Patek Philippe Just Dropped Six New Watches

Including a blingy Nautilus, four high-complication references and a Golden Ellipse.

By Paige Reddinger 17/06/2021

It’s a Patek Philippe extravaganza!

The Swiss luxury watchmaker just released six new versions of existing models showcasing its artisanal crafts to celebrate its “Rare Handcrafts” exhibition on display starting today through June 26th at the company’s headquarters on the Rue du Rhône 41 in Geneva. According to the brand, it will be the “richest collection ever to be on display there.”

The pandemic forced the watchmaker to hold back on its 2020 exhibition, resulting in a more extensive array for 2021. (In observance of current protocols, the brand is asking interested viewers to register online for the exhibition beforehand.) That means a showcase of one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pocket watches, wristwatches, dome clocks and table clocks featuring manual engraving, grand feu cloisonné enamel, miniature painting, guilloche, gem-setting and wood micro-marquetry across 75 distinct pieces. It is a veritable wonderland for horophiles looking to catch a glimpse of Patek Philippe artisans at work, as well as a view of the watchmaking masterpieces before they are delivered to private collections. But there’s also a spread of new references that may pique the most interest among collectors.

Patek Philippe Ref. 6002R-001

Patek Philippe Ref. 6002R-001 Patek Philippe

First up is the impressive 44mm by 17.35mm double-face Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 6002R-001 featuring 12 complications. Launched in 2001 with the Ref. 5002, it is Patek Philippe’s second most complicated wristwatch. It was previously available in an 18-carat white-gold case and a blue enamel dial or, most recently, a white-gold case with a black enamel dial. The latter has now been replaced with a new reference dressed in 18-carat rose gold with a brown grand feu enamel as its centrepiece. Adding an extra level of flourish, the dial, moon phase aperture and the moon rotating disc are delivered in champlevé enamel, requiring the base metal to be milled out with the recesses filled in with enamel. The centre dial is adorned in grand feu cloisonné enamel created using a thin flat gold wire. The most overtly ornate decor, however, was reserved for the case, crowns, minute repeater slide and fold-over clasp, all manually engraved with scroll-like and Arabesque ornamentation requiring more than 100 hours of work. That is 12-and-a-half days of straight engraving work if one was going by an 8-hour workday. Needless to say, a simple slip-up on a piece of this nature would be costly indeed, so this level of work requires the ultimate level of expertise.

All of this artistry serves to highlight the mechanical mastery within. A perpetual calendar with a retrograde date and a moon phase with a leap year cycle are displayed on the front dial. On the flip side, a celestial chart shows the journey of the moon and stars in the northern hemisphere. It also houses a tourbillon and a minute repeater with cathedral gongs.

Topping off the offer is a pair of matching hand-engraved cufflinks, also in 18-carat rose gold.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5304/301R-001

Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Ref. 5304/301R-001 Patek Philippe

While the 43 mm by 13.3 mm Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater’s big news is that it now comes outfitted in high jewellery with 80 flawless Top Wesselton baguette diamonds of approximately 6.22 carats, the view of its calibre R 27 PS QR LU movement through its transparent sapphire-crystal dial—a first for the brand in 2006 with the Ref. 5104 version—remains the real fireworks of the piece. It contains a retrograde perpetual calendar, minute repeater and a flyback date display with a red crescent moon tip that marks the numerals on a scale along the periphery of the dial.

For legibility, Patek Philippe uses transparent sapphire-crystal discs with white letters for the day-of-the-week, month and leap year cycle that rotate into position in apertures with black backgrounds. It required a patented system to attach the discs to minute steel arbours. Likewise, the pierced leaf-shaped hands are done in black-lacquered white gold to stand out against the busy backdrop.

The rose gilt plates are decorated in perlage, while the steel parts come with bevelled and polished edges. An 18-carat rose gold mini-rotor is decorated in a leaf motif with rhodium sinks.

The diamonds certainly emphasize the fact that this is not a piece for shallow pockets, but they still play second fiddle to the incredible intricacy on display at the heart of this piece.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5374G-001

Patek Philippe Ref. 5374G-001 Patek Philippe

For those looking for serious watchmaking in a more subtle package, the 42 mm by 12.2 mm Ref. 5374G-001 will likely be more appealing and wearable. It may be extravagant to suggest that a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar would be an everyday wear, but it is certainly more versatile for nearly every occasion (except the sporting variety). This piece first debuted in 2016 in a platinum case with a black grand feu enamel dial. Playing to current dial colour trends, it now comes in a high-gloss finished blue grand feu enamel in a, relatively speaking, more accessible case metal in 18-carat white gold. The manually applied enamel powder hue tops off a dial plate in 18-carat gold.

