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Currently Coveting: Wintercheck Factory's full metal billfold

November 2, 2011 |  1:24 pm

Wintercheck Factory William Wallet
I  abandoned the traditional style of wallet long ago. Once it had grown to the size of a doorstop, I jettisoned the leather billfold -- the kind with a pocket for credit cards, a plastic sleeve for photos and an interior pocket for cash -- and opted for a divide-and-conquer approach, carrying a money clip (almost exclusively this one from Tiffany & Co., which was a gift from my future in-laws) in a hip pocket, with my driver's license and a bare minimum of other plastic stashed in a slim leather card case in a back pocket.

Which is why I was kind of surprised that I  wanted one of Wintercheck Factory's limited-edition William Wallets from the moment I saw one featured in the August issue of Southwest Airlines' Spirit magazine. Maybe it was the simple, straight-forward DIY look -- two panels of lightweight aluminum alloy held together by simple stretch cord. Or it could have been the subtle, functional details like the notch in the top corner that allows the contents to be easily accessed, and the way quick-access cash can be secured on the exterior by tucking it behind the cord. 

By the time I got around to checking out the Brooklyn-based company's website (which boasts an equally utilitarian assortment of household and clothing items with the same dialed-down uber-sleek look -- including shower curtains, nesting cups, desks, sunglasses and coat racks), the latest run of limited-edition pieces had been sold out, but company CEO Kristen Wentrcek offered to send me a factory reject (one with a small scratch in the powder-coated finish) to test drive until the saleable stock was replenished.

After a few weeks of carrying it around, I was surprised by two things. First, it performed nearly as flawlessly as I'd imagined, but removing my one or two cards from inside the wallet proved to be a bit more of a challenge for me than I'd expected (though, strangely, the more pieces of plastic you put inside, the easier it seems to be to get one out). Also, by the time you lash more than one or two crisp bills to the outside, it starts to looks as ungainly and down market as the doorstop bifold. 

But the bigger surprise was the reaction of others; the men I showed it off to liked it, but the women, most decidedly, did not. (For the record, the wallet was the idea of Wentrcek, who, based on her photo and the pronouns in her online biography, appears to be female.)

While I'm sure there's a psychological study in there somewhere, it'll have to wait for another day; Wentrcek recently emailed me that the wallets are back in stock,and I've got an order to place. 

The best part is, although the wallets are made domestically (the metal pieces are cut and powder-coated by Tortoise Industries right here in Los Angeles and they're assembled in Opa Locka, Fla.) they're still an affordable $30 each.

Which means you can buy American -- and still have some cash left to stash behind that cord.


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Photo: Wintercheck Factory's no-frills William Wallets are made from a powder-coated aluminum alloy held together with polyester-bound latex-rubber cords, and sell online for $30. Credit: Wintercheck Factory