P. Menicucci in Italy.
Ben’s picks: Trainers and a track day
While my picks are not watch-related, they have a relationship, and I’ve found that many watch enthusiasts love cars as well. I’m a big fan of track days when you rent or bring your performance vehicle to a purpose-made circuit for some hot laps. I take part in at least one track day each year, and thankfully, the UK offers a nice variety of layouts and average speeds. Goodwood, Silverstone, Dunsfold, Brands Hatch, and Donington — all provide unique attributes to experience and test the limits of a car’s potential. These days, I avoid lapping in my vehicle as it takes a toll on the tires and brakes. But many organizations offer various options to suit your tastes and skill level. You can even rent a track-ready version of your car without the servicing setbacks.
Regarding pricing, you can choose the budget choices and opt for fewer laps. You still gain an appreciation of the car’s abilities, but you don’t necessarily unlock the full driving sensation. Although opting for more laps increases the cost exponentially, it’s worth it to make the outing worthwhile. And a track day is always better as a shared experience so there’s something in it for yourself. My next gift idea helps with the performance pedals with a pair of lightweight shoes. I’m not a “sneakerhead”, but I’ve tested my fair share of shoes in track-ready cars. Shy of bespoke Alpinestars shoes, I find Vans and Converse come pretty close to providing flexibility, narrow widths, and car feel through the pedals. Of course, they also offer everyday comfort.
Duke + Dexter Ritchie Sahara Sneaker
But in the last few years, Duke + Dexter footwear has been my go-to for driving and everyday street usage. I have three pairs now, including a custom one-off pair, but the Ritchie is my favorite behind the wheel. The Ritchie provides excellent comfort and grip with plenty of feel for braking and throttle response. My particular style, the Ritchie Sahara Sneaker, is even on sale at the moment with a significant discount. If you’re still not convinced, 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button also regularly endorses the Duke + Dexter Ritchies. While in a race machine, he’d wear specialized footwear to match his overalls, this is what Button wears for the drive home.
Jorg’s picks: Technical outerwear and puzzles
As some of you know, I have quite a few other passions I like t spend money on. Besides watches, clothing, shoes, and vinyl are some of the “good causes” I like to donate to. For this gift guide, my first pick is not a specific piece of clothing but a clothing brand. Bologna-based clothing designer Fabio Cavina started his own brand Plurimus in 2015. Plurimus is unique in many ways. Cavina focuses on creating “technical outerwear of strong military inspiration while experimenting with the concept of modularity. The concept behind Plurimus is the one of developing sets instead of developing collections.” So with Plurimus, Cavina does not stick to seasons but offers multiple sets every calendar year that are sold exclusively via pre-order through the Plurimus website. If you are into brands created by Massimo Osti, like Stone Island and C.P. Company, definitely check out the spectacular creations by Plurimus.
Puzzles by Cavallini & Co.
Do you remember those vintage posters that used to hang in geography and biology classrooms when you were younger? I’m in my mid-forties, and I still vividly remember them. San Francisco-based Cavallini & Co creates a wide variety of stationary products and gifts that are vintage-inspired. I love the series of vintage puzzles the brand creates because they simply look awesome and make for a great gift. They are always received with a big smile because they are so much more than just a puzzle. They often transport you back to the days of your youth. The 1000-piece vintage puzzles have different themes, from 19th-century anatomical charts to mid-century travel guides, from maps to botanical plates, and go for €25. A great gift and a great way to kill some time during the dark winter holidays.
That’s all from us, but what about you?
We hope you enjoyed our selection of gift ideas this year. If anything above strikes your fancy, do let us know in the comments! Additionally, we’d love to hear any gift ideas that you have for the watch/pen/car lovers out there.