The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide 2021

A comprehensive guide to gift-giving this holiday season.

By Robb Report Staff 13/12/2021

As another year draws to a close it’s ‘that’ time again. Time to show those close to you — those with specific, heightened tastes — that you care. Here at Robb Report, we’ve taken the kind of stressful dread that comes with not knowing what to gift away with our ultimate gift guide.

GEAR

 

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T Astell & Kern

If you’re more the type to carry around your entire collection in your pocket, this little number from Astell & Kern is for you. It was designed specifically for hi-res audio and has a built-in vacuum tube amplifier so your music sounds exactly the way it was recorded. It’s got 256 gigabytes of space to store your albums, and it’s also expandable in case you need even more room for your favourite tunes.

Approx. $3496; astellkern.com

Leica D-Lux 7 Vans x Ray Barbee Edition

 

Leica D-Lux 7 Vans X Ray Barbee Edition

Snap your travel pics in style with this new, limited-edition camera from Leica, fashion label Vans and skater-musician-photographer Ray Barbee. Covered in Vans’ iconic checkerboard pattern, the compact camera has the same technical specifications as the serially produced model (like a large Micro Four Thirds sensor, a fast zoom, Bluetooth connectivity and a lens with a full-frame-equivalent range of 24 –75 mm), plus a specially designed carrier strap and other flourishes. Compact and just 12.7 ounces, the camera also comes with a matching dust bag emblazoned with a travel-appropriate quote from Barbee noting that “the joy is in capturing the journey.”

Approx. $2365; leica.com

Gaggenau 400 Wine Cabinet

For the wine connoisseur, storage is paramount and using any old wine cooler won’t do. Here, the Gaggenau 400 Wine Cabinet offers a fully integrated wine climate cabinet. Inside the usual blonde beech is eschewed in favour of oak and boasts advanced humidity regulation, a charcoal air filter and controlled climate zones depending on what is in your collection.  The 400 is available in a range of sizes and did we mention how good it looks?

POA; gaggenau.com.au

Wrensilva Loft Club Series All-in-One Hi-Fi System

Wrensilva Loft Club Series hi-fi system

Wrensilva Loft Club Series hi-fi system Wrensilva

Building a home audio system can be intimidating. Luckily, Wrensilva has created a device that features everything you could want in one stylish package. The audio company’s retro-inspired hi-fi system includes a Pro-Ject turntable, a solid-state pre-amp, Bang & Olufsen amplifier and powerful two-way bass-reflex speakers. Best of all, it’s smaller than your parent’s old system, making it perfect for homes and apartments where space is at a premium.

Approx. $8378; wrensilva.com

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable Pro-Ject

Sometimes it can be a relief to disconnect your device and go analog. What better way to do that than with this refined turntable from the specialists from Pro-Ject. Its precise motor has been fitted with a new suspension that reduces vibration, as does its height-adjustable aluminium feet. A heavy steel platter also helps ensure quiet playback. If you’ve yet to jump on the vinyl revival, maybe now’s the time…

$893; projectaudio.com.au

120″ Samsung The Premiere LSP9T Ultra-Short Throw Projector

While the streaming era has brought the cineplex to our laptop screen, any movie buff knows that a serious home theatre is made better with a projector. And few projectors are better at making you feel like you’re at the movies than Samsung’s latest, the Premiere LSP9T. Just place the ultra-short throw projector at the base of a living room wall, and it will produce a stunning, crystal-clear 120-inch image. The device, the first of its kind to offer HDR10+ support, also features a special UHD Filmmaker Mode which does away with any smoothing effects so that you can watch your favourite movie exactly as it was meant to be seen. 

$5999; samsung.com

Sennheiser Momentum 2 Earbuds

Despite its rep among pros as one of the best manufacturers of headphones and speakers, for 75 years Sennheiser steadfastly remains independent. The family owned German audio specialists continue their leadership in true wireless earbuds with their latest Momentum 2 offerings—the ergonomically shaped speakers feature five ear tip options for a perfectly snug fit and comfy all-day use. The 7-mm dynamic drivers supply superior sound with active noise cancelling—perfect for music or calls in a noisy environment—IPX4 water-resistance and up to 28 hours of playtime on a single charge via its charging case. The Sennheiser smartphone app also lets you further customize your listening experience by adjusting the built-in equalizers to emphasize deeper bass, natural mids and/or detailed treble. 

