Tag Archives: Hong Kong

HK Loses Luxury Watch Crown to USA

After years of being the official global luxury wristwatch sales leader, Hong Kong is relinquishing its crown to the US. In a statement last week, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) announced that exports to Hong Kong fell 33% to CHF174.8 million. Exports to the US also fell but only by 14.7%, which was enough for it to overtake Hong Kong, with CHF178.5 million. To put that in perspective, the global decline in Swiss watch exports is just 11.1% in the current year till end July. Incidentally, 2015 was the first year that Swiss luxury watch exports registered a contraction since the financial crisis of 2009.

It is the first time Hong Kong has fallen off the top spot in almost a decade (the last time was 2008). By way of contrast, bucking an overall slump affecting every country from Singapore to Japan, exports to the UK and Italy rose by 13% and 9.9%. Brexit has evidently been good for watch retailers, well, the retreating Sterling has anyway, while the Italians have always been reliable buyers of big ticket watches.

The top 10 countries that imported Swiss luxury watches (for the month of July 2016) are listed below, with data courtesy of the FH.

  • 1. USA (CHF178.5 million)
  • 2. Hong Kong (CHF174.8 million)
  • 3. Italy (CHF123.4 million)
  • 4. Japan (CHF112.8 million)
  • 5. France (CHF110.5 million)
  • 6. United Kingdom (CHF110.2 million)
  • 7. China (CHF107.1 million)
  • 8. Germany (CHF89.3 million)
  • 9. Singapore (CHF83.7 million)
  • 10. UAE (CHF70.6 million)

The Upper House, Hong Kong: Top of the World

Located at the heart of Hong Kong’s business district is Swire Hotel’s luxury hotelThe Upper House. Sitting atop Pacific Place, The Upper House is equipped with 117 hotel rooms (including 21 suites and 2 penthouses), and also premiere lounges and facilities. Designed by renowned Hong-Kong based architect Andre Fu, The Upper House is as calming as it is contemporary. The breath-taking views of the harbour, Kowloon and the surrounding hills that can be seen from the rooms add to this relaxing and luxurious experience.

The Upper House Hong Kong

Entrance Doors

Another notable feature about The Upper House is its size. These spacious rooms, ranging from 730sqf to 1,960sqf, are not commonly found in Hong Kong, where compact living is the norm, and is the perfect haven for whether you’re in town for work or play, to re-charge and breathe before you take on the city again.

The Upper House Hong Kong

Main Dining Hall

Then there’s Café Gray Deluxe, arguably the best thing about The Upper House. Located on the 49th floor, Café Gray Deluxe is a grand café and restaurant that serves signature European dishes by Chef Gray Kunz, and offers a glorious view of the Victoria Harbour. Its bar is stocked with some of the best wines in the world, and serves amazing cocktails to boot. So whether you’re looking to dine exquisitely, or wine down feeling like a king, Café Gray Deluxe is the place to be.

The Upper House Hong Kong

Studio with Harbour View

Now art lovers listen up: The Upper House is also a home to a collection of contemporary artworks and installation on display. Both local and international artists such as Mang Fung Yi (Hong Kong), Armen Agop (Egypt) and Hiroshiwata Sawada (Japan) to name a few, have their works showcased around the hotel lobby and in the suites. In addition, The Upper House is located a stone’s throw from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) where Art Basel Hong Kong is held every year. And just a little bit further is the Central District, where most of Hong Kong’s best art galleries are located.

The Upper House Hong Kong

Bathroom with night view

Recently, the Upper House announced an upcoming partnership with the luxury lifestyle store Harvey Nichols, which is also found in the Pacific Place Mall, to offer both a unique hotel-stay and shopping experience. “At The Upper House, luxury service defines an environment which is not only about a beautiful surrounding but also a service and anticipation of service. We always work hard to go beyond guest expectations and to make every guest feel at home” said Marcel Thoma, General Manager of The Upper House, Hong Kong. He added, “What sets us apart is that mastering the skill of becoming an expert observer, actively taking note of any routine or preferences your guest may have, from the bag they carry to the way they shake your hand. Each clue provides an insight on the bespoke type of service they would appreciate.”

The Upper House Hong Kong

Double Vanities

Now take all of the above and add to it a tight-knit family of some of the best service staff in the world, always there at your beck and call for your every need, no matter how small… it really doesn’t get any better than this.

The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong – +852 2918 1838

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

A rare musical score written by classical great Gustav Mahler went on show in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of a landmark auction by Sotheby’s. It just might be the world’s most expensive musical manuscript.

The hand-written complete version of Mahler’s lauded “Resurrection Symphony” will go on sale in London later in the year with a £3.5 million ($4.5 million) price tag — the highest ever estimate for a musical manuscript, according to the auction house.

The 19th century Austrian composer and conductor wrote 10 symphonies, but Sotheby’s said none had ever gone under the hammer in its entirety.

“No complete symphony by Mahler, written in the composer’s own hand, has ever been offered at auction, and probably none will be offered again,” said Simon Maguire, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at the auction house.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a manuscript of truly outstanding historical importance.”

Fans viewed the 232-page exhibit Wednesday at Sotheby’s central gallery in Hong Kong.

Among the first visitors Wednesday was Anthony Cheng, co-founder of the Mahler Society of Hong Kong, who said the complete set was made particularly rare because it has Mahler’s conducting notes written across the margins.

“It’s not easy to see a complete symphony written by him or the complete set (like) we can see here,” he told AFP, adding that he believed the manuscript would hit its asking price at auction.

“Mahler is the bridge between late romantic music and 20th Century music… and his influence is still felt in the 21st Century today,” he said. “He is an icon in both conducting and composing.”

