Fine Jewelry & Watches

Overview

Our annual celebration. Plus classic timepieces; artwork for the wrist. Also, your holiday host guide: the finest wines, spirits and cigars.

From This Issue

Smoke: Ringleaders

Cigar makers and car designers share a dilemma: Every few years, they face the challenge of coming up with something new, yet not too different, to attract and excite consumers. With cigars, however, it is difficult to continue varying a product that is more than 500 years old. Also, cigar smokers are generally a conservative […]

Watches: Historical References

With histories that are measured in centuries, venerable brands Patek Philippe and Girard-Perregaux can easily justify having their own museums. But Officine Panerai? Some might say a museum is a bit presumptuous for a company that produced only 300 wristwatches exclusively for military purposes between 1938 and its entry into the consumer market in 1993. […]

Dining: Sour Grapes

When Ermanno Goldoni was born 57 years ago, his father boiled white, sugary Trebbiano grapes in a vat and poured the liquid, or must, into an oak barrel to begin the oxidization process that would turn the concoction into genuine Modena balsamic. Ultimately, the barrel became a wedding gift to Goldoni, who in turn created […]

Sport: Downhill Delights

While skis may be the most traditional means of descending the slopes, there is nothing traditional about these models, which incorporate the latest innovations designed to optimize performance—whether they are attached to your feet or to a bicycle frame. Sweet Ride Atomic’s new Sugar Daddy ($795) skis may be fat, but their girth has nothing […]

Golf: Hidden Drives

It’s hard to imagine a location in the continental United States more remote than Lajitas, Texas. The nearest commercial airport is almost 300 miles away. Even the nearest grocery store lies 90 miles distant. No wonder Steve Smith calls his new resort “the Ultimate Hideout.” Set against the base of Big Bend National Park—and along […]

Jewelry: Objet Lesson

A few years ago, when jewelry designer Henry Dunay discovered a rough 2,400-carat aquamarine on one of his yearly gem-buying trips to Idar-Oberstein, Germany, he envisioned the North Pole. Rather than cutting the stone into smaller gems for his jewelry collection, Dunay spent three years carving and crafting the enormous aquamarine into three separate sculptures, […]

Motorcycles: G2 Whiz

When Matt Chambers, owner and president of Confederate Motorcycles in Abita Springs, La., unveiled the new Hellcat G2 at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last August, he surprised himself with his reaction. “I couldn’t look at it. It made me want to cry,” says Chambers, who had toyed and tinkered with the bike’s […]

Autos: Freeways over Airways

I had two options for traveling between San Francisco and Monterey to attend the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August: an Embraer EMB 130, a 30-seat twin-turboprop puddle-jumper; or the Mercedes-Benz CLK500, the company’s redesigned pillarless coupe. The plane, which cruises at a top speed of 362 mph, would hustle me from SFO to Monterey […]

Finance & Investment: The Music Man

As an undergraduate strolling the halls of the University of Pennsylvania, David Pullman used to gaze at the oil and canvas likenesses of once-prominent financiers adorning the walls. He longed to become as famous and one day have his own portrait hanging alongside these walrus-whiskered captains of industry. Pullman would indeed make his fame and […]

FrontRunners: Smoking Out Counterfeiters

Ever since the cigar boom of the late 1990s, impostors of some of the most popular non-Cuban brands have flooded the market. One of the first was the Fuente Fuente OpusX cigar, which is almost always in short supply because all of the leaf is grown in the Dominican Republic, and it is aged a […]

FrontRunners: Fast-Track Footwear

With their leather flame patches and contrasting cobra and crocodile skins, George Esquivel’s custom shoes have always been a bit racier than the average pair of brogues or bluchers. Now that he has teamed with the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, the California cobbler is shifting his collection into high gear with a series […]

Aircraft: Sea Change

Eleven years ago, in the town of Lymington on the south coast of England, James Labouchere had an epiphany that, he believes, has helped him revolutionize the seaplane. On that day in 1991, Labouchere, who was engineering two-hulled racing yachts at the time, sailed at high speeds on a boat he had helped to design. […]

FrontRunners: Measuring Up

Orazio Luciano (305.569.9970) claims that his signature label handmade suits require more time and handwork than Kiton’s exclusive 50-hour K model. He ought to know: During the 20 years that he worked for Kiton he was one of the tailors who made the original K models. Luciano left Kiton seven years ago to create his […]

FrontRunners: Pei’s Progress

Reconstructing the top floors of the Four Seasons Hotel New York (212.758.5700, http://www.fourseasons.com) is of personal interest to renowned architect I.M. Pei. Now retired, the 85-year-old Pei, perhaps best known for his pyramid design at the Grand Louvre, thought he would never fully realize his original concept for the lavish hotel when construction unexpectedly ceased […]

