Warhol’s Other Masterpieces

The artist’s eye for fine watches proves he was among the most sophisticated connoisseurs.

By Mark C. O'flaherty 02/04/2021

As in the court of the Sun King, Andy Warhol’s acolytes sought constant affirmation from their iconoclast friend and benefactor. Working with him in New York in the 1980s, Marc Balet, art director of Warhol’s Interview magazine at the time, remembers trying to impress him by showing off the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch he had just bought on a trip to Switzerland. “I wore it to the Factory,” he tells Robb Report, referring to the artist’s famed studio, where his circle congregated. “I was so proud of it and wanted him to see my most prized possession and be jealous. He looked at it and shrugged: ‘Oh, yeah. I have some of those.’ ”

He certainly did. After his death in 1987 from complications following gallbladder surgery, 313 watches were found at Warhol’s East 66th Street townhouse and sold at Sotheby’s the following year in a landmark 10-day auction, along with over 10,000 other objects. It was the first time such a sizable cache of fine watches belonging to the same owner had come to market, and it captured the imagination of collectors worldwide. Value was no longer attached solely to the build of a timepiece; price could now be magnified by the object’s journey. It sure helped that Warhol had an astute eye as well as an adventure-packed life. Markedly different from the pop aesthetic he had championed, the watches were classic and refined. And unlike the to-and-fro of his iconic silk screens at auction, the watches seldom reappear to feed an ever hungrier market. When they do, they make newspaper headlines around the world—first because of the interest generated among niche collectors, then again when they break auction records.

Last year Warhol’s circa-1943 Rolex Oyster 3525 in stainless steel and pink gold sold for about $616,800 at Christie’s in Geneva, well over twice its low estimate. “It was the highest price ever achieved by a Warhol-owned watch to date,” says Christie’s watch specialist Remi Guillemin. “There was huge interest in it after it went on a tour of showrooms around the world.” The 3525 was the original Rolex Chronograph fitted to an Oyster case and comes with more than pop-art provenance: It was known as the “P.O.W.” watch, after Rolex gave the model to British prisoners of war to replace timepieces that had been seized by the Nazis. The Rolexes were issued with the understanding that the soldiers wouldn’t have to pay for them until the war was won. But the Warhol touch is golden: A similar “civilian”-owned example sold at Monaco Legend Auctions two months later for a mere US$85,000, approx, $111,500.

Andy Warhol watch portrait

Warhol was frequently photographed wearing one of his collection of watches, which ran into the hundreds. Getty Images

“If one of the three Cartier Tank watches that Andy owned came to sale, that would be sensational,” says Guillemin. “When a Tank owned by Jackie Onassis was auctioned in 2017, it had a high estimate of approx. $157,000 and sold for $498,000. The association with Warhol would be a major draw.” The fact that Jackie O’s reportedly went to Kim Kardashian is a parable of modern celebrity and the agency of money over credibility. In Warhol’s era, despite his prescient prediction that “in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes,” fame came with status you couldn’t purchase. But you can certainly put a price on it today—as long as it’s genuine. Last year Sotheby’s failed to sell a Rolex 6538 “James Bond Submariner” with an estimate between $236,000and $367,000. Sean Connery wore the same model in Dr. No in 1962, but this lot wasn’t the actual prop. Also in 2019, a Rolex GMT-Master 1675 that had been owned and worn regularly by Marlon Brando sold for US$1.952 million. The same model typically goes for under aournd $33,000.

At the coda for his era, you could have bought one of Warhol’s gold Tanks for $6,500 from Sotheby’s, and then in 2012 for $13,9000 at Leslie Hindman in Chicago. Today, who knows how much? It may be the most Warhol of the trove, with a minimal graphic style that fit with the artist’s own Halston-black wardrobe. “Warhol had a passion for icons,” says Cameron Barr, founder and CEO of the vintage-timepiece website and showroom Craft & Tailored. “He liked things that were as simple as they were sophisticated. He was photographed wearing a Cartier Tank Louis frequently. It was introduced in 1918, but its design is timeless. As he said, ‘I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.’ ” Family historian and author Francesca Cartier Brickell recalls talking to a watch designer who worked under her grandfather Jean-Jacques Cartier, who ran the jeweller’s London branch from 1945 until 1974. He described the house style as “the absence of unnecessary twiddly bits.” “The Tank is the perfect example of this less-is-more approach,” she says.

Warhol was an artist, publisher and collector. In each category, his skills varied from workman-like to savant. His imprimatur could also bring heat to a new market. When he began buying Deco furniture, the category developed a bright halo. His watch selections were particularly sharp. “Looking at what he bought, it’s clear he was obsessed with the design aspects of watchmaking,” says John Reardon, former head of Christie’s watch department and now founder of Collectability, an online market for vintage Patek Philippe. “He loved retailer signatures, shaped watches and classic design. Within the world of Patek Philippe, we can see his taste for classic Calatravas as well as more avant-garde pieces, such as the Patek Philippe Gilbert Albert–designed Ricochet collection watch. The Patek Philippe 2526 with enamel dial with a Serpico y Laino Caracas retailer signature is the piece I would most like to see at auction again. The 2503 he owned sold for around $98,500 at auction in 2016, so his 2526 could bring a record price.”

