James Bond And The Science Of Fiction

In many Bond movies, 007’s mind-blowing timepieces save the day. But are they really so far-fetched?

By Rob Ryan 09/11/2021

There have been many characters over the years touted as the “real-life” James Bond, a list usually drawn from the various spies and adventurers that his creator, Ian Fleming, met during his time in Naval Intelligence during WWII. Equally, there are several contenders for being the inspiration behind Q, the boffin who heads up Q (for Quartermaster) Branch – Fleming’s fictitious version of what is now known as Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre – the department that provides 007 with his famous gadgets.

My favourite of these candidates for the prototype Q is Christopher Clayton Hutton, of the little-known branch of military intelligence called MI9. Its role in WWII was to help downed aircrew and escaped prisoners of war get back to the UK, using a series of escape lines across Europe, and Hutton’s job was to provide the equipment to assist in what was known as Escape and Evasion, a phrase which accurately describes much of Bond’s activity during a mission. So Clutty, as he was known, created maps concealed in playing cards; compasses hidden in buttons or collar studs; powerful flashlights disguised as bicycle pumps; multi-function ‘escape knives’, tiny radios and a cigarette lighter with a concealed camera inside.

The Aston Martin DB10 revealed to James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Q’s Workshop with Q (Ben Whishaw) in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.

Miniaturisation was his speciality and he would have relished the world of Bond, where various aids to Escape and Evasion have to be incorporated into equipment such as 007’s trusty Omega watches. But could even a maverick genius like Clutty make the spy’s various Seamasters function as shown on screen, or are they just a fantasy product of the scriptwriters’ imagination? With an Omega about to play a pivotal role in No Time To Die, it’s as good a moment as any to look at the practicality of the world’s most versatile, and sometimes lethal, timepiece, and to give them a ‘Clutty Rating’ (CR) for the likelihood of the great gadget man being able to duplicate them.



Over the past 25 years, Bond has frequently turned to his Omega to get him out of a tight spot by making something explode. In GoldenEye (1995), 007 uses the Seamaster’s HRV (Helium Release Valve) to initiate the timing sequence on several limpet mines. This is the watch acting as an on-off switch for the mines – which means Q has installed an actuating transmitter in the Seamaster. The limpets never actually blow – spoilsport Alex Trevelyan (Sean Bean) uses another click on the HRV to stop the countdown.

All this is eminently feasible, even with the limited space within an Omega. Researchers at Columbia University in the U.S., for instance, have built what they describe as the smallest frequency-modulated (FM) radio transmitter ever. Based on a graphene nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS), the microscopic device oscillates at a frequency of 100 MHz and, with a tiny antenna, could broadcast an activation signal. Even without using nanotechnology, traditional UHF transmitters can now be produced that are not much longer than a grain of rice.

No matter what type of signal generator Q opts for, a battery needs to be included to provide the power for the transmission. But this is also achievable – the University of California is working on gold nanowire batteries, which use rechargeable filaments thinner than a human hair as an energy sink. More practically, the Jenax company has created a thin, foldable and bendable lithium-ion battery called J.Flex. It isn’t difficult to envisage one of the latter fitting snugly against the inside of the caseback of a Q Branch Seamaster.

CR: 9/10


Lasers have a long association with James Bond, ever since Goldfinger (1964), when 007 was “expected to die” while being threatened with being split in two by a giant industrial CO2 laser.

By the time of GoldenEye (1995), the laser had shrunk enough to be concealed in 007’s Omega Seamaster. Bond uses the light beam to cut a very neat panel out of the steel floor of rogue 00 agent Alex Trevelyan’s armoured train and escape before the whole lot blows. The laser-watch reappears in Die Another Day (2002), with the light lance emerging from the crown, operated by pressing the face of the Omega, and is deployed by 007 to cut a hole in the ice outside of Gustave Graves’ frozen palace (admittedly an easier task than burning through metal floors).

Ridiculous? Well, German prop-maker and ‘laser hobbyist’ Patrick Priebe has succeeded in fitting a 1,500 milliwatt laser into a wrist-worn case. The beam is capable of puncturing balloons, scorching walls and cutting through duct tape. Burning steel?

