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Product Roundup Spring 2024: 6 Items I’ve Been Trying Out

I’ll cover everything from watches to smartphone alternatives.

Here at The Modest Man, we’re always testing out new products. Whether it’s samples sent to me from brands or items I buy out of pocket, I’m constantly in the process of reviewing items.

Today, I want to share my thoughts on a few products I have been using or testing out lately. 

Rather than give a full-on, in-depth review of items like I usually do, today I’ll briefly share some things about a few products I’ve been testing out. A few of these items never made the list of my favorites, but I feel are worth discussing, and others I use frequently.

Past, Present & Future Watch From Project Watches 

Project Watches sent me their Past, Present & Future Watch a few months back. While they have several variations of this watch, I chose the 33mm version with a steel mesh bracelet.

I chose this watch because it offers the wearer a nice carpe diem message. This watch tells you the time as two rotating dials move past a window at the 12 o’clock position. 

The dial included the words “past,” “present”, and “future” as a reminder to live in the moment.

Past Present & Future Watch

It has a chunky brushed stainless steel case and a Japanese quartz movement. 

I’ve worn this watch a few times, but it’s been in a box for the last few months.

I just always prefer wearing my Timex Marlin which has a similarly-sized 34mm steel case and an aftermarket steel mesh bracelet. It fills the same role, but just does it better than the “Past, Present & Future.”

However, I can imagine that the message of the Past, Present & Future Watch could be a powerful tool for some wearers to stay in the right headspace throughout the day.

Go Tieless 

I received a shirt from goTIELESS that features their “Million-Dollar Collar”, which allows their shirts to be worn comfortably and symmetrically without a necktie. 

goTIELESS individually sells the placket stays that are featured in each of their dress shirts. 

The downside of these accessories is, of course, that you would have to sew them into your shirt yourself. Or you’d have to pay your tailor to do it for you after trying to explain what they are and how they’re supposed to work.

Million Dollar Collar Placket Stays

The shirt itself did not fit me well, but the technology in the collar and placket certainly did its job. I was impressed with how well it held the upper part of the shirt together. However, the shirt didn’t fit, so I sent it back. 

I still haven’t yet taken the time or spent the money required to install goTIELESS’ placket stays in my other dress shirts because a floppy placket is only a minor inconvenience for me personally. 

However, having tried a goTIELESS dress shirt with this device installed, I do think they will work as advertised. I’ll keep you posted. 

Fashion Anchors 

Over the past year, I’ve tried something new to keep my collars in place. These Fashion Anchors work as a tacky, almost putty-like adhesive that temporarily holds your collar to your shirt. 

Easy to apply and easy to remove, I’ve found these useful for keeping certain collared shirts of mine looking sharp. This can be extremely useful for photoshoots or similar events.

Fashion Anchor

These also can work as “hidden buttons”. If you think that wearing your shirt with the top two buttons undone is too much, using one of these in between will hold the shirt in place at your desired spot. Think of it as a half-button. 

I often take photos for this site, and I go to formal events more frequently than the average guy. So, I’ve ended up using these all the time. 

I find that, depending on the shirt fabric, the anchors can be used multiple times. The less textured the fabric, the greater the number of times I can reuse the anchors.

A pack of 36 has lasted me more than a year, and even so, spending $17.10 for 36 anchors still felt like a lot. 

Part of me says “For something so small and, let’s face it, simple, save your money.” 

Another part says, “The little details matter, it’s worth it.” 

Honestly, they probably aren’t worth it unless you need them for each time you wear a collared shirt (and you wear these shirts a lot). And in that case, you may as well save $14.40 by purchasing 4 packs of 36 as a bundle for $54.00. 

Alternatively, if you frequently have portrait photos taken of yourself, these can help you eliminate the hassle of dealing with fly-away collars and a more-than-ideal amount of placket opening. 

If you’re willing to spend the money, I think that these anchors used in tandem with the Million-Dollar Collar device would be the ultimate combo.

Helm Boots 

A few months ago I received a sample pair of Calistoga Sienna boots from Helm.

Helm The Calistoga Sienna Boot

I previously reviewed Helm’s The Charlie boot, which is a sneaker boot variant. Not long after publishing the review, I gave them away as I didn’t wear them very often. 

