23rd Annual Best of the Best


2011 Luxury Portfolio: 100+ award winners. Aston Martin, Audi, Brioni, Ferrari, Gulfstream, Ralph Lauren & more. You can now purchase this issue’s articles from our website by clicking here, or download the new iPad app which is FREE to existing print subscribers. Click here to download the iPad app.

From This Issue

From the Editor: A Brief History of the Future

History is a harsh taskmaster. With alarming regularity, it seems, we are confronted with the challenge of either making history or becoming it. Certainly the long path of civilization is littered with the cautionary wreckage of those industries, institutions, and individuals that failed to recognize developing trends and technologies poised to disrupt their comfortable existences. […]

The Robb Reader: Joshua Bell

Joshua bell is often called the rock star of classical music. Indeed, the violin virtuoso tours the world 250 days per year, bringing sellout crowds to their feet with a distinctly sweet tone and an athletic performance style that may explain his signature untucked silk shirts. At a youthful 43, Bell has recorded more than […]

Best of the Best 2011: Coupes & GTs: Audi TT RS

The Audi TT RS (www.audiusa.com), the high-performance variant of the cute TT model, embodies the spirit of the rally-racing cars with which the brand enjoyed so much success in the 1980s. The TT RS’s 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder engine (similar to those that powered the Quattro racers three decades ago) produces 360 hp and 332 ft […]

Best of the Best 2011: Coupes & GTs: Bentley Continental GT

The Bentley Continental GT (www.bentleymotors.com) debuted in 2003, so it was high time for a second generation. The latest GT is entirely new, although it requires a discerning eye to notice the subtly wrought outward changes: a sleeker nose, a more angular tail, and crisper style lines. The $190,000 GT retains the W-12 engine (which […]

Best of the Best 2011: Coupes & GTs: Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG

Since its founders invented the motorcar 125 years ago, Mercedes-Benz has been tweaking and primping its vehicles ever closer to perfection. The Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG (www.mbusa.com) may well be the culmination of those efforts. For muscle and punch, the $151,100 coupe has a twin-turbo, 536 hp, 5.5-liter V-8 (an optional 563 hp performance package is […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sports Cars: Ferrari 458 Italia

When our judging panel of nearly 50 readers selected the Ferrari 458 Italia as the 2011 Car of the Year with a landslide vote in Robb Report’s March issue, the editors and writers who had the chance to drive the car were not surprised. While we anticipated the outcome, the 458’s accomplishment still is notable, […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sports Cars: Porsche 911 Turbo S

If the Ferrari 458 Italia represents a revolutionary development on the part of its maker, then the Porsche 911 Turbo S (www.porsche.com) proves that an antithetical, evolutionary approach to improving performance can be every bit as effective. Under the skin of its familiar 911 shape lurks a friendly monster that makes the Turbo S the […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sports Cars: Lexus LFA

The most remarkable thing about the Lexus LFA (www.lexus.com) is not that it is extremely quick (202 mph), very expensive ($375,000), or exceedingly exclusive (only 500 will be built), but that it is made by Toyota, a brand better known for manufacturing family-friendly Corollas and Camrys by the millions. But this is precisely the point […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sport-Utility Vehicles: Infiniti QX56

In the oversize-SUV category that includes the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, and Lincoln Navigator, to name three, the best of the biggest is the Infiniti QX56 (www.infiniti.com). The seven-seat, $58,700 ($61,800 with the four-wheel-drive option) QX56 offers more luxury, technology, and performance than any of the American-made alternatives. Its 5.6-liter V-8 engine pumps 400 hp […]

Best of the Best 2011: Motorcycles: Touring: BMW K 1600 GT/GTL

The adage that good things come in small packages applies well to the silky-smooth in-line 6-cylinder engine that powers the new $23,200 BMW K 1600 GTL and its sportier, slightly less accommodating sibling, the $20,900 K 1600 GT (pictured). The transversely mounted 1649 cc engine weighs just 226 pounds, and it is only 21.9 inches […]

