Reader’s Choice


The world's leading connoisseurs select their favorite cars, watches, resorts, restaurants, fashion and much more. Plus, 2009 Ferrari California, the classic sports car returns as a cutting-edge hard top convertible. Also, Grand Openings: St. Regis Bali, The Europe Hotel and 3 spectacular new spas.

From This Issue

From the Editors: A Most Conspicuous Connoisseur

No figure yokes together with less violence (to revise Dr. Johnson’s phrase) the themes of this, our first Reader’s Choice issue, than William Randolph Hearst. The populist publisher had a canny instinct for anticipating which stories would arouse sufficient interest among the working-class readers of his penny papers to persuade them to part with their […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Ritzy, Glitzy Spider

1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB “The client is not always right,” Enzo Ferrari once remarked. However, in 1957, when Hollywood, Calif., Ferrari dealer John von Neumann requested that Ferrari build a versatile car that could conquer the road as easily as it competed on the track, the Italian sports-car manufacturer conceded that this customer […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Writ for a Queen

Marie Antoinette’s custom desk. Neither the many accolades heaped upon nor the charges leveled at Marie Antoinette during and after her lifetime—Queen of Fashion and Style, Queen of Prodigal Spending and Debt—include the adjective literary. Nevertheless, while at the Petit Trianon, the French queen’s much-cherished retreat on the grounds of Versailles, she likely executed her […]

FrontRunners: A Beautiful Game

When Pelé published his autobiography in 1977, he dedicated it to “all the people who have made [soccer] the Beautiful Game.” While GRO Design and TIM Modelmakers, a pair of Dutch companies, cannot count themselves among that crowd, they did work wonders with soccer’s tabletop incarnation, foosball, when they created the $45,000 11 the Beautiful […]

FrontRunners: Lucky Sevens

With just 77 examples scheduled for production, the Aston Martin One-77 ( might be the most elusive Aston ever. The car’s rarity—and estimated $2 million price—is a function of its production process. “We will hand-beat the body panels,” says Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s director of design. “The whole process will take more than 300 man-hours […]

FrontRunners: Fast Times

Watchmaker Bernard Richards cannot be accused of procrastinating. He initially unveiled his BRM TR1, TR2, and TR3 timepieces (—oversize tourbillons that feature rugged plating and cages inspired by off-road vehicles—last April, just four months after he began work on them. Richards has made a few aesthetic modifications in the intervening time, but the speed with […]

FrontRunners: Screen Giant

The new Runco CineWall CW-95HD (, a $50,000 self-contained in-wall projection system, has a diagonal measurement of 8 feet but requires a depth of just 33 inches for installation. The CW-95HD displays movies and television in 1080 progressive resolution without the black bars (caused by adjusting an image’s aspect ratio) that sometimes appear on plasma […]

Front Runners: Fair Factor

When your faith in the financial markets wanes, you can always turn to more tangible investments, ones that, regardless of their value at any given time, you can still hang on the wall or display on an end table. Few entities offer a broader portfolio of such investments than TEFAF Maastricht (, the annual European […]

FrontRunners: Printed and Cuffed

The problem with monogrammed cuff links is that your initials are not unique. Your fingerprints, however, are. While experimenting with wax for his jewelry, James de Givenchy, of James de Givenchy for Taffin, gently squeezed a wax ball between his fingers and produced a perfect fingerprint—which he then cast in 18-karat gold and made into […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

Haling any new product as a classic usually seems premature, but you might find it difficult to disagree with such an assessment after sampling a La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami. With its accessible, medium-bodied flavor and subtle hints of spice, this cigar recalls the elegant, balanced smokes of decades past. La Gloria’s cigar master, […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Though the first winery in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District opened its doors in 1878, California’s best-known varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, did not arrive in the appellation until the early 1960s, when Nathan Fay planted his vineyards along the Silverado Trail. By 1976, after Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars won first place at the celebrated Paris tasting, […]