Sotheby’s said the manuscript was being offered by the estate of the American economist and businessman Gilbert Kaplan, who became “infatuated” by the work, also known as Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

Kaplan went on to conduct the symphony himself with some of the world’s greatest orchestras before his death in January this year.

"You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970": The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics "Revolution" (1968)

7 International Art Exhibitions

It is a whirlwind trip to see some of the finest pieces of art on display at exhibitions around the world, transporting one in a matter of moments to different epochs by capturing the stunning images through print and paint. Today we look at seven exhibitions that explore the works of Russian avant-garde artists and sixties revolutionaries.

“You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970”, at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, from September 10, 2016 to February 26, 2017

This major upcoming exhibition will walk us through the ideals of the 1960s: optimism and aspirations were brought to life in political activism, movies, music, fashion and design. At the heart of the exhibition will be a musical odyssey featuring big names in 20th-century music.

“George Lilanga”, organized by the Zinsou Fondation at Lab de Fidjrossè in Cotonou, Benin, from September 12, 

The work of the Tanzanian George Lilanga, who died in 2005, will be exhibited in Benin in the fall, at Lab de Fidjrossè, in the country’s economic capital Cotonou. Organized by the Zinsou Foundation, the exhibition will include both paintings and sculptures characteristic of Lilani’s conteporary style, including his famous half-human half-imaginary “shetanis” (small Satans).

“Yves Klein” at Tate Liverpool from October 21, 2016 to March 5, 2017

A major artist of the post-war period, Yves Klein is known around the world for his blue monochrome paintings. Tate Liverpool is holding the first British retrospective of his work in 20 years.

“Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection”  at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, from October 22, 2016 to February 20, 2017

"Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin collection" from October 22, 2016 to February 20, 2017 at the Fondation Louis Vuitton: "Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper (Chevalier X)" by André Derain, 1911-1914.

“Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper (Chevalier X)” by André Derain, 1911-1914.

The man behind this exhibition is Sergei Shchukin, a Russian who collected French modern art of the early 20th century. The show includes works by major artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Degas. Visitors to the Fondation Vuitton will be introduced to the collection through 130 pieces from the Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin State Museum.

“Konstantin Grcic – Panorama” at the Hong Kong Design Institute, from November 25, 2016 to February 26, 2017 

Konstantin Grcic, who designed such iconic pieces as the Chair One and the Mayday lamp, is considered one of the leading designers of our time. This new exhibition at the Hong Kong Design Institute examines the German designer’s career through drawings and installations specifically created by Grcic for the event.

“Robert Rauschenberg” at the Tate Modern, London, from December 1, 2016 to April 2, 2017

Tate Modern is holding the first retrospective of the artist Robert Rauschenberg since his death in 2008. Rauschenberg was one of the creators of pop art. Just like Andy Warhol, he worked with mass imagery and materials — painting, silk-screen printing, found objects, newspapers, and images of politicians, sports personalities and pop stars.

“A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde” at the MoMA, New York, from March 4, 2016 to March 12, 2017

"A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde": El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941). Date: 1926. Gelatin silver print, 10 1/2 x 8 13/16″ (26.7 x 22.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walt

“A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde”: El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941). Date: 1926. Gelatin silver print, 10 1/2 x 8 13/16″ (26.7 x 22.4 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walt

This MoMA exhibition explores a period of artistic innovation in Russia from the First World War until the end of the first Five-Year Plan (during the inter-war period). Coinciding with the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the exhibition features the movement’s experimental projects in painting, drawing, sculpture, print, books, film, etc.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Vintage Wine Auction

Care for a vintage bottle for the cellars of Bouchard Père & Fils? Well, the good news is that come September 3, Christie’s Hong Kong will be offering 220 lots of rare vintage wines from Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils. However, should the wines and vintages from the largest vineyard in Burgundy not be of interest, then you may still look forward to several lots from an esteemed connoisseur’s private collection. Joining these lots is a selection of Burgundy wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

According to Christie’s Hong Kong, several of the vintages date back to 1846 and remained “undisturbed in their cellars in the Château de Beaune until they were shipped to Hong Kong specifically for this sale.” The bottles had been left unlabelled in the naturally cool and humid environment found in the cellars of Château de Beaune — an ideal climate to mature a vintage wine. The selected wines and vintages that will go under the hammer next month, have been reconditioned and re-corked before being re-labelled and housed in new wooden presentation cases.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Cellar

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Cellar

Some lots to look out for, include the 1865 Montrachet, 1865 Chambertin and 1846 & 1858 Meursault-Charmes. From the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, comes a Vertical Collection of La Tâche from 1951 to 2008. While wine enthusiasts would be happy to learn about the sale, it comes as no surprise that some would be less confident in sampling the wines that have been stored for close to two centuries. To help determine if the wines are more collectibles for the trophy case or consumable spirits, we picked up an AFP interview with Christian Albouy, CEO of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils.

The oldest vintage in your auction is 1846. Even with the best possible storage conditions, what impact do all those years have on wine quality?

All the bottles are of remarkable quality, and that includes the 1846 Meursault Charmes. We store our entire collection in cellars (built in the 15th century) protected from light, at a natural temperature range of 10-14°C. The humidity level is a natural 50-75%, which prevents the corks from drying out and becoming porous which would lead to oxidation. We also check our bottles regularly and replace the corks every 25-30 years, which gives us an opportunity to monitor the quality of the wine.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Volnay Caillerets 1889

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Volnay Caillerets 1889

Can the quality of an 1846 or 1865 wine still increase if a buyer decided to continue the aging process, or has it reached its peak at that age?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, but it does seem possible in optimal storage conditions. It’s the oxygen dissolved in the wine which will slowly and steadily change and possibly improve the wine. The main threats to wine conservation are oxidation and the effect of ultraviolet rays from daylight. Red wines are easier to preserve because of their anthocyanin and tannin content. A wine’s vintage is also a very important factor. The content of sugar can play a part, as can the level of alcohol which protects the wine against micro-organisms.