$325; sennheiser.com

GoPro Hero 10 Black

For the coming holidays, GoPro released its most powerful model ever: the Hero10 Black. The brand synonymous with extreme filming loaded its new apex model with a GP2 processor (designed to deliver faster and smoother performance), advanced stabilisation via HyperSmooth 4.0 technology, enhanced low-light capabilities and can live stream directly in 1080p. It can record in slow motion (up to eight times slower than actual moment) with improved 2.7k resolution, and can handle time-lapses at night and low-light environments. The Hero10 Black camera features 5.3k resolution video (93 per cent sharper than previous 4k models) at double the frame rate, can capture still images at 23MP and grab hi-res 19.6MP frames from videos. All your extreme filming needs in an easy-to-use compact 71 mm x 55 mm body.

$529; gopro.com

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Emerge Bookshelf Speaker

If you’re looking for a speaker that you can slide inconspicuously onto your bookshelf, look no further than Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Emerge. The compact speaker (25.5 by 16.5 by 6.7 cm) supports Apple Airplay 2, Google Chromecast, Bluetooth and Spotify to stream whatever your heart desires. It can also be paired with any of B&O’s connected speakers to deliver music throughout your home, and features a built-in radio and microphone for voice control. The Danish company known for its design doesn’t fail here, offering either a gold version of the Beosound Emerge with oak wood “cover” or Black Anthracite high-grade aluminium with a pearl-blasted grill.

$1050; premiumsound.com.au

WATCHES

Omega The Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

What better gift for Christmas than the same Seamaster as MI6 agent James Bond. To celebrate the 25th official James Bond film, No Time to Die, Omega has created a 42mm timepiece with titanium and a mesh bracelet for a watch light on the wrist. The Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition has been built with military spec in mind and features the “tropical” brown aluminium for the dial and bezel ring complemented by the vintage touches of the SuperLumiNova, which fills the driving scale, blackened hands and indexes.

$14,025; omegawatches.com

Rolex Explorer I

Time for the return of two-tone. The new Rolesor (the Rolex name for the combination of the dual 18-carat yellow gold and Oystersteel alloys) Ref. 124273 may be heralding a return to the blend of metals that saw its height of popularity in the ’80s. The model also marks a comeback of the 3mm size in a nod to the original model launched in 1953 after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first explorers to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

$15,250; rolex.com

Hublot Big Bang Unico Summer

The lagoon-inspired timepiece is available in only 200 examples and boasts a 42mm case and bezel—both of which were crafted entirely from satin-finished and polished anodised aluminium. The distinct tonal theme is also made visible on the dial and hand, as well as on the figure’s markers and chronographs. Even more notable, Hublot’s HUB1280 in-house flyback column-wheel chronograph movement is able to be seen on the model’s titanium case back and offers a 72-hour power reserve and 100 meters of water resistance. For comfort, the figure sports a velcro strap in a turquoise knit with the same colour stitching, while its sports buckle in polished turquoise anodized aluminium provides a secure clasp.

$29,200; hublot.com

Piaget Polo Skeleton

Utilising the same 42mm steel case of the Polo line, the skeleton watch arrives at an astonishingly svelte 6.5mm thick, down from an already thin 9.4mm of the Polo S. The Piaget Polo Skeleton sees the openworked design arrives here in graphite grey and is further elevated by the in-house built movement with the watch acting as a testbed for its new 1200S1 microrotor automatic skeleton movement – which offers a 44-hour power reserve. A number of strap options are available including the Polo’s mirror-polished h-link bracelet – in stainless steel – alongside alligator leather straps matching the respective dial colours.

$45,500; piaget.com

Baume Et Mercier Riviera

A sense of refinement drapes the return of Baume & Mercier’s Riviera, a robust piece famed for its 12-sided bezel, and which debuted in 1973. That ’70s spark remains and the reissue feels right in regards to its timing, given the ascendancy of integrated steel bracelets. It is in that 42mm case  – available in stainless steel or black steel – that the calibre Baumatic BM13-1975A provides 100m of water resistance and 120 hours of power reserve. The premium option arrives with extensive perlage on the bridges, Cotes de Geneve across the skeletonised rotor all visible through the sapphire transparent dial available in either deep blue or smoky grey.

$5500; Baume-et-mercier.com

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone

When A. Lange & Sohne reintroduced its Time Zone timepiece, there was a resounding cheer from watch nerds around the world. Here, the pink gold with argente dial can cleanly tell the time in both a home time and a second time zone based on 24 reference cities. The watch sees a new manufacture calibre L141.1 with a 72-hour power reserve fitted neatly into a 41.7mm case.