The self-winding calibre R 27 Q contains a minute repeater that strikes two cathedral gongs, as well as a perpetual calendar and a 24-hour display. It is surrounded by refined finishing details like satin-finished recesses on the case flank and a moon phase aperture topped off in a champlevé technique. Tiny details like the cabochons that decorate the end of the lugs also add an extra touch of finesse, while the white-gold leaf-shaped hands are filled with luminous coating for legibility against the dark setting.

It comes on a shiny blue alligator strap and its sapphire-crystal caseback is also offered with an interchangeable solid back. It replaces the Ref. 5374P-001 in platinum with a black grand feu enamel dial. It is pure Patek and, in our opinion, the most desirable of the new high-complication timepieces.

Patek Philippe Ref. 7040/250G-001

Patek Philippe Ref. 7040/250G-001 Patek Philippe

The 36 mm by 10.14 mm Ref. 7040/250G-002 minute repeater is billed as a ladies’ watch but comes in a sizing and design fitting for any sex. Its pared-down dial shows just the hours and minutes with a subsidiary dial for the seconds, allowing for the dial work on its grand feu flinqué enamel, executed in striking handcrafted guilloché in a sunburst motif that was inspired by the Ref. 992/137G-001 “Siamese Fighting Fish” pocket watch from 2019, to take centre stage. It comes surrounded by 168 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds in two offset rows using the company’s patented Flamme technique in which notches are cut into the gold between the stones to give extra sparkle to the gems.

But its seemingly simple elegance is deceiving. Inside, the self-winding calibre R 27 PS contains a minute repeater and a recessed 22-carat gold mini-rotor. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.

This is a discreet beauty with brains. As such, the watch is offered with an 18-carat white gold solid caseback should its wearer want to hide its inner workings. It comes on a patinated ocean blue alligator leather strap with an 18-carat white-gold buckle set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5738/51G-001

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Artisinat Ref. 5738/51G-001 Patek Philippe

It takes a very specific sense of sartorial style to appropriately rock a Golden Ellipse decorated in an engraved vegetal or floral motif that spans the entire dial. The unusual case shape of the Ellipse, alone, sets the piece aside for collectors with a more nuanced attraction to watch design. (Collector Roni Madhvani, owner of more than a few Ellipses, illustrates this stylised approach to watch collecting best. Check them out on @roni_m_29.) The new 34.5mm by 39.5mm by 6.58mm Golden Ellipse Artisinat looks strikingly similar to the platinum with black grand feu enamel dial 2018 Golden Ellipse, presented in a limited edition of 100 pieces for the 50th anniversary of the model. A closer look at the dial, however, reveals that the design motif has been reworked into a different pattern. Another difference? It comes in 18-carat white gold.

The process involved in creating the ornate dial involved taking an 18-carat gold dial plated and piercing it to great recesses fill with black grand feu enamel, the raised motif is then carved out through engraving. Like the engraving techniques on the Ref. 6002R-001 above, the design also uses scroll-like and Arabesque shapes.

The self-winding time-only calibre 240 movement beneath is powered by an off-centre recessed mini-rotor in 22-carat gold.

With a hand-stitched shiny black alligator leather strap and a prong buckle closure, the Ref.  5738/51G will be an addition to the existing Ref. 5738P in platinum with a blue sunburst dial and the Rf. 5738R-001 in rose gold with an ebony black sunburst dial.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 7118/1450G-001

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 7118/1450G-001 Patek Philippe

Calling all hypebeasts! Another new Nautilus has entered the fray and it is set with a whopping 2,553 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds totalling approximately 12.69 carats. You have seen it before in the Ref. 7118/1450R-001 in rose gold, but the latest version comes in white gold set with serious ice arranged in a snow setting. Great care is taken to make sure that as little of the precious metal is showing as possible, so that its wearer can show off its diamond assets to full capacity.

The 35.3 mm by 8.65 mm Nautilus comes with a self-winding calibre 324 S movement, which is visible through the case back. Its fold-over clasp is secured by four independent catches, but you may need to employ full security detail to truly ensure its safety.

Bling-hounds have long been customizing their Nautiluses with diamonds thanks to a variety of outside operators like Mad Paris, but why not get the real deal?