Which appellations hold up best against the passing of time?

In terms of the appellations that can be found in the upcoming sale, it could be argued that the red wines from the southern part of the Côte de Beaune area (Beaune Grève Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Volnay, Pommard, and Corton) are in a slightly stronger position than the wines from the Côte de Nuits area. But Chambertin, Romanée and Vosne-Romanée wines also have exceptionally good aging potential. The vinification and bottling processes have a very significant impact on aging potential.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Musigny 1945

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Musigny 1945

The auction, which has been organized in partnership with Christie’s, will comprise 220 lots, including 2,000 bottles of vintage wine ranging from 1846 to 2009. Bouchard Père & Fils is a highly renowned domaine in Burgundy, eastern France, and one of the oldest wine businesses in Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wine. It produces a variety of appellations, including the top Burgundy wines Corton-Charlemagne and Meursault Perrières. The vineyard covers a total of 130 hectares, including 12 hectares of Grands Crus and 74 hectares of Premiers Crus.

This information from this article, was provided by Christie’s Hong Kong Wine Department and AFPRelaxnews. To learn more about the upcoming auction, visit Christie’s.

5 Must-Visit Design Exhibitions L'esprit du Bauhaus

5 Must-Visit Design Exhibitions Fall 2016

The world of decoration and design kicks off a new season with the Maison & Objet exhibition in Paris, which will be held from September 2 to 6, 2016. It is the first in a raft of interesting upcoming design exhibitions around the globe.

1. Playing on an amalgamation of “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones”, the “House of Games” is the theme of the upcoming Maison & Objet interior design trade fair. Gearing up for exhibition in the Maison & Objet Inspirations Space from September 2 to 6, this year’s concept was conceived by trendspotter Vincent Gregoire from the NellyRodi agency.

True to its name, “House of Games” paints an offbeat kind of fantasy, while mirroring the need for games in modern society. It is a revival of baroque style combined with Alice in Wonderland eclecticism: masked balls and private clubs bask in a fin-de-siecle ambiance, while acknowledging the increasing popularity of board games. On that note, feather artisan Julien Vermuelen’s creations (pictured below) might best represent this year’s theme.

Feathered samurai by Julien Vermeulen © Julien Vermeulen All rights reserved / Maison & Objet 2016

Feathered samurai by Julien Vermeulen © Julien Vermeulen
All rights reserved / Maison & Objet 2016

2. “How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior” from October 1, 2016 to April 23, 2017 at the MoMA, New York

With this exhibition, New York’s Museum of Modern Art will explore the complex partnerships, materials and processes that have shaped interiors from the 1920s to the 1950s. The exhibition will bring together over 200 objects, including some from the MoMA collections. Big names in design will be featured, including Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Charlotte Perriand, Alvar Alto, and Charles and Ray Eames.

5 Must-Visit Design Exhibitions L'esprit du Bauhaus

Triptychs (2014) in walnut and colored mirrors by Jean Nouvel (Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Segui). © Aline Coquelle

3. “The Spirit of Bauhaus” from October 19, 2016 to February 26, 2017 at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris

From 1919 to 1933, the Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin produced many influential artists and designers including Vassily Kandinsky, Marcel Breur, who invented bent tubular steel furniture, and the photographer Florence Henri, who took classes with Paul Klee. By bringing together painters, architects, craftsmen, engineers, actors, musicians, photographers and designers, the school created a new approach to daily living. The Musée des Arts décoratifs will pay tribute to this artistic movement via the historical periods and art forms which fueled its spirit, and will also display original Bauhaus pieces.

5 Must-Visit Design Exhibitions L'esprit du Bauhaus

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. Architect: Louis Kahn. © Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Photo by Lionel Freedman.

4. “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture” from November 5, 2016 to January 31, 2017 at the San Diego Museum of Art

The renowned American architect Louis Kahn is the subject of an exhibition in California’s San Diego Museum of Art. His most notable works include the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Capital Complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The exhibition will include architectural models, original designs, photographs and films.

5. “Konstantin Grcic – Panorama” from November 25, 2016 to February 26, 2017 at the Hong Kong Design Institute

Konstantin Grcic, who designed such iconic pieces as the Chair One and the Mayday lamp, is considered one of the leading designers of our time. This new exhibition at the Hong Kong Design Institute examines the German designer’s career through drawings and installations specifically created by Grcic for the event.

Fila x Jason Wu

FILA x Jason Wu: Athletic-Wear Reinterpreted

We know high fashion collaborations are a dime a dozen today but this is one we’re seriously coveting. The perfect amalgamation of sports luxe with high fashion, the FILA x Jason Wu collection is a modern reinterpretation of some of FILA’s most iconic pieces.

Ladies can expect iconic tennis dresses and classic sporty separates, while the guys will appreciate the wide selection of polos, pants and shorts, all boldly emblazoned with a recurring color-blocking motif (courtesy of Jason Wu, of course).

The collection will only be available both in select retail locations in Hong Kong and online this fall.

Find out more about the collection at L’Officiel.com now.

K-Pop Star T.O.P. Curates Sotheby’s Art Auction

Choi Seung-hyun, better known as T.O.P., is no stranger to the Asian music scene. Hailing from the very popular South Korean band Big Bang (V.I.P.s raise your hands!), T.O.P. has an enormous fan following – and it is this reach that Sotheby’s is trying to tap into. For the first time ever, Sotheby’s Hong Kong has invited a young art collector – that means T.O.P. – to curate a contemporary art sale, in a bid to encourage a younger audience to get interested and involved in the art market.