FrontRunners: Best-Dressed Man

This fall, Alan Flusser once again attempts to educate men on the finer points of style with his third book, Dressing the Man (HarperCollins), a 350-page fashion tome complete with a 35-page glossary. The book aspires to be the definitive men’s guide to dressing well, a subject in which Flusser is very well versed. A […]

FrontRunners: Well-Aged Whiskies

The penchant for one-upmanship among the legions of single-malt whisky drinkers and collectors is escalating the competition among Scot- land’s distilleries to produce the most expensive single malt. Witness the bottle of The Macallan 60-year-old that sold for $21,000 at auction and Bowmore’s 1898 that went for $21,736. Now William Grant & Sons, fifth generation […]

FrontRunners: Greene Pieces

Furniture maker David Hellman speaks about the need for trust between craftsman and client, and his reproductions of works by Arts and Crafts-era designers Greene and Greene display a deep fidelity to the originals and a respect for the furniture-making tradition that should put the most demanding patron at ease. Hellman’s business, David B. Hellman […]

Feature: Defining Moments

As long as man has been compelled to strap a watch to his wrist to track the passing hours, minutes, and seconds of the day, that timepiece has also been used to express some aspect of his personal style—from classically elegant to perplexingly complex to avant-garde. Unlike a piece of jewelry, a watch must blend […]

FrontRunners: Promising Results

Audemars Piguet (888.214.6858, www.audemarspiguet.com) has high hopes that its new Promesse women’s watch collection will help raise more than $1.5 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  The Swiss watchmaker has teamed with Estée Lauder and lifestyle guru Colin Cowie to launch the latest Promesse watches at a series of 10 fundraising events across the United […]

FrontRunners: Outerwear Limits

You cannot help but wonder what Jacques Cousteau would have thought of National Geographic’s new seafaring Tempest 1 jacket (800.437.5521, http://www.nationalgeographic.com). This revolutionary outerwear, available by special order, inflates into a life vest when immersed in water and is equipped with an emergency light source for those dark and stormy nights. The jacket’s $1,200 price would […]

FrontRunners: BMW’s Bike

The Q8.R, the fastest BMW without an engine, has arrived. In the spirit of high-performance racing, BMW (888. 269.6654, http://www.bmw-online.com) debuts its ultimate racing cycle—with a price starting at $3,995 —in colors echoing the original white and blue paint scheme of the BMW-Williams’ Formula 1 car, driven by Juan-Pablos Montoya and Ralf Shumacher. Designed for […]

FrontRunners: All in the Family

In a story about identity theft in our November 2001 issue (“To Catch a Thief”), we pointed out that the amount of wealth a person possesses is a factor when ID thieves choose their targets. Since then, a new, more sinister strategy has emerged. An increasing number of identity thieves are prowling closer to home—to […]

FrontRunners: Gold Diggers

After more than two years in development, Chopard’s revolutionary new collection, christened Golden Diamonds, has made its debut. Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, an owner of the family business and the creative force behind Chopard’s jewelry (800.CHOPARD, http://www.chopard.com), forged this new concept, which involves polishing and cutting gold nuggets in the same fashion as diamonds. The result is glamorous […]

FrontRunners: Belle Jar

London is a key destination this season for jewelry collectors and devotées who would not miss a rare opportunity to view the work of the very private Parisian jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal, also known as JAR. From November 2 through January 26, the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House (+44.207.420.9400, http://www.gilbert-collection.org.uk), London’s newest museum of decorative […]

FrontRunners: Landmark Flight

When a Hawker 800 touched down at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., on July 26, it did not mark the end of an ordinary business trip. The jet carried 8-year-old Christopher Becker, a brain cancer patient, and his father, Patrick, from their Florida home to New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The flight […]

FrontRunners: Proper English Pram

The Silver Cross stroller (866.887.9642, http://www.silvercrossbaby.com) is called the Rolls-Royce of baby carriages for good reason: It is produced in a manner reminiscent of the meticulous craftsmanship that characterizes that other venerable British carriage maker. While all of Silver Cross’s carriages are exceptional, its line of traditional, non-collapsible models has a charm that transcends nostalgia. […]

FrontRunners: The Sweetest Job?

