Hanging In The Balance: How Luxury Will Tackle The Next Decade Of Sustainability

The luxury field is facing serious environmental and consumer challenges­—and only the bravest and most innovative companies will survive.

By Christina Binkley 20/04/2020

Say you’ve arrived home after a leisurely weekend down the coast. You plug in your Tesla—every spot in the garage has an outlet compatible with any electric vehicle—and you slip past the apartment’s 6 metre-tall trees and seven-storey green wall that serve as part of the building’s air-filtration system. As you consider a dip in the saltwater swimming pool, you arrive at your apartment and take in the full glory of the sunset, thanks to walls of high-insulating glass, whose clarity, due to low levels of iron in the silica, also eliminates the need for artificial light by day. Your building’s zero-waste pledge means garbage bins are outnumbered by compost containers and recycling receptacles. When you moved in, your green movers shuttled your belongings in reusable bins.

This feel-good building is not some uni student’s blue-sky thesis project. Designed by Renzo Piano and developed by Bizzi & Partners, it opened recently on Broome Street in New York’s SoHo. It’s at the forefront of urban residential design that caters to a luxury lifestyle seeking to tread more lightly on the earth.

Sustainability is driving the future of luxury, not only in residential and commercial design but also in travel, food production and fashion, as younger consumers reject fuel-gobbling private jets and other high-octane goodies. No one is suggesting the industry is where it needs to be, given the science, but, increasingly, consumers who want to make better choices have options: Ships that don’t drop anchor to avoid damaging sea beds, off-grid resorts run on solar energy, cities in China that use pneumatic tubes rather than trucks to move waste, and designer fashions made with recycled and renewable materials are becoming more readily available as luxury consumers seek out and demand such.

“It’s a baseline conversation we’re having with all clients because they know their clients are demanding this,” says John Bricker, creative director of Gensler, one of the world’s largest architectural firms. He notes the growing importance of “soft” factors such as emotional connections and the sense of doing good, as opposed to hard factors such as price. “Millennials make decisions based on soft things. It’s a topic that’s one of their passion plays.”

These trends suggest that a luxury lifestyle in the future could look and feel different at every level, from the back-of-house operations that keep life on track to the substances that we touch and breathe.

Cities will be quieter as gas-powered engines are replaced with electric and as trucks are taken off streets by more efficient technologies. Sarah Currie-Halpern, a cofounder of waste consulting group ThinkZero, sees a future nearly free of garbage trucks, predicting that organic wastes will be liquefied on-site and used
to produce energy for buildings.

Renewable energy will become a routine part of every home. Alessandro Pallaoro, managing director at Bizzi & Partners, foresees wind systems on roofs and batteries placed in walls to store energy produced with photovoltaic panels.

Green lawns will become increasingly as daily decisions commonly factor in sustainability and social impacts. As transparency increases about where materials come from and how much energy they use, impacts will be quantified and measured. Certifications such as those offered by the US-based International Living Future Institute will require many buildings to be regenerative—meaning that their positive effects outweigh the negative.

“If you’re spending a lot of money on a luxury house, you’ll know where the building impacts are,” says David Briefel, a sustainability director at Gensler in New York. Homes and offices, he predicts, will also be stronger and more resilient to withstand the unavoidable effects of global climate change—floods, fires and storms.

Gensler, with a goal to one day reach net-zero water and energy consumption for its projects, has installed sustainability directors around the world. Briefel, a specialist in adaptive reuse and a designer accredited by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), considers traditional construction techniques such as rammed earth and breezy courtyards as he advises clients about architecture. “It’s very hard for me to separate good design from sustainable design, because good design considers all constraints,” he says.

The fashion industry as a whole may be running behind, but it is now looking to Stella McCartney, who has made sustainability a tenet of her eponymous brand, for broader leadership. A longtime vegetarian, she was one of the first designers to ban fur, leather and feathers at their collections. Today she’s pressing ahead with new materials such as “Mylo” (a faux leather made from mushrooms), products that contain plastic scooped from ocean waste and even mannequins made from sugarcane derivatives. “What’s exciting to me is constantly working on changing things that are conventional in this industry,” offers McCartney, also describing her search for vegan silk and KOBA, a plant-based fur-free “fur” that incorporates recycled polyester. “I’ve referred to myself as a farmer and not just a fashion designer. Not literally, but in the fashion industry we’re taking a unit of a crop and transporting it. We just do something different with it than the food industry.”