In case you didn’t know, T.O.P. wasn’t chosen merely for his fame – he’s also a fan and collector of modern art. One need only look to his Instagram for an illustration of our point: apart from the occasional selfie, it is full of art. In an exclusive interview with Men’s Folio Singapore, T.O.P also reveals that he comes from a family of artists, so he’s even had some art “training” to his name. Throw in his role as co-curator for Singapore’s ArtScience Museum’s 2015 exhibition “The Eye Zone”, as well as his Visual Culture prize at the Prudential Eye Awards, and the logic behind Sotheby’s choice in T.O.P. becomes clearer.

While the exact lots in the auction have not been announced yet, Sotheby’s contemporary art sale has already been scheduled for October 3, 2016. A portion of the proceeds raised during the auction will go towards the Asian Cultural Council, which offers grants, programs and support to artists in order to encourage cultural exchange.

Watch the video below for more information. (Or, if you were here more for T.O.P. than the art auction, watch the video below to stare at his handsome visage.)

Auction: David Bowie Private Art Collection

Behind the flamboyance and music that was the late David Bowie, was an avid art connoisseur whose private art collection will soon be up for auction. While his life was spent in the public eye for nearly 50 years, his passion for art work was something like a hidden secret — much like his battle with cancer.

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995 Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995
Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

In November, a three-part auction will see over 400 of his prized pieces go under the hammer. The highlight, happens to be 200 pieces of Modern and Contemporary British Art featuring artists such as Henry Moors, Graham Sutherland, Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst. “Art was seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings.” said Bowie to The New York Times back in 1998. “The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through” he added.

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Prior to the auction, selected pieces from the collection will travel on a Preview World Tour through London, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong from July 20 to October 15. Those in the vicinity of Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries in London, can also get a glimpse of the collection from November 1 to 10. We expect significant interest in this auction, especially the Jean-Michel Basquiat piece “Air Power” (1984). You might recall that Bowie played the role of Andy Warhol in Basquiat, the 1996 Julian Schnabel biopic. Such extraordinary provenance means “Air Power”, acquired by Bowie in 1997, might be hotly contested by collectors. In any case, Basquiat is currently in vogue, as our previous reports attest.

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie said, “David’s art collection was fuelled by personal interest and compiled out of passion. He always sought and encouraged loans from the collection and enjoyed sharing the works in his custody. Though his family are keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance, it is now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired.”

Updated Icon: Shanghai Tang Round Sunglasses

If you’ve ever watched a Wong Kar Wai movie and never felt inspired by the decadence of the cast’s 1960s Asian-inspired wardrobe, we know you’re lying. This season, Shanghai Tang brings back the forgotten vision of Chinese chic with three new colour combinations of its iconic retro Chinese round frames sunglasses.

The Hong Kong-based company also celebrated the launch of its latest eyewear collection with a Pre-Summer cocktail party, an extravaganza which saw the attendance of celebrities such as Korean actor Jin Goo of Descendants of the Sun fame.

Read more about the collection and the launch party at L’OfficielSingapore.com now.

Hong Kong is World’s Priciest City for Expats

Hong Kong has beat the capital of Angola for the dubious honor of being the most expensive city for expats this year. Yes, for those who don’t recall, Luanda has topped a rather unflattering list that often left people wondering what the hell Luanda is…

Well after three years at the top of the list, Luanda was pipped to the post following the weakening of its currency, and a considerably stronger Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar. The annual list, compiled by consultancy firm Mercer, is designed for companies to gauge allowances for expat workers. More than 200 items are considered in each of the 209 cities across the world, including the cost of housing, food, transport and entertainment.

It is status quo for expats in Singapore and Zurich. Zurich and Singapore remain unchanged in third and fourth position on the list respectively. You may recall that Singapore topped another list like this one so do remember that who the list is meant for. With a stronger yen, Tokyo was jumped six places up the list to become the world’s fifth most expensive expat destination. Kinshasa of Congo made its debut on the top 10 list by ranking sixth this year, beating Shanghai, Geneva, N’Djamena (that’s in Chad in case you wondered) and Beijing.

Mercer said that rankings were affected by “volatile markets and stunted economic growth in many parts of the world”. True enough, the cost of living in several US cities rose proportionately with the backing of a strong currency. Conversely, cities in countries with a weakening dollar have become more economical. The weakening of the Russian Ruble has resulted in Moscow tumbling 50 spots down the list – from 17th costliest city to the 67th.

Expats living in the UK also have reasons to rejoice (sort of). London dropped five places to 17th, while Glasgow dropped 10 places to 119th and Birmingham fell 16 places to 96th position. Now that Brexit is here and the sterling is taking a beating, all these cities will become less painful on the bottom line…

Hong Kong Debut: Galeon 500 Fly Powerboat

It has a brand new hull and a great deal of interior space on all three decks so it is no wonder the Galeon 500 Fly powerboat is a highly anticipated yacht. Set to arrive in Hong Kong later this year, the 16.2-meter yacht boasts a 725hp engine and a maximum load of 4,270kg. The award winning “European Powerboat of the Year 2016” is one that brings a series of innovations to the Galeon Range.Galeon-500-Fly-galley

With three distinct aft configurations to choose from, the 500 Fly is set to be a third generation yacht. The choices are endless: full-sized garage, sundeck, classic L-shaped sofa, crew cabin set-up or even a roto-seat option. The unique beach mode feature extends the width of the cockpit to almost 5.8 meters by dropping down both port and starboard sides.Galeon-500-Fly-galley-2