Not so much. You need at least 300 watts to cut metal. However, it will ignite matches, and it doesn’t take much to imagine a Bond scenario where that would come in handy. Like 007’s version, Priebe’s laser-watch also tells the time – using a very crude LED digital display. A handsome Seamaster it is not. Despite companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin

working hard on miniaturising laser guidance and weapons systems, and the development of tiny (but weak) nano-lasers, it is likely that this is one 007 gadget that will remain in the realm of fiction for the time being.

CR: 2/10


In the pre-credits sequence of Die Another Day (2002), 007 lifts a tray of diamonds from an attaché case and underneath are blocks of C-4 explosive. He removes the Seamaster’s HRV, which has a small shaft or pin attached to it, and sticks this into the C-4. So what is it? I turned to Warrant Officer Kim Hughes, an ATO (Ammunition Technical Officer, bomb disposal expert in non-army parlance), who won the George Cross for his service in Afghanistan, to explain.

“Military grade explosives such as Semtex or C-4 are relatively insensitive compounds. They need a ‘kick’ to enable the chemical reaction to take place, which results in a rapid release of energy or explosion.”

So the detonator pin that Bond buries in the C-4 would contain a small amount of ‘primary’ explosive, triggered by heat from an electrical circuit. In the film, Bond initiates the blast by twisting the Omega’s bezel, which would send a signal to the HRV pin, causing a current to flow to a small wire. This instantly turns white-hot (think incandescent light bulbs) setting off the detonator charge, which in turn gives the energetic shock needed to make the main lump of C-4 go up. Is it realistic? Hughes agrees the principle is sound enough.

CR: 8/10

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


An example of 007’s watch containing both primary detonator and secondary explosive is found in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), which also features an X-ray of the Seamaster in the credits, showing its elegant inner workings in all its mechanical glory.

On board the megalomaniac media tycoon Elliot Carver’s stealth ship, Bond slides a small, flat unit from the side of his watch. This has a coin-sized explosive charge at its centre, with a detonator contained in the outer casing.

Bond assembles an IED – Improvised Explosive Device – by placing a hand grenade, with the pin removed, in a glass jar. The fit is tight enough to stop the safety handle of the grenade flying off. Bond tapes the portable micro-bomb to the jar. Later on, Bond transmits a signal, using the Omega’s bezel, to the unit.

The small amount of plastic explosive in the gizmo is just enough to shatter glass, so the jar breaks open. This allows the grenade handle to release, causing a conflagration that ignites the drums of flammable liquid that all super-villains carelessly leave lying around. Simple.

CR: 9/10


A grappling hook and cable fired from a pistol appeared in the opening sequence of GoldenEye during the dam dive, but by The World Is Not Enough (1999), the device was incorporated into Bond’s Omega (along with ultra-bright micro-LEDs which provide illumination when Bond is stuck inside an inflatable anti-avalanche sphere). This piton system really would have been a challenge to Q Branch. But as ATO Kim Hughes pointed out to me, there is already a weapon that fires hooks trailing a cable: the taser.

Tasers use compressed gas to deploy the lines down which the electric shock travels, but shrinking the cylinders enough to fit into a Seamaster is quite an undertaking. However, ultracompact micro-and pico-cylinders do exist and are used in medicine in self-injection devices and inhalers. Whether they would generate enough pressure to drive a piton in concrete, however, is doubtful.

The BolaWrap100 uses a blank .380 cartridge as a propellant and the tether exits the weapon at 200m a second, faster than the human eye can see clearly. The drawback for Bond and his

Omega? The BolaWrap is the size of a mobile phone. Something tinier is needed. Enter the ANT, or actuating nano-transducer, which releases remarkable amounts of energy from gold particles which fly apart when hit by a beam from a miniscule nano-laser.

“It’s like an explosion,” said Dr Tao Ding from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. “We have hundreds of gold balls flying apart in a millionth of a second when water molecules inflate the polymers around them.” Such an explosion could be used to propel out the barb, while the same technology could be harnessed to produce an ANT “engine” to power the rotating bezel that rewinds the line attached to the hook.

