Robb Read: Meet The Teenage Gamers Raking In Millions

All those hours in front of screens might just pay off.

By Helena Madden 03/05/2021

It was clear as the game reached its climax that Kyle Giersdorf was in the zone. The athlete had positioned himself in a prime spot on the field. He even cracked a rare smile as he made another solid play. Giersdorf was leading by a commanding 15 points going into this final round; his closest competitor was already out of the picture. When the match was over, the crowded arena erupted in cheers, and confetti filled the air. The 16-year-old looked a bit shell-shocked. As fog machines spouted mist, he carefully made his way down a glowing runway to claim his trophy and US$3 million prize. He was, after all, the Fortnite World Champion.

Yes, Fortnite: the wildly popular video game in which players assume the roles of cartoonish, gun-wielding avatars and compete in a last-man-standing slugfest. It has been likened to the Hunger Games on more than one occasion, except, unlike Katniss Everdeen, participants can quickly erect walls and conjure towers to use for cover and vantage. Competition for the inaugural World Cup was fierce. About 40 million hopefuls in the individual and duo categories duked it out in open qualifiers sponsored by Fortnite’s creator, Epic Games, a process that took place over 10 weeks in 2019 and brought together top-tier talent from more than 200 countries. Only 100 solo contestants—among them the underdog but soon-to-be champ, Giersdorf—made it to the finals at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. (The 2020 event was canceled because of the pandemic.)

Esports Gaming Feature

Giersdorf in his bedroom in Pottsgrove, Penn., with awards for hitting 100,000 and 1 million YouTube subscribers behind him. He’s now up to 3.84 million. M. Levy

Giersdorf’s seemingly overnight success was no aberration in esports, as the world of competitive video games is known. Their intrinsically democratic nature—can you imagine 40 million tennis kids trying to reach the US Open or, for that matter, 40 million athletes in any mainstream sport having the opportunity to advance to a world championship?—is one reason their popularity shows no sign of waning. According to games-data company Newzoo, esports will generate $1.1 billion in revenue this year. The majority of that number comes from media rights and sponsorship opportunities, which, with a global livestreaming audience of 663 million in 2020, look more appealing to brands than ever. New fans deprived of other spectator sports in the pandemic “ultimately accelerated esports into the mainstream fairly considerably,” says Stephen Bradley, a managing director at Deloitte Consulting who co-leads the firm’s US gaming and esports practice. “I don’t think all of them are going to stay by any stretch, but some of them will.”

Esports’ growth has been meteoric in this century, but they started small. Many cite a Spacewar tournament with some 20 players at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1972 as the first formal video-game competition, but larger gatherings with more substantial prizes—the Spacewar winner received a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine—didn’t materialize until around the turn of the millennium, when StarCraft events became increasingly popular in South Korea and events like the Red Annihilation tournament for the game Quake slowly cropped up in the US. The Red Annihilation champion in 1997, college student Dennis Fong, took home a Ferrari 328 GTS that belonged to the game’s lead programmer. Suddenly, gaming wasn’t just for geeky computer nerds anymore.

Today’s parents worrying about their teen’s astronomically high screen time should take a glance at their standings before locking up their devices. Pro athletes in the field, who are by and large male, stand to make six-figure salaries or more, plus prize earnings, which can be in the millions, on teams owned by sports moguls such as Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. The winningest player in esports’ short history is Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, who’s considered the best Dota 2 competitor ever and has a lifetime prize total of $6.9 million. He’s 27 and now a team captain. Purses have been creeping upward. Giersdorf ’s $3 million World Cup pot amounted to a bigger payout than the one Tiger Woods won at the 2019 Masters. Not bad for a 16-year-old’s first real job. But rest assured: It seems he saved most of the seven-figure check. His only splurge was a new desk… for practising Fortnite.

The championship was the teen’s first time in the Big Apple. Giersdorf, now 18, grew up in Pottsgrove, Penn., a tiny suburb northwest of Philadelphia proper. “I was young getting into video games,” he says. “I was mostly playing with my dad, though. Once I was in kindergarten I started playing more independently and with friends and stuff like that.” Back then, some of his favourite titles were LittleBigPlanet, a game you play as a charming, Pixar-esque character that can best be described as a strikingly humanoid sock puppet, and Call of Duty, in which you shoot enemies in various militaristic settings. Those may sound like strangely divergent briefs, but opposites attract. Fortnite, with its kid-friendly graphics and shooter gameplay, combines elements of both.