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Watch This Space: Justin Hast

Meet the game-changing horological influencers blazing a trail across social media—and doing things their own way.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

In the thriving world of luxury watches, few people own a space that offers unfiltered digital amplification. And that’s precisely what makes the likes of Brynn Wallner, Teddy Baldassarre, Mike Nouveau and Justin Hast so compelling.

These thought-provoking digital crusaders are now paving the way for the story of watches to be told, and shown, in a new light. Speaking to thousands of followers on the daily—mainly via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—these progressive commentators represent the new guard of watch pundits. They’re actively swaying the opinions, and the dollars, of the up-and-coming generations who represent the new target consumer of this booming sector.

JUSTIN HAST

@justinhast

Credit Oracle Time

There’s something comforting about Justin Hast’s watch commentary. It could be his broad English accent; a soothing melodic chime that hits all the right notes. But rather, it’s probably his insatiable thirst for all the little things in and around watches. It jumps right off the page with anything he’s ever written, and it’s infectious if you tune into his Instagram reels, where he speaks to over 50,000 followers almost daily.

Above all, he simplifies what, for the everyday enthusiast, can sometimes be a dry, jargon-heavy topic.

“I never really trained as a writer, photographer or producer of any kind,” says Hast. “It was very much, get stuck in and see what sticks. It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to have access to these brands, these watches, and to the shows and events. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning every Monday.”

After spending a decade researching watches, enduring the drudgery of his office job, Hast’s big break came when he met Frank Geelen, owner and CEO of the influential Monochrome Watches website, at a Bell & Ross boutique opening in London.

“I can’t remember how much Frank drank that night when he agreed to allow me to write a story for him,” he quips. “That was the starting point that allowed me to pick up a camera and explore the watch world.”

From that chance encounter, Hast has gone on to contribute influential words to the likes of Hodinkee, Mr Porter, Revolution Watch and Forbes. He is the author of The Watch Annual, which was created for watch enthusiasts in 2020 as a means of cataloguing the best timepieces of the year.

 

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A post shared by Justin Hast (@justinhast)

Listening to Hast, it’s fair to say that he lives and breathes watches, and it’s been this way for a large chunk of his life. He recalls two formative moments: the first, age 10, when he received his first red G-Shock watch from a schoolfriend; the second came with the passing down of his grandfather’s Omega Constellation Day-Date —a watch designed by Gérald Genta.

That experience goes a long way to explaining Hast’s affinity with vintage dress watches. Unsurprisingly, then, his top four picks from the recent Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva are all vintage-inspired pieces designed for the modern watch consumer: the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, the IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 39 mm in rose gold, and the Laurent Ferrier Classic Moon.

Hast’s motto for life is “win the day”, one that he lives by as he continues on his journey to “inspire the next generation of watch enthusiasts”. And it’s clearly a mission already accomplished.

Read more about the watch industry’s horological influencers Bryan Wallner and Teddy Baldassarre.

 

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Watches & Wonders 2024 Showcase: TAG Heuer

This year at Watches & Wonders TAG Heuer continued on its path towards high-watchmaking status.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

There was a moment last year when TAG Heuer surprised the watch world (and naysayers of the brand)—you couldn’t have missed it. At Only Watch, the biennial charity auction of luxury one-off timepieces, TAG Heuer dropped the proverbial mic with its release of a unique Monaco Split-Seconds chronograph; a piece completely left of field for the otherwise mid-entry level luxury watchmaker.

It was then inconceivable to arrive at the Palexpo in Geneva, day one of Watches & Wonders, to find the very same Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph as TAG Heuer’s hero release of 2024. Don’t mistake TAG Heuer’s intentions; this is a big moment for the brand, particularly as it endeavours to reach cult high-watchmaker status.

 

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

 

This new $200,000 Monaco, which is aptly released in its 55th anniversary year, is an absolute workhorse of a timepiece. Retaining all the hallmarks of its legendary racing history, the new Monaco features an open-worked aesthetic that completely draws the eye to its intricate design details and mechanics. This is, folks, the first mechanical split-seconds (or ‘Rattrapante’) chronograph that the brand has made, essentially allowing the wearer to measure two separate events that start simultaneously but have different durations.

Of course, powering such a watch is no small feat; TAG Heuer has called upon the expertise of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier—a specialist manufacturer of high-end mechanical movements—to help craft the new TH81-00 caliber.