Best of the Best 2011: Motorcycles: Cruiser: Ducati Diavel

When Porsche introduced the Cayenne nearly a decade ago, purists feared that this attempt to expand the brand would only dilute it; suddenly soccer moms and other seemingly unworthy owners would be driving Porsches. Instead, by possessing unprecedented performance capabilities, the Cayenne enhanced the image of the SUV—and perhaps the images of a few soccer […]

Best of the Best 2011: Motorcycles: Custom: NCR Millona 16

Its irascible motor and unusually low weight render the Ducati Des­mosedici RR too much motorcycle for many riders. But for the Italian boutique bike builder NCR, the MotoGP race replica is only a starting point. From the Desmosedici it creates the Millona 16, or M16. Associations with the firearm of the same name may be […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sedans: Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG (www.mbusa.com) appears only slightly different from the previous version of the midsize sedan; the big changes were made under the hood. Mercedes-Benz replaced a normally aspirated 507 hp V-8 with a new V-8 and a pair of turbochargers that increase horsepower to 518. The old CLS63 AMG accelerated from zero […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sedans: Jaguar XJ Supersport

With the arrival of so many new or thoroughly updated models from top manufacturers, 2011 could be called the Year of the Sedan. The best of the bunch perform on a par with world-class coupes and GTs. Among these is the Jaguar XJ Supersport (www.jaguar.com), the supercharged variant of the radically reshaped XJ that reflects […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sedans: Bentley Mulsanne

While motorcars become greener, lighter, smaller, and less expensive, Bentley clings to its heritage by offering the Mul­sanne, a supersized sedan with a carbon footprint as large as that of a South York­shire coalfield. The world of motoring—plus an estimated 10 percent of Bentley owners—is all the better for this mighty $290,000 museum piece, which […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sedans: Audi A8

The secret to the success of the Audi A8 (www.audiusa.com), which finished ahead of sedans by BMW, Jaguar, and Rolls-Royce in Robb Report’s 2011 Car of the Year competition, rests in its underpinnings. Audi seems to have perfected the aluminum space-frame technology that it debuted 17 years ago on the first-generation A8. When combined with […]

Best of the Best 2011: Convertibles: Audi R8 V10 Spyder

The Audi R8 V10 Spyder’s performance specs could have earned it a spot in the sports-car category. Equipped with a high-revving 5.2-liter V-10, it sprints from zero to 60 mph in four seconds and reaches a top speed of 195 mph. Ultimately, the $161,000 Spyder, a ragtop version of Audi’s popular R8 sans the coupe’s […]

Best of the Best 2011: Convertibles: Maserati GranTurismo Convertible

Maserati GranTurismo Convertible (www.maserati.com), which might be the most beautiful topless GT on the planet. If one requires more pragmatic reasons to consider the $139,700 GranTurismo, he or she can put foot to floor and experience the performance of a Ferrari-engineered V-8 engine with an exhaust note that pales only—and barely—to that of Ferrari’s grandiloquent […]

Best of the Best 2011: Convertibles: BMW 650i Convertible

True convertibles are creatures of elegance and impeccable manners that tender four spacious seats for people who prefer to tour grandly between Relais & Châteaux lodgings. The restyled, reengineered BMW 650i Convertible (www.bmwusa.com) fits that description precisely. Based heavily on the company’s 5 Series and 7 Series, the 650i is longer, wider, lower, and almost […]

Best of the Best 2011: Men’s Watches: Bovet Fleurier Ottanta

The Bovet Fleurier Ottanta (786.787.0363, http://www.bovet.com), a timepiece commissioned by Pininfarina to mark the 80th anniversary of the Italian design studio’s founding, showcases the watchmaker’s tourbillon-building and finishing capabilities. The timepiece, which will be limited to 80 examples and priced at $308,000, also displays a form more contemporary than most of the traditional, pocket-watch-based designs […]

Best of the Best 2011: Men’s Watches: Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon

Led by movement developer Carole Forestier, Cartier has exceeded expectations for its initial watchmaking efforts by not only completing the basics on its own but also creating original and compelling designs. The Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astrotour­billon (800.227.8437, http://www.cartier.com) might be the defining example of this achievement. In theory, by making a relatively simple modification […]