And the cable needed to support the weight of 007? A 2020 update on the Omega would not use high-tensile steel (too bulky to incorporate in the watch) but rather a new material, such as Dyneema (15 times stronger than steel) – or perhaps one of the materials that laboratories are currently experimenting with, such as a filament that mimic the properties of spider silk in terms of tensile strength. The US Army, for example, is testing fibres called ‘Dragon Silk’, produced from modified silkworms, which are strong enough to be woven into bulletproof vests.

CR: 3/10

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions action adventure SKYFALL.


The Q Branch Omega watches were retired from active duty (other than for telling the time) for the first run of the Daniel Craig movies, but in Spectre (2015) one watch was up to its old tricks. When he is tortured by Blofeld, Bond manages to remove his NATO-strapped Seamaster and spins the crown, so that the hour markers flash red. This initiates a countdown that culminates in a blast that blows Blofeld off his chair and causes significant facial damage to the villain.

Kim Hughes pointed out that it would be difficult to pack enough explosive into the Spectre watch to cause such a big bang.

However, he did concede that modern hard PBX (Plastic Bonded Explosive) could be machined or cast – complete with engraving – to replace entirely the caseback of the Seamaster (it would, he adds, also need a detonator and a battery to be fully operational).

He reckoned this might be enough to, say, blow off a hand. Whether one would want to walk around all day wearing such a timepiece is debatable. Of course, he is assuming that Q wouldn’t have access to types of PBX more powerful than those commercially available.

CR: 6/10


A lightweight titanium Omega Seamaster Diver 300M chronometer will certainly play a part in the next 007 outing, No Time To Die. Rumour has it that Q Branch has been hard at work creating new surprises to incorporate into Bond’s trusty timepiece. For the moment, exactly what those surprises are is under wraps. Time will tell.

The latest James Bond adventure, No Time To Die, is out in cinemas Thursday, November 11. 007.com


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The Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.


In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”


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Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

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The 13 Best Watches From Pitti Uomo, From Rolex to Patek Philippe and Piaget

Each year in Florence, Italy, men walk the streets in the finest fashions, and they pair their watches perfectly.

By Allen Farmelo, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Pitti Uomo is a major fashion gathering in Florence, Italy where brands bring their best to buyers and fashion editor alike. But, perhaps more interestingly, Pitti Uomo transforms the streets of Florence into an urban runway on which guys from around the world with more than a passing interest in style go about their business—even if in some cases that business seems just to be hanging around waiting to be photographed—in their best threads and, of course, some excellent watches.

We pondered the relationship between men’s fashion and watches in more detail earlier this year, and what’s fascinating about the intersection of fashion and watches is how to situate the timepiece within an ensemble. To give you a sense of how that plays out, this year we saw a tonal pairing of a tasty vintage Rolex GMT Master Pepsi (red and blue) with rose and mid-blue summer plaid, and we saw high-waisted military green Bermuda shorts paired intelligently with a beat up old Elgin field watch with a matching green strap. Both looks were killer, the watches working as perfect accents, and there are many more great pairings to consider below.

As is often the case at fashion shows (including Pitti Uomo in previous years), Rolex dominated. Horological snobs might look down on this choice because the Crown is so often the default choice for so many, be they collectors signalling their access to rare references or those just getting into this obsession. But a more nuanced read on this tendency is that Rollies are fabulously versatile watches that one can rock with each new outfit—which some men will swap throughout the day. Breakfast might call for a casual look, lunch something more daring, and dinner that perfect summer suit. What better than a Rolex for all occasions?

But it wasn’t just Rolex at Pitti Uomo this week. The urban catwalk brought out Paiget, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier, as well. But our favourite watch was a vintage Tudor Sub on a turquoise bracelet.

Below are the 13 best watches from Pitit Uomo 2024.

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The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com


102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au


Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase


The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au


368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au


Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

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The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”


On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.


Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.


It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.


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