This week brings a cornucopia of unusual luxury news, combining new meanings to superstition, prognostication, complication, and definition.
Surprisingly, in the weeks preceding Black Friday, none of this news is exactly about commerce, making these items rare, pleasant interludes; the calm before the holiday turbulence.
Possibly Cursed? Definitely Complicated! The Most Expensive Watch — $24M— Ever Sold At Auction
A week ago, The most complicated handmade watch, the Henry Graves Supercomplication, was sold at auction for $24M. A “complication” is a technical term referring to any feature on a watch which is in addition to simply telling the time – and Henry Graves Jr wanted many complications.
The Supercomplication was created by Patek Philippe in 1932. It took Swiss horologists three years to research and a further five to make, completing it in 1933. The watch has 24 complications inside the watch: including Westminster chimes, a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, and a celestial map of New York as seen from Graves’s apartment on Fifth Avenue.In total, there are 24 horological complications and ‘The Graves’ held the title of the world’s most complicated watch for 56 years. But.. according to recent history, the 1933 Patek Phillipe timepiece has brought ill-luck and tragedy to its owners.
The curse stretches back to to its first owner Henry Graves. Seven months after Graves took possession, his best friend died and a short time later his son George was killed in a car crash. A Sheik then bought the watch 15 years ago for $11M, but had to sell it to pay debts. Last week, it was sold in Geneva to an undisclosed buyer for a record $24M but it has now emerged that the Sheik, the most recent owner of the watch, had passed away two days earlier. It is by far the most valuable, complicated watch in the world, also with a complicated history.
Not Cursed, Not Complicated: The Ultimate Instagirl
This week, 19-year-old model Kendall Jenner, the daughter of Kris and Bruce Jenner, was named the new face of Estée Lauder and will appear in the company’s TV, digital, and print ad campaigns. The president of Estee lauder, Jane Herzmark Hudis, said she was “the ultimate instagirl, and we expect to leverage her image, voice, energy and extraordinary social media power to introduce Estée Lauder to millions of young women around the world.” A new definition — “instagirl” and an even truer statement! Even though it was only a few days ago this news was revealed, her brand has already had a major effect on Estee Lauder. According to Estee Lauder’s Instagram page, it has gained 50,000 followers, bringing the total up to more than 308,000.The sharp increase only seems to prove just how much sway the teen – who has a very impressive 15 million-plus followers of her own – possesses, especially on social media.
Planning Ahead….. Way Ahead: Four Seasons Jet Itineraries announced for 2016
Four Seasons has announced this week that four new private jet itineraries have been chartered for 2016, following the success of their initial jet trips for 2015. The Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts retrofitted its own Boeing 757 to offer private jet experiences for luxury travelers. The three trips next year, offered on the jet will start in February 2015 with space up to 52 guests and can be privately chartered. According to CNN, the cost of the all-inclusive trips is around $119.000. These trips include a 24-day, nine-destination ‘Around the World’ itinerary from Los Angeles to London and a ‘Backstage with the Arts’ journey in April covering 16 days and six cities including Milan, Prague and St. Petersburg. Another Around the World itinerary is planned for August 2015 including visits to the Serengeti, Beijing, Marrakech, Maldives, Tokyo and New York. Accommodations will be provided at Four Seasons hotels, with guided tours, helicopter rides, and private dinners—all part of the package. The plane also has an on-board concierge. The first 2016 journey leaves Los Angeles in January and lasts 24-nights including stops at Kona, Bora Bora, Sydney, Bali, Chiang Mai, Taj Mahal, Mumbai and Prague before finishing in London. Others include a journey from April from Seattle to Boston including calls at Tokyo, Beijing, Maldives, Serengeti, Istanbul, St Petersburg and Marrakech, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Petra, Dubai and Florence are among the other destinations in the other two itineraries.
Smokin’ News and Wealthy Deceased Celebrities
It is not every day we write headlines that contains these two such diverse subjects, but today we can. The Financial Times of London broke a story yesterday about Bob Marley, deceased in 1981. His estate and brand will be partnering with a venture capital firm in Seattle to produce the first ever mass produced marijuana cigarettes. Those who know this recreational and medicinal market say right now it is worth abut $2.6 BILLION, as the sale has been legalized in several states, even though the drug remains illegal under U.S. law. Marley’s estate brought in $20m in the past year, putting him at number five on Forbes’ annual list of top-earning deceased celebrities – behind Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, but ahead of Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon. The name of the cigarettes will be Marley Natural.
Foretelling The Luxury Future: More China, More Cadillacs, More Obvious
Not that we are always looking into the crystal ball; nor are we tea leaf readers, but when two predictions like these happen, we must report them.
First, it was reported this week in Luxury Society, and in the American news media, that President Obama announced the signing of a reciprocal visa agreement with China, which will allow tourists, business people and students to stay longer in the US. than before. Business visas have been increased from one to ten years and student and exchange visas have been increased from one to five years. Many believe this increase will heard a major business boom in the U.S., and will add to the influx of Chinese shoppers.
Last year, 1.8 million Chinese nationals visited the US and spent upwards of $21B. And even with these data, it is also understood that only Only around 2% of outbound Chinese travelers visit the US each year. But because of this increase in visa time, the US will see more repeat Chinese tourists: The significant lengthening of tourist visas from one year to ten years will make it even easier for Chinese tourists to plan repeat trips back to the US. This will result in a growing number of experienced tourists who are more likely to travel individually, rather than on Chinese tour groups. With this increase in visa time, it was predicted that by 2021, 7.3 million Chinese travelers will come to the US and spend $85B annually.
Second, Johann de Nysschen, head of Cadillac, General Motors announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, that Cadillac’s brand could eventually sell ultra-luxury cars whose price with be a quarter-million dollars by 2029. “It is too early today for a $250,000 Cadillac,” Johann de Nysschen said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “Fifteen years from now, it won’t be.”
Cadillac’s current flagship car, the XTS sedan, sells at around $70,000 which is much less than the German competitors –BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz. De Nysschen, a former import executive who was named Cadillac president in August, is overseeing a product and brand enhancement that will cost GM an estimated $2.5 billion over the next six years. As part of that brand overhaul, Cadillac is readying the launch next year of a new high-end sedan, the CT-6, followed by an even larger, more expensive model by 2020. De Nysschen hinted the CT-6 will be priced “in the 70s,” or just above the XTS.
“We quite clearly have in the passenger car line an opportunity below where ATS is positioned today,” de Nysschen said. “There is a whole new category for compact premium sedans. The Germans have so many you can’t keep track. An obvious, obvious shortcoming in our lineup.”