When the London gourmet grocer Fortnum and Mason (www.fortnumandmason.co.uk) advertised for a new confectionery buyer last August, it received more than 3,500 applications. The new employee would control the budget of a $4.5 million department and travel throughout Europe to meet with suppliers, scout for new products, negotiate business deals, and, oh yes, eat lots […]

Wardrobe: Jack’s Back

Late last year, when Dormeuil pulled the plug on its U.S. clothing operation and closed its New York store, the firm’s U.S. president and design director, Jack Simpson, was left without a home. But Simpson, whose name has appeared on the Dormeuil label since 1999, decided his moniker would not go down with Dormeuil’s. This […]

Travel: The Wild, Worldly West

“Big Sky?” the question inevitably comes. “Is there really a town by that name? I thought it referred to the state.” Which, of course, it does. But the former truly encapsulates the spirit of the latter, with its lodge-pole and shingled edifices clustered along far-stretching, wind-whispering Western roads that roll beneath the shadowed granite immensity […]

Boating: Search and Rescue

When Earl McMillen first saw Belle in 1996, the 77-foot wooden boat was half-buried in mud behind a house in St. Petersburg, Fla., its hull resembling a slice of Swiss cheese. Belle, built in 1929 by the New York Yacht Launch and Engine Co., contained all of its original systems, all of them thoroughly rusted, […]

Home Electronics: Future Perfect

As soon as you have installed your home theater or audio system, it is time to think about updating it. The sad truth is that technology evolves at such a rapid clip that new equipment and functionality are available before you even learn how to use what you have. Meridian, a company that manufactures all-digital […]

Personal Technology: Compact Discs Are So 2002

Just as compact discs began replacing audiocassette tapes some 20 years ago, Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) or Digital Video Disc-Audio (DVD-A) or both of the relatively new formats should commence pushing their predecessor to the nice-price sale bin. The discs resemble 5-inch silver CDs, but they offer a fuller, more lifelike sound as well […]

Spirits: Liquid Gold

The legend of the SS Politician certainly had all the makings of a movie: In wartime England, a British ship laden with a cargo of hard cash and Scotch whisky braves the Atlantic and U-boats to conduct the Empire’s business in colonial Jamaica. She never arrives at her destination, running aground on the remote Scottish […]

Wine: Forefather of the Vine

Winter is a quiet time at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s eccentric estate near Charlottesville, Va. The summer and autumn crowds have come and gone, and the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge that reminded Jefferson of Bordeaux—and inspired him to attempt to produce fine wine in his native Virginia—are shrouded in mist and rain. But last […]

Furnishings: Sculptures of Light

“Crystal is one of the truest materials in architectural decor because of its reflection of light, and light is a reflection of life,” says Rosemarie Le Gallais, the driving force behind the newly launched Daniel Swarovski Home Accessories collection, a line of 12 pieces for the home and office. After 15 years of working in […]

Appliances: Handle with Care

What do Michael Jordan’s home, Ritz-Carlton hotels, the new Reichstag in Berlin, and Milan’s Malpensa airport have in common? Door hardware. Not just any old door handles, but levers and cabinet pulls of high style. This is designer hardware created by architects exclusively for the Italian company Valli & Valli. Which may explain why Jennifer […]

Art: Your Own Private Museum

It would seem a rare privilege: You enter one of the world’s most prestigious art museums, and a staff member ushers you to a private room, away from the crowds. There, the masterpieces you have requested, works not on exhibit for the public, are whisked out of their storage crates and displayed before you by […]

Feature: Vintage Futures

You may not attract many stares wearing Blancpain’s subtle 1735 grand complication—except among fellow aficionados who realize, with more than a little bit of envy, that you have acquired one of the great ones. Among the scores of highly coveted and collected contemporary timepieces, a precious few stand out to experts, just as an elite […]

Feature: Singular Sensations

Only one. That is the essence of a masterpiece. A celebrated painting or sculpture can surely be copied, but those reproductions can never quite capture the precise aura of the original. Even the artist who rendered the first cannot duplicate a work of art exactly. In fine jewelry, nature, more than anything else, dictates whether […]

Feature: Classic Stars

It hovered above two tiny pedestals and looked like the fossilized remains of some huge flying reptile, a tangle of thin tubes describing the skeleton of the 300SL Rennsportwagen. An identical frame hung on the workshop wall like so much modern sculpture; except this, the original, was burned beyond repair. The priceless prototype—the first 300SL […]

Robb Report Host Guide

An understanding and appreciation of the art of entertaining is the hallmark of a civilized society, and for the most discriminating individuals, entertaining is as much a statement of personal standards as it is a social obligation. The choice of cuisine, spirits, and wines is a reflection of taste and personality—as well as of the […]

Feature: Family Practices

In today’s competitive business environment, with its endless mergers and acquisitions, a thriving family business that is driven by heritage and passion more than the bottom line is a treasure in and of itself. Jewelers have long built their fortunes on family names, some of which evoke instant respect and trust gained through decades (or […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Willing Spirits

Fine spirits of every shade and flavor have come to represent, through the centuries, the embodiment of fellowship, comfort, and celebration: No gathering (or quiet winter evening, for that matter) is complete without at least one glassful. Our recommendations are guided by the host’s desire to surprise, delight, and quench every thirst—whether for a rare […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Post-Prandial Puffery