As for the Calistoga, the combination of wedge sole and padded shank doesn’t work for me. Even after breaking them in, the boots are a still little bit uncomfortable. 

The Blake rapid-stitch welt is good, however. The quality of the rough out leather is okay, too. Also, the white poured rubber sole is quality, however, to me it doesn’t seem to match the upper somehow. It’s hard to put my finger on why, exactly.

The verdict? The look and feel of the boots are just “off” for me. While these are decent boots, I find that I prefer to wear my TAFTs or one of the other pairs of boots I have in my stable. 

Lite Phone II 

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Lite Phone for a couple of years now. A few weeks ago I pulled the trigger and bought a lightly used one on eBay

The basic concept of the Lite Phone is that it occupies an intermediary space between a smartphone and a 2000s flip phone. With the Lite Phone, you can use GPS, download music and podcasts, and even use Bluetooth. It also can serve as a hotspot. 

It’s marketed as a premium, minimal phone. 

After winning an eBay auction and paying more than $200 (they’re $300 new), my Lite Phone II arrived in the mail. I popped in my SIM card from my iPhone and went through the process of inputting my settings. After an hour or more of monkeying around, it worked — kind of. 

There are things I really like about the Lite Phone. It’s very small, about the size of  3/4 of a deck of cards, which I appreciate. I always try to get the smallest phone I can find.

The Light Phone II

I also like its minimal black-and-white E-ink Screen. However, this electronic paper design seems very buggy. It’s very slow to refresh and it’s not very sensitive to the touch. 

For instance, I tried to make a call and I misdialed several times because of the screen’s lack of sensitivity. 

Similarly, I attempted to use the calculator function, but, again, pressing down didn’t always register. There also doesn’t seem to be a “backspace” button in the calculator so I had to keep “clearing” the screen and start from scratch. 

Another thing — while the phone technically has GPS, it’s so glitchy that it’s comically impractical. 

I spoke with a friend who fully replaced his smartphone with the Lite Phone II and he affirmed that the GPS keeps him from getting helplessly lost. However, he said it isn’t really built to use while driving but functions more like a paper map that you can consult before hitting the road and when making pit stops. 

He assured me that my experience with the phone mirrors his, and I didn’t get a dud. They’re just not the most user-friendly. 

I struggled with my Lite Phone for a little more than half a day before going back to my iPhone. I haven’t turned it on since.

I was quite disappointed with the Lite Phone. If the screen and GPS worked without a hitch, I’d probably be a convert, but the Lite Phone was so frustrating to use. 

I plan on reselling this phone in the next few weeks. The good news is that I can probably sell it for the amount I paid for it.

Rhodia Notebooks 

I’m a big fan of writing with fountain pens. Once you find the perfect pen, you still need to identify which papers work best for you. 

Rhodia has been my paper of choice for the past seven or eight years.

Rhodia Side Staplebound Pocket Notebook

This French stationery brand sells lined, unlined, or block-note (i.e. grid) paper in a wide range of notebook sizes and formats. 

I personally like their pocket notebooks and their Staplebound Notebooks (8 1/4 in. x 11 3/4 in). The notebooks are large but easy to write in because they are relatively thin and have thin, flexible covers. 

The covers, by the way, are quite tough and water-resistant.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell Rhodia only seems to sell their paper in notebook formats. Years ago, I wanted quality, fountain pen-friendly loose-leaf paper. My friend’s solution was to make our own out of a Rhodia Staplebound Notebook (a table saw may have been involved 😉). 

Besides the larger notebooks, I absolutely love Rhodia’s Side Staplebound Pocket Notebooks (3 X 4.75 in). 

I’m constantly trying new pocket notebooks from different, but I always end up going back to these. They’re expensive, but I get a lot of use out of them since I carry a notebook everywhere I go.

You can see some slight shading with my R&K Salix ink here.

While I do love these notebooks, Rhodia is almost too smooth for me. For that reason, I’m on the hunt for notebooks with paper that give more feedback when writing.

Conclusion

What products do you want to see covered here at The Modest Man? Are there certain brands that you’d like to see us cover? 

Let me know in the comments!

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