Best of the Best 2011: Men’s Watches: Chopard L.U.C. Engine One

The design of the Chopard L.U.C. Engine One (800.246.7273, http://www.chopard.com) might be more elaborate than those of Chopard’s other L.U.C. watches, which match the reserved demeanor of company copresident Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. But the theme of that design—automotive mechanics—still suits Scheufele, a classic-car and car-racing enthusiast. The $80,760 timepiece sports a tourbillon movement with plating and […]

Best of the Best 2011: Men’s Watches: Patek Philippe 5170 Chronograph

With the Patek Philippe 5170 Chro­nograph (212.218.1240, http://www.patek.com),the company has significantly upgraded the lateral-clutch chronograph, a design that has been valued for its beauty and history, though not its performance, which modern configurations have surpassed. About 3 mm smaller than its predecessor—the well-collected 5070—and displaying many design elements from the 1940s and ’50s, the $75,300 […]

Best of the Best 2011: Men’s Watches: Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques

While complicated pieces usually steal the spotlight, models such as those in the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques (877.862.7555, http://www.vacheron-constantin.com) show that art watches can have equal if not greater creative content.The artwork on the dials of these timepieces, which are sold as a set of three for $240,000, is produced by […]

Best of the Best 2011: Tailored Clothing: Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren had a busy year, to say the least, from opening stores in New York and Paris, to receiving the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to presenting expansive new collections in fine watches and jewelry—and even paint. But the designer undoubtedly made his greatest advance in tailored clothing. It […]

Best of the Best 2011: Jewelry Collections: Chanel Fine Jewelry

In 1920, Coco Chanel journeyed to Venice, Italy, where the Oriental design elements in the Doge’s Palace inspired a new Byzantine direction in her own creations, with ornate, colorful pieces that echoed exotic Asian cultures. This year, Chanel Fine Jewelry made a return trip with its latest high jewelry collection, Secrets D’Orient, unveiled in Paris […]

Best of the Best 2011: Jewelry Collections: Hemmerle

The Munich-based jeweler Hemmerle (+, http://www.hemmerle.com) stands apart for its fearless combinations of exceptional diamonds and gemstones with ordinary metals such as brass and aluminum. Its pared-down designs recall Germany’s Bauhaus movement, and standouts include a sparkling white diamond ring and bracelet set in white gold with a stainless-steel overlay for an industrial-looking finish, and […]

Best of the Best 2011: Diamonds: Graff

“I always believe that when you have the opportunity to acquire something unique it’s your lucky day, because once it’s gone the opportunity has gone also,” says Laurence Graff, founder of Graff, who in the past year seized the chance to capture some of the world’s rarest diamonds. His prized acquisitions include the Graff Pink, […]

Best of the Best 2011: Diamonds: Leviev

just five years’ time, Leviev (212.763.5300, http://www.leviev.com) has earned a reputation as one of the world’s great diamond houses, with spectacular white and fancy colored diamonds set into stylish designs. Leviev’s impressive new anniversary collection solidifies its position: Featuring five unique designs, the line includes a blue diamond cat brooch and red diamond earrings in […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sportswear: Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli (212.813.0900, http://www.brunellocucinelli.it) continues to set the standard for luxurious sportswear, be it denim or cashmere. Far left: Cashmere-and-wool peacoat, $4,495, cashmere-and-silk sweater, $995, cotton shirt, $495, wool-and-cashmere tie, $195, suede belt, $495, cotton corduroy cargo pant, $735, and leather hiking boots, $1,095. Panerai Luminor Marina titanium watch, $8,000 (www.panerai.com).