Esports Gaming Feature

Giersdorf’s hand position for Fortnite. M. Levy

Giersdorf secured his first big competitive paycheck in 2018. It was at a small event at a Microsoft store: He finished in second place and won $5,000. He’d been practising Fortnite for only about a year when he competed at the World Cup, which, since it was the first ever, was easily his most high-profile outing yet. “That was definitely a huge change in my life,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting to do too crazy well, but I had been practising a lot. And then I ended up winning, I guess, and everything just hit me. Mentally, I don’t think I was prepared for it yet, just because I’ve never really been that person either to just have or want tons of attention.” These days, Giersdorf is best known by his in-game tag, “Bugha,” a pet name his grandfather gave him when he was a baby. He plays Fortnite for a professional team called the Sentinels, has appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra hummus and has released the Bugha Gaming Collection of accessories—think LED keyboards, microphones, headsets and such—with Five Below. Meanwhile, he’s finishing high school via online classes.

Giersdorf and other esports athletes also make money by being active on Twitch, a popular livestreaming platform that was bought by Amazon for $970 million in 2014. It’s used primarily by gamers to broadcast themselves playing through different titles, although theoretically you could just turn on your camera, go live and let the world watch you do homework (if that’s your thing). As they play, streamers will comment on the game via voice-over. Some show their face in a thumbnail in the corner of the screen so viewers can see their reactions. Just as in a tournament’s packed arena, fans watch their virtual trick shots and combos with the attention to detail that baseball buffs analyze a slugger’s swing.

Very good players can make money from the Twitch Partner Program, raking in cash from ads, subscriptions and in-chat tips from viewers who like what they see, but world-class gamers like Giersdorf can land even more lucrative exclusive streaming deals with the company. Most keep their Twitch earnings under wraps, with a few exceptions. Popular streamer Jeremy Wang revealed in 2018 that he made $20,000 a month from the platform. At the time, he had 800,000 Twitch followers. Giersdorf, meanwhile, has 4.1 million. Good money, but it can be tricky to balance Twitch obligations with team practice and scrimmages. “Playing on stream messes you up a little bit because you’re more focused on the entertainment side of things, rather than just purely competing,” says Giersdorf. Between streaming and practising, he spends about 10 hours a day on video games. Not your typical extracurricular activity. “Fortnite and streaming, and then playing scrims and schoolwork, it all kind of goes into a loop. I usually do my schoolwork late at night, kind of when I’m done with everything.”

Esports’ primary audience—the 18-to-34-year-old bracket—is one of the most sought-after and elusive demographics, one that traditional sports like football and baseball have long struggled to capture. Better still, it’s a young viewership with some spending power. Many of the kids who watch athletes like Giersdorf are also into playing video games themselves, at least to some degree, and it isn’t a hobby that comes cheap. “To play a really, really high-performing game, you need a really expensive system. Right off the bat, every computer is $2,000,” says Dan Dinh, cofounder and president of TSM, a US-based global esports organisation that competes in 10 different games and has upwards of 30 players on its active roster. “What kid can afford a $2,000 PC? It really segments out a higher-value audience.”

Esports Gaming Feature

Heo Seunghoon, now 23, picked up League of Legends in 2012 and has scarcely put it down since. Photo Courtesy: SK Telecom T1

That barrier to entry is true in the US, but not everywhere. In South Korea almost anyone can go practice at a PC bang, a gaming centre where patrons pay around $1 an hour (or less) for access to high-end computers. It makes competitive gaming not only more equitable but more social—and has helped launched such stars as Heo Seunghoon, better known by his gamer tag, “Huni.” “My father was playing, my cousin was playing, my younger brother—everyone was playing StarCraft daily,” he says. “If you’re not playing StarCraft as a South Korean student, you can’t even talk with friends.” StarCraft debuted in 1998, which, for perspective, was the year that a couple of Stanford grad students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in a mutual friend’s garage. The game was never quite as popular in the States as it was in South Korea, but StarCraft is largely recognized as one of the first big esport scenes, with high-profile tournaments dating to 2003 and teams sponsored by Samsung and other major companies. It wasn’t the game that ultimately clicked with Heo, though. Now 23, he picked up League of Legends in 2012 and has scarcely put it down since, clocking in an average of 12 to 14 hours of practice every working day since going pro at age 17. He bet on the right horse. League of Legends has exploded in popularity: Its 2020 World Championship final had an average audience of 23 million viewers—per minute.

Heo signed his first professional contract with Fnatic and moved into the team home in Berlin in 2015. His new teammates became his roommates—even their coach lived in the apartment. That may sound like a recipe for disaster (or, at the least, a disastrous cleaning rotation), but the “gaming house” has been a common esports practice since StarCraft’s competitive boom. The idea is that all of a pro team’s players should live in one house so they can more effectively bond, strategize and, nowadays, create video content. Who has the best gaming house has become a competition in and of itself, with teams like 100 Thieves and FaZe Clan occupying increasingly extravagant mansions, the price tags of which are often noted in video titles such as “Revealing the New US$30,000,000 FaZe House.” Many have on-site chefs and nutritionists who prepare meals for the team. But it’s not a universally accepted model. Some feel that gaming houses too thoroughly blur the work-life boundary. “It can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re on top of each other all the time,” says Dinh. “Instead of having a house, we have small communities where the players have their own space and their own apartment, and they can come into work and interface there.” Bugha, meanwhile, lives and practices at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, travelling for competitions as necessary.

