Rock Island

This tiny Caribbean island was beloved by ’80s musicians. Now it’s ready for a comeback.

By Mark Ellwood 15/12/2023

Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder and Elton John all flocked to idyllic Montserrat to relax and record albums.

The Caribbean island of Montserrat was a jet set getaway in the 1980s after music producer (and so-called “fifth Beatle”) Sir George Martin opened a recording studio there, AIR. The appeal of working with his team—and spending a few weeks or even months recording in a tropical paradise, too—was so compelling that the world’s most famous rockstars flocked there: Mick Jagger, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney all laid down tracks in Montserrat. The party ended abruptly when twin disasters struck the island, catastrophes from which it’s only just starting to recover. More than 25 years later, though, Montserrat is ready for a comeback.

Ebony and Ivory, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder Tug of War (1982)

When one of the Beatles arrived on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in 1981, he was mindful of security. Obviously—he was a Beatle. “Paul McCartney had bodyguards with cutlasses,” recalls local Cecil Wade, who now works as a guide and driver. “But he ended up giving them the money to go off somewhere else and just said, ‘Go ahead, enjoy yourselves.’ ” McCartney himself clearly planned to do much the same, installing his young family in a villa for several months while he worked; old pal Ringo Starr dropped in, making cameos in the home movies McCartney’s entourage shot then. His family, including daughter Stella, barely 10 then, frolic by the pool playing ping-pong, lark around on the balcony that overhangs it, and sit on the top of a cliff amid lush greenery.

The current owner of that villa, Providence Estate House, proudly points to one corner of the living room, which he has painstakingly renovated. Tony Glaser, an expat Briton who used to teach at the local university, notes there was once a piano where the bookcase sits. He indicates a framed colour photograph hanging on a nearby wall: McCartney and Stevie Wonder at that keyboard on the momentous visit when they recorded Ebony and Ivory.

McCartney came to Montserrat at the invitation of George Martin, the aristocratic, low-key producer nicknamed the Fifth Beatle. Martin had chanced upon the island in the late 1970s, when he was casting around for somewhere balmy to build another site for his studios, AIR. “George saw life in segments,” recalls David Lea, an expat American who knew the producer well and has lived here for decades. “First there was Abbey Road and the Beatles. Then AIR. Paul only came because of him.”

Give Me the Reason, Luther Vandross Give Me the Reason (1986)

McCartney wasn’t the only one. Name a chart-topping act, or an album, from the 1980s, and AIR Studios Montserrat will likely be part of the story: Elton John, Duran Duran, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, Eurythmics, Boy George and Sting all spent extended periods here. Martin, who died in 2016 at the age of 90, opened his state-of-the-art AIR Montserrat in 1979. He also bought a nearby home, Olveston House; it’s now run as a B&B and restaurant. For the studio, Martin converted an old water-storage facility on a hill into a place that the world’s premier rock stars would crave to come. It was named AIR, so the story went, as the recording room was built on ball bearings so it would float even when the supposedly dormant volcano that dominated Montserrat’s skyline would rumble, but, in fact, it’s an acronym for Associated Independent Recording. 

There were guest rooms on-site where artists could stay, and a pool, too. Notoriously, many would use the roof as a diving platform, jumping off the top of the building into the deep end. “The real reason their albums turned out so good was that the studio had a pool,” recalls Danny Sweeney, a charmingly roguish surfing instructor who taught many musicians how to catch a wave. “It was a working vacation.”

The good times were not to last, as the rockstar playground of Montserrat was destroyed—not by fire and brimstone, but first by drenching rains, then by molten lava. Now, a quarter century after those twin catastrophes, the Caribbean island is making a comeback. This time, there’s no impresario to lure music’s biggest talents to the mountainous Eden, but the country is leaning into its singular place in rock history—as well as its own indigenous rocks and other natural beauty—to draw paradise seekers.