Sustainability

LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault cited her eco-friendly approach as a reason for his company’s investment in her label last summer, after McCartney split from rival Kering. “We are convinced of the great long-term potential of her house,” Arnault said in July, noting that he expects McCartney’s focus on sustainability and ethical issues to help guide LVMH. Her responsibilities advising Arnault and his executive committee will go beyond implementing more sustainable materials, the company says, to advising broadly on potential initiatives.

McCartney says she is proudest of the effort that led to sustainable viscose, a common textile culpable for the harvesting of about 150 million trees a year. She and her team looked for three years before finding a forest in Sweden that is sustainably managed and offers a fully traceable supply chain.

Such examples of progress are all a long time coming. It’s been 13 years since former vice president Al Gore produced the seminal documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, which made the case that the globe was in danger of overheating. Nearly every president since John F. Kennedy has warned about the need for sustainability.

The one who may have best captured today’s mind-set for purposeful consumption put it this way: “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”

That was President Jimmy Carter speaking presciently in July 1979, having just emerged from a 12-day retreat at Camp David, where he read two groundbreaking books that still resonate today: The Culture of Narcissism, by historian Christopher Lasch, and Small Is Beautiful, by the economist E. F. Schumacher. Those ideas have become normalised for many millennials and Gen Z consumers, as much as local farm-to-table cuisine is no longer a hippie ideal.

The very definition of luxury is shifting to include products once deemed decidedly not luxury, such as faux fur. Even Queen Elizabeth recently pledged not to commission any new outfits with the real kind, which is just as well, because Gucci, Prada, Michael Kors and Chanel are among the many fashion labels that no longer use animal fur in their designs.

Outside the fashion capitals, businesses such as Askov Finlayson are trying to redefine luxury for the 21st century. Founded in 2011 as a menswear outfitter
by brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton, Askov Finlayson was named to several lists of the best men’s stores in America. But the Daytons shuttered the retail operation for a makeover, recently relaunching it as the “first climate-positive outerwear brand” and possibly the most minimalist. There are three product categories: apparel (T-shirts and a sweatshirt), the label’s popular knit caps, which are part of a climate-change campaign dubbed “Keep the North Cold,” and winter parkas, one cut for men and another for women.

The parkas’ materials are nearly 100 percent recycled, from their 3M insulation to the water-resistant polyester outer shells, the care labels and even the zipper teeth. The arctic explorer Will Steger, who led the first dog-sled expedition to the North Pole, helped with technical details, and there is a data-world consideration: an interior pocket with “Present Mode” technology that blocks cellular and Wi-Fi signals if a cell phone is placed in it, “to help Askov customers go offline and be present with friends and family,” says Eric Dayton.

“Every step, we look at how we can reduce the impact, if not eliminate it,” says Dayton, who sought out a factory that promised 97 percent of the fabric supplied would be used for the products, reducing waste. The company invests in climate solutions to cover the “social cost” of its carbon footprint, using the more expensive Obama-administration calculus of about $43 per metric tonne (more than four times the UN estimate for carbon offsets), then multiplies by 110 percent to arrive at “climate positive.”

The luxury conglomerate Kering has pledged to eliminate the negative effects of its entire production by buying carbon offsets, which help make up for operations that aren’t sustainable, including building with concrete and steel. Fortunately, given the disparities and questions about calculating those offsets, more direct alternatives are emerging, such as cross-laminated wood—essentially boards glued together to create panels sturdy enough for high-rise construction—once fire codes adjust to the new technology.

“Wood traps carbon as it grows, which is great, and it’s a renewable resource,” says Chris McVoy, senior partner with Steven Holl Architects, a US firm focused on sustainability. Holl often uses geothermal wells to sustainably heat and cool buildings, such as the Reach, the extension of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., completed in 2019.

