How Millennials Learned To Love Old-Money Aesthetics

Younger generations are giving the penny-loafered, chintz-upholstered old-money vibe a 21st-century reboot.

By Kareem Rashed 29/08/2022

On any given midsummer Saturday night, New York’s Upper East Side is a social wasteland. The neighbourhood’s wealthy habitués flee the city for breezier country homes, leaving their tony stomping ground deserted. Aside from the hum of taxis passing by and the random Pomeranian bark, the streets are all but silent. On a recent July evening, however, rumblings can be heard from a crowd lingering in front of the stately Carlyle hotel. Inside, an earpiece-wearing security guard politely organizes a line snaking through the lobby—a scene more often found outside clubs below 14th Street. They aren’t waiting to hear some mononymous DJ or even to dance; they’re just hoping to snag a table at Bemelmans Bar—the circa 1947 boîte known for piano standards and stiff martinis.

Named after Ludwig Bemelmans, the Madeline author whose whimsical murals adorn the 672-square-foot canteen, the bar is a vestige of Old New York seemingly frozen in time. Waiters in white dinner jackets and bow ties ferry silver bowls of potato chips to every table while a jazz trio plays tunes from the Great American Songbook, just as they have for 75 years. Bemelmans’s consistently gracious service and genteel environs have made it a favourite neighbourhood watering hole for generations of Upper East Siders, from Jackie O and Brooke Astor to the average Park Avenue prince.

The line of this Sunday night, however, isn’t composed of locals roughing it in town for the weekend, though some of them can be found among the bar’s candlelit banquettes. Along with the expected patrons in their Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery and Tom Ford suits, there are Gen Z women taking selfies, a man-bun-sporting dude slipping the pianist a twenty and a hipster carrying a Machado de Assis paperback. They’re all part of a new demographic, coming from downtown, Brooklyn and beyond, that defines such throwback civility as an ideal night out.

Since Bemelmans reopened post-lockdown, there has been a surge of younger clients coming for a taste of bygone Manhattan (and the highly Instagrammable setting). “We never had lines prior to the pandemic,” says Tony Mosca, the Carlyle’s food and beverage director. “Now there are lines out to Madison Avenue on a nightly basis.” The crowds start arriving as early as 3 pm and keep going strong until last call.

“People are able to connect with each other a lot more in this environment than, say, a nightclub,” Mosca observes of the bar’s popularity after months of social distancing. And while Bemelmans has emerged as the city’s hottest new (old) spot, similar influxes have been reported at the St. Regis’s King Cole Bar and the Plaza’s Palm Court, two other haunts of the Social Register set.

Despite the threat of recession and all the talk of inflation’s havoc, wealth—or at least the look of it—is on the rise. And not just any kind of wealth: blue-blooded, Ivy-educated, Newport-summering affluence. Sneakers are being swapped for penny loafers, modernist interiors are being swaddled in chintz and chinoiserie, Hamptons vets are decamping to Palm Beach. All the traditional trappings of WASP-dom, a sensibility that has been upheld by generations of the one percent of the one percent, are striking a chord with many who don’t know Andover from Exeter and couldn’t care less. It’s about the image of affluence, not the cultural baggage.

The Gen Z influencers of TikTok have dubbed it #oldmoneyaesthetic, a term that began trending last spring and that, together with the hashtag #oldmoney, has garnered over 1.8 billion views as of writing. These digital arbiters have devoted countless videos to the topic—primarily stock-photo montages of boiserie-clad châteaux, manicured tennis lawns, models in crisp white shirts and so on—celebrating it as the ultimate lifestyle goal. Often, this world is contrasted with what has been deemed “California rich”: a version of affluence quickly amassed and oft associated with Hollywood glamour. “Why be California rich,” @eileen_darling asks, “when you could be Connecticut rich?”

This strain of discreet wealth has never really been out of fashion—it’s not like Ralph Lauren was ever hurting—but since the pandemic, it has entered the zeitgeist anew. As the adage goes, everything comes back around eventually. So if you’d written yourself off as a fuddy-duddy, we have good news: Your time is now.