Walk of Life, Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985)

Today, Sweeney is rangy and flirtatious as he sits on the veranda of Olveston House. It’s easy, then, as he recounts a party almost 40 years ago, to picture him strutting around a dance floor for an entire evening, grabbing musicians’ wives and girlfriends to twirl until the early hours. He was always game to dance, but that particular night, he says, he never left the floor and was soaked with sweat when the nightclub closed. A few days later, Sweeney recalls, Mark Knopfler, the lead singer and guitarist of Dire Straits, called him into the studio while he played a snippet of a new song he’d written that Sweeney claims was inspired by his fleet-footing. “I used ‘Johnny’ instead of ‘Danny,’ in case you didn’t like being identified,” Knopfler told him. That tune was Walk of Life.

“I said to him, ‘Your album with this on it? It is going to sell 10 million copies or more,’ but he said the most he’d ever sold was 5 million,” Sweeney says now. “He promised to buy a new windsurfer if I was right.” He pauses, relishing the punchline to a story that he has clearly told many times before. “I am still waiting.” The album, Brothers in Arms, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, putting it comfortably in the top 50 best-selling albums of all time. Asked to comment for this story, Knopfler declined.

Turn It Into Something Good, Earth Wind & Fire Faces (1980)

Bassist Verdine White is a founding member of Earth Wind & Fire. He and his late brother, Maurice, the band’s front man, met George Martin during the filming of 1978’s flop movie adaptation of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. White tells Robb Report that he heard about the producer’s plans for AIR Montserrat then. “He invited us to come and record any time it was convenient for us, and it was perfect timing,” White says. “We chose to record our double LP Faces there, because it was a departure from what we had been doing. We needed to go back to basics, playing good tracks without trying to be commercial.”

White was smitten with Montserrat from the moment he arrived—mostly the friendliness of the locals. “The workers in the field dropped their tools and started applauding as we passed by,” he recalls. “As the only group of colour to record there, we were just honoured and happy.” He emphasises how the relaxed, welcoming vibe of the island was an ideal creative proving ground and how much the people there embraced the visiting musicians. “We didn’t get a chance to jam with the people, but the chef who prepared our meals was also a famous local DJ. He played our records during his time on the air and gave us tremendous shoutouts almost every day. We always listened to his show during mealtimes.”

Im Still Standing, Elton John Too Low For Zero (1983)

James “Scriber” Daley, a local park ranger, has particularly fond memories of Elton John, who visited the island multiple times. “Lemme tell you, he would come hang out, and one Sunday, news got around he was in the village,” Daley recalls, noting that all the locals came down to say hello. Touched by the warm greeting, John told the bartender to put the entire afternoon’s tab on his check. (For John, Montserrat proved truly life-changing: he married AIR sound engineer Renate Blauel in 1984. They divorced four years later.)

Midge Ure of Ultravox fame loved Montserrat so much he bought a home here, though he’s reportedly called that purchase “the stupidest thing I did in the 1980s, because it was infested with termites.” Sting became smitten with the island, recording solo albums here after the Police split and renting a house for vacations with his wife and kids.

Not every rock star relished their time on Montserrat, though. One resident claims that Mick Jagger never seemed happy in Montserrat. “He hated it here, because nobody paid attention to him, so he’d walk back and forth to try and get noticed,” she says. But another disagrees, frowning. “Oh no, it wasn’t Mick. It was Duran Duran—they missed all the screaming girls.”

Looking at what remains of AIR now, though, one finds it hard to imagine those antics. There’s chain-link fencing across the driveway, featuring a KEEP OUT sign, erected by the Martin family. “We regret the need to restrict access… ” it says, almost apologetically. The site’s a ruin, festooned with wasps’ nests, its windows glassless and what remains of the roofs askew. It was pummelled not once, but twice, by those disasters that struck the country three decades ago.

Calm Before the Storm, Sheena Easton Take My Time (1981)

Hurricane Hugo punched first. The 1989 storm passed right over the country, the first such direct hit in decades. The devastation was widespread. One local estimates that 95 percent of the houses here were left without a roof. As for AIR, that bunker-like building was built to survive. The thick concrete walls, essential for a soundproof studio, withstood the winds well. The problem was power: the on-site backup generator, a fail-safe during the island’s regular brownouts to ensure that no rock star’s riff ever went to waste, was broken. “Poor maintenance,” says one local, grumbling about the lapse.