Sustainable Furniture
Achille Salvagni sustainable furniture

Holl is also designing the upcoming Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with sustainability in mind, artfully turning to old-fangled techniques for ingenious features. There, a façade of 30-inch-wide glass tubes set three feet from the building’s concrete wall will create a cooling cavity and funnel away the city’s notorious heat, bouncing an estimated 65 percent of the sun’s rays away from the interior. On the top floor, an opaque balloon-like surface will filter the sun while showering the uppermost galleries in enough light that artificial lighting won’t be necessary by day (though curators requested spotlights to highlight various exhibit items).

Inset windows, breezeways, natural lighting and cross-ventilation aren’t new.

“A lot of these things are ancient,” says McVoy. “In the ’40s and ’50s, we designed this thing called air-conditioning. We got onto this terrible track, and now we’re trying to get off of it.”

Concern about sustainability is burrowing its way into high-end furnishings, too. Achille Salvagni’s designs avoid synthetic glue, lacquer and welding. Most of his pieces are made in Rome, but he sometimes uses factories near his clients, echoing farm-to-table cuisine. If it means  softening his impact on the earth, says Salvagni, “I’m happy to do research on the local materials.”

Far-flung travel is one particularly unsustainable footprint of the luxury lifestyle, with tourism accounting for an estimated 8 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Aviation compounds the problem. Last summer, the uproar over the private-jet travelling of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was enough to cause the royal couple to fly commercial in September. It’s likely that more travellers, at least high-profile ones, could face that sort of protest and outcry in the future—much as fur wearers were once doused with red paint by animal-rights activists.

“I’m conflicted about travel,” says Gensler’s Briefel, who is hoping to see a celebration of more local travel—trips to nearby retreats rather than to other continents—just like there is for local food. “Maybe that’s wishful thinking?”

Maybe. Even the eco-conscious French cruise company Ponant, founded in 1988 by a group of sailors, has aggressively pursued cruising around the world in sensitive places, from the Arctic to the Solomon Islands, albeit in a more sustainable way.

Ponant’s luxury expedition vessels are classified “clean ships.” Its most innovative model, launching in 2021, will use electric propulsion systems near land and liquefied natural gas for longer sailing, dispose of waste in paper garbage bags and, when needed, employ dynamic positioning systems instead of anchors.

“To be sustainable is not a corporate credo,” says Navin Sawhney, a regional chief executive for Ponant the Americas. “It’s literally a way of life. We have a symbiotic relationship to the ocean.”

Ponant works with the communities where its ships dock so it can tread lightly on land as well.

“When you go and visit any place and enjoy what that environment has to offer,” says Sawhney, “you want to be absolutely sure that the environment transforms you and you don’t transform the environment.”

In Africa, Wilderness Safaris has operated camps for 36 years in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It introduced light-impact camps in 1985 and launched a full-on sustainability effort a decade ago, working to reduce waste and its carbon outputs, says Neil Midlane, the company’s South Africa–based group sustainability manager. Solar cells have replaced most diesel engines for energy in its camps; 18 camps are 100 percent solar. Sewage is treated above ground in plants that use a bacteria-based system to produce clean water and little sludge. Glamour isn’t the selling point, though the safaris rate at the top of luxury service.

“This is stuff that every company in our business should be doing,” says Midlane.

Wilderness Safaris stopped using plastic wrap in favour of Buzz Wraps (made of beeswax), offers guests coffee cups made of corn starch, plant sugars and fibres for takeaway, supplies glass water bottles and has created camps that can be built and dismantled with minimal disruption to the environment, leaving the sites able to revert to a natural state within three months.

Lance Hosey, a LEED fellow and one of Gensler’s sustainability gurus, has studied how sensory experiences promote physical and emotional wellness. He is also the author of  The Shape of Green, a 2012 book that explores the relationship between architecture, ecology and beauty.

