21 Ultimate Gifts


For the Holidays: Personalized Airbus Jumbo Jet A Voyage Around the Moon Your Own Private Golf Resort

From This Issue

Collectibles: Chugging Ahead

This is a good time to be or to become a collector of vintage toy trains, because, judging from the recent spate of record-breaking prices that have been paid, the market has become rife with once and future prized possessions from the decades prior to World War II. “It’s not unusual to sell a train […]

FrontRunners: Picture Perfect

Photographer Monica Rich Kosann (203.972.9193, mrkphoto.com), who has been capturing images of American families for nearly two decades, has introduced a line of custom cases for her black-and-white portraits and other fine prints. A collector of vintage sterling silver cigarette cases and powder compacts, Kosann has fashioned frames inspired by the 1920s-era items for her […]

Furnishings: Hover Crafts

Brock Barrett’s lighting designs, which resemble origami figures, reveal the influence of eight years of living in Japan, where the former University of Southern California architecture student designed fashion and accessories before returning to Los Angeles to establish Satori Light Sculptures. His company’s name is Japanese for spiritual enlightenment, suggesting that this period in his […]

Worldly Goods

Long before settling into his Norman Revival–style house in Connecticut, the executive of a multinational Fortune 500 company enrolled at a Tokyo university in the early 1960s to study Japanese. While learning the language and gaining knowledge about the Japanese culture, he also began assembling the remarkable collection of art and antiques that his home […]

FrontRunners: Surf And Turf

Private Island Resorts frequently count yachts among their amenities; Rania (+960. 333.6522, http://www.raniaexperience .com), an 86-foot Majesty vessel available for charter in the Maldives, may be the first yacht to offer its guests a private island.   As many as nine guests reside in four bedrooms aboard Rania (derived from the Dhivehi word for queen) […]

Travel: Turning The Tide

After the tsunami hit the Sri Lankan coastal town of Galle last December, the Amangalla hotel, which had been open for only nine days, dispatched employees in its fleet of 1948 Nash Ambassadors to search for survivors. The hotel, Singapore-based Amanresorts’ first in Sri Lanka, had fared well in the tidal wave because of its […]

Journeys: Matters of the Harp

Leonard Chevrier lowers his taut, welterweight-like frame to the ice and, with hands weathered by the sea, tenderly flips a blubbery blanchon on its back. He shows me the clawed appendages, webbed tail, tiny ears, and just-emerging canines, and insists that I remove a glove to feel the intense body heat beneath one of the […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Tall Order

Mikael krafft is not happy unless he is building a boat. The Swedish founder and president of Star Clippers, a specialty cruise company in Monaco that offers itineraries aboard tall ships, has been commissioning the construction of private yachts and commercial vessels for more than 30 years. His most epic vessel is the Royal Clipper, […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Seventh Heaven

The celestial display on Vacheron Constantin’s Tour D’Ile wristwatch is a particularly personal touch added by its creator, Bernhard Guillaume-Gentil, the company’s most experienced watchmaker. Guillaume-Gentil has long had a passion for astronomy as well as astronomic complications, some of the most sophisticated and rarest watch mechanisms. Yet despite the care lavished upon this display, […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Mad About Polo

El Metejón, the name of the 300-acre Argentina polo estancia, or ranch, that Maria Chavanne’s family has owned for 27 years and that she has managed for 10, does not translate well into English. “It’s a really strong word, a Latin thing,” she says, struggling to capture its meaning. “It’s like when you meet somebody […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Thy Cup Runneth Over

The business attire for Napa Valley wine finder Mark Steven Pope includes jeans—Wranglers, in fact—rather than a suit. His sartorial choice stems from an observation he made during his previous two-decade career as a pharmaceutical company executive, a position that often required him to dine with and entertain clients. “The executives seemed sheepish about their […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Spyder That Flies

