…and because I’m only suggesting five, I think you might be able to afford to splash out a little by buying the best. That doesn’t necessarily mean buying a designer brand, though; buying the best sometimes means thinking laterally…
A leather belt
My leather belt is thirty years old and just about due for replacing. The brass plating has worn away on the buckle and the leather itself is heavily patinated. However, I’m in no rush; it still looks good and the hole is exactly where it was when I was in my mid-twenties, which must mean something.
If and when I do replace it, I’ll be choosing something that’s about an inch-and-a-half wide and made from full-grain leather. Full-grain leather is leather that hasn’t been sanded or buffed to remove any imperfections; while it does tend to mark quite easily, it is very, very strong and ages beautifully. It’ll also have a proper brass buckle that’s a similar width to the leather belt and will be at least two inches longer than my waist size to give me a decent length to tuck away.
There is a saddler near me who knocks out top-quality belts as a sideline from the scraps left over from the saddles he makes. He sells them for under £30, which is a bargain and will mean that the next one will cost me under a pound a year. That’s not bad, is it?
A good watch
My Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean was a 40th birthday present from my wife. It’s heavy, bulky, loses time, stops working if I don’t wear it for a couple of days, costs £300 to get serviced, yet I love it to bits.
While an Omega or Rolex should prove to be a solid investment over the years, you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds to get your hands on a decent watch. CWC make watches for the British Army, so have an unbeatable pedigree and prices start at £160. eBay is also a fertile hunting ground for vintage watches: when I can find a spare £200 I’m going to pull the trigger on an Omega dress watch from the 1970s.
Alternatively, you could simply update your existing watch with a handmade strap. A new Omega strap would cost me the best part of £250, so I’ve been fitting NATO watchstraps from eBay in whatever colour takes my fancy.
But my next strap will come from the curiously named Gas Gas Bones. A one-man band, the owner spent 25 years with the RAF as a survival equipment outfitter, so his nylon watchstraps are fantastically strong and beautifully finished. Prices start at under £30 and I guarantee that even the cheapest will turn the most mundane watch into a real talking point.
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As with watches, I like my sunglasses to have a pedigree behind them, which means wearing Ray-Ban or Randolph. Both supply, or have supplied, the United States Air Force and have a pedigree that transcends even the most expensive brands. They’re beautifully made, and while I think that Randolph just edge ahead in the quality stakes, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer is a classic look that goes with anything from denim jeans to a Savile Row suit.
Prices start at around £100 for either brand, which is way cheaper than the cost of an inferior sweatshop-sourced pair of designer sunglasses.
I love the design and attention to detail of Bellroy wallets. From the minimalist at £59 through to the comprehensive travel wallet at £89, there is something for everyone.
I’ve bought the sleekest, slimmest model I could find, and it is perfect for keeping four credit cards plus a couple of business cards to hand without ruining the lines of even my most fitted jacket.
And if you want to co-ordinate your passport, smartphone and notebook cover with your wallet then Bellroy can help there too.
Of course, you could be obvious and go for something like a Mont Blanc but they are very expensive, and easily lost so let’s try and find something a bit more accessible, shall we?
My Waterman pen has been in my pocket or on my desk for the past twelve years. The chrome plating is starting to wear off in places, exposing the brass beneath. The clip has also snapped off, but despite all that I love the way it feels in my hand and the way it writes.
I also carry a LAMY tipo rollerball with me wherever I go (along with a Leuchtturm notebook if I’m working). It costs about £7, with refills available from the usual places for a couple of pounds a throw. It writes even better than my Waterman and helps turn my illegible scrawl into a beautiful illegible scrawl.
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