Perhaps counterintuitively, Hosey suggests that sustainability, instead of provoking feelings of deprivation, is in fact the ultimate luxury, calling it “guilt-free pampering.”

“There’s a misperception that sustainability is about sacrifice,” he tells Robb Report, noting that green living can be desirable simply for the sense of virtue it provides. “We don’t love something because it’s energy-efficient or biodegradable. We love it because it moves our heads and our hearts.”

This story comes from our latest Autumn 2020 issue. To purchase a copy or to sign up to an annual subscription of Robb Report Australia & New Zealand click here. To stay in touch with all the latest news click here.

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A Michael Jordan Logoman Patch Card Just Sold for a Record $2.9 Million at Auction

The one-of-one piece is now the most expensive Jordan card to ever cross the auction block.

By Tori Latham 06/06/2024

Michael Jordan was a record-breaking athlete—and the legendary hooper is continuing to set records more than two decades after his (final) retirement from the game.

A one-of-one signed and game-used Jordan Logoman patch card just sold for an eye-popping USD$2.9 million, making it the most expensive Jordan card ever sold at auction. The 2003 card was part of the Goldin 100 auction, where it received 38 bids before finally hammering down for that multimillion-dollar total.

Goldin

The rare card, which was included in an Upper Deck Ultimate Collection, is the very first signed Logoman patch card with Jordan in a Chicago Bulls jersey. The patch itself is from Jordan’s peak with the Bulls, a team he led to six NBA championships. The bold blue autograph on the bottom of the card, meanwhile, was graded PSA 10. It’s unclear where the card was before 2022, when it was submitted to PSA for grading, and this is the first time it’s been offered in a public auction. Altogether, it’s considered to be the most exclusive Jordan autographed Logoman card in the world.

While Jordan is perhaps most well known for what he’s done on the court, the baller is no stranger to making waves on the auction block, too. Earlier this year, a set of his NBA Finals–worn sneakers achieved a bonkers $8 million during a Sotheby’s auction. Even then, that’s not the most someone has paid for Jordan memorabilia: In 2022, the athlete’s game-worn “Last Dance” Finals jersey hammered down for a whopping USD$10.1 million.

The recent card sale may not match those numbers, but almost USD$3 million is still a hefty sum to pay for a relatively compact item. And the card easily swept the rest of the Goldin 100 auction. The highest following lot was a Kobe Bryant jersey that the late Los Angeles Laker wore during a 2013 game. That piece of sports history ended up going home with someone for USD$1.2 million.

As the richest basketball player ever, with a net worth of $3.5 billion as of a year ago, Jordan himself is far outearning his card’s value. But it’s unlikely that he would have ever made that much money without paving the sort of path that makes his memorabilia so desirable when it hits the auction block.

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You Can Now Buy and Sell Luxury Watches and Jewellery on eBay’s Consignment Service

The e-tailer is making inroads on being a major marketplace for high-end goods.

By Tori Latham 06/06/2024

eBay is continuing to make inroads into the luxury industry.

The website on Tuesday expanded its consignment service to include high-end watches, jewellery, and footwear. Among the brands being accepted by the program are Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton for shoes; Chanel, David Yurman, and Neil Lane for jewellery; and Breguet, Girard-Perregaux, and Jaeger-LeCoultre for timepieces.

eBay’s consignment program debuted at the end of last year for handbags, and it added apparel to the mix in March. The service is meant to make selling high-end goods easier for those looking to offload their pieces, and more trustworthy for those hoping to buy them. The e-tailer has partnered with the company Linda’s Stuff to streamline the process: A seller fills out a simple intake form, then receives a prepaid and insured shipping label to send in their items. eBay and Linda’s Stuff photograph, price, and list the item, with the seller receiving a commission based on the final sale price. If a piece sells for $5,000 or more, for example, the seller receives 80 percent.

Since launching its consignment service, eBay has seen that items listed that way are selling for more than similar pieces listed on the website in the more traditional way. In just one example, a small quilted Chanel 19 flap bag consigned in December hurdled past the average sales price for the same purses sold on eBay by 45 percent.