Exclusivity in the world of sports and luxury automobiles is relative. Porsches and Mercedes seem positively commonplace when compared to Ferraris and Bentleys, but even these rarely encountered series production cars are manufactured in the thousands annually. For those drivers seeking the rarest of aves, a Spyker C8 Spyder—built to order—is the ultimate in gratification. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Brough Rider

English motorcycle manufacturer George Brough (pronounced bruff) would not permit a Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle to leave his possession until he could guarantee that it would achieve a speed of at least 100 mph. If an SS100 machine failed to reach this benchmark, he would return it to his Nottingham, England, workshop for adjustments. The […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: As Good as Goldmund

Theo Kalomirakis, the eminent home theater designer, faced several challenges after accepting the commission to create the Toledo theater (pictured) for a 1920s-era Spanish Revival–style home in northern California. “The house is historic, but it is not as ornate as the theater,” Kalomirakis says from his Manhattan office. “It matches the house in terms of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Turkish Delight

Every year, English designer David Linley’s 20-year-old namesake company produces what he calls “extraordinary” pieces—as many as five unique items of furniture, decorative objects, or other accessories. For 2005, the firm created a humidor that celebrates several splendid 19th-century palaces located near the Bosporus Strait, a geographic feature that marks the boundary between the continents […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Diamond in the Rough

A sparkling diamond ring represents the end of a process that began billions of years ago deep within the earth’s surface. It involved geologists who discovered the rock in a remote region, miners who excavated it, diamond cutters in Antwerp or New York who refined its beauty, and finally a jeweler who created the setting […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Wool to Succeed

On Gary and Kay Wilson’s Highlander Farm in Tumbarumba, Australia, a flock of sheep live in a climate-controlled shed that, because of the pampering its residents receive, some in the fabric trade refer to as the “Wooldorf Astoria.” Away from the open fields and paddocks where most of the Wilsons’ livestock reside, these rams, about […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Cleared for Takeoff

For good reason, the Airbus A380 has been described as the most ambitious aircraft in the history of flight: The double-decker plane, which is expected to begin making commercial flights next year, is designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class configuration, or more than 800 in an economy-only layout. The A380’s staggering capacity places […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: The Cradle of Evolution

Although to this day not everyone agrees with his conclusions, Englishman Charles Darwin helped answer the question of how we, the human race, got here, when, in 1859, the naturalist wrote On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Darwin based the book on information he gathered during a five-year voyage aboard the […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Three Brilliant BATs

The 1950s were exciting times. Reported sightings of alien spacecraft at Roswell, N.M., in 1947 spawned a UFO craze that created ideal conditions for the appearances on Earth of three outrageous vehicles. These three arrivals, however, were confirmed by copious publicity photographs and thousands of witnesses. The tiny finned creatures took the automotive world by […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Ticket to Wally World

Luca Bassani antivari may have allowed his then-young son to name his first yacht, and thus his company, after the cartoon character Wally Gator, but there is nothing silly about the way this economist-turned-yachting entrepreneur approaches vessel innovation. Since 1993, Bassani has been collaborating with naval architect Luca Brenta to build fast, light, safe, and […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: 18 Holes to Dye For

“Golfers love to knock golf balls into the ocean,” says P.B. Dye with the conviction of someone who was born to be a golf course designer. “Moving up from Florida on the East Coast, I can’t think of any courses where you can knock golf balls into the ocean until you get to the Hamptons. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: View from the Far Side

Within the next five years, for the first time since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission of 1972, a manned spacecraft will orbit the moon, and Space Adventures, the Arlington, Va., company that sent space tourists Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, and Greg Olsen to the International Space Station (ISS), is offering two seats aboard that flight. Space […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Miami Paradise

Although the value of South Florida property has been soaring for the last decade or more, when developer Carl Fisher was building up Miami Beach in the 1910s, he had a difficult time convincing wealthy people from the Northeast and the Midwest to construct winter homes there. Fisher, who already had made a fortune manufacturing […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Ruhlmann Rules

