All These ‘Best New’ Lists

I am tired of people saying new things are the best because they are new, tell me about old things which are still the best.

Defining something as ‘the best’ is a tactic I’ve been using for a long time. It’s an odd definition, as it’s almost certainly a lie, caged with the caveat of “what I think is the best”. Though, we all intuitively know this.

Even sites with rigorous testing: Consumer Reports, or Project Farm on YouTube — these all can label things as scientifically the best, but when you dive down further, you begin to see the subjectivity. After all, at some point, some human, decided what and how things are tested, rated, and graded, to become the best. Which makes the entire thing easy to bias.

And through all of that, I largely have no issue. I use a lot of these places (as do millions) to determine what I might buy in any given category. It only makes sense as none of us want to waste money on something shitty, and with Amazon, shitty things abound.

Recently-ish, I’ve seen more and more lists which are “the best new THING for YEAR”. ‘The 50 Best New Hotels of 2024.’ ‘The Best New Bourbon Releases.’ You’ve likely seen these lists too. They very much vary from something like my annual Best List, as these ‘Best New’ lists focus only on things which came to be in the year/time the list was made. A hotel opening in 2022, would certainly not qualify for the 2024 list — something like that.

I was sucked into these lists for a time. And then I stopped and thought about it: does this metric matter? Or, is this really what I want to know?

And as I look into these lists more, I see how these are among the most devious lists on the internet. Because if you stop and think about it, the best new hotel in Santa Barbara is a completely irrelevant piece of information. You have no way to benchmark that data. If there was only one new hotel opened in 2024, then of course that’s the best new hotel, even if it’s a literal budget hotel, which is by design, quite not good. Still the best new one! Go check it out!

But more than that rather obvious edge case, there’s another issue. There are The Best Hotels and The Best New Hotels — and it very much seems like a situation of ‘never shall the two lists cross pollinate’. That is to say, the best new hotel on any given list, might not actually be good enough to make it on the list with the longer tenured ‘Best Hotels’.

And, given that, it seems clear that ‘Best New’ lists are complete bullshit.

This led me down a rabbit hole of thinking through what and how I frame things. Am I committing the same sin? It feels like I do at times, and it also feels unavoidable for someone reviewing so many things. At that point I had to stop and ask myself: what the fuck kind of list do I want?

And what I really want to know is: what are the best hotels, which have continually been the best hotels, for many years. Replace the word ‘hotels’ with any other generic item out there. What’s the best watch, and which has been the best watch for decades?

In a sense, this is all closer to what the famed subreddit ‘BuyItForLife’ has tried to do, but with a more specific focus on long term success than overall existing for a long period of time. (What I mean is: I don’t want something shitty, but never wears out, that’s not the best, that’s just durable. BuyItForLife members have a hard time reconciling this.)

At the end of the day, I would like to stay at the best hotel in Santa Barbara that’s been in the best lists for the last two decades, rather than stay at one which is “even bester” but has only been around a year. (Look nothing against Santa Barbara, but I have no plans to go there, so no need to tell me your thoughts on hotels here.)

Consistency matters a lot when it comes to labeling something as the best.

In that same vein then, I started to make a list of things I see as the best, which have been the best for a shockingly long period of time — making this list as a way of better informing how I use the term ‘best’ in general, and what I mean by ‘continually best’ — or even top ten.

So for reference, here’s the list of things which I think are not only the best right now, but have been the best for a very long time:

  • Rolex Datejust/GMT-Master II/Submariner: take your pick of almost any iconic Rolex model, and you’ll find that it essentially has been the best for well over 20 years. That literally cannot be said about many other watch brands out there. 1990s Omega Seamasters, for example, were shit.
  • Casio GSHOCK DW5600: it’s probably the best watch from a value perspective, and yet amazingly, essentially still the same watch which was introduced over 30 years ago.
  • Montblanc Meisterstück Pen: in one form or another, this line of pens has been around for 100 years. It’s still my favorite pen everytime I pick it up, I’ve had mine for 26 years.
  • Jansport Superbreak: this one has been around since 1967, and while it might not win crowns these days, it’s almost always near the top of the list.
  • The North Face Denali Fleece: this one has been around since 1988, and it still performs and looks great. Staying power.
  • Spyderco Delica: 1990, still making bloggers blog.
  • Chris Reeve Sebenza: 1987, and still so in demand today, that you cannot necessarily walk in to a dealer and buy the exact model you want.
  • Charmin Toilet Paper: rather than state a year, when’s the last time you thought of the best toilet paper, and Charmin wasn’t the toilet paper you thought of? Personal preference not withstanding, yeah.
  • Dawn Dishsoap: I am personally baffled when someone doesn’t use Dawn, and instead uses anything else for dish soap. It makes zero sense, this is easily the best dish soap here in the USA and it’s not even a competition. I don’t even remember a time when this wasn’t true in the last 40 years.

That’s the stuff I am talking about, that’s really the best stuff out there. And come the end of 2024, that’s the mindset I am taking for my annual member’s best list.

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