9 famous collectible aeroplanes you should have bid on at auction

Each of these iconic aircraft went on the auction block, and some sold for what we now know is a bargain price.

By M.d. Seaton 08/11/2018

Whether it’s a car, home, jewellery, or piece of art, if an item going to auction has some kind of celebrity cachet, chances are good that it will garner additional attention—and perhaps draw higher bids. Consider, for example, the 1962 Lockheed JetStar that Elvis Presley owned briefly in the mid-1970s. After the King sold the aircraft in 1977, it sat on a runway in New Mexico for more than 35 years, collecting dust and rust. Nevertheless, when the plane went to auction in 2017, it sold for US$430,000.

Even though the price was well below the US$2 million presale estimate, it was still a lot to pay for an aircraft that couldn’t fly and needed a complete interior and exterior restoration. And, in fact, it was too much to pay. It seems the new owner experienced buyer’s remorse, because the JetStar went back on the block this past summer. There’s no word from the auction company, IronPlanet, on whether the seller made back his money.

The JetStar is not the only Elvis plane to go to auction, and it’s not the only one with a celebrity or pop-culture connection that helped it fetch plenty of notice, though not necessarily the owner’s asking price. The following aircraft became famous because of a role they played in a movie, on TV, or in real life, and at one time or another, each was available to the highest bidder.


Elvis Presley’s Lisa Marie plane at Graceland
Photo: DreamArt123/Shutterstock

Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II

– On the block in 2015
– Sold together for a reported US$15 million

Elvis fans breathed a sigh of relief in 2015 following the sale of his two jets—Hound Dog II and the Convair 880 that Presley named Lisa Marie after his daughter—because the new owner reached a “permanent” agreement to keep the aircraft at Graceland in Memphis, where they have been loved tender since 1984.

Elvis purchased the plane that would eventually bear the name Lisa Marie—a Convair 880 narrow-body airliner—from Delta Airlines in 1975 for US$250,000. He spent another US$350,000 refurbishing it. The custom interior includes a queen-sized bed, a bathroom with gold faucets and a gold washbasin, a videotape system linked to four televisions, a stereo system with 50 speakers, and a conference room. The tail section of the plane is emblazoned with the initials TCB—taking care of business. The plane last carried passengers in 1977, when it flew Priscilla Presley and George Hamilton, a good friend of Elvis, from California to his funeral at Graceland.

Like the plane in New Mexico that once belonged to Elvis, Hound Dog II is a Lockheed JetStar. Elvis bought it for about US$900,000 in 1975 while waiting for the refurbishment of Lisa Marie to be completed.


WWII British Spitfire
Photo: John M. Dibbs

World War II British Spitfire

– On the block in 2014
– Sold for an undisclosed price

The unrestored Mark IX Spitfire was one of eight World War II fighter planes that appeared in the 1969 film Battle of Britain. They belonged to Wilson Connell “Connie” Edwards, a pilot who later made his fortune in the oil, ranching, and stone businesses. Not a man afraid of old-fashioned bartering, he coordinated the movie’s flying stunts and took the aeroplanes as payment. Before selling them, Edwards kept the aircraft in a hangar on his private airfield in Texas for more than 40 years. The Spitfire in question, which an unidentified British collector acquired for an undisclosed price, is particularly notable because it flew in the actual Battle of Britain.

Edwards had intended to give the aircraft to his son, but the younger man was killed in a traffic accident. The total asking price for the eight aircraft was a firm US$15 million, and according to Platinum Fighters, the company that handled the sale, Edwards received more than that sum.

In 2015, one year after that sale, a restored World War II Spitfire that had been shot down over northern France in 1940 and discovered in the sands of Calais 40 years later sold at a Christie’s auction in London for US$4.8 million—the most ever for an aircraft at auction. The presale estimate was only US$3 million. The proceeds from the sale were donated to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the wildlife charity Panthera.


Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade biplane
Photo: Prop Store

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Biplane

– On the block in 2017
– Unsold

This third installment of the Indiana Jones franchise was apparently more popular with moviegoers than the film’s Stampe et Vertongen SV.4 biplane was with collectors. The 1989 film became the first to sell US$10 million worth of tickets in a single day; the auction company that conducted the sale of the plane last year, Prop Store Entertainment Memorabilia, expected to draw bids of US$27,000 to US$40,000, but the aircraft went unsold, indicating that the bottom end of the estimate range wasn’t reached.

The biplane was offered while sporting Royal Air Force markings rather than the Luftwaffe livery it displayed in the Last Crusade. This is because it was wearing makeup from its last film role (in what was also perhaps Brendan Fraser’s last good film), 1999’s The Mummy. Perhaps the mummy’s curse afflicted the biplane as well as Fraser’s film prospects.

In the Last Crusade sequence featuring the biplane, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are aboard, trying to elude their Luftwaffe pursuers. Connery, as Indiana’s father, Henry Jones Sr., inadvertently shoots bullets from a machine gun through the aeroplane’s tail section and then tells Indiana, “Son, I’m sorry. They got us.” The prop for the bullet-ridden tail section was offered as a separate lot.


Out of Africa biplane
Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams

Out of Africa Biplane

– On the block 2013
– Sold for 201,250 euro (about US$280,000 at the time)

The airworthy 1929 De Havilland Gipsy Moth biplane flown by Robert Redford’s character in the seven-time Oscar winner from 1985 was expected to sell for only about 103,000 euro. Instead, the price rose to nearly double that mark before the hammer dropped at the 2013 Bonhams auction. The price, the equivalent of about US$280,000 at the time, was the most ever paid for a Gipsy Moth. The winning bid came from a buyer in Kenya, where the movie was set.