$84,500; watchswiss.com

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5297G

Discover the Calatrava 5297G-001 from a collection of Patek Philippe watches at J Farren Price. The Calatrava is a supremely elegant round wristwatch with self-winding mechanical movement and an ebony black opaline dial. The Calatrava instantly stands out with its diamond hour markers and elegant 38mm diameter case set in white gold and sapphire crystal. This classic piece is decorated with 68 diamonds on the bezel and shiny black alligator strap -making it the perfect dress watch for day to night. Distinguished and timeless the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5297G is engraved with the Patek Philippe Seal, paying homage to the rare handcraft and flawless integrity upheld by the maison.

patek.com

Globe-Trotter Centenary Leather-Trimmed Twelve-Watch Box

For serious watch fanatics, Globe-Trotter’s handsome Centenary case is a must-have whether using it for travel or simply to elegantly display your watches in your home. It can carry up to 12 timepieces and will slide right into the overhead compartment on your flight and you can even add an over-the-shoulder strap to turn the case into an attaché for extra security while on the go.

Lockable latches on the side of the vulcanised fibreboard and leather trim case add an extra level of protection, while the interior compartment is removable in case you prefer to display your prized wrist candy outside of the box.

$3457; mrporter.com

Chopard Mille Miglia Table Clock

If your dearest has all there is in horology, try something off-track with a Chopard quartz desk clock. Reminiscent of the speedometer on a car dashboard this handsome piece pays homage to Italy’s legendary Mille Miglia car race. Designed in stainless steel with a palladium finish, it furthers its automobile narrative with superluminova detailing and a tyre tread-inspired rubber base

$2530; chopard.com

WINE & SPIRITS

Glenfiddich Grand Cru

Glenfiddich’s stunning new Grand Cru is matured initially for 23 years in a mix of American and European oak, and neatly finished in rare French cuvée casks, it fuses flavours and delivers an elevated and heady statement (heightened by its presentation in opulent black glass, within a black box). Each drop is the result of six months final marrying time, adding new layers of aromas —think apple blossom, candied lemon, fresh bread. On the palate vanilla, sweet brioche, sandalwood, pear sorbet and white grape build an alluring harmony of flavours; enhanced by a long, opulent finish.

$395; glenfiddich.com

Yamazaki 55 Year

Every so often a special whisky is released that makes the industry take notice. Suntory’s Yamazaki 55 is that whisky. With only 100 bottles every produced by the famed Japanese distillery, many have already made it to the second-hand market and are selling for well beyond the $90,000 price tag.  Get your hands on a bottle and experience the deep amber colour, robust nose of sandalwood, blossom palate and bitter finish of the Yamazaki 55, if you don’t mind paying a smidge over retail.

Auction; dekanta.com

The Macallan Red Collection

The Macallan Red Collection is a true landmark release of rare single malt Scotch whiskies. This exquisite range features a selection of ongoing aged expressions, available in limited quantities worldwide. The Red Collection includes The Macallan 40yo, The Macallan 50yro and The Macallan 60yo, which are the oldest ongoing expressions offered by the whisky house. The Macallan 71yro, The Macallan 74yro and The Macallan 78yo being the oldest bottlings ever released by The Macallan– making it a highly exclusive and sought after series.

Created from some of the worlds oldest and rarest casks, each expression is delivered in an oak presentation box created from the same sustainable European oak used to craft The Macallan’s casks. Lined with sustainably-sourced soft red leather from Bridge of Weir Leather, this permanent release has been hand-finished and signed by The Macallan Master Whisky Maker 2019 Kirsteen Campbell. This distinct and one of a kind series features striking graphic art from globally acclaimed artist and illustrator Javi Aznarez who portrays the key characters that shaped the history of The Macallan distillery.

Learn More: themacallan.com:

Beluga Gold Line

Beluga Gold Line is a limited-edition vodka. Best paired with Black Caviar of course —It is dedicated to the true connoisseurs of strong spirits. Unlike other Beluga varieties, in this series the trademark blend of artesian water and malt spirit passes through not three but five rounds of filtering. Each bottle of Beluga Gold Line comes with its own serial number and an elegant hammer and brush to conveniently remove the cork stop and sealing wax – emphasising its 100% authenticity and individuality of this limited series vodka with an imposing attitude.

$174.99; danmurphys.com.au

IXSIR Grande Reserve

There’s no better time for a quality rosé than the Australian summer. The holiday period is one for celebrating and the warmer climates make us want to reach for the Ixsir Grand Reserve Rose with its light French style, subtle mouthfeel, firm acidity and delicate finish. The drop is available in both 750ml and magnum and I think you know which we’d opt for.

Magnum $89; vinsduliban.com.au

 

STYLE

Paspaley Ring For Men

In a first for the Australian jeweller, Paspaley unveiled a men’s ring earlier this year. Here, the Men’s Dive Chain ring draws inspiration from the colours of the ropes and chains of its pearling vessels. A two-tone black, rhodium and white gold chain wraps around a yellow gold ring band.