Up on the flybridge, one can choose between a wet bar, sundecks and a second helm station. The option of two different garage possibilities and powerful hydraulic bath platform allows for a range of engaging water sports possibilities. Thanks to glass doors that can be moved easily, the maindeck hides the saloon. A flush floor hides the cockpit area that is linked to the maindeck.Galeon-500-Fly-master-suite

Entertaining guests is a breeze with the help of an outdoor bar while the saloon is a well-lit area that provides a comfortable space to relax in. Below deck, guests have access to three cabins and two bathrooms that cater to up to six people. The master cabin is fitted with a double bed and a walk-in wardrobe along with an ensuite bathroom for added privacy. A VIP cabin on the bow provides two more guests with a series of skylights above the bed while a guest cabin is spacious enough for two. The guest cabin can also be converted into a study, wardrobe or additional leisure area should the need arise.

Diamond-set Hermes Birkin Breaks Auction Record

A diamond-encrusted crocodile-skin Hermes handbag with white gold details has broken the record for the world’s most expensive ever sold at auction, fetching nearly $300,000 at a Hong Kong sale.

The rare Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 went to an unknown phone bidder late Monday for HK$2.32 million ($298,655), beating a pre-sale estimate of HK$2 million, the auction house Christie’s said.

“It was the world record price for any handbag sold at auction,” Bingle Lee, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Christie’s, told AFP.

Designer handbags are increasingly seen as investment opportunities and are the latest craze for collectors, taking global auction houses by storm and scoring record prices.

The new record beat one set last year, also in Hong Kong, when a fuchsia-colored Hermes bag sold for $222,912.

The handmade bag — described by the London-based auctioneers as the “rarest, most sought-after” — is encrusted with diamonds, while the buckle and trademark mini Hermes padlock are made of 18k white gold.

“It is believed that only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags,” Christie’s said in a statement issued before the sale.

The bag was made in 2008 and is from Hermes’ iconic “Birkin” series named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, who was born in Britain and lives in France.

A smaller Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 25 handbag will go under the hammer June 1 with an estimate price of HK$1.3 million to HK$1.5 million.

The auction was part of the firm’s 30th anniversary sales to mark its presence in Asia, with a range of luxury goods on offer, including Chinese paintings, watches and wine.

Protect Your Wine In Hong Kong Bunker

While Hong Kong is growing into one of the major capitals for fine wine out there thanks to the incredible concentration of wealth (and the potential of China), there is of course the minor issue of space because the SAR is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Wine storage can thus be a bit of a hassle, creating an opportunity for people willing to provide protection for the wines of various collectors out there. In order to cater to the highest end of the spectrum, Crown Wine Cellars has converted an old British war bunker complex into a high-security wine cellar, perfect for protecting some of the finest wines out there.

The six Central Ordnance Munitions Depot bunkers, each spanning some 1,000 square feet, have been updated and transformed into state-of-the-art wine cellars. Security is so tight that clients are not allowed to enter the storage houses and can only view the collections in small rooms, where they’ll be watched closely by video cameras. Furthermore, staff must wear wetsuits when entering the cellars (to deter theft, not because they have an underwater level), and some vaults require three codes simultaneously inputted to open.

Safe as Houses

Why so much precaution involved? One can point to the fact that the cellar holds two of the world’s most expensive bottles of wine ever sold at auction: the Château Lafite 1869 that went under the hammer in 2010 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, fetching $232,692 apiece. And the client list will probably grow as time passes, given that imports are going up exponentially – to $1.5 billion in 2015, up from $206 million in 2007 according to Hong Kong Trade Development Council figures. The city also recently hosted the Vinexpo, Asia’s largest wine and spirits fair, showing their growing worth as a major hub for connoisseurs everywhere.

wine storage HK 2016

Even the government’s starting to take note – they’ve sought to encourage the storage industry by creating the world’s first Wine Storage Management Systems Certification Scheme in 2009. Crown happens to be one of the 37 companies certified, and has around 2,000 customers including major auction houses such as Sotheby’s. Gregory De ‘Eb, the company principal of Crown Wine Cellars, notes that there are “more than three billion Hong Kong dollars” worth of wine being managed by them.

Another such storage company is Wine Vault. Founded in 2008, they converted disused industrial space into individual climate-controlled wine storage rooms. The cellars span from between 40 and 80 square feet in size, and users can access their collection whenever they want, thanks to facial recognition software. All this adds up to a growing ecosystem to suit the various requirements and tastes of connoisseurs in the Asian city.

This story was written in-house, with an AFP report as the source and images from the AFP.

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Genting Dream Dream Cruises

Genting Hong Kong Launches Dream Cruises

“International in spirit, but Asian at heart” – that’s what Genting Hong Kong’s latest initiative, Dream Cruises, promises its passengers. And the first ever Asian-luxury cruise line keeps true to its word, starting with its exterior. The hull of the massive 335 meter Genting Dream is adorned by an art piece by Chinese pop-artist Jacky Tsai. Titled “Voyage of a Lover’s Dream”, the ethereal image is that of a journey of love between a mermaid and an astronaut – a metaphor for the boundless elements of water and space.

Dream Suite 2

Inside, the heart and soul of the ship is centered on Asian heritage and lifestyle. The 2,000-strong crew on deck accommodate up to 3,400 guests, leading the crew-to-guest ratio in Asia-based cruising with stellar Asian hospitality. The room options are more than impressive – more than 70 percent of cabins feature balconies, and the 100 connecting rooms make the journey more enjoyable for large groups and families. For a little decadence, the ‘Dream Mansion’ is a two-floor suite that comes with special guest privileges, European-style butler service and your very own grand piano.