The plane is featured in a four-minute-long romantic scene in which Redford is the pilot and his passenger is Meryl Streep, who, of course, was nominated for a best-actress Oscar. They fly over the Kenyan savannah, holding hands. Alas, later in the film, Redford’s character is killed when (spoiler alert) he crashes the plane en route to be with Streep’s character.

The plane, painted bright yellow, was in superb condition when it was sold and came with a permit to fly.


Fantasy Island plane
Photo: Branson Auction

Fantasy Island Plane

– On the block in 2016
– Sold for US$275,000

The 1967 Grumman Widgeon, whose arrival at the start of each episode of Fantasy Island was heralded by Tattoo shouting, “De Plane! De Plane!” fell on hard times after (spoiler alert) the show concluded its eight-year run in 1984. According to various reports, the aircraft passed through the hands of a series of owners after Fantasy Island went off the air. It crashed in a swamp on at least one occasion and was involved in a gear-collapse accident. At least twice it was confiscated by drug-enforcement authorities (it was, after all, the ’80s) and sold at auction. However, it was refurbished in the late 1990s and presented on the air-show circuit throughout the Midwest.

The aircraft is not an authentic Grumman Widgeon. It’s a Société Construction Aéro-Navale Type 30, a license-built copy of a Grumman Widgeon. It was built in Rochelle, France, in 1951, eventually disassembled, and stored until 1967, when it was imported to the United States and reassembled with new engines.

Nearly all of the footage of the plane used throughout the series was shot in a single day. When the guests arrived at the island at the start of each episode, they climbed out of a plywood mock-up of the back of the plane.


Roger Moore in Octopussy
Photo: Danjaq/EON/UA/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Octopussy Microjet

– On the block in 2014
– Sold for US$275,000

Before the Bede BD-5J starred in the opening sequence of the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy, in which Agent 007 uses it to evade the bad guys and a heat-seeking missile, the aircraft had already made a claim to fame. At only 163kg, it was listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s lightest single-engine jet.

A propeller version of the aircraft was developed in the late 1960s by the Bede Aircraft Corporation and sold in the early 1970s as a kit plane before the company went bankrupt in the mid-1970s. The jet-powered version, the BD-5J, which was also known as the Acrostar, could achieve 480km/h. Two examples of the aircraft were flown in air shows throughout the 1980s by Coors Light—which called the planes, naturally, Silver Bullets—and another appeared in Bud Light commercials. The aircraft have been involved in several fatal crashes, including one in 2013 involving a BD-5J that was part of Red Bull’s Flying Bulls racing team.

In addition to its role in Octopussy, the BD-5J made a cameo in the later Bond film Die Another Day, in which it is seen hanging on the wall of Q’s workshop.


“The Miracle on the Hudson”
Photo: Justin Lane/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Miracle on the Hudson Airbus A320

– On the block in 2010
– Sold for an undisclosed price

The Airbus A320 that Tom Hanks (or, should we say, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger) successfully ditched into the Hudson River in 2009 went to auction in 2010 with the expectation that it would be sold for scrap metal. A similarly scrapped Airbus 310 had recently sold for US$2.6 million and reportedly earned its new owners US$4 million when they broke it up and sold it for parts.

The engines on U.S. Airways flight 1549 lost power following a bird strike, and by landing the plane on the river, Sully managed to save all 155 passengers and the crew. The airliner eventually was hoisted out of the river and onto a barge. Its wings and tail were cut off so that the fuselage could be hauled on a flatbed truck to a warehouse in New Jersey, where National Transportation Safety Board inspectors spent nearly two years trying to figure out what went wrong and whether Sully did the right thing by landing in the Hudson.

At the auction, instead of a salvage company placing the winning bid, the plane was acquired by the Carolinas Aviation Museum for what is reported to have been a bargain price. The museum had the plane transported to its home in Charlotte, North Carolina, the destination of Flight 1549 on the day of its splash landing. It reattached the wings and tail, restored the interior, and now has the aircraft on permanent display. According to the museum, the number of daily visitors more than doubled in the autumn of 2016, after Sully, the film re-creating the splash landing, was released.


President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower exit “Air Force One” in 1953
Photo: US Air Force

The First Air Force One

– On the block in 1970
– Sold for US$35,000 with four other Lockhead VC-121 aircraft

The Lockheed VC-121 that was known as Columbine II, Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential plane and the first to be designated Air Force One, has now been completely restored, but at one time it was on the verge of becoming a crop duster or scrap metal.

The Air Force One call sign was established in 1953 following an incident in which an Eastern Airlines commercial airliner accidentally entered the same air space as Columbine II. The airliner was flight 8610, and the president’s plane was flying under the call sign Air Force 8610.

The aircraft, serial number 48-610, was retired in 1968 and sent to storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Two years later, it was part of a US$35,000 five-aircraft auction sale to Mel Christler, a Wyoming businessman who bought the VC-121A planes from the Air Force with the intention of converting them into crop dusters. He didn’t know that one of those planes was the original Air Force One.

Christler converted the other four VC-121 aircraft, but not Columbine II. Its landing gear was faulty because it had been replaced with parts from a different plane model. The owner therefore decided to instead use the plane to supply the other four with spare parts. In 1980, he was on the verge of cutting up the aircraft and selling it as scrap when the Smithsonian Institution—like the deus ex machina in a schlocky movie—contacted him in time and informed him of serial number 48-610’s true identity.

The plane’s current owner acquired it in 2015 and began a full restoration in 2016.

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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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