Warhol watches Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe was one of Warhol’s favourite brands, and his 18-carat yellow-gold Ref. 2503, circa 1952, sold for approx. $98,500 at Christie’s in 2016. Christie’s

The story behind how the 313 watches came to market is as intriguing as anything else in Warhol’s life—and perfectly encapsulates his profoundly eccentric behaviour. He started to buy pieces as soon as he had disposable income and often styled them in a particularly Warhol way, frequently wearing a woman’s gold Rolex over his shirt cuff. None of his circle knew how many timepieces he had amassed, though. “The first watches were found in the ornate fringed fabric canopy above his four-poster bed,” says Daryn Schnipper, the senior vice president at Sotheby’s in New York who officiated the auction in April 1988 and then, seven months later, the sale of a second batch that had been discovered in the false bottom of a file drawer. “It’s important to remember that it was early days for the watch market,” she says. “People bid for them at the time purely because they had belonged to him.”

Paige Powell, who was one of Warhol’s closest friends and employees—the two were even planning to adopt a child together before he died—was gifted numerous artworks by him but still came to the auction. “I bought a watch from the 1950s, with Gene Autry’s face on it, for US$1,800,” she recalls. For Powell, it represents a strong connection to her late friend, who as a boy kept a scrapbook with pictures of Autry and screen partner Roy Rogers glued into its pages.

Warhol bought watches regularly and prolifically, hoovering them up from markets and dealers along with cookie jars, American Indian art and assorted ephemera. As the working-class son of Rusyn émigrés, he spent his new wealth on watches by big names that would hold value. He knew all the best dealers worldwide and turned shopping into a sport, frequently hunting with friend, art dealer and collector Todd Brassner, who died in an inferno that engulfed his art-filled apartment in Trump Tower in 2018.

Warhol watches

Warhol’s Rolex stainless-steel and pink-gold Oyster Chronograph Ref. 3525 (left) and Piaget 18-carat yellow-gold watch.

Warhol was drawn to repetition in his art and his timepieces alike. There are variations on certain designs, like the Tank, that appear again and again in his collection, and preferred shapes, such as square dials by Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe from the 1950s and 1960s that were arduous to make at the time. He also invested in highly detailed graphic work, drawn to the moon phases on a Patek Philippe piece circa 1970 (which went for a high approx. $28,900 in 1988) and a 1973 large gold oval wristwatch with a Cartier Audemars Piguet movement and distorted Roman numerals that look like they jumped out of a Dalí painting (which sold for an even higher approx. $49,100). As well as the classics, fascinating outliers popped up in the collection, including a Bulgari gold spiral bracelet watch, which is a predecessor of the Bulgari Serpenti Turbogas (the 35 mm 18-carat pink-gold version with diamonds currently retails for around $53,900).

Of the brands that define the hoard, Cartier and Piaget are particularly notable. Buyers dispatched from the latter walked away from the 1988 auction with five of the seven lots bearing the Piaget name for its archive in Geneva. One, with a moulded gold oval case and gold baton numerals, went on to spark the ongoing Piaget Vintage Inspiration series of new watches, including a 2015 limited-edition Black Tie timepiece in white gold. The lines of the original Piaget frame—not square, not circular—hit a sweet spot between YSL Le Smoking chic and vintage Chrysler Building industrial Deco. So Studio 54.

It is tricky to draw comparisons between the market for Warhol’s art and the one for his watches. Prices for his paintings and prints rocketed in 2007 before plummeting along with almost everything else in the art world in 2008, then stabilized and have risen steadily since 2010, with an average annual growth of 12.5 percent, according to Artnet. Warhol’s 1963 Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) changed hands for US$105.4 million in 2013, but there are also entry-level artworks. Not enough of his timepieces come to market to create a reliable metric of inflation. We know how much a rare Patek Philippe has appreciated, but a Warhol provenance throws a curveball. These are watches tethered to a glamorous past and narrative and can command whatever a Warhol worshipper is willing to pay. In some ways, each of the watches is a rarer find than one of his paintings. There are scores of Maos and Marilyns out there, but only one 1930 Longines for Wittnauer silver aviator watch that he actually owned.

Warhol watches Patek Philippe Cartier

Warhol’s Cartier 18-carat yellow-gold Tank Louis watch (left) and Patek Philippe 18-carat yellow-gold Automatic Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 3448. Leslie Hindman/Sotheby’s

Within the 976 pages of Blake Gopnik’s recently published epic biography, Warhol, there are several accounts of the artist’s hoarder tendencies. He liked, it is said, to walk around with a breast pocket full of diamonds. They never saw the light of day; he just enjoyed knowing they were there, a fabulously valuable stash without any real purpose. That frisson of glamour through physical association is something he went on to invest in the “Business Art” that defined the last 15 years of his life: projects with little hands-on involvement but his name attached, which was enough. In many ways the 1988 auctions at Sotheby’s represented his greatest expression of the medium. Hundreds of people bid for watches because they had been chosen and touched by him, maybe strapped around his wrist. In the space of two days seven months apart, he fashioned a fresh market. Warhol made classic, craft-heavy watches sexy. And he didn’t even have to be there to do it.


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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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