One-Of-A-Kind Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia

Fashion designer Iris van Herpen on her four-year project – and the resulting vehicle — with the British marque.

By Viju Mathew 08/03/2023

Hijacked by marketing departments, the word “bespoke” has become so overused and misapplied by the luxury industry that its true meaning is dangerously close to being irrevocably diluted. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, however, has been advancing the actual definition for 116 years, best evidenced by the new Phantom Syntopia, a collaboration with acclaimed fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Revealed today, the exquisite one-off is being touted as the “most technically complex bespoke model” made to date by the storied British marque.

“We have a good relationship with the designer Iris van Herpen and know what she is envisioning in the world of fashion,” says Anders Warming, Rolls-Royce’s design director, in a recent conversation with Robb Report. “We started a dialogue with her saying, ‘wouldn’t it be great to bring this client together with your vision, in our car.”

Warming described the creative experience as “three minds coming together” in what vacillated between “planned process” and “spontaneous event.” It was a balancing act to be sure. “We’re very conscious of what is a Rolls-Royce statement,” says Warming, “but, at the same time, [we] had to make sure that the dreams and aspirations of the client met with the dreams and aspirations of this incredible designer, Iris van Herpen.”

The singularity of this extended Phantom Series II is first apparent with its one-of-a-kind Liquid Noir colour scheme for the body, an opalescent-black paint treatment—with hints of purple, orange, magenta and blue—featuring a reflective-pigment application. That customisation element alone took a reported 3,000 hours to perfect.

Fashion designer Iris van Herpen stands next to the Phantom Syntopia, her collaboration with Rolls-Royce.
Fashion designer Iris van Herpen stands next to the Phantom Syntopia, her collaboration with Rolls-Royce.

Yet the spectacle of the exterior tailoring is only the warmup act for the headliner inside—the actual headliner. “You have this impression of weaving water when you look up,” says Warming. “You’re basically watching a progression of shape; it’s the first time we’re bringing a true three-dimensional sculpture, in this case out of leather, to the Starlight Headliner.” To complement this, the hood of the car carries its own representation of the same stylistic element.

The front portion of the one-off Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia.
The exterior’s Liquid Noir colour scheme alone took a reported 3,000 hours to perfect.

Within the cabin, the overhead installation is made from one piece of leather that is claimed to have been chosen out of more than 1,000 hides. The dimensionality is enhanced by numerous and carefully located slices revealing the nylon fabric that’s hand-stitched behind the hide. The headliner is also accented with 162 glass-organza petals. Each petal is paired with a fiber-optic light from among the total of 995 luminaries that comprise the heavenly effect. The elaborate ornamentation took approximately 300 hours to complete by hand, and was done by van Herpen’s own artisans after they had temporarily relocated to the automaker’s headquarters in Goodwood.

The same labour-intensive embellishments are found in the Gallery installation on the dash, which includes an 85-petal arrangement, while the rear-passenger tables and select surfaces of the cabin impress with glass-particle-laced lacquer.

The one-of-a-kind Starlight Headliner in the Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia, which was done in collaboration with fashion designer Iris van Herpen.
The most elaborate and labour-intensive Starlight Headliner from Rolls-Royce, it comprises one piece of leather backed by hand-stitched nylon fabric and accented with 162 glass-organza petals.

“For this special collaboration, I was inspired by the concept of ‘Weaving Water’ and transformed the sense of being in movement into an immersive experience of fluidity inside the Phantom,” stated van Herpen in the official announcement. “The powerful movement of the Phantom is woven into the shifting three-dimensional waves inside the car to embody the ingenuity of nature.” The automotive artistry was born from van Herpen’s Syntopia fashion line from 2018, one that was heavily influenced by design elements of the outdoor environment.

The interior tells a carefully curated tactile story as well. “We see the use of textile as a fashion statement,” Warming says regarding Rolls-Royce’s increased use of fabric. “You don’t need to omit leather, but you can use leather as a contrast to textile.” Exemplifying this, the Syntopia’s front seats are dressed in hides coloured Magic Grey, while those in the back are draped in a custom silk blend intended to visually dance like the reflection of the moon on a sea or lake.

The rear-passenger section of the Phantom Syntopia.
The textured rear seats wear a custom silk blend that adds to the cabin’s incandescence.

Adding to the Syntopia’s inner allure is a feature never before incorporated in a vehicle bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy, and that’s a designated scent developed for the car. The fragrance—ever-so-subtly diffused through the headrests—is evocative of cedarwood with hints of leather, rose, lemon and, fittingly, the Iris flower.

The dashboard of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia.
The Syntopia’s front-passenger-side Gallery boasts a similar “Weaving Water” presentation as the car’s Starlight Headliner.

To complement the avant-garde vehicle, Iris van Herpen is designing a dress for the stateside owner that will be imbued with the same “Weaving Water” stylistic approach taken with the sartorial sedan. While the garment is projected to take six months to complete, delivery of the Phantom Syntopia will occur in May.

A preliminary drawing of fashion designer Iris van Herpen's bespoke dress for the Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia's commissioning client.
A preliminary drawing of Iris van Herpen’s bespoke dress for the Syntopia’s commissioning client.

According to Martin Fritsches, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas, the Phantom Syntopia is not just a benchmark but a bellwether of the marque’s expanding client demographic. Fritsches tells Robb Report; “More than ever, we’re attracting a new customer base, a younger customer base, and they are also more creative and have a clear understanding of ultra-luxury. Because of that, they’re extremely demanding, which, in a healthy way, is putting pressure on us to come up with more creativity, which will ultimately create more value.” As for the Phantom Syntopia’s value, a seven-figure price is rumored to be what the car wears quite well.

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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.

Rolex
Rolex

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.

Rolex
Rolex

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; silversea.com

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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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