In the wake of the power loss caused by the storm, both heat and moisture wreaked havoc at AIR. When Martin arrived to inspect the damage a few weeks later, Danny Sweeney recounts, the impresario opened the piano to look at the keys. The ivories were already covered in green mould. There was no money to restore the studio—or rather, no point. As the 1980s ended, record-company budgets were shrinking. With improved technology, corporate studios became obsolete, and the penny-pinchers saw little reason to underwrite a three-month stint in the sun for Paul McCartney, Dire Straits or anyone else. “I asked him if Hugo hadn’t hit, whether it would still be open,” says David Lea. “And George told me, ‘Oh no, never. Digital was taking over.’ ”

Rock and a Hard Place, Rolling Stones Steel Wheels (1989)

Perhaps, though, Martin might have found a way to reboot his enterprise—AIR still operates a site in the UK, after all—had a second disaster not struck just six years later. The locals had long learned in school that the volcano here, Soufrière Hills, which dominated the southwest centre of the pear-shaped country, was a dormant relic despite the occasional burping rumble. In 1995, those lessons were proved wrong. Rumblings continued for two years, until a major eruption in summer 1997. Nineteen people were killed, and two-thirds or so of Montserrat’s land—including all of its most fertile farmland, as well as the thriving capital, Plymouth—became uninhabitable, buried beneath ash and lava like a Caribbean Pompeii.

It’s possible now to visit what remains of Plymouth, albeit with a guide, and wander around the rubble-strewn roads. Three-storey buildings sit, poking slightly out of the ground, their interiors full of once-molten lava. Entering the exclusion zone here—a no man’s land, a tropical DMZ—one notices the roads instantly become rougher, and the air starts to stink with sulfur. “When the eruption happened, it was so strong you had to hold your nose. It burned,” says guide Cecil Wade, standing in the centre of the former downtown. Now the only activity is the dusty thunder of trucks, which crisscross the land carrying sand mined from the volcanic ash—so much better for construction, as it’s salt-free, unlike a beachy supply. It’s commodity as apology, as if the volcano is trying to give back something after wrecking the locals’ lives.

The volcano is still considered active, and its seismic movement is closely tracked via an observation post manned by staff from the University of the West Indies. It’s deemed safe enough, however, for the authorities to open some sections on the northern edge of the exclusion zone to visitors to explore unaccompanied, including the area around AIR Studios, for example, or the once-upmarket district of Richmond Hill. Most of the homes there are half-hidden in the undergrowth, after 25 years of nature reclaiming the landscape. Occasionally, though, one shows through, gleamingly pristine—take the squat blue box, its window sills painted egg-yolk yellow nestled amid the ruins. “They can’t go back,” says Scriber Daley of the owners of these sentimental but futile renovations, which still lack electricity and running water. “But psychologically, in their minds? They have it that they might one day. Sometimes people now go and lie down there, sleep and rest themselves for a while. Just to reminisce about the past.”

Living in the Past, Midge Ure The Gift (1985)

It was a ruinous disaster for a place with such a storied history. In the aftermath, Montserrat’s population was offered free passage, and passports, to live in the UK. Three-quarters of locals took one-way flights out. A hardy contingent remained, though. “I wasn’t tempted to leave,” recalls David Lea. “When the last ferry leaves, I’ll be on the one after that.” Instead, he salvaged what he could—one dial from the old Plymouth clocktower, for instance—and created a shrine to that era in memorabilia, ranged among the tables of his bar, the Hilltop Coffee House.

Modern Montserratians may now have British passports, but the first Europeans here were Irish, mostly indentured workers banished to the otherwise uninhabited island from the plantations on nearby St. Kitts after one too many rebellions. Their culture is palpable even now: in places with names such as Cork Hill or Galway, the shamrock on the welcome stamp in every passport and even the national dish—squint a little at a bowl of goat water and it could be Irish stew. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday on Montserrat, the only country other than Ireland proper. “We’re Afro-Irish,” adds Kenneth Silcott, a former champion calypso king who now runs the arts council. “At the St. Patrick’s feast, you’ll see some people in full green garb and others in African dress.”