Frank Pollaro adores Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s Art Deco furniture, but there are days when he curses the Frenchman’s name, for the details that make a Ruhlmann piece so appealing also make it such a challenge to reproduce. Pollaro, a largely self-taught 38-year-old furniture maker who has crafted more than 100 Ruhlmann replicas at his studio in […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Drama of the Dram

Ian “Percy” McPherson understands the sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a hard day’s work. He has performed every job there is at Bowmore, the 226-year-old single-malt distillery on Islay (pronounced “eye-la”), a remote island in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, and he can attest that some are more satisfying than […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Schooled in Generosity

Titans of industry rarely rest their legacies on their business achievements alone. Often they seek to cement their reputations with acts of generosity that benefit generations. A significant gift to an institution of higher learning has proven to be an effective means of achieving this goal, especially when the gift is generous enough to prompt […]

Dividing Wine

Driving to Château Monbousquet, outside Saint-Émilion,from Pauillac, in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, would be easy. All I had to do was go to the village of Saint-Sulpice, turn right, and follow the road along the vineyards. “You can’t miss it,” said Chantal Perse, my hostess. What the dear lady neglected to mention was that […]

From The Editors: Outer Spatial Relations

Extraterrestrial aliens have, in fact, not been abducting human beings. They have not been prodding and probing earthlings, or engaging in even more intimate contact with them, to learn about or breed with the species. So asserts a group of researchers at Harvard University. Although not surprising, the news is nevertheless reassuring as the editors […]

Art: Home On The Range

On a breezy, sunny July afternoon on her family ranch in Montana, Barbara Van Cleve moves across a green pasture with the concentration of a big-game hunter. Occasionally standing quietly or crouching in the grass so that she can observe her prey, she carries in hand her favorite tool for these outings: a Nikon D2X […]

Antiques: Making Beautiful Music Together

Geoffrey fushi has handled almost as many Stradivarius violins as Antonio Stradivari himself did. He estimates that Bein & Fushi, the 29-year-old Chicago company that he cofounded with business partner Robert Bein, has sold about 100 Stradivarius violins and has either sold, repaired, restored, appraised, or catalogued almost one-third of the 640 Stradivarii that have […]

Spirits: Cognac’s Premier Clan

Hennessy may count itself extremely fortunate to have had as its master blenders seven generations of the Fillioux family, who have established the consistent sense of lineage and tradition for which the venerable firm and its Cognacs are known. One of the earliest traditions this single line of cellar masters initiated was for each master […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

CAMACHO COYOLAR PURO Every cigar maker would claim that it built its brand on the strength of its cigars, but for Camacho, the statement holds a more literal meaning: The heavy-bodied cigars for which the producer is known rank among the world’s stoutest smokes. For its new Camacho Coyolar Puro, the manufacturer selected especially robust […]

Wine: A Perfect Seven

On the basis of their master’s famous theorem, the Pythagoreans declared the square and the equilateral triangle the perfect figures and seven (the total number of these figures’ sides) the perfect number. Thus did mathematics contribute to a numerical mania among mystics, whose mouths and pens have poured forth solemn screeds brimming with plagues and […]

Dining: Getting Cyrus

At the entrance to an intimate, low-lit dining room rendered grand by its cloistered ceiling and walls of Venetian plaster, the hostess welcomes a party of two, announces their arrival to the chef, and leads the guests to their white-linen-covered table that soon will teem with crystal. Within moments, maître d’ Nick Peyton wheels forth […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

SEQUOIA GROVE VINEYARDS RUTHERFORD RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002 This new release from Sequoia Grove Vineyards represents a departure from the estate’s reputation for red wines that are as sturdy and wooden as its namesake tree. Michael Trujillo, the winery’s president and head winemaker, has reduced production and raised the quality of the fruit, much of […]

Spas: Aloha State Of Mind

For 2,000 years, the Hawaiian island of Kauai has been a place of healing. As the home of Hawaii’s most sacred hula altars, the island has long been a pilgrimage site for those seeking rejuvenation and those practicing massage and other therapies that promise to soothe the body and mind. “Kauai is the oldest island—6 […]