The concept of “old money” has been around far longer than polo matches and prep schools, but the phrase really entered the conversation during the late 19th century. The industrial revolution saw merchants and tradesmen attain wealth with unprecedented speed, amassing fortunes to rival those that had been built, and handed down, over generations. Particularly in America, the Puritan tastes of prominent Mayflower descendants were starkly contrasted by the baroque excesses of arrivistes—a conflict central to HBO’s The Gilded Age, which, uncoincidentally, has brought this cosseted class war to prime time.

Old Money Illustration for Robb Report Golf

Illustration of golf-course style Illustration by Marcos Montiel

In Mrs. Astor’s day, the line between old and new money was as clear as an Edison bulb. Now, however, things are considerably murkier. The Gilded Age’s gatecrashers—Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans—are today’s gatekeepers, not to mention that cryptocurrency can make even tech fortunes look quaint. (The very concept of this article, it should be noted, is decidedly not old money. Such wealth is a bit like Fight Club—the first rule is you don’t talk about it.)

“Those times are gone,” says Nick Mele, a Palm Beach–based photographer and lifelong Newport summer-er who documents the modern beau monde in the tradition of Slim Aarons. “When we talk about old money, we’re not talking about where your money comes from or how old it actually is. We’re talking about a mindset.” Where you went to school or what clubs you belong to may still have cachet, but they’re not the price of entry. “We’re in a meritocracy for the most part,” he continues. “It’s about an appreciation for traditional values.”

That phrase may often be thrown out as a dog whistle by conservative politicians, but when it comes to this new embrace of old aesthetics, it’s used in a literal sense. “Old money” now has less to do with the origins of one’s bank account and more to do with what its contents are spent on. There are countless TikToks devoted specifically to this concept; many are apt (Brunello Cucinelli, Hermès, horses) while some have a questionable definition of what constitutes sophistication (Banana Republic, reading, continental breakfasts).

“Some people think it’s just about one thing: the money or the brands or the look,” says DW, a self-described European teen behind @oldmoneyaddicted who declined to provide his name, exact age or geographic location. He claims to have been born into a family with a long, well-documented history, which inspired him to share his insights on old money with his 68,900 TikTok followers. “It’s a lot more: your education, how you behave, how you may go unnoticed with a Patek Philippe on your wrist… Being a gentleman has meaning.” At least as far as style goes, the internet’s general consensus is: Old money is unaffected understatement.

Edith Wharton, who could be considered the Robin Leach of her day, spells out this idea in 1897’s The Decoration of Houses, a kind of Victorian equivalent of “how to get the look” TikToks. Written as a riposte to “the vulgarity of current decoration” employed by parvenus, the book traces interiors of the wealthy back to the Renaissance making a case that good taste is about certain timeless principles: proportion, practicality, quality.

“The simplest and most cheaply furnished room (provided the furniture be good of its kind, and the walls and carpet unobjectionable in color),” she writes, “will be more pleasing to the fastidious eye than one in which gilded consoles and cabinets of buhl stand side by side with cheap machine-made furniture, and delicate old marquetry tables are covered with trashy china ornaments.”

Mimi McMakin, an interior designer and fourth-generation Palm Beach native, sums up the look as “clean, very simple and looks good with a tan.” McMakin, who along with her daughter Celerie Kemble, recently renovated the Colony Hotel—a much Instagrammed rhapsody of wicker, de Gournay palms and flamingo pink that has become the Floridian answer to Bemelmans—seconds Wharton in that old-money decor isn’t so much a specific style as it is an ideology.

“Most important of all is comfort,” she says. Rattling off a list of quintessential elements—tailored slipcovers, Portuguese floor tiles, lacquered coffee tables—she stops herself mid-sentence. “Did I mention down? Down! Down! We are known for the sound when you sit in one of our pieces: oomph. That’s luxury.” Face it: A plush armchair will always be more inviting than some mid-mod design in plywood and polycarbonate.