Available in two colour ways, red or blue, the watch also features a grade-5 titanium case (allowing for its lightness), a sapphire dial, and a neat 41 mm package that makes this a truely “wearable” timepiece—if the price tag doesn’t deter you.

If this is an indication of things to come for TAG Heuer, we’re all in.

tagheuer.com

Read more about this year’s Watches & Wonders exhibits from Rolex and JLC.

 

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Property of The Week: Swing Into Seclusion in Otago

Looking for the perfect marriage of seclusion and sophistication? This home’s proximity to world-class skiing and wine region makes it an irresistible asset.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 12/07/2024

Located in the charming hamlet of Arrowtown this six-bedroom country home offers plenty of room to breathe. With its proximity to pristine ski fields and world-class wine regions, the two-acre estate will appeal to active city-slickers seeking a sustainable tree change.

Just a putt away from the social life of the renowned Hills Golf Club, 214 McDonnell has private access to a world of laidback leisure.

Manicured gardens and luxurious minimal interiors makes 475 sqm of house feel even more expansive and cinematic. Adding to the dream is the property’s sunny north-facing position. Each of the main rooms has breathtaking views up to Mt Soho and Coronet Peak, then across to the stunning Crown Range. 

A grand entertaining terrace centres on a log burning fire with a layout that encourages indoor/outdoor dining.

Residents will never be lonely. They can expect to welcome children home for the ski season each winter, and to welcome friends to Otago’s excellent wine regions in summer.

The home’s interior has been kept minimal and maps perfectly to the awe-inspiring location. Modern integrated technology, heating and convenient fixtures deliver a fresh take on country style. Open-plan living invites easy contemplation of the mountain views, while interstitial spaces help to keep life uncomplicated.

The opulent master bedroom, with ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, enjoys a chilled L-shaped layout with commanding views of snow-capped mountains beyond the window frames. The master’s inviting nook not only caters to owners who are fans of 5-star hotels, but also situates the love nest in a sun trap perfect for reading.  

The three extra guest bedrooms and two bathrooms are meticulously presented; the fixtures and fittings recede from view with materials that meld flawlessly with the nature-first vibe.

The piece de résistance is the stand-alone guesthouse, featuring its own private entrance and terrace. Here the interior mimics the main home, with pleasant open-plan living, separate dining, kitchen and bathroom. And it boasts its own private, outdoor zone. 

The village itself is equally inviting. With a tree-lined main street featuring heritage row cottages and a good selection of restaurants, shops and cafés—you’ll never want for attraction beyond the front door. 

With the Alpine tourist hot spot of Queenstown just 20 minutes away by car, you can be at the airport in under half an hour: Either taking off on your next adventure, or collecting treasured guests to deliver back to your private estate.

Learn more from Sarena Glass at Sotheby’s New Zealand. Email: sarena.glass@nzsir.com

 

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Why BMW’s First Electric Cars Are Future Classics

Many things still feel contemporary about the BMW i3 and i8.

By Raphael Orlove 11/07/2024

In 2008, BMW committed to a multi-billion euro plot. It would retool its Leipzig plant to assemble two of the most environmentally-conscious cars ever designed, with carbon fibre passenger cells holding electric, plug-in hybrid, and gas-powered range extender drivetrains. Not until 2013 did they begin production. You could say they were a decade ahead of their time, but we’re still not ready for cars as daring as the i3 and i8.

Years before cries that EVs are too heavy and that plug-in hybrids offer a better compromise for the average car buyer, BMW poured resources into making an EV without the typical downsides of a battery electric vehicle. The idea was to make an electric car that didn’t require a gigantic battery pack, one that wasn’t perilously heavy. To do so, BMW would make the i3 into the world’s first mass-produced car made out of carbon fibre. This was no small feat.

The earliest uses of carbon fibre in cars go back to British race cars from the 1960s, and the first complete chassis to be made out of carbon fiber dates to the early 1980s. It wasn’t until the ’90s that we saw a carbon fibre chassis in a production road car, and that was with the Bugatti EB110, which cost around 3.2 million and required outsourcing the carbon work to the rocket division of French aerospace company Aerospatiale. Even in 2008, BMW’s plans for what it ultimately called the i cars really were at the leading edge.