In recent years, eBay has been training its efforts on making high-end, pre-owned items easier to sell and buy on its platform. It has implemented programs like Certified by Brand and Authenticity Guarantee to ensure that users feel confident when buying and selling luxury items on the website. And those sorts of used and refurbished items now compose 40 percent of eBay’s gross merchandise volume.

While it may seem a bit strange to sell your luxury items on eBay rather than a designated site like the RealReal, the e-tailer might be breaking out as the next big luxury marketplace, especially when it comes to pre-owned pieces.

 

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Four Seasons’ Private Jet Trips Will Take You to Asia, Africa, and Beyond in 2026

The six 2026 itineraries range from 13 to 21 days and cost between USD$159,000 and $229,000 per person.

By Rachel Cormack 06/06/2024

It’s never too early to start planning a vacation. Just ask Four Seasons.

The hospitality giant just unveiled its private jet itineraries for 2026, giving travelers a chance to book their next adventure a good two years in advance. Designed by a team of experts, the six journeys allow jet-setters to explore far-flung destinations in five-star luxury. You’ll fly the globe in the fully customized Four Seasons Airbus A321neo and stay in lavish Four Seasons hotels along the way. More importantly, guests can partake in curated experiences a cut above the typical tour.

“Our goal is to create connections with travelers of this generation and the next, fostering a legacy of transformative experiences that extend far beyond the journey,” Marc Speichert, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Four Seasons, said in a statement.

Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
Four Seasons

The itineraries cater to a wide range of travelers, with differing lengths and routes. The 16-day Asia Unveiled trip, for instance, takes guests on a deep dive into the East, with stops in Tokyo, Bali, Angkor Wat, Hoi An, Bhutan, the Maldives, and Bangkok. Other adventures, like the 21-day International Intrigue journey, cover many global destinations from the African savannah to the city of Paris.

Wellness enthusiasts can indulge at Four Seasons Resort Maldives.
Four Seasons

Similarly, the experiences on offer are designed to appeal to a myriad of personality types, from culture vultures and history nerds to thrillseekers and gourmands. On the African Wonders trip, fitness buffs can join a Maasai guide for a nature walk in the Serengeti and then chill out in a meditation session led by an expert yogi. During Timeless Encounters, explorers can take a submarine scooter to Bora Bora’s renowned diving spots. With International Intrigue and Asia Unveiled, wellness enthusiasts indulge in lavish treatments at the Island Spa within Four Seasons Resort Maldives. Asia Unveiled also allows foodies to embark on a sushi masterclass with a Michelin-starred chef in Tokyo, while International Intrigue gives gluttons the chance to craft six courses with celebrated chefs in Mexico City’s local markets. In addition, history connoisseurs can visit famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal on Timeless Encounters. That is just a taste of the experiences on offer, too.

The 2026 itineraries range from 13 to 21 days and cost between USD$159,000 and $229,000 per person. To start planning your trip, visit the Four Seasons website or email the team at fourseasonsjet@fourseasons.com.

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Audemars Piguet Just Dropped a Bevy of New Watches—Including a Mini Royal Oak

From the new Royal Oak Mini to skeletonised 37 mm versions and a wild asymmetrical reissue, AP just slayed the spring watch season.

By Nick Scott, Paige Reddinger, Allen Farmelo 06/06/2024

Audemars Piguet isn’t resting on its laurels and that’s likely just how former longtime CEO, François-Henri Bennhamias, intended. The colourful head honcho left his post at the helm this past December, but he certainly left his mark by taking the brand to USD$2.7 billion in sales by 2023 before handing over the reins to newly minted CEO, Ilaria Resta, who was hired from global perfumery company, Firmenich. (Resta is the latest female addition to AP’s top brass following the appointment of Ginny Wright, who came from L’Oreal, as the CEO of North America.)