Which brings us back to the aesthetic’s governing principle: Wealth whispers. In fashion, this rule translates to relatively simple designs—oxford-cloth button-downs, blue blazers, Shetland-wool sweaters—that, more or less, have remained unchanged since they first turned up on Ivy League greens a century ago. “It’s always going to be classic,” says Zachary Weiss, a 30-year-old branding consultant and bon vivant whose 38,100 Instagram followers tune in to see his patchwork madras and “go to hell” pants living the good life from Antibes to Aspen. “You’re not going to look back at a photo and regret putting on this outfit,” he continues, describing the style’s enduring appeal. “There’s this idea of quiet luxury that is emerging with a younger set.”

Even fashion’s cool kids have taken to tinkering with the staid codes of preppy style. For spring 2022, Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu collection went viral with low-slung chinos, pleated skirts and cable knits slashed to dangerously short lengths. For fall, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele riffed on tweedy balmacaans and sweater-vests, while Celine’s Hedi Slimane gave polo coats and Fair Isle sweaters a dose of punk-rock irreverence. Thom Browne, fashion’s most dedicated preppy, took subversion to the extreme in his most recent collection, with boys in repp ties, grosgrain jockstraps and ladies-who-lunch bouclé skirt suits—a look that one imagines wouldn’t fly at any country club, except maybe one on Fire Island.

“We’re seeing a resurgence of what I would call neo-preppy,” says Justin Berkowitz, menswear director at Bloomingdale’s. “It’s not the classic you would have read about in The Preppy Handbook.” He points to designers Mike Amiri and Rhude’s Rhuigi Villaseñor, who are cross-pollinating canonical designs such as rugby shirts and varsity jackets with the swagger of streetwear. While preppy style makes a comeback almost every 10 years, Berkowitz notes that “what’s more interesting about this iteration is that we’re seeing a more diverse ideology incorporated into [the classics].”

As a result, people who once dismissed Ivy style as a white-bread uniform for upper-crust bores are reappraising it. Against all odds, old-school might actually be cool. One of New York nightlife’s buzziest recent openings was the Nines, a downtown approximation of Bemelmans (complete with baby grand and martini sidecars) that replaced a former see-and-be-seen spot frequented by the fashion pack. Even if the gilt ceiling is wallpaper and the red-velvet upholstery skews bordello, the Nines has proven that scenesters can get into Cole Porter. Paradoxically, Weiss says this shift has been most apparent at nightclubs of the disco-ball and DJ variety. “An ‘old money’ look will get you in much faster than, you know, a bunch of Balenciaga,” he says of the most discriminating door policies. “At one point in my life, if I showed up in my normal look, they would be like, ‘No way, nerd.’ Now, it works.”

Old Money Illustration for Robb Report Lounge

Casual style illustration Illustration by Marcos Montiel

Lockdown’s closures and social distancing provided prime conditions for old money’s preferred hobbies to find a new audience. Research firm NPD found that last year’s sales of golf-club sets in the US—a good indicator of new players taking up the sport—increased 37 percent year-over-year, and a study of golfers with an average age of 30 showed that the number of rounds played by younger people reached a record high. Similar upticks have been reported in tennis and in sailing, which for the only year in over a decade saw an increase in first-time boat buyers.

Accordingly, the popularity of yacht and country clubs has boomed. The National Club Association, a lobbying group representing 420 private clubs, including such pedigreed institutions as the Everglades and Winged Foot, has found that the number operating at full membership more than doubled since the pandemic’s onset. In moneyed locales across the country, there are tales of couples who, two years ago, would’ve been a shoo-in at any club but now have been wait-listed everywhere. Although the NCA doesn’t track the age of club members, the group’s president, Joe Trauger, reports that at his own Washington, D.C., club, “demographics have definitely been getting younger, and that’s something we’re seeing emerges as a trend in quite a few places.”