$2680; paspaley.com

Van Cleef & Arpels Zodiac Pendant

Van Cleef & Arpels produced a range of zodiac charms in the 1950s through 70s that have become one of the hottest collectibles on the secondary market. Finding one is even harder than nabbing a vintage Daytona but, luckily, the French jeweller recently reintroduced the astrological gems to its collection. These new pendants faithfully recreate the ancient coin look of the originals for the ultimate good luck charm.

$3450; vancleefarpels.com

Louis Vuitton Imagination

One of 2021’s best cologne launches, Imagination instantly landed in the fragrance stratosphere for its uplifting and mind-opening blend of amber and black tea. Bergamot, neroli and cedar broaden its wingspan, and together make Imagination a candidate for his new signature scent. It’s especially suited for guys with big ideas and—as its name suggests—colourful imaginations. Consider it wanderlust, bottled.

Penhaligon’s Racquets EDP

Bright, bold and fresh, this limited-edition EdP pays homage to that favourite summer sport: tennis. British perfumer Penhaligon’s composes this fresh scent from a base of strapping leather and guaiac wood, with zesty lemon and citrus fruits coming together.

100ml $289; libertineparfumerie.com.au

Tom Ford Patent Leather Midlands Zip Boots

Like Santa, Tom Ford always delivers. Here, a beautiful evening appropriate boot with a side zip detail, vintage-inspired centre seam, gold hardware and zipper arrives in a deep, chocolate brown tone. The patent leather finish adds further allure to the boots that offer black construction and are made in Italy.

$2233; harrolds.com.au

Bulldog island Life In Yellow / Green

These bold Bulldog shorts from Orlebar Brown offer the label’s signature mid-length fit. The printed recycled polyester woven short features a nickel-effect concealed snap closure, adjustable branded nickel-effect side fastener.

$475; orlebarbrown.com

Modern Man Collective Suave Beard Oil

Should your facial fuzz be clinging on post-Movember, or in dire need of a little TLC try the Suave beard oil from the Australian owned Modern Man Collective. Here, Suave takes its cues from Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille — think warm, spicy, sweet — and brings together a hybrid blend of essential oils, scent and anti-bacterial agents to help keep your facial hair looking, well, suave.  The blends are vegan, paraben, alcohol, cruelty and sulphate free and a portion of revenue is donated to Beyond Blue and Movember.

$35; modernmancollective.com

Loro Piana Summer Walks

Is there a more perfect shoe to give an Aussie over Christmas? We think no. Loro Piana’s ‘Summer Walk’ loafers are set up for comfort. Handcrafted in Italy from suede, the shoe is treated with a water-repellent finish and have rubber soles.

$1038; mrporter.com

 

Beechworth Short Sleeved Polo

Add this fresh shade of olive green to someone’s stocking this summer. Knitted in Italy from ultra-soft linen and cotton the lightweight blend is perfect for weekend wear. With Kimber at the helm, and shell buttons fitted it’s an ideal fit for Australian summer.

$365; christiankimber.com

Moscot Bluma Sunglasses

The Bluma, here in Citron and Tortoise is handcrafted using Italian acetate and sees glass lenses fitted in Calibar Green. This stylish pair features the Moscot temple engravings acetate nose pads and fit comfortably to the nose via a keyhole nose bridge.

$455; moscot.com

EXTRAS

Baccarat Backgammon Set

Baccarat unveils a premium rendition of timeless games – like backgammon with its Jeux collection. Here, Dutch designer Marcel Wander reimagines the ancient game with a limited edition set crafted from precious marble with crystal playing pieces. Made in France, the set cares not who is playing as everybody wins.

$24,652; baccarat.com

Pent Raxa Boxing Bag

Kickboxing is hard-core, fitness-wise, but it requires some heavy-duty equipment. The Pent punching bag resembles a svelte leather midcentury-modern floor lamp, one you
can beat to a pulp whenever you want. Even the bag’s filling—castaway leather scraps—is suitably upscale (as well as sustainable). Blowing off steam doesn’t get much better-looking than this.

Approx. $1,840; pentfitness.com

Ybell

YBell? Why not we say.

Each bell acts as kettlebell, dumbbell, push-up bar and medicine ball in one. The design provides four unique holding points — allowing the user to seamlessly pivot between a wide range of exercises across a routine. While YBell provides various classes through its channels and app including free introductory workouts through to paid programs aimed at differing fitness levels Plus, they are locally owned.