The night is perfect and wanting only for the companionship of a good cigar. Our host has stocked and aged an impressive selection, and one exists to suit the taste of every guest—the experienced smoker and neophyte alike. The enjoyment afforded by a fine cigar is—for some of us—unmatched by any other experience of the […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Wine Gifts

Forget gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Wine is still my favorite holiday gift, whether I am on the giving or the receiving end. In fact, wine makes a perfect present just about any time, but it is especially appropriate during the holiday season, when it can be accompanied by plenty of food. From the gazillion bottles […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Barware with Flair

As your social calendar heats up at this time of year and you dash from event to event, the challenge is to find gifts that are both unique and complementary to your host’s style. Wherever you are celebrating—in a penthouse or onboard a yacht—these bar accessories will make spirits soar. Breathing Room Handblown lead crystal […]

Robb Report Host Guide: A Matter of Taste

Holiday gatherings are a tapestry of flavors and scents, where wines and spirits not only enhance food and conversation, but are an integral part of the festivities. To add to this ambience, invite your dinner guests to engage in the fine art of tasting, so that they may reap maximum pleasure from snifter and glass. […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Party Favorites

Abbondonza! The word alone evokes images of joyful celebration, family ties, and hearty feasts—which is exactly what Francesca Abbracciamento, one of Manhattan’s premier party planners, is predicting this season. Keep in mind, however, that letting the good times roll does not necessarily mean rolling out the red carpet for everyone in your address book. “Events […]

Robb Report Host Guide: Formal Affairs to Remember

Redcoat Revel The year was 1778, and things were hopping in Philadelphia. The founding fathers of the revolution had departed, as had Gen. George Washington’s army (now encamped outside the city in Valley Forge), but Philadelphia’s society belles suffered no shortage of male companionship. Au contraire, they found the occupying British officers to be the […]

Feature: Jewels of the Ancients

Christie’s does not auction ancient jewelry every day. To be precise, it holds just one sale a year that focuses on rings, bracelets, necklaces, and precious items forged by members of the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and other civilizations that existed between 3500 B.C. and A.D. 1000. G. Max Bernheimer, the head of Christie’s antiquities department, […]

Feature: A California House

  Max Palevsky was one of the pioneers of the computer industry. He started his career at Packard Bell; founded Scientific Data Systems, which was acquired by Xerox; and was active in the startup of Intel, on whose board he sat for 29 years. He is a noted philanthropist, art collector, and campaign finance reform […]

Style: Shirt Tales

When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe uttered his famous words “God is in the details” to an admirer of his work, the celebrated German minimalist architect and designer could just as easily have been speaking of the impeccably tailored suits and crisp white dress shirts he wore with such consummate style. In fashion, as in […]

Leisure: Italy Unspoiled

Italy’s culture, once the inspiration for generations of poets, is in danger of becoming homogenized by the rest of the Western world. Indeed, the Chianti region of Tuscany has been nicknamed “Chiantishire” to acknowledge the many English who have relocated there, and mass tourism has stripped Venice, Florence, and Rome of most of their senses […]

Journeys: Bones of Contention

It is just after 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning, and our group of two dozen is making its way to a room in the basement of a museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The route is short, but it’s lined with animal skulls, fossils, and other alluring exhibits, each one tempting us to stop and […]

Wheels: Lords of the Ring

The owner of a Chevrolet Camaro stands next to his wrecked car, waving us past the pile of twisted silver metal that moments earlier had been in hot pursuit of a Ford Focus before it overshot a corner. As we ease past in a 2002 Jaguar XKR convertible, the scene reminds us of where we […]

Wings & Water: Lofty Living

Greg Farbolin will go a long way for a good omelet, sometimes as far as 50 miles. Nearly every Saturday morning, Farbolin and the other two dozen members of the Gaggle Group, an informal club of aircraft enthusiasts, fly their biplanes and Piper Cubs from the Daytona area to one of a handful of different […]

Home Entertainment: High-definition Demons

Just as anyone who bought a Betamax videocassette recorder 20 years ago eventually found little to play in it, the roughly 3.5 million owners of high-definition television sets may have scant programming to watch on them. These sets could become obsolete because they are not equipped to receive the heavily copy-protected programming that Hollywood wants […]

Symposium: To the Tuxedo: A Tribute

About 50 years ago, an old Frenchman declared that a man has not really lived until he has undressed a lady wearing late- 19th-century finery. Savoring the gradual unveiling of the woman through endless layers of dress, crinoline, and corset was truly a welcome exercise in deferred gratification. Unless your paramour has a Scarlett O’Hara–inspired […]

Back Page: Times They Are a’Changing

This month, we travel back in time for a look at . . . time, and how Robb Report readers were keeping track of it in November 1993, when we ran a cover story on “The Ultimate Watches.” For the record, the watches pictured on that cover are (from left to right) the IWC Grande […]