Hot Hot Hot, Arrow Hot Hot Hot (1983)

Those Irish immigrants also brought music, which was a cherished part of the Montserratian life well before Martin and co. arrived. Their love for it commingled with the African traditions of the enslaved people who were shipped to the island to work on the sugar plantations. “Music for us is an integral part of our culture,” says Rose Willock, a longtime host at local radio station ZJB. Music here, she explains, combines Celtic and African traditions—the Oriole String Band, for instance, today plays a repertoire that ranges from soca to chanteys. Look closely at the carnival dancing, too, and you might recognise Irish toe-stepping in its movements.

Montserrat’s most famous homegrown musician, though, was Alphonsus Cassell, better known as Arrow. He and his brother wrote the worldwide smash “Hot Hot Hot” on the island, and Arrow carved out a path for a distinctive soca sound that incorporated merengue beats into its rhythmic fusion. Cody Greenwood was a regular visitor to Montserrat as a child and just 5 years old when the eruption happened; she produced the recent documentary Under the Volcano, about the AIR Studios era. “It was important for me to acknowledge local music in it—the soca, too. It’s been embedded in the culture forever, and Arrow is really the local hero down here, even now,” she says of the musician, who died in 2010. “The strong music culture meant when artists would come down, the locals would sing on a lot of the albums, like for Elton John or Dire Straits.”

Boat Drinks, Jimmy Buffett Volcano (1979)

Greenwood hoped that her film would pique viewers’ curiosity about Montserrat and tempt them to visit—she’d even intended to premiere it on the island with the goal of luring some of those rock-star icons to return for a nostalgic look. Pandemic lockdowns precluded any such celebrations. The local government does have concrete plans, though, to draw tourists. They’re centred on Little Bay, close to the northern tip of the island and near the country’s new commercial and political hub.

Little Bay became the emergency base for supplies after the eruption, but the waters here are too shallow for much commercial shipping or any superyacht. Dredging to rectify that problem has begun, and there’s a big patch of dusty scrubland on the waterfront ready for construction of a port that can harbour high-end cruise ships and private vessels by bolstering the jetty to 130 metres and the depth of waters from 3 to 8 metres. “Little Bay is one of the most sheltered harbours on the island,” explains Dion Weekes, the project manager. “And we want to have yachts calling there in 18 months.”

Spirits in the Material World, The Police Ghost in the Machine (1981)

Doubtless, many will come to make pilgrimages to AIR and Olveston House, a chance to connect with an overgrown corner of rock history. But there’s more to Montserrat than rubble. Much like neighboring Dominica’s, the countryside here is lush and quilted with trails.

Scriber Daley—he earned his nickname at school, because he was such a good describer—is the ideal guide for exploring. Walking under the forest canopy with him is like accompanying Dr. Doolittle. He holds a thumb to his lips, sucking and tutting simultaneously like a scolding kiss. In response, the tree up ahead starts filling with Montserrat orioles, the national bird found only on the island; they twitter noisily in reply, more and more gathering to answer his calls.

Daley relishes the chance to take folks hiking for hours over Hope Ridge or Katy Hill, looking for birds or the Montserrat orchid. But one animal no one ever sees or hears now is a cricket he calls the spoon-in-glass. “It would go ting-ting-ting, and it was a sign to drop everything and leave the forest, because night could come over very fast,” he recalls. After decades of its silence, though, Daley fears this insect was wiped out in the wake of the eruption. “I have slept over there in the forest to see if I could hear the sound. It was so lovely. I never have.” He remains hopeful, though, and he doesn’t stop trying.

Despite the natural disasters’ upheaval, little about the island’s culture has changed. “My mum always used to say to me, ‘You don’t lock up here—no one will rob you,’” says Greenwood. “We had over a million dollars’ worth of camera equipment, and we could never find a key for our villa, but people just said, ‘You don’t have to worry.’ On Montserrat, you don’t have to worry about a thing.”

 

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Escape from the Ordinary

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

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

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

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

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

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

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

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

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

 

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

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

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

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

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

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

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

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

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

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

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

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

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

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

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

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

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

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

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

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

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

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

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

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

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

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

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

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

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

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

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

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

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

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

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

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Red Centre

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

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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