The life of leisure speaks to many who took the pandemic as an opportunity to reconsider their relationship with the office. As Weiss observes, “these clothes, this imagery show that you live beyond the workplace.” The Great Resignation’s mass exodus from conventional careers—a recent McKinsey survey estimates that 40 percent of workers are considering quitting their jobs—makes conspicuous enjoyment of the finer things, or what the kids call self-care, less taboo. Hustle culture has given way to pleasure culture.

A similar reassessment happened at home. Lockdown life made people realize they want their interiors to be a sanctuary, but not one so monastic that they can’t actually live in it. “If you have an all-white room, you cannot put a picture of your dog out. Heaven forbid that there’s a magazine or book on a table,” says Bunny Williams, a Sister Parish protégé revered for translating “traditional” to today. Unlike the Scandi-minimalist style that has dominated popular design in recent years, old-money decor accommodates life’s messiness.

“People think that it’s stuffy,” says Miles Redd, a designer who marries WASP-ish taste with a punchy colour sense that would make Wharton blush. “It is all comfort- and practicality-driven: Persian rugs hold up and don’t show dirt, as does chintz; canopied beds keep out a draft and are cozy to sleep in.”

Such pragmatism is a side effect of generational wealth’s dirty little secret: “The WASP world, it was old money,” Williams reflects. “But, a lot of the time, that money didn’t last.” Houses and furniture were often inherited; the spare funds to redecorate, however, were not. So Granny’s sofa got a slipcover instead of being replaced, the old oak floors were painted rather than refinished—layers were added, but nothing got tossed.

Old money’s thriftiness makes the style surprisingly democratic and, particularly for a generation that has inherited only a planet in decline, sustainable. Williams says that antiques dealers she knows have had their best year ever, noting that younger people are now a fixture when she goes antiquing in Connecticut or Atlanta. Redd, too, reports that his younger clients are getting into serious collecting, buying at auction or at MasterpieceTEFAF and other fairs. “The bottom line is: Things made in the 18th century have craftsmanship you don’t see today,” he says. “And, if you are clever, you can get it for a lot less than something new.”

“In Newport, a beat-up old beach car is appreciated more than a shiny new Porsche or Range Rover,” says Mele, the photographer. To him, the difference between old and new money is embracing cracks in the walls and chips in the china. “There has been a real trend for everything to appear perfect, especially with Instagram. Everybody wants to put forth this idea that their lives are pristine and there isn’t a pillow out of place. That really wasn’t the old-money aesthetic.”

Richard Thompson Ford, a Stanford University law professor and author of Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History, suspects that this embrace of the old school is partly a reaction to the fast fashion and influencers that have proliferated online.

“On the one hand, there’s snobbery involved,” he says of the patrician concept of a “proper” way of appearing. “On the other hand, there’s arguably a critique of the crass overconsumption that we might associate with the Kardashians—that is maybe not so bad.”

Casual was the status quo even before the pandemic, but, especially after the forced sweats-and-sofa routine, formality has novelty. “Menswear was dominated by streetwear for the past, say, 10 years; we’re starting to see that idea change,” says Berkowitz of Bloomingdale’s, noting that customers are increasingly spending more on polish, figuratively and literally. “We’ve seen a huge resurgence of dress shoes… loafers are becoming cool.” Even among hoodie devotees, there’s an urge to get spiffed up and go out on the town.

“There are so many places in New York where you can eat, but there are very few where you can actually dine,” says Angie Mar, chef and owner of Les Trois Chevaux, an intimate West Village restaurant that tips its toque to Lutèce, Le Cirque and others of that ilk, places celebrated as much for their well-heeled clientele as for their haute cuisine. Though Mar rose to fame with burgers and chops at the Beatrice Inn, when it came time to reopen post-lockdown, she decided to change tack and “bring a bit of glamour back to the city.”