Given the lead time of R&D in watchmaking, the latest watches are certainly the mark of Bennhamias’s direction, and the watches are anything but wallflowers. You have wildly innovative new materials like a Royal Oak prototype proposed in Chroma Gold—a new technique blending white gold, rose gold, and yellow gold into a camouflage pattern—and a funky new “Crystal Sand” finish on the Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding 34 mm model. Meanwhile, Code 11.59 gets decked in an extraordinarily challenging arrangement of sapphires and diamonds, and the latest [Re]Master02 comes in a funky 1960s tv-shaped case with beveled sapphire crystal glass.

Here’s a look at how Audemars Piguet is flexing its craftsmanship muscles with these daring new timepieces.

Audemars Piguet

At 23 mm across, these are not the smallest Royal Oaks ever produced: a 20mm iteration was launched in 1997, alongside a 44mm Royal Oak Grande Complication, to celebrate the model’s 25th anniversary. They’re also not the sparkliest Royal Oaks: any number of abundantly gem-set models are all vying for that crown.

But the frosted gold trio before you are definitely amongst the most attention-grabbing Royal Oaks to date, residing as they do in the intersection of two Goldilocks zones: they’re well suited to slender-wristed wearers, but not so small that they invoke outmoded notions of femininity; and they’re mischievously sparkly, but packing only carefully measured flamboyance.

Audemars Piguet

Built from 18 carat yellow, white or pink frosted gold, the new pieces’ shimmering diamond-dust effect contrasts beautifully with the polished bevels. The case, bezel and bracelet have been created using a Florentine jewelry technique first applied to a Royal Oak in 2016, and again in 2018 with the help of Carolina Bucci. The frosting involves hand-hammering the metal using a diamond-tipped tool, and the effect is uniquely elegant and understated.

The dials—like that on Gérald Genta’s original steel game-changer—are uncluttered bar the petite tapisserie pattern. Unlike Genta’s original (a major counter-offensive salvo from the mechanical watches camp during the quartz crises) the beating heart for this trio is calibre 2730, a quartz movement with a seven-year battery life and easy-to-use deactivation mode.

Audemars Piguet

The smallest selfwinding Royal Oaks ever made remain Calibre 2062, a 29mm piece – created by former head of Audemars Piguet’s design office Jacqueline Dimier – which retained the codes of Genta’s original model created in 1976, and the gem-set derivative released shortly afterwards.

“These mini creations pay tribute not only to Audemars Piguet’s long tradition of miniature and jewellery watches, but also to the women who have left their mark on the history of the brand, including Jacqueline Dimier to whom we owe the first Royal Oak for women, and Carolina Bucci, the mastermind behind the Frosted Gold finish,” said Ilaria Resta Audemars Piguet’s Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.

Audemars Piguet

Sébastian Vivas—the maker’s Heritage and Museum Director—added that the three pieces “demonstrate the extraordinary plasticity of the Royal Oak collection, which transcends decades, gender, trends and dimensions.”

Size: 27 mm
Material: white, yellow and rose gold
Price: $51,700

Audemars Piguet

AP’s frosted gold Royal Oaks have been a hit for the brand since it debuted as a collaboration with Italian jeweler, Carolina Bucci in 2016. There have been several versions, including one with a mirrored dial, and now the nouveau classic is sporting a “Crystal Sand” finish.

Audemars Piguet

The 34 mm model’s dial offers a magnified and dramatized interpretation of the hammered case and surface of the bracelet. Made from embossed ruthenium crystal, the dial is then adorned with a stamping die via electroforming, a process that forms or grows metal parts onto a model. The color is achieved through a galvanic bath of both rhodium and gold coating to accentuate its 3D form.

Audemars Piguet

Size: 34 mm
Material: frosted gold
Price: $93,250

Audemars Piguet

Since 2010, Audemars Piguet’s Openworked Royal Oak models have been offered in sizes ranging between 39 mm (e.g., reference 15305) and 41 mm (e.g., reference 15407). Something about skeletonizing watches seems to cause many brands to reach for its larger cases: Perhaps it’s the larger dial for skeletonizing, or perhaps it’s a tendency to assume that men who like big watches will also prefer openworked dials. To be honest, I’ve long shared the latter assumption, though I’ve never had much reason to examine it before now.