The first of these to make production was the i3, a hatchback city car that would look at home parked in front of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Big windows gave great visibility, and while the car was too short for four full doors, BMW squeezed suicide doors behind the fronts. With both opened up, the i3 was outstandingly bright and airy. The light interior, seats finished in wool and the dash finished with eucalyptus, certainly helped. BMW also used a plant called kenaf in the interior trim; it’s a natural fibre similar to jute. Kenaf had been used as a backing material underneath a synthetic coating. With the i3, BMW put it up front, lighter and more sustainable.

Photo: NurPhoto

BMW even sourced its carbon fibre from Washington State, where the factory could rely 100% on local hydropower. The company was using technical solutions to make a more sustainable new car.

Its styling was daring, as was how BMW put the i3 together. BMW effectively split the car in two. All of the car’s essential systems – battery, motor, suspension, crash structures, and the optional range extender – were carried on an aluminum skateboard called the “Drive module.” The “Life module” that housed the interior and framed the body panels was what was made out of carbon. The top and bottom halves were glued together, or “chemically bonded” if you want that to sound less scary.

BMW did successfully make the car pretty light for what it was, coming in between 1200 and 1300 kilograms depending on the trim. A Nissan Leaf weighed hundreds of kilograms more, a Chevrolet Volt nearly 400 kilos more.

Sticking to low-weight principles meant that the i3 was never going to have a huge battery, and the biggest available pack was still only 42.2 kWh. The EPA rated it at 246 kilometres of range. The “REX” range extender boosted that figure to 320 kilometres, with a two-cylinder engine from BMW’s motorcycle division shoehorned under the trunk. For all of BMW’s investment in the i3, these weren’t earth-shattering numbers.

Photo: picture alliance

All of its innovation was costly, and BMW’s city car ended up relatively expensive. It started at €34,950 in Germany, $61.300 AUD. That went up to $67,000 for the Range Extender model. The most expensive versions of the i3 topped out at nearly $89,000.

(Rather curiously, all range-extended BMW i3s have 10.9 litre petrol tanks. In the U.S., however, to legally qualify as a range-extended electric vehicle, the i3 could not have more range available from its internal combustion setup than its pure battery. At that point, the government would have classified the i3 as a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Chevy Volt. As such, all range-extended i3s initially sold in America were restricted by software alone to use just 8.6 letters of that 10.9 litre tank. Only in 2017 when BMW introduced a longer-range battery could BMW digitally unlock the full 10 litres.)

Its high price meant the i3 asked a lot of compromises of a luxury car buyer just to have the most environmentally-friendly vehicle possible. A regular 3 Series cost about the same and was much easier to live with, unless you were regularly parking on dense urban streets. Most Americans don’t.

If anything, the rather practical i3 was too good at its job. All the money that BMW had invested in its technical innovations cost it its chance to make a dent in the car market.

That would have been fine if BMW continued to roll its high development costs into future models, perpetually bringing down its own prices, but BMW wasn’t interested in keeping its i thing going. Chief executive Norbert Reithofer stepped down early in 2015 and BMW canceled the car in 2022 with no second generation. The company has gone back to completely conventional ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV options. All of its EVs share their platforms with gas-burning equivalents, saving costs in development and on the showroom floor. They sell better than the i3 ever did.

BMW i3 Photo : picture alliance The i3 Brought Carbon Fiber to Mass Production

The only follow-up BMW did to the i3 was the dramatic i8, with butterfly doors opening up into a low slung cabin, flying buttresses directing air around its mid-mounted three-cylinder turbo engine. A dedicated PHEV, the i3’s engine did actually drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor drove the fronts. What shattered the illusion was that the front motor only made 97.6 kilowatts and the rear engine only 131. It might have looked like a supercar, but it didn’t drive like one. Like the i3, its carbon construction set it apart from its contemporaries, but also made it much more expensive than they ever were. In the U.S., the i8 started at a hair under $136,000 (AUD 200,000), which was a big ask for a car with three cylinders.

Following the same troubles as the i3, the i8 looked like one thing but was priced like another. It went on sale in 2014, not far behind the i3, and soldiered on through 2020, dying without a successor. An open-topped Roadster came in 2018 but didn’t change the car’s fate. Americans bought a grand total of 6,776 i8s through its entire production run. We buy that many Porsche 911s in a single year. Sometimes twice as many.

Photo: picture alliance

Taken at face value, the i8 is still a remarkable machine. A Porsche might be better on track, but the i8 is a dream realized in production form. It looks like nothing else on the road, even now.

