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The NYC GTG May 15th, 2010 experience by HB

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Published on 06-22-2010 11:00 AM

Number of Views: 1736

One day after I arrived back home from a family road trip to California…. [link here: ] in which we visited the theme parks: Disneyland & Legoland and stayed in San Francisco & Redondo Beach with friends...I was once again packing for another road trip. Catching a fight to the big New York City get together via Seattle to LAX!

Here I am sitting in the lounge of SeaTac (Seattle/Tacoma WA) airport. I just realized a moment ago that I left my phone in my car that we valet at the Park and Fly 2 exits away! I am completely frazzled right now…

"How will I keep in touch with my wife in NYC? Will my phone still be in the car when we get back?"

I pull out the camera to try and calm myself. Never having travelled with more than one watch, I picked up a hard travel Pelican brand case as I recalled the last time I went through an airport security in the San Francisco International Airport. The slide tray that went through the scanning machine flipped over and my Milgauss GV was somewhere in their machines SS spindles…lost for well over a minute. I stood at the end of the machine with a stunned and horrified expression as other passengers had grabbed their luggage and proceeded well on their way to their destinations. Meanwhile Security staff was dumfounded, wondering why I wouldn’t grab my stuff and move on. Never again!! I pack away all valuable in my carry-on and stay clear from Airport Security staff that insist on using these flimsy pen trays that disappear into their X-ray machines!

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Also had a Rolex suede pouch and a Panerai service case too.

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My wife is awesome…she comes to the airport lounge and reports that my FULLY loaded phone (live tv with all major programs and sports networks, Sirius satellite radio, complete directory of contacts) is safe and sound with the Park & Fly front desk personal! I feel better boarding the plane to LAX now, and I’ll try to live without it for a few days.

Several hours later and a really good in-flight movie called “Extraordinary Measures” with Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, we land in Los Angeles and easily make our way to the Gate departing for New York. (The dreaded Red Eye! ) The American Airlines overbooked this flight, by my count - 10 passengers or so. My wife and I were the last couple to report to the Gate and we were offered the following to give up our seats (we paid $200/ticket return btw) : $400’s/each for an AA voucher valid for 1 calendar year; the first flight out of LAX the following morning which was a 7am flight to Chicago and then on to New York by midday; hotel accommodations for the night at the LAX Hilton; dinner and breakfast as well. Being the last passengers to board has its perks and the decision was easy for us! Free trip!

Here was my bedroom reading for 12 midnight and a Hilton gourmet large pizza and beer.

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Next morning we left LAX and arrived at Chicago’s International Airport early! It’s going to be a good, good night as the Black Eyed Peas Song goes. If I can recall, the in-flight movie was about some girl that makes a wish while dancing around drunk in a Water Fountain located in Italy? All the wishing coins she picks up and kisses, results in several single men falling in hopeless love with her for the rest of the film. The only guy I recognize is Josh Duhamel (husband to Black Eyed Peas Fergie). Pretty weird, that I never try to request earphones or use my own. But I just can’t help but watch a film and attempt to read lips? I guess it’s also a factor that you can’t seem to turn away from the screens that literally end up in your face. I can visualize myself trying to fold up that pop-down screen and breaking some type of motor gears in an air-rage type incident . Too bad the North American airlines have yet to discover the comfort of the Asian, European airlines with personal fold up Entertainment centres and eating trays.

Once we taxi onto the tarmac, the Captain reports that the flying conditions are ideal. He calculates that we will be arriving at JFK approximately an hour earlier than expected!

All the passengers around me are quite excited upon hearing that news and I begin talking to several retirees that are on their way to JFK in order to fly to Spain! Another couple pipes up and reports they are heading to the Cannes Film Festival! Yet another tells me that he is on his way for a second Mediterranean Cruise with his wife. She is sitting just across the aisle and beaming! I am super happy for all these folks sitting around me. Well you can imagine what’s coming next in this story…I won’t get into details, but for the next three hours. We are told that all planes going into and out of JFK are now being delayed!?

Many of the passengers whose final destination is not New York are quite distraught as they have another days worth of problems ahead of them - once they land in JFK. I’ve only heard how busy JFK terminal is from colleagues and I cannot possibly fathom how these Retirees will sort out the mess & stress awaiting them. I just try to stay relaxed during the entire murmurs, rumblings and crowd chatter of this fiasco. It is quietly humorous, that the AA staff came around a single time with a tray of mini granola bars and cups of water for the 200+ coach passengers on this flight.

I don’t know what time we eventually took off at, but we landed at JFK roughly at about 5:00 pm EST.

Do you ever notice how quickly the passengers eject their seat belts, turn on their cell phones and generally disobey all messages broadcasted over the Cabin speakers? Well this time, every single person that had JFK as their final destination, “stood down” to allow the 50+ passengers with a days worth of Connecting flight problems leave the plane first. I wished them well verbally and to this day, I hope that this experience didn’t darken their spirits.

By the time my wife and I made it to our apartment by the Fashion District. We had to freshen up quickly and cab-it to the Broadway area. My wife went to a show called “Promises, Promises” with her sister and niece. Meanwhile I wandered around Times Square alone and took pictures of many of the closed stores that I wished I could have went inside, right about then!

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As you can probably tell, I grabbed my little SD100 pocket digital and just went kamikaze. Taking in the sights and loving the vibrant energy of this exciting city. I grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor (fully loaded Kosher dog) and found a Jamba Juice at Times Square. I bought a $5 map and proceeded to mark and remember all the cool shops I wanted to check- out, for the day and a half remaining - in this great city!

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Friday night, this store will have to wait for the first chance I get! Maybe tomorrow? Maybe Sunday right before I leave at 3:00 pm? I’m at the mercy of the Missus!