Ybellfitness.com.au

Smythsons Panama Writing Folder

Whether one is working from home or back at the office, an organised, attractive desktop is key for productivity. Smythson’s folder has room for all his big ideas, jam-packed itinerary, addresses and more—and housed in a sleek grained leather case, it’s a far chicer personal assistant than an iPhone. Spring for monogramming to make it extra special.

$818; harrods.com

Montblanc Pen

Some of the best gifts are luxurious upgrades to everyday essentials, such as this sleek rollerball pen. It combines vivid green resin with platinum for a writing instrument that’s worthy of the most brilliant thoughts—or just scribbles.

$410; montblanc.com

Robb Report Annual Subscription

Award-winning luxury delivered for the next 12 months – is there anything better? We say no, this is the gift that literally keeps on giving with quarterly print and digital issues included, so too exclusive offers, access to Robb Report’s VIP concierge services and more. This is the ultimate subscription.

$75; robbreport.com.au

 

 

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Watch This Space: Justin Hast

Meet the game-changing horological influencers blazing a trail across social media—and doing things their own way.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

In the thriving world of luxury watches, few people own a space that offers unfiltered digital amplification. And that’s precisely what makes the likes of Brynn Wallner, Teddy Baldassarre, Mike Nouveau and Justin Hast so compelling.

These thought-provoking digital crusaders are now paving the way for the story of watches to be told, and shown, in a new light. Speaking to thousands of followers on the daily—mainly via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—these progressive commentators represent the new guard of watch pundits. They’re actively swaying the opinions, and the dollars, of the up-and-coming generations who represent the new target consumer of this booming sector.

JUSTIN HAST

@justinhast

Credit Oracle Time

There’s something comforting about Justin Hast’s watch commentary. It could be his broad English accent; a soothing melodic chime that hits all the right notes. But rather, it’s probably his insatiable thirst for all the little things in and around watches. It jumps right off the page with anything he’s ever written, and it’s infectious if you tune into his Instagram reels, where he speaks to over 50,000 followers almost daily.

Above all, he simplifies what, for the everyday enthusiast, can sometimes be a dry, jargon-heavy topic.

“I never really trained as a writer, photographer or producer of any kind,” says Hast. “It was very much, get stuck in and see what sticks. It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to have access to these brands, these watches, and to the shows and events. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning every Monday.”

After spending a decade researching watches, enduring the drudgery of his office job, Hast’s big break came when he met Frank Geelen, owner and CEO of the influential Monochrome Watches website, at a Bell & Ross boutique opening in London.

“I can’t remember how much Frank drank that night when he agreed to allow me to write a story for him,” he quips. “That was the starting point that allowed me to pick up a camera and explore the watch world.”

From that chance encounter, Hast has gone on to contribute influential words to the likes of Hodinkee, Mr Porter, Revolution Watch and Forbes. He is the author of The Watch Annual, which was created for watch enthusiasts in 2020 as a means of cataloguing the best timepieces of the year.

 

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A post shared by Justin Hast (@justinhast)

Listening to Hast, it’s fair to say that he lives and breathes watches, and it’s been this way for a large chunk of his life. He recalls two formative moments: the first, age 10, when he received his first red G-Shock watch from a schoolfriend; the second came with the passing down of his grandfather’s Omega Constellation Day-Date —a watch designed by Gérald Genta.

That experience goes a long way to explaining Hast’s affinity with vintage dress watches. Unsurprisingly, then, his top four picks from the recent Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva are all vintage-inspired pieces designed for the modern watch consumer: the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, the IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 39 mm in rose gold, and the Laurent Ferrier Classic Moon.

Hast’s motto for life is “win the day”, one that he lives by as he continues on his journey to “inspire the next generation of watch enthusiasts”. And it’s clearly a mission already accomplished.

Read more about the watch industry’s horological influencers Bryan Wallner and Teddy Baldassarre.

 

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Watches & Wonders 2024 Showcase: TAG Heuer

This year at Watches & Wonders TAG Heuer continued on its path towards high-watchmaking status.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

There was a moment last year when TAG Heuer surprised the watch world (and naysayers of the brand)—you couldn’t have missed it. At Only Watch, the biennial charity auction of luxury one-off timepieces, TAG Heuer dropped the proverbial mic with its release of a unique Monaco Split-Seconds chronograph; a piece completely left of field for the otherwise mid-entry level luxury watchmaker.

It was then inconceivable to arrive at the Palexpo in Geneva, day one of Watches & Wonders, to find the very same Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph as TAG Heuer’s hero release of 2024. Don’t mistake TAG Heuer’s intentions; this is a big moment for the brand, particularly as it endeavours to reach cult high-watchmaker status.