Within Genting Dream lie 35 restaurants and bar concepts, each capturing the flavors of Asia and the world. A 610-meter wraparound promenade allows for sea-side dining and an unadulterated view of the ocean during sunset.

Onboard, the sheer number of entertainment options will ensure no one has time to get bored. The pool features six exhilarating water slides, alongside a rock-climbing wall, while there are dedicated play rooms for toddlers. The health-conscious will enjoy the full complement of health and well-being facilities, including yoga classes and spas. Millennials (especially Singapore ones) will be thrilled to find a familiar name onboard – the iconic Zouk will recreate the world-class clubbing experience that it is known for on high seas. A unique ‘retail-tainment’ concept will also be introduced, providing highly personalized shopping experiences such as trunk shows, personal shoppers and in-cabin services throughout the journey.

5 Water Slides

The Dream Cruise is slated to have her maiden cruise from her homeport in Guangzhou (Nansha Port), China on November 13, 2016, and will offer 2, 5 and 7-night Vietnam destination experiences.

From November 13, 2016 to January 1, 2017, the five-night cruise will provide guests an opportunity to take in the panoramic views of Vietnam’s Da Nang and Ha Long Bay; from January 1 to March 31, 2017, revel in the vibrancy of Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City during the five-night cruise. Both itineraries will have an option of a two-night weekend cruise to Hong Kong.

Zouk Beach

“We are delighted to introduce and launch Genting Dream in Singapore, featuring exciting and highly-acclaimed Asian destinations as repositioning cruise ports-of-call including India, Singapore, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong,” said Thatcher Brown, President, Dream Cruises. “Dream Cruises aims to be a pacesetter in the cruise industry in the region. With the finest Asian and international experiences, Dream Cruises aims to redefine vacation travel with a transformational journey at sea.”

Visit DreamCruiseLine.com for more information or call 6808 2288.

4 Asia-Pacific Wine Trends Revealed at Vinexpo

We’ve previously covered wine trends in Singapore and Japan, now Vinexpo brings us the findings from Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Here, we bring you the four major trends of wine consumption in these Asia-Pacific countries.

1) Reds over whites

The consensus is clear: reds continue to be the wine of choice in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, accounting for 89 percent, 74 percent and 83 percent of market share respectively.

In Taiwan, this figure is forecasted to grow by another 13 percent by 2019. Taiwanese consumers tipped back 1.45 million 9-liter cases of red wine, compared with 180,000 cases of white and 2,500 cases of rose. Even so, the reception of white wine is expected to grow 14 percent by 2019.

While Koreans generally enjoy reds for its purported health benefits, white wines are also fast gaining favor for pairing well with Korean cuisine. It is also interesting to note that the per capita consumption of wine in South Korea has doubled over the last decade, to average 0.8 liters of wine a year. Between 2010 and 2014, the per capita consumption grew nearly 40 percent, and is expected to rise another 20 percent over the next five years. This marks the consumption in South Korea as one of the sharpest increases in the Asia Pacific region.


2) French wines are still preferred, except…

French wines are reported to be the most popular import in Taiwan with 37 percent of market share and Hong Kong with 27 percent. After French wines, Australian, US and Chilean wines are most popular. Between 2010 and 2014, US wines saw major growth, increasing by 41 percent.

Taiwan’s share of French wines is expected to dip due to the increasing popularity of Chilean wines (currently second in popularity at 18 percent), which are perceived as better value for money. US and Australian wines follow closely behind.

South Koreans bucked the French wines trend, favoring Chilean wines, with 10.2 million bottles imported a year.

3) Getting tipsy over bubbly

Like the Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong people have developed a taste for sparkling wines. Vinexpo reported that its popularity has increased by a remarkable 51 percent over the last five years in Hong Kong, driven largely by the growing popularity of Prosecco and Cava which grew a whopping 89 percent and 110 percent respectively. Meanwhile in Taiwan, a 15-percent increase by 2019 is projected.


4) Spirits still high in demand

As the world’s third largest market for single malt Scotch after the US and France, Taiwan boasted a consumption of 1.813 million cases of whisky in 2014, a figure expected to swell up to 1.921 million cases by 2019. Cognac and Armagnac are the country’s second most popular spirits.

The focus in Hong Kong, however, is on tequila and rum as its consumption is expected to grow 36 percent and 21 percent between 2015 and 2019 respectively. The popularity of whisky remains stable with 186,000 9-liter cases consumed, topping cognac at 77,000 cases. People in Hong Kong are also increasingly exploring Japanese whisky and American bourbon.

South Korea – the third largest spirits consuming nation in Asia-Pacific after China and India – has reported a decline in consumption of local spirits such as soju and baijiu. However, tequila, vodka and gin have marked improvements of 17 percent, 12 percent and 14 percent respectively.

The Vinexpo 2016 runs 24 – 26 May 2016 in Hong Kong. 

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Yen for Champagne: Japan Set to Lead Asia-Pac

Forget Sake and Shochu. According to the latest Vinexpo study, it seems the Japanese are developing quite the taste for bubbly. In fact, the study forecasts that Japan is on track to become the leading market for champagne and other sparkling wines by 2019.

Thanks in part to the growing popularity of lower-priced Cavas and Proseccos from Spain and Italy, the consumption of sparkling wine has been forecasted to grow 23 percent between 2015 and 2019. To put things into perspective, this equates to roughly equates to 4.84 million cases, overshadowing Australia as the largest market for bubbly in Asia-Pacific. To put this into even greater, though perhaps more confusing, perspective, Japan has a population of 127 million while Australia has roughly 24 million. We have to wonder what in the world is happening down under but we digress…



The surprising result (the Japan news, not our belated Australia observation) was revealed at Vinexpo Hong Kong, a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals. Japan is one of the six countries, besides Singapore, to be profiled.