Audemars Piguet often challenges our assumptions (consider the Spider Man Royal Oak, for example), and this new Openworked Double Balance Wheel Royal Oak at 37 mm in white or rose gold disregards assumptions about gender and watches while also underlining the small watch trend for men.

Audemars Piguet

Thirty-seven mm is pretty much the perfect “unisex” size. Many brands (for example, Grand Seiko, Lange, Rolex, Zentih) offer 37 mm watches that serve as a bridge between their men’s and women’s collections, and sometimes these brands will point that out. However, in its typical avant garde manner, Audemars Piguet is way ahead of this shifting norm—especially when compared to its counterparts in the Horological Holy Trinity, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, both of which offer 37 mm watches steered more obviously toward men or women with gem setting, or the lack thereof. By offering the Openworked Royal Oak at 37 mm, Audemars Piguet cleverly sidesteps that old-school his/hers conundrum.

Audemars Piguet

This watch is going to resonate with men who are continuing to lean toward smaller watches, and it’s going to resonate with women who are looking for a larger and more daring timepiece that won’t overpower (or simply overhang) their wrists. And this Royal Oak does all that gender bending by simply shrinking its skeletonized watch. In this regard alone, I think it’s a brilliant offering—and I’m not a big fan of openworked dials.

The dual balance wheel mechanism of caliber 3132 helps stabilize the balance staff in its ruby mount, which improves precision.
Audemars Piguet

With all that said, what’s really driving this watch’s avant garde nature is the movement, known as caliber 3132. The dual balance wheel is a unique approach to minimizing the tilt of the balance staff (the axil on which the balance wheel oscillates). When the balance wheel swings back and forth (like a pendulum), there is a tendency, due to inertia, for it to slightly tilt within its ruby mount. When the balance staff tilts (however slightly) gravity has its way with it, causing timing discrepancies in different positions (known as positional variance). By adding a second balance wheel (not just a second spring, as found in some movements), Audemars Piguet has added stabilizing mass to the mechanism, as well as a counter-force that further stabilizes the balance staff as it changes direction. Theoretically, this reduces tilt of the balance staff and reduces positional variance.

It also looks very cool, and you’ll get a good view from both the front and the back of this watch.

Size: 37 mm
Material: pink and white gold
Price: $147,300

Audemars Piguet

If you’d told me a few years ago that brutalism—a minimalist, institutional architecture style of the mid-20th century rendered with massive concrete slabs—was going to be a catchphrase of watch design by 2024, I’d have declared you an iconoclastic crackpot. But, you’d have been right.

Audemars Piguet has picked up on the recent nostalgia for that strangely appealing architectural style. Reaching into their catalog from the 1960s, when brutalism was peaking globally, they’ve found a very cool watch to recreate—or, as AP insists, to “[RE]Master.” Audemars Piguet has borrowed the term from the recording arts: Remastering is generally a slight modernizing of a recording for current markets, so the analogy holds here, as this watch slightly modernizes vintage model.

Audemars Piguet

Crafted from Audemars Piguet’s proprietary sand gold, the case will shift between white and pink gold hues, depending on ambient lighting. Using the trusted time-only only caliber 7129, this auto-winding mechanical movement is on display through a circular window in the caseback.

Audemars Piguet

Sébastian Vivas, AP’s Heritage and Museum Director, states that “Between 1959 and 1963, Audemars Piguet created more than 30 asymmetrical models, most of which were produced in less than 10 pieces. [RE]Master02 is a fantastic opportunity to revive this forgotten golden age.”

Audemars Piguet

Despite the wildly brutalist case, it may be the dial that steals the show here. Created using a dark blue PVD treatment over beautifully brushed surfaces, the 12 individually crafted dial segments cleverly help time telling without relying on applied markers. These dial segments are separated by galvanized sand gold partitions, and each segment sits on miniscule legs attached to a brass dial plate beneath. All of this geometric precision is accentuated by the beveled sapphire crystal.