Best of the Best 2011: Sportswear: Stefano Ricci

Stefano Ricci (212.371.3901, http://www.stefanoricci.com) sportswear stands out for its inventive mix of materials and key pieces. 2nd from Left: Cashmere bomber jacket with silk lining and mink collar, cashmere sweater, cotton-and-silk shirt, and wool-and-cashmere pants (prices upon request). Panerai Radiomir steel watch, $7,200 (www.panerai.com); John Lobb shoes, $1,120 (212.888.9797, http://www.johnlobb.com); Punto by British Apparel Collection socks, […]

Best of the Best 2011: Sportswear: Brioni

Brioni is best known for the exceptionally tailored, classically cut suits it has been making since 1945. But in the last few years, it has also become a surprisingly inventive maker of sportswear. And this year, the house has come into its own with outstanding casual pieces that express utter comfort and luxury. One of […]

Best of the Best 2011: Jewelry Designers: Lorenz Bäumer

Parisian jeweler Lorenz Bäumer designed Louis Vuitton’s first fine jewelry collection two years ago, but for his own collection this year, he went in a wildly inventive new direction—several of them, actually. Bäumer, a charismatic 45-year-old known for creating unusual designs with deeply colored stones, employed three-dimensional digital technology to create the Mikado series of […]

Best of the Best 2011: Women’s Watches: Breguet Reine de Naples Sonnerie au passage

When Breguet sought to add a high-level complication to its successful Reine de Naples ladies’ watch model, its development team looked to the original watch made two centuries before. Commissioned in 1810, No. 2639—which Abraham-Louis Breguet personally delivered to Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples—was a most remarkable timepiece. The first and only wristwatch Breguet himself […]

Best of the Best 2011: Women’s Watches: Van Cleef & Arpels Le Pont des Amoureux

Collectors have only recently elevated Van Cleef & Arpels to the rank of serious watchmaker; yet the revered jeweler now combines inventive movement-making with its own distinctive artisanship to produce some of the industry’s most compelling timepieces on an almost annual basis. Last year’s Van Cleef & Arpels Le Pont des Amoureux (877.826.2533, http://www.vancleef.com; $108,000) […]

Best of the Best 2011: Personal Aircraft: Twin Engine: Beechcraft King Air

Beechcraft’s King Air line has outsold all other twin-engine turbo-prop business planes combined. This distinction speaks to the line’s longevity—47 years and counting—and its quality. Like past models, each of the three current ones—the entry-level C90GTx and the larger, more powerful 250 and 350i—is efficient, versatile, and comfortable. The King Airs also are attractive alternatives […]

Best of the Best 2011: Personal Aircraft: Single Engine: Cirrus SR22

When Cirrus Aircraft debuted the single-piston, parachute-equipped SR22 10 years ago, the Duluth, Minn.–based manufacturer established new standards for safety, comfort, and performance. In the decade since, Cirrus has continued to upgrade its best-selling aircraft and now offers it with features that protect against icing, boost high-altitude capabilities, and enhance stability. David Mendal, a pilot […]

Best of the Best 2011: Business Aircraft: Light Midsize: Bombardier Learjet 45XR

Bombardier Learjet 45XR (514.861.9481, http://www.bombardier.com) offers one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins in the light-midsize class. A typical cabin configuration includes eight fully articulating seats in a double-club arrangement and 65 cubic feet of luggage space. The cabin also is quiet; noise rarely exceeds 72 decibels. The roughly $13 million Learjet 45XR can […]

Best of the Best 2011: Business Aircraft: Large: Bombardier Global 5000

Robb Report Private Aviation Advi­sory Board member Kevin O’Leary recently employed 22 criteria to rate each of the current large-jet models. When finished, he had given the Bombardier Global 5000 (514.861.9481, http://www.bombardier.com)the highest grade for nearly every one of those criteria. “[The Global 5000’s] cabin, range, and runway performance are all outstanding,” O’Leary says. He […]

Best of the Best 2011: Business Aircraft: Large: Dassault Falcon 900LX

The Dassault Falcon 900LX (201.440.?6700, http://www.dassaultfalcon.com) offers longer range and better fuel efficiency than its predecessor, the Falcon 900EX, because of its lightweight construction and aerodynamic enhancements (such as the addition of winglets). The $42.4 million 900LX, like all Falcon jets, excels at taking off from high-altitude airports and short runways. Despite having three engines, […]