 

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

 

This new $200,000 Monaco, which is aptly released in its 55th anniversary year, is an absolute workhorse of a timepiece. Retaining all the hallmarks of its legendary racing history, the new Monaco features an open-worked aesthetic that completely draws the eye to its intricate design details and mechanics. This is, folks, the first mechanical split-seconds (or ‘Rattrapante’) chronograph that the brand has made, essentially allowing the wearer to measure two separate events that start simultaneously but have different durations.

Of course, powering such a watch is no small feat; TAG Heuer has called upon the expertise of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier—a specialist manufacturer of high-end mechanical movements—to help craft the new TH81-00 caliber.

Available in two colour ways, red or blue, the watch also features a grade-5 titanium case (allowing for its lightness), a sapphire dial, and a neat 41 mm package that makes this a truely “wearable” timepiece—if the price tag doesn’t deter you.

If this is an indication of things to come for TAG Heuer, we’re all in.

tagheuer.com

Read more about this year’s Watches & Wonders exhibits from Rolex and JLC.

 

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Property of The Week: Swing Into Seclusion in Otago

Looking for the perfect marriage of seclusion and sophistication? This home’s proximity to world-class skiing and wine region makes it an irresistible asset.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 12/07/2024

Located in the charming hamlet of Arrowtown this six-bedroom country home offers plenty of room to breathe. With its proximity to pristine ski fields and world-class wine regions, the two-acre estate will appeal to active city-slickers seeking a sustainable tree change.

Just a putt away from the social life of the renowned Hills Golf Club, 214 McDonnell has private access to a world of laidback leisure.

Manicured gardens and luxurious minimal interiors makes 475 sqm of house feel even more expansive and cinematic. Adding to the dream is the property’s sunny north-facing position. Each of the main rooms has breathtaking views up to Mt Soho and Coronet Peak, then across to the stunning Crown Range. 

A grand entertaining terrace centres on a log burning fire with a layout that encourages indoor/outdoor dining.

Residents will never be lonely. They can expect to welcome children home for the ski season each winter, and to welcome friends to Otago’s excellent wine regions in summer.

The home’s interior has been kept minimal and maps perfectly to the awe-inspiring location. Modern integrated technology, heating and convenient fixtures deliver a fresh take on country style. Open-plan living invites easy contemplation of the mountain views, while interstitial spaces help to keep life uncomplicated.

The opulent master bedroom, with ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, enjoys a chilled L-shaped layout with commanding views of snow-capped mountains beyond the window frames. The master’s inviting nook not only caters to owners who are fans of 5-star hotels, but also situates the love nest in a sun trap perfect for reading.  

The three extra guest bedrooms and two bathrooms are meticulously presented; the fixtures and fittings recede from view with materials that meld flawlessly with the nature-first vibe.

The piece de résistance is the stand-alone guesthouse, featuring its own private entrance and terrace. Here the interior mimics the main home, with pleasant open-plan living, separate dining, kitchen and bathroom. And it boasts its own private, outdoor zone. 

The village itself is equally inviting. With a tree-lined main street featuring heritage row cottages and a good selection of restaurants, shops and cafés—you’ll never want for attraction beyond the front door. 

With the Alpine tourist hot spot of Queenstown just 20 minutes away by car, you can be at the airport in under half an hour: Either taking off on your next adventure, or collecting treasured guests to deliver back to your private estate.

Learn more from Sarena Glass at Sotheby’s New Zealand. Email: sarena.glass@nzsir.com

 

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Why BMW’s First Electric Cars Are Future Classics

Many things still feel contemporary about the BMW i3 and i8.

By Raphael Orlove 11/07/2024

In 2008, BMW committed to a multi-billion euro plot. It would retool its Leipzig plant to assemble two of the most environmentally-conscious cars ever designed, with carbon fibre passenger cells holding electric, plug-in hybrid, and gas-powered range extender drivetrains. Not until 2013 did they begin production. You could say they were a decade ahead of their time, but we’re still not ready for cars as daring as the i3 and i8.

Years before cries that EVs are too heavy and that plug-in hybrids offer a better compromise for the average car buyer, BMW poured resources into making an EV without the typical downsides of a battery electric vehicle. The idea was to make an electric car that didn’t require a gigantic battery pack, one that wasn’t perilously heavy. To do so, BMW would make the i3 into the world’s first mass-produced car made out of carbon fibre. This was no small feat.