Sport: San Juan for All

Loaded down with layers of alpine apparel, avalanche transceivers, and backpacks outfitted to carry skis, our group embarks from ski patrol headquarters at the top of Telluride’s Prospect Bowl. We proceed in single file along a spiny ridgeline, planting the toes of our ski boots into the snow pack and using our poles to keep […]

Golf: Finding His Stroke

The previous night’s rain has transformed the Half Moon golf course’s claylike soil into an adhesive substance that cakes my boots as Ian Smith, director of golf at the Jamaican resort, leads me to the newly elevated tee box on the fourth hole. “Because big hitters can sometimes reach the green,” says Smith of the […]

FrontRunners: Jewel of the Dial

Swiss watchmaker and jeweler Chopard (800.246.7273, http://www.chopard.com) has joined with New York diamond house William Goldberg to create a collection of one-of-a-kind watches set with Ashoka diamonds. Introduced by Goldberg in 2000, Ashokas are elongated, cushion-cut stones with slightly rounded corners. The partners will integrate the diamonds into approximately 50 timepieces (priced from $200,000 to […]

Watches: The English Patience

Sitting in his small, orderly workshop on Britain’s Isle of Man, independent watchmaker Roger Smith contemplates vastly increasing his annual production—to about 30 pieces—over the course of the next few years. Currently, Smith produces, on a custom basis, only two or three scrupulously finished and sometimes complicated watches starting at about $145,000. In addition to […]

FrontRunners: Park Avenue Palazzo

Like his clothing, Stefano Ricci’s new U.S. flagship store (212.371.3901, http://www.stefanoricci.com) is flush with extravagant detail. Designed by Ricci, the interior of the four-level structure in Midtown Manhattan includes large-grained New Guinea crocodile skin, travertine marble, and lacquered Italian radica wood with elaborate tortoiseshell-like grain that matches precisely from panel to panel. “It’s like a […]

FrontRunners: Match Makers

Perfect Copy (877.535.8880, http://www.perfect-copy.com), a custom service of the Individually Suited tailoring firm in Portland, Ore., promises eternal life for out-of-production wardrobe items and favorite vestments that have become too worn for wear. “In most cases, we have the resources to locate the same or similar fabric to have an exact copy manufactured,” says Carol […]

FrontRunners: Wear The Buffalo Bone

According to Ralph Anderl of Onono (215.238.8804), buffalo horn can be a brittle substance on which to base a business. “It is a very sensitive material,” says Anderl, whose new eyewear line features rims made of horn from buffalo that have died of natural causes. “Each piece has to age for five to 10 years […]

Wardrobe: Step Lively

Most of the men in Olga Berluti’s family—her grandfather, father, and uncles—were shoemakers, and though she grew up in Parma, Italy, surrounded by the tools of their trade, the notion that she one day would enter the profession never occurred to her relatives, or to Olga. Nevertheless, she did and today might be the only woman […]

Jewelry: Echoes of Deco

After the turn of the 20th century, when it was considered impolite for a lady to glance at her wristwatch during an evening among gentlemen, French jeweler and watchmaker Léon Hatot specialized in creating elaborate jeweled bracelets that cleverly concealed wristwatches. The designs helped him cultivate a following of au courant women, and his business […]

Setting Expectations

  Watch enthusiasts may not recognize Alain Kirchhof’s name, yet this master jewel setter has introduced perhaps as much innovation to the offerings of his employer, Jaeger-LeCoultre, as any watchmaker in the Vallée de Joux. Unlike the ranks of genius watchmakers who have gained recognition for advancing the state of their art, Kirchhof quietly develops […]

Style: A Tale Of Two Tailors

In 1940, a young tailor named Giacomo Trabalza was serving in the Italian army and stationed near the tiny hillside town of Chieti in Abruzzi. Aware of what Trabalza’s profession was prior to the war, his captain, who wore riding pants, requested that the private make him a new pair. Lacking the necessary tools to […]