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Not much in the window for me to drool over. But at least some things! Because every other city I’ve been to, will leave absolutely nothing in their store windows at closing time! Even the one’s in the Shopping Malls!!

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It’s been a few years since I’ve been here and I have to agree, a lot of things have changed (for the good)! Here I am with this broken lens Canon “point and shoot” and every single tourist standing around me is carrying their professional and semi professional SLR’s! Now I know. Don’t worry about being mugged!! And I’ll have to remember this next time I have the opportunity to shoot NYC at night time! Luckily I’ll be in Las Vegas in August so I am not going to miss that chance to get the sensory overload of neon and billboards that these two cities offer!

After a few hours, I met up with my wife and in-laws. They stood at the back of the Theatre to get poster and picture signings with the stars of the Broadway show. We then went to a New York ‘institution’ called Carmine’s. Three birthdays going on, restaurant was packed at midnight and we stuffed ourselves silly with delicious Italian “family portion” meals. Caught a cab back home at about 1:00am and we still had doggie bags full of food between the four of us!

Following day was a late start as we were all exhausted from the previous day travel and also the late Friday night activities described above. We managed to do lots of gift and personal shopping walking around the discount clothing and non-name brand shops. It was Saturday though and I kept watching the time on my wrist, because I remembered that WatchFan1 (Milos) wanted the GTG to begin at 3:00pm sharp! I think I was somewhere around a Soho district Street Festival when I had to make the executive decision and head back to the apartment in order to get ready by 3pm.

We took another Cab across town to the GTG and we were fortunate to have made it there exactly at 3 o’clock! I love when I am punctual and I also used hindsight to evaluate all the complications that would have arisen if we (1)took the Subway, or (2) had to walk X-amount of blocks to-and-from - just to make it to the party on time.

After meeting the host WatchFan1 (Milos), his wife Iveta, GLADIATOR (Adam), Susan and Kevin from Orbita. My wife and I grabbed some food and refreshments (open Bar) that was spread out by the restaurant staff. Delicious!

I am wearing my 18K Ball Trainmaster Heritage and my wife is wearing my GV on Hirsch. John Reardon brought many of his Patek Reference book publications for Door prizes!

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Milos in discussion and Adam examining a Patek Philippe reference model with his personal loupe.

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At the centre of the room was the fabulous Door prize table!

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Iveta caught a picture of me with her Nikon camera, so I returned the favour!

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I walked over to the bar, then to the Appetizer and food area. I return back - and the guys are still examining watches!

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Jason from Montreal, Quebec arrives to the GTG. He took the Greyhound bus down to NYC earlier in the day and he brought his design book and watch renderings to show us too! Quite impressive!

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Milos shows Jason and me, a custom crystal display back for an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. This was not the “final” finished product, as he is still working on the height of the crystal lip that still sits “several micro mm” above the 316L SS custom screwback case design.

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Jason is interested in the AP modification that Milos did with a spare Thomas Preik crystal, so I go over and grab my 16622 Yachtmaster with Thomas Preik custom caseback from ScottD. I now have two watches on either of my wrists. “Boy, are we ever a strange breed (to others), if they were to witness one of these fun GTG’s”!

JBHii arrives and I believe this photo is taken with his Canon camera & new BLACK RAPID strap that Milos is testing out. JohnR came with JBH and he was the one that introduced JBH to the strap. Surprisingly, my friend redeye has one now as well -- because of all these Camera guys! Black Rapid review found here:

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Milos announces to the crowd that we have some very special WIS in attendance with us, from NYC. Meet Matthew and Kyle L! The group absolutely loves these guys! Pic of Adam and the brothers in discussion…

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JBH and the guys. Both of them brought their vintage Rolexes - a GMT and a pristine Explorer I.

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RJ007 (Greg) and his father brought a spectacular portion of their Illinois Watch collection! Greg just met Dennis (ulackfocus) a week prior to this GTG, thus his collection was all packed-up in these Custom Travel Cases ready for our group to drool over on this night!

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Greg has amazing stories for the watches in his collection. Go to the American Watch Forum and see for yourself!

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Steve (Patek, Lange forums) was the only one who noticed I was taking a picture here. His favourite sport is my favourite sport: Hockey of course!

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Went back to take another look at the Prizes!

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Sample of one of Greg’s Cases (two of these were given away as door prizes! Congratulations Jason and Steve.

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What’s it like to wear a one of kind watch? Priceless!

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Time for JBH to announce the WTF Patron Program - Triple watch winners! Congratulations and thanks to all!

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Kyle and his brother drew the Door prize tickets while Milos read out the winners! (Still thinking about the Patek tie, I didn’t notice at first! Congrats wF1) Here is what I won!!! Review of Orbita Voyager link:

We gathered the watches on the centre piece table for a traditional GTG “Table shot”!

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Something is missing still? RJ007’s collection! Complete now!

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JohnR getting some quality pics!

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John and Greg

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Next day I went to Wempe on 5th Avenue to try on the watches that were locked away the night I arrived!

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Then I went to B&H photo on recommendation from all the Camera guys! What a super New York shopping experience I’ll never forget!

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JFK airport by 3pm Sunday. Rolex wall clocks everywhere!

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The watches that steered me into WIS-dom circa 1986. Swatch Watch.

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Back to Seattle and eventually home! Thanks for viewing my experience!

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Epilogue: “Will my phone still be in the car when we get back?”


And bonus is - I have a free ticket to use for another trip, because I delayed our flight to NYC by one day...maybe Tampa Bay in November!?

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The NYC GTG May 15th, 2010 experience by HB
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