The earliest uses of carbon fibre in cars go back to British race cars from the 1960s, and the first complete chassis to be made out of carbon fiber dates to the early 1980s. It wasn’t until the ’90s that we saw a carbon fibre chassis in a production road car, and that was with the Bugatti EB110, which cost around 3.2 million and required outsourcing the carbon work to the rocket division of French aerospace company Aerospatiale. Even in 2008, BMW’s plans for what it ultimately called the i cars really were at the leading edge.

The first of these to make production was the i3, a hatchback city car that would look at home parked in front of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Big windows gave great visibility, and while the car was too short for four full doors, BMW squeezed suicide doors behind the fronts. With both opened up, the i3 was outstandingly bright and airy. The light interior, seats finished in wool and the dash finished with eucalyptus, certainly helped. BMW also used a plant called kenaf in the interior trim; it’s a natural fibre similar to jute. Kenaf had been used as a backing material underneath a synthetic coating. With the i3, BMW put it up front, lighter and more sustainable.

Photo: NurPhoto

BMW even sourced its carbon fibre from Washington State, where the factory could rely 100% on local hydropower. The company was using technical solutions to make a more sustainable new car.

Its styling was daring, as was how BMW put the i3 together. BMW effectively split the car in two. All of the car’s essential systems – battery, motor, suspension, crash structures, and the optional range extender – were carried on an aluminum skateboard called the “Drive module.” The “Life module” that housed the interior and framed the body panels was what was made out of carbon. The top and bottom halves were glued together, or “chemically bonded” if you want that to sound less scary.

BMW did successfully make the car pretty light for what it was, coming in between 1200 and 1300 kilograms depending on the trim. A Nissan Leaf weighed hundreds of kilograms more, a Chevrolet Volt nearly 400 kilos more.

Sticking to low-weight principles meant that the i3 was never going to have a huge battery, and the biggest available pack was still only 42.2 kWh. The EPA rated it at 246 kilometres of range. The “REX” range extender boosted that figure to 320 kilometres, with a two-cylinder engine from BMW’s motorcycle division shoehorned under the trunk. For all of BMW’s investment in the i3, these weren’t earth-shattering numbers.

Photo: picture alliance

All of its innovation was costly, and BMW’s city car ended up relatively expensive. It started at €34,950 in Germany, $61.300 AUD. That went up to $67,000 for the Range Extender model. The most expensive versions of the i3 topped out at nearly $89,000.

(Rather curiously, all range-extended BMW i3s have 10.9 litre petrol tanks. In the U.S., however, to legally qualify as a range-extended electric vehicle, the i3 could not have more range available from its internal combustion setup than its pure battery. At that point, the government would have classified the i3 as a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Chevy Volt. As such, all range-extended i3s initially sold in America were restricted by software alone to use just 8.6 letters of that 10.9 litre tank. Only in 2017 when BMW introduced a longer-range battery could BMW digitally unlock the full 10 litres.)

Its high price meant the i3 asked a lot of compromises of a luxury car buyer just to have the most environmentally-friendly vehicle possible. A regular 3 Series cost about the same and was much easier to live with, unless you were regularly parking on dense urban streets. Most Americans don’t.

If anything, the rather practical i3 was too good at its job. All the money that BMW had invested in its technical innovations cost it its chance to make a dent in the car market.

That would have been fine if BMW continued to roll its high development costs into future models, perpetually bringing down its own prices, but BMW wasn’t interested in keeping its i thing going. Chief executive Norbert Reithofer stepped down early in 2015 and BMW canceled the car in 2022 with no second generation. The company has gone back to completely conventional ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV options. All of its EVs share their platforms with gas-burning equivalents, saving costs in development and on the showroom floor. They sell better than the i3 ever did.

BMW i3 Photo : picture alliance The i3 Brought Carbon Fiber to Mass Production

The only follow-up BMW did to the i3 was the dramatic i8, with butterfly doors opening up into a low slung cabin, flying buttresses directing air around its mid-mounted three-cylinder turbo engine. A dedicated PHEV, the i3’s engine did actually drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor drove the fronts. What shattered the illusion was that the front motor only made 97.6 kilowatts and the rear engine only 131. It might have looked like a supercar, but it didn’t drive like one. Like the i3, its carbon construction set it apart from its contemporaries, but also made it much more expensive than they ever were. In the U.S., the i8 started at a hair under $136,000 (AUD 200,000), which was a big ask for a car with three cylinders.

Following the same troubles as the i3, the i8 looked like one thing but was priced like another. It went on sale in 2014, not far behind the i3, and soldiered on through 2020, dying without a successor. An open-topped Roadster came in 2018 but didn’t change the car’s fate. Americans bought a grand total of 6,776 i8s through its entire production run. We buy that many Porsche 911s in a single year. Sometimes twice as many.