FrontRunners: World Traveler

Italian boatbuilder Azimut is venturing into deeper waters with a new series of Magellano expedition yachts (named, appropriately, after the world’s first circumnavigator, Ferdinand Magellan). The inaugural Magellano 72 (, expected to be launched by 2010, represents a departure for a yacht brand better known for its coastal-cruising Flybridge and speedy S-series motor yachts. The […]

FrontRunners: Motion Pictures

Who knew that viewing Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story could be such a moving experience? The D-Box Motion Code system (, priced from $4,400 to $12,700, enables you to feel a movie’s action with a Motion Controller that plugs into your DVD or Blu-ray player and a chair or platform that is equipped with the […]

Grand Openings: Inside Out

At The Europe Hotel & Resort’s new 50,000-square-foot spa, an indoor swimming pool overlooks Lough Lein, the largest of the lakes in Ireland’s Killarney National Park. The resort—set on the shore of the lake and in the shadow of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range—completed a nearly two-year-long renovation last summer. Hirsch Bedner Associates designed the […]

Grand Openings: Social Studies

Michael Mina’s new XIV restaurant fits right in amid the trendy nightclubs and bars on the Sunset Strip, with a Philippe Starck–designed interior and a menu tailored specifically to Los Angeles. “When I was in the concept stages, I watched how people dined in L.A.,” says Mina, who began his career 20 years ago as […]

Grand Openings: Bali High

Butlers are available to guests in each of the 42 villas and 79 suites at the new St. Regis Bali Resort, which opened on the Indonesian island in September. In addition to preparing your meals, the butlers will arrange anything from a round at the adjacent Bali Golf & Country Club to a guided tour […]

Grand Openings: Urban Oasis

The city that never sleeps now offers several alternative means of rest and recuperation, thanks to new spas at three of Manhattan’s premier hotels. Set on three floors of the Peninsula New York on Fifth Avenue, the Peninsula Spa by ESPA debuted in January, completing a space that includes a pool and fitness center that […]

Music: Luxe Luthier

“Every guitar has its own personality,” says luthier John Monteleone. “It’s my job to give it its own dynamic voice. Each one I make is an extension of my soul.” At 61, Monteleone is a master of his craft, and he is widely acknowledged as the successor to the eminent jazz-guitar luthiers John D’Angelico and […]

Watches: Elegant Endeavor

Bob Siragusa hesitated for several days before contacting well-known jewelry designer Michael Beaudry, who at the time was preparing to launch a new watchmaking venture. Siragusa, a veteran of the watch industry, was looking for a new position, but he was unconvinced that the Los Angeles–based jeweler wanted to create a timepiece that would have […]

Boating: Toy Box

When designing the 248-foot Anastasia, Sam Sorgiovanni started belowdecks and worked upward. “The owners are very active people, and they wanted to focus on water sports,” says the designer, whose firm is based in Fremantle, Australia. “So we essentially started with the tender garage and lazaret to accommodate a small navy of tenders and water […]

Golf: Africa Extreme

To play the Extreme 19th, a bonus hole at South Africa’s new Legend Golf & Safari Resort, you take a helicopter to the peak of a red-hued sandstone mountain. The tee box at the top affords a view of the 54,000-acre Entabeni Safari Conservancy—and the 1,200-foot vertical drop to the green. This spectacular par 3 […]

Sport: Custom Fit

On opening day at Core Performance Center, a new health club in Santa Monica, Calif., trainer Sarah Cahill apologized for the awkward pace she had asked me to maintain during an eight-minute treadmill test designed to measure cardiovascular fitness. “Tomorrow we’re moving forward with new protocol,” Cahill assured me. “We’ll calculate your exact pace beforehand […]

Dining: Sipping into Reverse

To the restaurant’s other diners, everything at our table no doubt appears in order. The crystal sparkles, the damask tablecloth is immaculate, and the sommelier hovers nearby. We look like just another happy couple about to enjoy a memorable evening at Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant Daniel, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. And indeed we are. However, […]

