Collecting Cars Is Irrational and Inconvenient. Here’s Why It’s Also Essential.

They’re big, heavy, and need regular attention. They’re also laden with emotion and aspiration—and help us understand our history.

By Ben Oliver 25/09/2023

There are less-convenient things to collect than cars, but not many: big cats, perhaps, or aircraft, or large-scale military machinery. Paintings can be hung on a wall and watches kept in a box, but automobiles are large, awkward beasts that require a substantial amount of climate-controlled indoor real estate. Even if you don’t drive them, cars need exercise and expensive maintenance. When the collecting bug bites, pray that it’s for something you can lift.

Yet cars are one of the most popular and visible collecting hobbies. When we reach a certain age and have the means and space to buy and store a nonessential vehicle, many of us do—even those who weren’t die-hard car enthusiasts before. The luxury-automobile broker Max Girardo once advised me to buy the cars that people about to turn 40 had posters of on their bedroom walls as teenagers, because that’s often what people start to collect as soon as they’re able. Had I listened, the V-12-engined Ferraris and Lamborghinis that would be sitting in my collection would be worth 10 times as much now, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded the inconvenience of storing and exercising them in the meantime.

The history of the great car collections is fascinating, not least because buying them in large numbers isn’t remotely rational. The largest hoard is undoubtedly that of the Sultan of Brunei and his brother Prince Jefri. It has been reported to contain over 7,000 vehicles, with media leaks suggesting that maintaining such a vast armada is beyond even the Sultan’s near bottomless pockets, many of them now in poor repair.

Decades ago, French textile barons the Schlumpf brothers amassed a collection of over 400 of the very best vintage specimens, including two of the six extant Bugatti Royales. When their business faltered in the late 1970s, the factories were occupied by workers, who were outraged to discover the full scale of the treasure. The brothers fled to Switzerland; the French state seized the collection in lieu of taxes.

In the U.K., Lord Brocket, a former polo-playing pal of King Charles III, acquired a smaller but equally well-curated cohort of around 40 vehicles, mostly Ferraris and Maseratis from the ’50s and ’60s, bought with cheap financing back when classic-car prices were spiralling. When interest rates rose and values crashed in the early ’90s, he panicked and staged a break-in at his stately home, disassembling the cars he claimed had been stolen and seeking $5.6 million from his insurers. The ruse failed, and he was sentenced to five years in jail.

Some collectors we encounter are kind enough to grant occasional access to their inventory. Ralph Lauren has displayed a small selection of his extraordinary cars to the public at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs adjoining the Louvre in Paris, and, in our October issue, you’ll find he has shared a few with us, too—a rare treat. Peter Mullin, who owns the world’s largest private collection of Bugattis, opens his private museum in Oxnard, Calif., to the public for a couple of days each week. If you haven’t already—go.

After I met the Rodeo Drive retail and real-estate mogul Bruce Meyer some years ago at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, he invited me to view his collection at his Beverly Hills home. When I arrived a few mornings later, he pointed me toward his garage and said he’d join me in there once he’d “worked out and eaten a banana.” In that garage, among many other important cars, was a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa worth around $17 million at the time and perhaps nearer $40 million now. Can you imagine an art collector giving you a private—let alone unaccompanied—audience with an important old master or French Impressionist painting of similar value?

Meyer is a car guy’s car collector, as keen to drive his madly eclectic assortment of wheels as to share them with the public. In doing so, he avoids the slight sadness of some of the other great car collections I’ve seen. Carmakers are among the most prodigious automotive hoarders of all. Many have museums displaying their best pieces, but their reserve stocks are often hidden in massive mausoleum-like warehouses, oddly quiet and still given the furious noise and kinetic energy they once created.

Mercedes has the Holy Halls, a bunch of anonymous buildings around Stuttgart that contain its entire back catalog, from the very first car to the most valuable—the 1955 Uhlenhaut Coupé, which left its warehouse home last year for a private collection in return for $143 million. (Don’t worry; Mercedes has another in the museum.) McLaren has Unit 2, a run-down-looking industrial building near its headquarters in the U.K. that houses its history of world-beating Formula 1 cars. The eeriness of both collections is compounded by the cars’ ghostly translucent shrouds and by the memory of those who once sat in them but have long since passed: presidents, popes, and racing icons such as the talismanic Ayrton Senna, killed at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 but whose name and Brazilian flag still adorn the side of many of those McLarens.

It isn’t rational, acquiring and hanging on to cars in such numbers, but it is essential. These machines need to be preserved. The automobile was one of the defining influences on the 20th century, transforming everything from the economy, geography, and our environment to sport, design, and culture, which makes these private selections of public importance. The Schlumpf stockpile was so significant that it became the French National Motor Museum. The world’s best collections will, in time, become mechanical archaeology. And unlike most other relics from the past, they can all be made to breathe and run and live again.


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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time


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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.


This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.


Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively;

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Kelly Slater’s Hawaiian Hideaway Hits the Market for $30 Million

After seven years of ownership, the legendary surfer is selling his beachfront compound on Oahu’s north shore for $20 million.
Published on April 5, 2024

By Wendy Bowman 08/04/2024

Always wanted to live like a surfing legend—specifically, a pro shredder with countless accolades under his board? Now’s your chance, because the picturesque Hawaiian spread that Kelly Slater has owned for the past several years has just popped up for sale on Oahu’s north shore, as was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The asking price is an impressive $30.3 million—or around $18.2 million more than the 11-time champ dolled out for the beachfront digs seven years ago, back in spring 2017. Acquired largely for personal reasons—he fondly remembers crashing at a nearby house with teen surfing buddies in the 1980s—Slater has long floated the place on the rental market, once for as much as $121,500 per month.

Sited amid a gated parcel spanning just over a half-acre, alongside one of the most sought-after streets in the Haleiwa area, the property was built in the early 2000s, and offers a main home and pair of guesthouses—for a total of six bedrooms and eight baths sprawled across a little more than 706 sqm of Asian- and Hawaiian-infused living space, all with access to 101 feet of secluded shoreline.

Though interior photos are scarce, previous listings show the primary dwelling is showcased by a soaring living room displaying an open-trussed ceiling, a curving hardwood staircase tucked off to the side and glass doors spilling out to a covered lanai. Other highlights include a formal dining room, media room, and kitchen outfitted with natural wood cabinetry and an expansive island. Two bedrooms include an upstairs primary suite, which boasts an ocean-view balcony, a seating nook, walk-in closet, and bath equipped with dual vanities and a soaking tub.

Outdoors, the garden-laced grounds host a boardwalk spanning a pond, along with an infinity pool and hot tub bordered by a grassy lawn; and topping it all off are the aforementioned ancillary accommodations, which consist of a three-bedroom guesthouse with its own kitchen and living area, plus a one-bedroom apartment resting atop the detached three-car garage. There’s plenty of Polynesian artwork left behind by a previous owner that’s reportedly part of the sale, too.

The 52-year-old Florida native, who told WSJ he is wrapping up what may be his final year as a pro surfer, also operates numerous business ventures ranging from a private surfing ranch to a sustainable footwear brand, and coming soon, a skin care and sunblock line.

In addition to his for-sale compound, Slater and his longtime partner Kalani Miller also maintain a primary residence he calls a “small beach shack” on Hawaii‘s Banzai Pipeline reef break, plus homes in Florida, California and Australia.

The listing is held by Paul Stukin of Deep Blue HI, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate | Southern California.

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