Photo: picture alliance

Taken at face value, the i8 is still a remarkable machine. A Porsche might be better on track, but the i8 is a dream realized in production form. It looks like nothing else on the road, even now.

And there is something that still feels contemporary about the i3. Its focus on low weight and low-impact manufacturing remains honorable. The electric car vision does us little good if it only reproduces the same more-is-more excess of internal combustion that clogs our roads with oversized vehicles.

As we now watch Tesla Cybertrucks lumber down the road at over 3,129 kilograms, GMC Hummer EVs pounding the pavement at over 4350 kilograms, BMW’s post-Recession vision is as relevant as ever.

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On the Crest

Surfing superstardom came early for Jack Robinson. Now Australia’s humble hero is chasing Olympic glory – keeping his head down.

By Horacio Silva 09/07/2024

There is a video on the internet of Jack Robinson at 15. In it, the pint-sized, towheaded Robinson, who was already considered the best young surfer on the planet, sports a cheeky gap-toothed smile and blunt bob to rival Lindy Chamberlain’s. Asked what he likes most about the sport, the shy grommet struggles for words, eventually offering, “Barrels, big hacks and airs.” 

Even at this age, Robinson prefers to let his surfing do the talking. But, as his interviewer surmises, don’t mistake reticence for unpreparedness: “When this young gun hits the surf, even the seasoned pros shake their heads in dismay.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

Sixteen years later, Margaret River-born Robinson still beggars belief with his ability to seemingly walk on water. The bowl cut is gone (replaced by a new do that Robinson got for a recent photo shoot and that he jokingly refers to as “the full GQ”), but the difficulty in getting his point across remains, though not from a lack of effort. “Sorry, I’m trying to get my words together,” says Robinson, now 31 and based on the Gold Coast. “I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m hurting.”

He quickly explains that he was not out on the town with hard-partying surfer mates—far from it. These days, Robinson and his Brazilian wife, Julia, have a five-month-old baby boy, Zen, whose behaviour did not live up to the serenity of his name.

Beatriz Ryder

“I just woke up from a nap, actually,” Robinson adds. “At this stage, I get sleep wherever and whenever I can.”

He would do well to get some shut-eye. Robinson heads to Teahupo’o in Tahiti next month, where this year’s Olympic Games surfing competition is being held. Though he is currently ranked number three in the world, he has mastered some of the most challenging big-wave conditions, including a win with a late barrel at the Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o last August, and is tipped as one of Australia’s best chances for gold.

With good reason, says Tom Carroll, the two-time world champion and Quiksilver ambassador. “That wave is up his alley,” says Carroll, who is now a meditation teacher on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “He knows that break in all its various moods and forms. If the conditions are not favourable on the day, when some of his biggest rivals fall apart, he can still feel it out. He assesses the conditions in a nanosecond.”

It’s that fearless ability to be in the moment, to paddle out in anything and feel at home, that Carroll first noticed when Robinson was 11. “He has an innate sense for the water and the way it moves,” Carroll continues. “It revealed itself from the get-go and to see it expressed is quite extraordinary.”

Beatriz Ryder

These days Robinson is more focussed on the ordinary. “I’m trying to keep it simple,” he offers, “to stick to the same routines, and make sure that I am in a good headspace going into the Olympics.” Beyond countless hours in the water and gym, this means time spent on meditation, yoga and breath work. “It’s a super mental sport now,” he adds. “You have to be a smart competitor. It’s not just about surfing.”

Aside from the boards, gym equipment and yoga mats, the Robinson household is all prams, toys and nappies. “It doesn’t leave room for much of anything else,” he laments. “I love fishing and cars, and really want to get into flying planes but that will have to wait.” His role as a father has given him a different perspective on his sport and his own upbringing. Robinson, like many sporting phenoms, was coached by a domineering parent (his father Trev) and concedes it wasn’t always a swell ride.

“It was challenging growing up for sure,” he says. “But to reach this level you need people in your corner. Even if he was looked at as a little crazy by some people, he gave 100 percent and then some. I have a newfound respect for that.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

He has the same regard for his competitors. When asked about the chances of his biggest rivals, Americans Griffin Colapinto and John John Florence, he is diplomatic to a fault. “I haven’t really thought about the other guys too much,” he demurs. “I’ve just been inspired by them. Even the last event with John John”—when Florence defeated Robinson in his native Western Australia—“I was just really inspired by his performance. It makes me want to do better.”

Perhaps if the whole modelling caper doesn’t pan out, after he retires from the sport he may want to consider a career in politics. “Nah,” he admits. “Leave that to others. Maybe that’s a path for Zen.”

The Olympic Games surfing competition begins July 27. 

 

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