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An old monk

An old monk

Let me start with a confession: the temptation to plaster a “tech special" issue of any magazine with pictures of iPods and iPads and Bose headphones is overwhelming. And particularly so when it comes to an issue of Indulge that is committed to technology.

And not just because you can always get away with a nice iPad story or two. (You can. Somehow, people lap them up faster than you can churn them out. “Dog bites man" was never a good story. “Man bites dog" is barely better. “Man bites iPad-using dog" is the way to go these days.)

Our bigger problem was a more basic one: what the heck is a luxury gadget? A better gadget? A more expensive one? Or just a regular gadget draped in platinum?

And then last month, I first came across the story of the King of Spain’s Clockwork Monk when it was mentioned on a fascinating American radio show called Radiolab. And immediately I began to wonder: what were the techie gadgets of the preindustrial world? What was the 18th century equivalent of the vanity gadget? Our research took us all the way from a small village in Switzerland, to Srirangapatnam and Tipu Sultan. The pocket-size history of automata is here. But if you’re anything like us, you’re going to spend many enjoyable, astonishing hours Googling the weird and wonderful world of clockwork automata.

Next we set ourselves a stiff challenge: to prepare a tech buying guide that did not reach for the usual clutch of brands and devices. Why settle for a tablet when you can buy yourself a water-powered jetpack? Or Seiko’s delicious new GPS Astron watch, one of my favourite pieces from BaselWorld 2012.

And finally, our trusty columnists are back this month with some counterintuitive propositions: gin can be sexy too, fried foods are not all bad, and rich footballers seldom stay that way.

But enough of this chit chat. Turn the page. Off you go.

—Sidin Vadukut

(Issue editor)

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