Here are some of the other trends emerging from the event.

France losing market share to Chile

Chile has the signing of a cost-advantage free trade agreement with Japan to thank for its whopping 144 percent rise in wine exports. French wines might still have the largest market share but Italian and Spanish wines have also seen an increase of 46 percent and 79 percent respectively over the same period.

Wine consumption set to continue growing

The Japanese wine consumption is set to reach a whopping 46.7 million cases between 2015 and 2019. That’s 14 percent of the market share, which will rank the country behind China and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. Yes, Australia is punching way above its weight class again.

Overall spirit consumption set to decline

Spirits such as gin and vodka are expected to decline in popularity, in stark contrast with the rising fortunes of wine. The projected decline between 2015 and 2019 is a significant but manageable 7 percent. Whisky, however, continues to keep its market share, with consumption reaching 12.38 million cases and projected growth of 12 percent over the next five years.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Vinexpo HK Reveals Singapore’s Favorite Wine

In the never-ending battle between red and white wine, Singaporeans have chosen a winner. In the run-up to Vinexpo Hong Kong, consumption trends in Singapore, as well as five other Asia-Pacific countries were analyzed, revealing a clear preference for red wine. It was revealed that red wine represented 70 percent of the market in Singapore, with 645,000 9-liter cases consumed in 2014. In contrast, only 251,000 cases of white wine were consumed in the same year, though that figure is set to grow slightly by 1.2 percent by 2019.

Australian wines have been shown to dominate the import market in Singapore (there is no other market in Singapore as the island has exactly zero wineries), holding a 38.5 percent of market share as compared with Chilean wines at 16.5 percent and French wines at 16 percent.

On another front, whisky remains Singapore’s favorite spirit (judging by our associate publisher and designers’ office bar, we agree), with its popularity projected to rise 14 percent by 2019. Cognac and armagnac – the second most popular spirits – are slated to decline nearly six percent over the next five years, mainly due to the declining numbers of Chinese tourists.

Gin and tequila are the fourth and fifth most popular spirits, with consumption predicted to spike through to 2019: gin is predicted to grow by 29 percent and tequila, 23 percent. Where is rum in all this, we have to wonder…

The Vinexpo 2016 in Hong Kong will be a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals to converge to exchange ideas and knowledge. Held from 24 – 26 May 2016, the event is expecting 16,700 buyers from 24 countries and 1,300 exhibitors from all over the world.

Guide: Hong Kong Property Outlook 2016

Home to one of the world’s largest property markets, Hong Kong (HK) has seen a decade-long rise in residential prices, fueled by mainland Chinese demand and the low cost of borrowing within the country. Official figures by the HK Rating and Valuation Department suggest that residential prices reached a high in July, 2015, with a price tag of HK$151,462 ($19,543) per square meter (psm) for properties under the size of 40 m2.

However, this boom is set to end with the advent of 2016 (best available data), as global financial events trigger predictions of a drop in both rental and housing prices. Our friends at Palace magazine published this report in the first quarter of 2016, looking ahead to the rest of 2016.

Source: Squarefoot Hong Kong

Prices psf vs months. Source: Squarefoot Hong Kong

According to the South China Morning Post, property market analysts expect an 8 per cent to 10 per cent decline in rental and residential home prices in 2016. A number of circumstances have been cited as key reasons for the drop in prices, chief among them are the US interest rate hike and the dampening effect of China’s economic slowdown.

Signs of a cooling property market emerged earlier, in August 2015, as HK residential sales numbers hit their lowest in 17 months at 5,197 transactions, due to investor caution amidst a speculative economic climate. The HK sales volume figures published in Nikkei Asian Review suggest that this trend will continue on, as the number of completed sales dropped further to 2,800 units in November 2015.

A Slowing Dragon: The Chinese Factor

The plunge in the number of HK property transactions can be partly attributed to the loss of momentum in Chinese growth — a phenomena which can be traced back to a slowdown in the country’s massive trading and manufacturing sectors.

In the face of an economic downturn, mainland consumers have cut back on all forms of purchases, including property investments in HK’s secondary market.

A report released by Bloomberg Business in December, stated that the proportion of Chinese property transactions in the HK market had fallen sharply from its peak of 12 per cent in 2011 to 6 per cent during the first six months of this year.

This trend is also indicative of the results accomplished by cooling measures that have been put in place since 2009. In a bid to quench the heavy demand generated by foreign investors and scalpers, solutions such as a 15% Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) and Special Stamp Duty (SSD) were implemented to dissuade non-locals from snapping up property for profit.

The Rising Cost of Borrowing in HK

Likewise, the lifting of US Federal Reserve interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, has been predicted to have a dampening effect on activity in the HK property market. As the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the greenback, home mortgage rates are expected to rise and impact property affordability accordingly.

Moreover, news of the interest rate hike coincides with an ongoing trend of rising property foreclosure numbers— an article published by Bloomberg Business reported that case figures had increased to “80 from about 50 to 60 in the first half of 2015”.

Although these changes signify added threats to HK’s residential market, their influence might be less significant than expected.  For instance, in Knight Frank’s December market analysis, it was pointed out that a jump in interest rates by 100-basis-points would only necessitate an additional payment of HK$500 per month for a HK$1 million loan, assuming a 20-year repayment schedule.

Source: Hong Kong Housing Authority

Stock of flats in public and private permanent housing, Source: Hong Kong Housing Authority

More Affordable Homes for Locals?