Despite its quintessentially downtown location, Les Trois Chevaux is distinctly uptown in spirit. A chandelier salvaged from the old Waldorf Astoria, a discreet Picasso lithograph and arrangements by one of Anna Wintour’s preferred florists set the stage for prix fixe menus, starting at around $380, showcasing frog’s legs mousseline and hen-and-lobster ballotine—the kind of exceptionally complex French cooking that even French chefs have mostly ditched for more egalitarian fare.

Similarly, the Grill, occupying the old Four Seasons space at the Seagram Building, has brought back such midcentury indulgences as prime rib carved tableside, lobster Newberg and baked Alaska. In Los Angeles, Horses has reinvigorated a nearly century-old Sunset Boulevard staple with the clubby, put-it-on-my-tab ethos of socialite favourites Swifty’s and 21. At a recent meal there, a server described one diner’s fish as “a 1980s country club revived.”

It’s not just the food that’s gussying up: Les Trois Chevaux is one of numerous restaurants nationwide that have reinstated dress codes. Where jacket requirements could be perceived as an effort to keep the riff-raff out, Mar sees it as a way of reminding diners that a great meal isn’t just about eating. “It’s an experience,” she says. “Dining should not be any different than going to the opera.”

In interviews for this story, manners repeatedly came up as the utmost defining feature of old money. While politesse is certainly an admirable quality—and, yes, it would be nice if everyone still dressed for the opera—who decides what is impolite? Mele recounts a memory of his grandmother, Newport grande dame Oatsie Charles, at dinner one evening, lecturing his brother on the importance of manners while snatching food from his plate and eating it with her hands: “My brother looks at her and says, ‘Granny, what the hell?’ and she goes, ‘Not table manners!’” The rules aren’t so straightforward.

Old Money Illustration for Robb Report Food

An illustrated dish Illustration by Marcos Montiel

Jason Jules, co-author of Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style, which traces the evolution of preppy style among Black Americans, observes: “We all use these words like ‘elegant,’ ‘sophisticated’… In the wrong hands, those words are used to judge us, classify us and divide us.” Given that this world has, historically, been the purview of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, it’s a slippery slope from the “right” shoes or shirt to, as Jules says, “you need to have straight hair, to have perfect teeth, to have light skin, to be beach blond.”

“The old-money aesthetic occupies a powerful, symbolic place in American culture,” Ford says of the tendency to romanticize the look. “There’s a nostalgia for a more innocent past…[to] imagine what it would be like to live as a privileged person at a period of time when America’s influence and moral authority were unquestioned—that’s not right now.” Of course, that idealistic picture was just a veneer even then. Today, in light of social-justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, it can be hard to reconcile the resurgence of old-money aesthetics with the moment in which we’re living. It’s especially surprising that Gen Z—the most politically correct generation yet—is so enthusiastically teeing up for croquet.

While one suspects that very few (if any) #oldmoney TikToks are created as conscious political commentary, there’s an implicit statement in virtually storming this rarefied club. That the club has, historically, been open exclusively to straight white conservative elites isn’t a deterrent—adapters aren’t trying to emulate the Mayflower Society, just taking their look and running with it. “We all know it’s the language of the establishment,” says Jules. “But we all want to be able to access that on our own terms.”

In some respects, this return to the traditional can feel like a product of “woke” fatigue. It’s not that old-money aesthetics fly in the face of political correctness; it’s rather that we’re all too tired—from the pandemic, from politics, from the pressure not to offend—to get hung up on whether tennis sweaters or delftware are problematic. Woke culture can, in its own way, be as restrictive as Emily Post. “I’m speaking as a Democratic, Asian American woman, single business owner who has no backing, and I’m into this,” Mar says of her decidedly expensive taste. “Why feel guilty about it?”

People just want to enjoy the pleasures that old money affords, and who can fault them? There’s a reason why this look has stuck around for so long: It’s pretty objectively nice. “Maybe it’s just fun to raid Granny’s wardrobe,” says Jules, dismissing concerns about the politics of it all. Regardless of race or class, he says, “there is only one right way to eat an oyster.” Mrs. Astor surely would agree.

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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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