Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Grail EDC

A thread popped up on EDCF about what is your grail knife and it got me thinking: if money was no object what would I carry?  I have selected a watch, a knife, a pen, and a light.  They may not be the most expensive in the world, but they are all uniformly more expensive than average, rare, and hard to find.  I would have included a phone in this post, but really I can't want anything more from my phone than an iPhone 5 (I have an iPhone 4, but when you are on the road as much as I am, Siri would be nice for hands free Google searches).  I also probably could find a nicer wallet than my Big Skinny, but I am not sure if it would work as well.  I don't know enough about pens, but I still really like my modded Zebra F-701.  A Tuff Writer clicky looks good too, but times the price. 

One limitation I am going to place on this is I am not going to imagine entirely built from scratch just for me items.  These are things that have been made already. 


There is something classic about a Rolex, but just cannot get into that aesthetic.  I appreciate it, but all of the gilding and dials is just too much for me.  I'd take one if I was given it, but probably only to sell it.  I know they are nice and keep great time, but they are not for me.  This disdain for ornamentation also rules out a vast swath of multi-kilo buck watches made by others.

The other issue is I am not a huge watch person.  I like watches, but I can survive without one.  Even with an unlimited budget I have no interest in dropping a bank vault full of money on a watch.  My iPhone often serves as my watch and I know that watch people cringe at that (as much as I cringe at people using it as their flashlight), but the reality is the current trends in watches have turned me off to a lot of the nicer stuff.    

Instead I have very simple and plain tastes.  If cost was no object I would probably get this watch:

This is a Sinn 556 with metal bracelet.  It is not outrageously expensive--around $700 (probably $800 with the inclusion of the metal bracelet).  It also happens to eschew the sun dial/dinner plate look of so many watches these days.  I am not sure when it became vogue to have this wall clock sized watches, but they are inconvenient to wear and, to my eyes, look fantastically ugly.

The Sinn 556, on the other hand, is a testament to restraint in design.  The face is highly legible and strictly conventional (which is exactly what you want in a watch face, in my opinion).  I also like the option of a metal bracelet.  With a name like "Sculimbrene" two things are almost a guarantee--lots of arm hair and even more sweat.  A traditional leather band or even a NATO strap stands no chance against my Italian heritage.  Both would look like they came from a hobo's watch in less than a year.  The metal bracelet on my Citizen, however, has withstood a decade of sweaty and hard use.

More info:  Sinn 556 thread at Watchuseek 
Other choices: Luminox Alcatra Field Watch, Model A.1921 $650
The Luminox Field watch is also pretty plain and simple, but it is slightly larger making it less than ideal for me. 


There are a lot of choices out there and unlike the watch this is something I really do care about.  With money as no object, its hard to avoid the allure of a Ron Lake folder.  His stuff is widely regarded as the finest work in the world and one glance shows you why:

This is from Great Lakes Custom Knives.  Actual Lake folders, with the interframe piece (the inlay) and the tail lock go for around $4,000-$6,000.  Ones with engraving are usually double depending on the material and the image.  Rare models, ones that are unusually large or use especially exotic materials are even more.  A very rare Lake is up for sale on KnifeLegends for a cool $26,500.  That is a load of dough.  It is a gorgeous knife, as all Lakes are, but I am not sure if I'd go for a Lake.

If I were in a more avant garde mood I'd definitely opt for a Gustavo Cecchini knife.  Here is probably my favorite knife Gus has ever made:

This knife recently sold on Arizona Custom Knives for around $2,200.  It is a beautiful example of a truly minimalist, almost Bauhaus flipper.  Had Johannes Itten designed knives, this is what they would look like.

But as glorious as Gus's work is, it is a little big for my tastes.  My true grail knife, cost no object, is a smaller blade, a flipper as well.  A compact Phil Boguszewski Dauntless V2, is probably my grail knife.   They sold originally for around $1050.  I would imagine they run three times as much on the secondary market, if you could find someone willing to sell one at all.  I love the knife's size, the clip, the flipper design, the choil, and, of course, the brilliant Dauntless form.  I'd post a pic, but they are all copyrighted and such.