Spirits: Drink Fresh

Beer, wine, spirits—you name it, Michael Sherwood can brew, ferment, or distill it. (He also knows how to clear a forest, catch salmon, and write computer code.) Sherwood, a 55-year-old former logger, fisherman, and software developer, was the founding executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild in the 1990s. He now works in the cellar […]

Smoke: A New Twist

The unusual shape of the culebra invites conversation—or at least questions—about the cigar and exactly how one smokes it. The culebra is actually three cigars in one, a trio of long, thin panatelas that a torcedor twists together, like strands of a rope, while the tobacco is still moist and pliable. But we caution against […]

Art: All About Yves

Yves Saint Laurent turned fashion into art not only through his work as one of the 20th century’s greatest couturiers, but also by spending the earnings from his fashion empire to amass an exceptional art collection. He accomplished it all with his business partner, Pierre Bergé, who for many years was also his life partner. […]

Wardrobe: Rare Hair

When the Canadian Arctic begins to thaw in the spring, dozens of Inuvialuit, one of the region’s indigenous peoples, scour the tundra for the downy underwool known as qiviuk (pronounced kiv-ee-uck) that is shed by the native musk ox. More closely related to the goat than to the ox, this brawny bovid has survived in […]

Jewelry: Storied Treasures

A dark, cavernous main floor; a stark white salon festooned with ostrich feathers; illuminated cracked-glass walls; and kaleidoscopic light shows emanating from the windows at night are not features one associates with the typically more staid jewelry houses on New York’s Madison Avenue—particularly one as venerable as Parisian jeweler Mauboussin. But the 181-year-old company’s eye-catching five-story […]

Wheels: Back to Cali

Ferrari traditionally names its automobiles after members of the Ferrari family and Italian locales: the Dino, the Enzo, the Maranello, and the Modena, for example. The Italian sports car manufacturer rarely deviates from these naming conventions, except perhaps when it honors its long-standing love affair with California. In 1957, Ferrari created the now-classic 250 GT […]

The Robb Reader: Laurence Graff

At a London auction in December, Laurence Graff—the founder of Graff Diamonds International—paid about $25 million for the 300-year-old Wittelsbach diamond, a 35.56-carat grayish-blue stone once owned by King Philip IV of Spain. That it was Graff who ultimately acquired the stone surprised no one. The 70-year-old diamond dealer and art collector is among the […]

2009 Reader’s Choice

Perhaps our most daunting challenge as editors of a magazine about connoisseurship is that our audience is one of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable ever to turn the pages of a periodical. Oftentimes they know as much as (if not more than) our own experts. In fact, over the past 33 years, many of the […]

2009 Reader’s Choice: Covey of Classics

A small league of automobile purists waits all year to convene at Quail Lodge in Monterey County’s Carmel Valley for the annual Quail Rally. Then, for three exalted days each August, these 30 collectors—many of them loyal Robb Report readers—hurtle through the morning mist along some of California’s most sinuous roads, piloting cars that have […]

2009 Reader’s Choice: Collective Wisdom

Nick Stellino, a Los Angeles–based television chef, author, and marketing consultant, speaks with obvious relish about the “structure and flow” of timepieces, and compares them to evolving forms of architecture. “What I like to see,” he says, “is the signature of a human being rather than the industrial feeling one often finds in modern watches.” […]

2009 Reader’s Choice: Chosen Vintages

As Wolfgang Puck makes his customary evening rounds of the dining room at Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif., the members of our party glance up from the formidable palisade of crystal wine glasses before us. “Here comes Wolf,” someone says. “Do you think he’s coming over?” another asks. “Well, if he sees what we’ve got […]

2009 Reader’s Choice: First Picks

Swimming Pool: Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc In 1914, the management at the Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc had a saltwater swimming pool carved into a cliff at this resort on France’s Cap d’Antibes. Over the years, the body of water, like the hotel itself, attracted such luminaries as Rita Hayworth, Ernest Hemingway, and Sidney Poitier. Today […]