Best of the Best 2011: Business Aircraft: UltraLong-Range: Bombardier Global Express XRS

t 8.3 feet wide and 48.4 feet long, the cabin of the Bombardier Global Express XRS (514.861.9481, http://www.bombardier.com) is spacious enough for many owners to justify any additional operating cost associated with the jet’s size, according to Robb Report Private Aviation Advisory Board member Bill Quinn. “If cabin size and long-range performance are what’s needed,” […]

Best of the Best 2011: Business Aircraft: UltraLong-Range: Gulfstream G550

The Gulfstream G550 (912.965.3000, http://www.gulfstream.com) is the quintessential globe-hopping business jet. Through extra-large windows, light fills the aircraft’s big cabin, which, at more than 7 feet wide and nearly 44 feet long, easily accommodates as many as 18 passengers. Besides comfort and productivity—a typical cabin configuration with four distinct living areas provides ample spaces to […]

Best of the Best 2011: Custom Megayachts: Perini Navi Exuma

Exuma marks the beginning of an era for the Perini Navi Group. The first motor yacht ever built by the 28-year-old Italian yard, the 164-foot boat offers the best of two worlds, combining the sophisticated design and superior engineering of a Perini Navi sailboat with the versatility and durability of an expedition vessel. The yacht […]

Best of the Best 2011: Custom Megayachts: Told u So

In february the hospitality brand Molori Private Retreats launched its first pied-à-mer. The 145-foot, Benetti-built Told u So (+39.0584.3821, http://www.benettiyachts.it; available for charter through Molori Private Retreats, 212.717.4500, http://www.molori.co.za) joins two villas in South Africa, one on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and another under construction in Santa Monica, Calif., in the Molori portfolio. […]

Best of the Best 2011: Custom Megayachts: Solemates

Lürssen’s 197-foot Solemates (+49.421.6604.166, http://www.lurssen.com; available for charter through Luxury Yacht Group, 954.525.9959, http://www.luxyachts.com)features a shapely exterior by Monaco-based designer Espen Øino and an equally stylish interior decorated with the owner’s modern art collection. Launched last July, the yacht accommodates as many as 12 guests in four equal-size staterooms, a smaller VIP cabin on the […]

Best of the Best 2011: Custom Megayachts: Marie

Launched last July, Vitters Shipyard’s 180-foot sailing yacht Marie (+31.38.386.7145, http://www.vitters.com; available for charter through Fraser Yachts, 954.463.0600, http://www.fraseryachts.com) is a classically designed ketch with a host of contemporary twists. The yacht’s traditional exterior exemplifies the 21-year-old Dutch yard’s workmanship while incorporating such features as a highly efficient aluminum hull, carbon-fiber spars, and PBO-fiber rigging. […]

Best of the Best 2011: Audio: The Sonus Faber

Sonus Faber’s flagship loudspeaker, known simply as the Sonus Faber, stands 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs an astonishing 354 pounds. This tower of power’s size, however, is dwarfed by its second-to-none sound quality. Italian manufacturer Sonus faber, which debuted its namesake speaker last June, constructs the cabinets of all its loudspeakers to enhance […]

Best of the Best 2011: Video: Panasonic Viera VT Series

In recent years, most TV manufacturers have seemed more focused on slimming down their display panels than on improving picture quality. And while LED-lit models from such brands as Samsung and Sony certainly offer astonishingly thin bezels, no display panel on the market bests the picture of Panasonic’s Viera VT plasma models. The VT series […]

Best of the Best 2011: Decor: Bathroom: Snaidero USA Living

Snaidero USA has been serving up innovative kitchen designs for more than 60 years. From the company’s futuristic showrooms to its museum-worthy collaborations with such design luminaries as Paolo Pin­infarina and Virgilio Forchiassin, it has established itself as the trendsetter of its trade. Now Snaidero is taking its cutting-edge—and comprehensive—creations to a new room altogether: […]

Best of the Best 2011: Decor: Kitchen: Argento Vivo

Established in 1969, the Italian kitchen company GD Cucine has worked for years with real estate developers in the United States to outfit high-end condominium complexes and second-home communities. However, only since Nov­ember has the manufacturer had a two-story, 8,000-square-foot showroom in New York. And only since the debut of that Manhattan space have the […]