More Information: Dauntless Archive
Other Choices (production only):  William Henry B09 Scout Kestral ($375)

A very small knife, the Kestrel displays an amount of restraint in design and decoration that is, apparently, as scarce in William Henry Studio as the superconductor handle material they use.  Still, a ZDP-189 blade and a great pocket clip beckon. 


Bill James had this theory that there were three good arguments about who was the best pitcher of all time.  You could go for the best high quantity guy and that would be Walter Johnson, you could make an easy argument for simply the quantity guy, and that would be Cy Young, or you could make a quality argument and get a few different names--Tom Seaver, Roger Clemans, Pedro Martinez (the last name is my addition).  The point was there were so many different approaches to best pitcher that you really have to pick your approach first to answer the question correctly.  With lights it is the same way, for me.  There is the ultra-lux approach, the ultra-lux EDC approach, and the pure EDC approach. 

There can be little question which light I refer to when I say "ultra-lux".  There is nothing more ultra-lux in the world of lights than the Cool Fall Tri-V EDC

This light literally does everything.  There are three lights here--a flood light, a throw light, and an incan light for good color rendering.  All of this versatility comes at a steep, Bugatti Veyron like price of around $3000.  That said, I am not sure I would feel comfortable carrying around such a delicate tool, especially for mere EDC purposes.

The next light is the best blend of ultra-lux and EDC.  It also happens to be Don's magnum opus thus far, the Lunasol 20.  Here is a great shot of the light I found over at CPF:

The beauty here is that the light has both throw and flood capacity thanks to an ingenious emitter array.  Subsequent third party mods have introduced a three level output feature.  In this configuration, the Lunasol 20 is probably among the best three or four lights of all time. These ring up around $700 for an unmodded one and around $1,000 for a modded one.

Finally, there is this light.  You know, by now, how much I love the Aeon design and having it with an improved emitter (in terms of color temperature and tint), in a titanium body, and with a low low mode, I can't imagine a better light.  This is a true EDC light.  It will be so small and so versatile with such great runtime times that it easily hangs in there with the two kilobuck lights above. 

More Information:  CPF thread on the Aeon Mark II
Other Choices (production only): Steve Ku Quantum DD, $59

So there you have it, my Grail EDC:

A Zebra F-701
An iPhone 5
A Big Skinny Wallet
A Sinn 556
A Boguszewski Dauntless Compact V2
A Muyshondt Aeon Mark II

What's your Grail EDC?


  1. The Tri-V does not have an Incan bulb. You can read here:

    " There are three emitters in this light; a modified Cree XR-E, a Cree XP-E and a Cree MC-E"

    The warm white flood is like a candle flame or campfire. It is a very inviting light to fill a room with. The neutral white is a higher CRI color like an over driven incan. It is a good overall color for a flashlight with a nice balance between throw and spill. Finally the cold white is a piercing high color temperature bluish-white providing maximum lumen output, maximum penetration in the night air and maximum throw. "

  2. The iOS Google app has its own voice recognition built in and works fine on an iP4. Also the Dragon Dictate app also works well on an iP4 if text entry is your goal. It's good for emailing yourself a note. All apps noted are gratis.
    BTW, the Quantum DD with cool USB charger and uniformed spare battery case is an uber cool functional and compact ensemble.

  3. Your taste in watches seems to be similar to mine. Try also Archimede, Bell & Ross (Vintage and Geneva series, not the Instrument) and of course the classic IWC Mark XV/XI. For something a little dressier, one of the Junghans Max Bill watches on a leather band is very nice.

  4. My list:
    pen: TuffWriter operator
    Watch: not a fan of watches, but if I had to pick one - Concord chronograph Tourbillon
    Phone: iPhones 5
    folder knife: Medford Fat Daddy (TTF-1)
    Fixed blade: Busse NMFSH-LE
    Large Light: SureFire UDR Dominator Flashlight
    Headlamp/edc light: Zebralight SC600
    Keychain tools: Atwood Prybaby G5 semi-roid and TTpockettools chopper