Size: 41 mm
Material: sand gold
Price: $70,900(limited to 250 pieces)

Audemars Piguet

The Code 11.59 is getting all dolled up this year in a splash of gem-set models. Two 38 mm iterations come in either 18-karat pink gold or white gold set with 533 brilliant-cut diamonds and colored sapphires.

Audemars Piguet

What is notable here is the pixelated-looking setting. The pink-gold version comes with an array of navy, baby blue and yellow sapphires on the dial, while the white-gold version comes in pink and purple sapphires. Both look as though the colors were shaken in a glass and poured onto the dial so that the pattern is haphazardly arranged. It’s a fun take on a gem-set dial, one which we can’t recall seeing before and is, no doubt, extraordinarily difficult to arrange to achieve the right balance of hues. Each piece is set with the three-hand selfwinding caliber 5909.

Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet

One of the coolest pieces in the new lineup is just a prototype for now, but it offers a glimpse of what’s to come in the future. Chroma Gold is a patented innovation blending yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold via Spark Plasma Sintering technology. Each gold variation is melted before droplets are atomized into powders. They are then combined in their respective pattern in a circular graphite mold which is then sintered via an electrical current. It is a first for the watch industry.

Audemars Piguet

Even in jewellery it is notoriously difficult to work with multiple types of metal in one piece due to the variations in consistency and that’s without trying to blend them together. The only time we have seen the blending of two different types of gold before is in American jeweler Adam Neeley’s proprietary SpectraGold, which is currently pending a patent. AP’s Chroma Gold follows the debut of a similar method with ceramic that debuted in a prototype earlier this year allowing the company to blend various hues of the material. Camo isn’t for everyone, but the multi-hued gold version certainly makes a compelling case for the machismo pattern. On the right hands it will be irresistibly cool.

 

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Watch of the Week: IWC Ceralume Pilot’s Chronograph

The concept watch hints at the future of IWC’s proprietary luminous ceramic technology.

By Josh Bozin 31/05/2024

Did you catch Lewis Hamilton rocking a new IWC Schaffhausen timepiece at the Monaco Grand Prix over the weekend? We did too, and as curious watch fanatics, we couldn’t help but speculate on what exactly this stark-white timepiece could be. A new iteration of the 2022 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN “Lake Tahoe” edition, perhaps?

Sort of.

Earlier this week, IWC took to Instagram to reveal what its experimental engineering division, XPL, has been working on over the last few years. Introducing the new IWC Ceralume Pilot’s Chronograph—a ceramic watch, albeit a prototype, that completely glows in the dark, from case to dial to strap!

IWC

Such wizardry is thanks to a proprietary luminous ceramic technology that IWC calls “Ceralume.” This technical feat has allowed IWC watchmakers to produce their very first fully luminous ceramic watch. Building on its 40-year journey as true pioneers of engineering ceramic material within watches—ceramic is notoriously difficult to work with, you see—IWC is no stranger to such technical feats.

Thanks to the homogeneous mixing of ceramic powders with high-grade Super-LumiNova pigments, IWC has fashioned a luminous material that acts like a battery for storing light energy. Utilising the new Ceralume technology, this fully luminous concept Pilot’s Chronograph emits a bright blueish light that lasts more than 24 hours.

“With the first fully luminous ceramic case rings, we underscore our role as a pioneer and innovator in ceramic watches. The development of Ceralume took several years. The main challenges we faced were producing watch cases with maximum homogeneity and meeting our exacting quality standards,” says Dr. Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager Research & Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen.

“To achieve these goals, we engineered a ground-breaking new manufacturing process – tailored to the unique combination of ceramic powders and Super-LumiNova pigments.”

If we’re to get extra technical, the ceramic material absorbs light energy from sunlight (or artificial light), stores it temporarily, and then emits the absorbed energy as visible light—the luminous “glow” that you see below. According to IWC, this cycle is infinite and will never cause the material to age or diminish its light storage capacity.

IWC

Developed completely in-house by IWC and its Experimental Engineering Division (XPL), the patent-pending Ceralume technology will undoubtedly form the foundation of future developments and releases, with a broader commercial release imminent.

To learn more, visit iwc.com

 

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