And there is something that still feels contemporary about the i3. Its focus on low weight and low-impact manufacturing remains honorable. The electric car vision does us little good if it only reproduces the same more-is-more excess of internal combustion that clogs our roads with oversized vehicles.

As we now watch Tesla Cybertrucks lumber down the road at over 3,129 kilograms, GMC Hummer EVs pounding the pavement at over 4350 kilograms, BMW’s post-Recession vision is as relevant as ever.

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On the Crest

Surfing superstardom came early for Jack Robinson. Now Australia’s humble hero is chasing Olympic glory – keeping his head down.

By Horacio Silva 09/07/2024

There is a video on the internet of Jack Robinson at 15. In it, the pint-sized, towheaded Robinson, who was already considered the best young surfer on the planet, sports a cheeky gap-toothed smile and blunt bob to rival Lindy Chamberlain’s. Asked what he likes most about the sport, the shy grommet struggles for words, eventually offering, “Barrels, big hacks and airs.” 

Even at this age, Robinson prefers to let his surfing do the talking. But, as his interviewer surmises, don’t mistake reticence for unpreparedness: “When this young gun hits the surf, even the seasoned pros shake their heads in dismay.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

Sixteen years later, Margaret River-born Robinson still beggars belief with his ability to seemingly walk on water. The bowl cut is gone (replaced by a new do that Robinson got for a recent photo shoot and that he jokingly refers to as “the full GQ”), but the difficulty in getting his point across remains, though not from a lack of effort. “Sorry, I’m trying to get my words together,” says Robinson, now 31 and based on the Gold Coast. “I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m hurting.”

He quickly explains that he was not out on the town with hard-partying surfer mates—far from it. These days, Robinson and his Brazilian wife, Julia, have a five-month-old baby boy, Zen, whose behaviour did not live up to the serenity of his name.

Beatriz Ryder

“I just woke up from a nap, actually,” Robinson adds. “At this stage, I get sleep wherever and whenever I can.”

He would do well to get some shut-eye. Robinson heads to Teahupo’o in Tahiti next month, where this year’s Olympic Games surfing competition is being held. Though he is currently ranked number three in the world, he has mastered some of the most challenging big-wave conditions, including a win with a late barrel at the Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o last August, and is tipped as one of Australia’s best chances for gold.

With good reason, says Tom Carroll, the two-time world champion and Quiksilver ambassador. “That wave is up his alley,” says Carroll, who is now a meditation teacher on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “He knows that break in all its various moods and forms. If the conditions are not favourable on the day, when some of his biggest rivals fall apart, he can still feel it out. He assesses the conditions in a nanosecond.”

It’s that fearless ability to be in the moment, to paddle out in anything and feel at home, that Carroll first noticed when Robinson was 11. “He has an innate sense for the water and the way it moves,” Carroll continues. “It revealed itself from the get-go and to see it expressed is quite extraordinary.”

Beatriz Ryder

These days Robinson is more focussed on the ordinary. “I’m trying to keep it simple,” he offers, “to stick to the same routines, and make sure that I am in a good headspace going into the Olympics.” Beyond countless hours in the water and gym, this means time spent on meditation, yoga and breath work. “It’s a super mental sport now,” he adds. “You have to be a smart competitor. It’s not just about surfing.”

Aside from the boards, gym equipment and yoga mats, the Robinson household is all prams, toys and nappies. “It doesn’t leave room for much of anything else,” he laments. “I love fishing and cars, and really want to get into flying planes but that will have to wait.” His role as a father has given him a different perspective on his sport and his own upbringing. Robinson, like many sporting phenoms, was coached by a domineering parent (his father Trev) and concedes it wasn’t always a swell ride.

“It was challenging growing up for sure,” he says. “But to reach this level you need people in your corner. Even if he was looked at as a little crazy by some people, he gave 100 percent and then some. I have a newfound respect for that.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

He has the same regard for his competitors. When asked about the chances of his biggest rivals, Americans Griffin Colapinto and John John Florence, he is diplomatic to a fault. “I haven’t really thought about the other guys too much,” he demurs. “I’ve just been inspired by them. Even the last event with John John”—when Florence defeated Robinson in his native Western Australia—“I was just really inspired by his performance. It makes me want to do better.”

Perhaps if the whole modelling caper doesn’t pan out, after he retires from the sport he may want to consider a career in politics. “Nah,” he admits. “Leave that to others. Maybe that’s a path for Zen.”

The Olympic Games surfing competition begins July 27. 

 

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