Esport Gaming Feature

The spectator scene at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship in Madrid Stephanie Lindgren

For Heo, living at the Fnatic apartment had its challenges—namely the language barrier. Since the team recruited members primarily from European countries, English was the language most had in common. “It was really tough because I was not able to speak English at all. I should have studied it in school more instead of playing games,” he says with a laugh. He returned to South Korea in 2017 to compete for SK Telecom T1, one of the best teams in the world, a residency that culminated in a trip to the League of Legends World Championship at Beijing National Stadium. “I was playing in front of 45,000 people. That was crazy. They were shouting my name, and the stage was shaking because there were so many people out there,” he says. “It will be hard to experience that again, honestly.” He and SK Telecom—led by Lee “Faker” Sanghyeok, aka the “Michael Jordan of esports”—finished in second place overall, falling to Samsung Galaxy, another South Korean team, in the final round. Heo now plays for Dinh’s TSM in Los Angeles and competes in the League of Legends Championship Series, a regional circuit that includes the US and Canada and where the average player salary is about $463,000. Lee’s contract at SK Telecom, meanwhile, gives him an ownership stake.

But getting started in professional esports can be an uphill battle. “A couple years ago, gaming was never something for your career. And, initially, my family didn’t really approve,” says Jake Yip, a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) athlete who goes by the tag “Stewie2k” while in-game. “I made my own decision to go pro when I turned 18 because I had the opportunity.” While his parents weren’t happy, it was Yip’s older brother who first introduced a version of Counter-Strike to him when he was about six years old. CS:GO is a more sophisticated version of the same formula: Play on a team with friends, and shoot the other team a bunch before they shoot you.

Esports Gaming Feature

Jake Yip, who goes by Stewie2k when he’s playing. Rick Lock

Yip grew up in San Francisco and was frequently at odds with his parents when it came to CS:GO. The teenager would compete in pick-up games late into the night, which caused him to oversleep the next day and skip class. On a few occasions his parents—who were often travelling overseas for work—confiscated his computer. Naturally, they refused to sign off on a team contract, which is why he had to wait until he was 18 to officially say yes to Cloud9, a Santa Monica–based team and one of the biggest names in CS:GO in North America. Even then, there were naysayers. Fans criticized Cloud9’s decision to hire him because they wanted talent with a more extensive résumé, since Yip had been playing for only about two years at the time. Today, the 23-year-old has been competing at the professional level for five years. He has collected over $1 million in prize money during that time and was the first North American player, along with his teammates, to win one of CS:GO’s major championships. It’s a lot of glory (and payout), but competing can be incredibly taxing, and there’s no such thing as work-life balance. “I have recently started experiencing burnout,” he says. “Traveling away from home for months, that can take a big toll, and you’re around your teammates so much sometimes. It’s not too healthy.”

Esports Gaming Feature

Yip filming a video at Team Liquid’s Alienware Training Facility EU in Utrecht, the Netherlands. 1UP Studios

Nobody is saying it’s an Ironman, but professional video gaming requires plenty of physical and mental stamina. “People shouldn’t think, like, if you can use a mouse and a keyboard, then you’re good to go, you can be world champion,” says William Collis, an esports professor (yes, that’s a thing) at Becker College in Worcester, Mass. “Obviously, the people who excel at these titles are really rare specimens who have just incredible combinations of desirable attributes.”

There are numbers to back up this assessment. A 2016 study at the German Sport University in Cologne found that esports athletes perform about 400 movements per minute on their mice and keyboards. Their levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, were on par with those of strapped-in racecar drivers. Athletes also have to know their stuff and be able to apply it quickly and strategically in high-stakes situations. League of Legends, for example, has more than 150 playable characters, or “champions,” all with different strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. A pro like Heo has to understand every single one inside and out so that he can defeat his opponent no matter what option they choose.

In its simplest form, then, esports are just like any other pro sport. Some of us have a natural aptitude for it, but getting good requires a lot of work, and becoming world-class is an elusive dream for all but a very few. If you do make it, there’s always someone younger and hungrier nipping at your heels, and packed tournament and practice schedules can drive even the best to retire early. Which means that the Tom Brady of esports will likely need that phenom’s competitive drive and near-monomania to weather the job’s many ups and downs. Yip, for one, wants to make a go of it. “I feel like I’m still very young and I still have a big future ahead of me,” he says. “I’m just kind of riding the wave right now.”

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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