Time: Made-to-Measure Moments

Bentley’s Mulliner workshop, located within the carmaker’s headquarters in the town of Crewe in the northwest of England, regularly fills requests for custom interior leathers and woodwork and a variety of more technical alterations. Indeed, an important part of the purchasing process is making selections that tailor the Bentley to your tastes. Breitling, which for […]

FrontRunners: Avant Garde

Even amid the parade of motorized exotica at this summer’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the new Audi A6 Avant (www.audiusa.com) attracted its share of onlookers. The wagon, which Audi showcased at the August event, sports the sleek lines and single-frame grille common to all new Audi front ends. This visual bravado is reinforced by a […]

Autos: Rocket Sled

It is easy to overlook the subtle design elements that distinguish the Corvette Z06 from other new ’Vettes. But as minor as they may appear to be—functional air inlets, wider fenders, discreetly enlarged rear spoiler, and larger brakes, wheels, and tires—these appurtenances and alterations serve serious purposes for the new Corvette, the first that merits […]

Phantom of Phinda

“Rhinos have really bad eyesight,” Seth Vorster whispers in my ear as a hundred yards away—huddled under a barbed thicket midway across the floor of South Africa’s Bumbeni crater—lie three two-and-a-half-ton white rhinos. “But their sense of smell and their hearing are acute.”  The words of the burly Afrikaans game warden, a lifetime veteran of […]

An Indelible Marque

No business school professor would tout the Morgan Motor Co. as a model for modern entrepreneurs to follow. The British firm’s story, simply put, is as follows: Morgan released its first product in 1910, manufactured that product for more than 25 years, added one significant component in 1936, and then continued building the updated item […]

Aircraft: A Complex That Would Simplify

First, there was Spruce Creek, which applied the golf community model to private aviation and created the fly-in community. Now, a Daytona Beach, Fla., company has taken the fly-in community concept, applied it to the office park premise, and produced plans for the World Jetplex on the grounds of Daytona Beach International Airport. The ultimate […]

Boating: Flying Right

The owner of San Juan Composites’ first San Juan48 Flybridge is not the type of person for which the Anacortes, Wash., company expected to build the boat. The new model derives from the company’s 48-foot express cruiser, which it introduced two years ago in response to requests for more interior space from owners of its […]


The Small “Antique Boats” sign on the open metal door is thus far the only indication that this small warehouse on the shore of the Farmington River in Canton, Conn., is the right place, but the scent of wood dust and varnish emanating from within the building reaffirms my hunch. Inside, John Carl, a master […]

Snakebitten: The Fin Phenomenon

You would assume that the aft fiberglass golden dorsal fin on the Chris-Craft Cobra served some aerodynamic purpose. It did not; it was simply a marketing ploy. “You bought that boat for what it looked like,” says Cobra owner Frank Miklos. “Not for what it could do for you.”   Flash back to America in the […]

Snakebitten: Chris-Craft Restored

Christopher Smith and his brother Hank knew how to construct wooden boats that could turn heads and please their owners, and they built upon that knowledge for several decades. By 1959, Christopher’s grandson Harsen Smith was at the helm of Chris-Craft, which then was operating nine factories that were producing a total of 8,000 wooden […]

Leisure: Germans Gone Wild

On a moonlit winter’s eve in Villingen, one of those quaint villages that abound in Germany’s Black Forest, you decide to go for a stroll. The way leads along the 13th-century wall that surrounds the town, down streets lined with homes and shops dating to the Middle Ages, and past the ancient Rathaus, the town […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Bugatti Rides Again

If you have ever wondered what it would feel like to see the horizon rushing toward you at 250 mph, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 will put an end to all speculation. Select “top speed” mode, and the Veyron prepares for extreme low-earth orbit by hugging the ground a little closer, tucking in its rear wing […]