Growing interest rates aside, other market trends point to the possibility that HK homes might actually become more affordable in the coming year. Knight Frank estimates that there will be close to 110,000 new homes added to the market supply from 2016 onwards to 2020. On a yearly basis, this translates into an increase of 22,000 housing units in heavily populated areas like Yuen Long, Tsueng Kwan O and Kowloon.

Consequently, this increase in property availability can be taken as a sign of cheaper homes to come; prominent HK developers have already begun to cut prices while offering attractive mortgage plans as their answer to the steadily rising supply of new properties.

Bloomberg Business reports that major players, like Cheung Kong and Henderson Land, are currently offering a series of discounts that will enable interested buyers to save up to 14 per cent of their purchase costs. That said, if there is ever a good time to buy a home in HK, it is in 2016.


Story Credits
Text by Tina Chopra

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Interview: Photographer Peter Steinhauer

Award-winning fine-art photographer Peter Steinhauer recently showed at REDSEA Gallery Singapore his Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ and Hong Kong ‘Cocoons’ series based on having lived in the two cities during 21 years of residing in Asia.

Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ is a series that captures the bright colourful number markings found on the sides of HDB buildings of Singapore. For Steinhauer, the interest lies in the unusual colour schemes and deliberately scripted fonts used on these government housing blocks that are the very heart of the multi-cultural integration that is Singapore. Meanwhile Steinhauer’s ‘Cocoons’ series documents the surprising beauty of a construction technique native to Hong Kong – the bamboo and fabric nets that encase the ‘metamorphoses’ of a building project.

Peter Steinhauer’s work is held in collections at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and numerous private and corporate collections worldwide. Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Steinhauer developed an early fascination and appreciation of culture which culminated in him living in numerous cities throughout the US, Stockholm, Sweden, Hanoi, Saigon, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Describing himself as a purist from a photography background not a digital artist, Steinhauer speaks with Art Republik about Singapore, Hong Kong, and his work.

What’s your favorite building in Singapore?

My favourite building is not one that many would probably think or know of. It is an old shop house on the corner of Jalan Besar and Veerasamy Rd. The most beautiful detailed building in Singapore in my opinion. Painted a light pastel blue, accented with emerald green small square tiles with pink roses with emerald green roof trim and terracotta tiles. The detailing of the glass tiled windowed doors and the ornately flower looking carvings on the faced is something that I look at every time I pass it. No one makes houses like this any longer.

HDBs and their corridors are loaded with nostalgia and psychic weight for Singaporeans, featuring often in art films. Why do you think that is?

The character of them. It is Singapore, and has the identity of Singapore within them. Again, it brings it back to the culture, the multi-cultural, race and religion that make up Singapore. The background of Peranakan, Chinese, Malay mix, the food and way of life. This is what makes up Singapore, not the Marina Bay Sands. Beautiful, yes, but it is not the culture and background of Singapore. You find it, like in any other Asian culture, in the working class, foundational groups of people, and in Singapore, they are in HDB’s. I am sure this is why many films are made in or with them.

Block 167, Singapore, 2013

Block 167, Singapore, 2013

Tell us about your Hong Kong ‘Cocoons’ series.

In my ‘Cocoons’ series, the structures are encased in bamboo scaffolding, then the colored material is draped around the bamboo to stop debris and other things from falling onto the streets below. I first started the interest in these on my first trip to Hong Kong in 1994. I was living in Hanoi, Vietnam at that time and had to go to Hong Kong as my visa had run out. Outside of the old Kai Tak airport, I saw this massive building across the street and it was covered with bamboo and yellow material. I thought it was the environmental artist Christo and his wife Jean Claude wrapping buildings (as is their art) in Hong Kong. I quickly realised, after seeing others on the way to my hotel, that this was a construction process. I found them extremely interesting as they look like giant colored wrapped packages within a mono chromatic, dense concrete urban environment. I made images of these as well, snap shots if you will, every time I visited Hong Kong. When I moved there in January of 2007, I started photographing them as a full-time project. The ‘Cocoons’ book is under design as we speak and hope to have it published in 2016.

What first brought you to Asia, and what kept you here for so long?

My background with Asia, starting with my father being a doctor in the Marines in the Vietnam American war. I was born while he was there and growing up we always had slide shows of his snap shots of Vietnam in the living room; from third grade until a senior in High School, I gave the same slide shows for extra credit. He started going back to Vietnam in 1988 and helped start an organization that gives donated medical equipment from the US to Vietnam and developed friendships with people there through this work. I finished photography school and had a chance to go there to make my art and was going to stay for a few months. After one week there, I had felt so comfortable with it all and knew this was the place I was supposed to be. I travelled around Asia while based in Vietnam working on my projects and just felt that there wasn’t a better place for a photographer. I stayed for the next two decades!

What kind of camera setup do you have?

I work with Phase One IQ260 medium format digital back, which is a very high resolution 65 megapixels. It is attached most of the time to a Cambo WRS 1250 technical camera that is made for architecture. I use Schneider Digitar lenses and Lexar compact flash cards. Occasionally I use the Phase One camera body with the IQ260 digital back but mainly the technical camera. All my work is set up on a carbon fiber tripod. My exposures range anywhere from 1 second to 1 minute for most cases. Oh, and I like to work on cloudy days.

Why is that?

I prefer soft light. It focuses more on the subject and I can push the contrast more without losing details. You can see what’s hanging on their doors even if it’s in the shadows, you can even see through people’s windows.

What kind of a photographer do you consider yourself?

I’m not so much a social documentary photographer. I just take pictures of things because of the way they look to me. What interested me about the Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ is that someone took a lot of time to find color schemes and fonts — sometimes scripted or blockish or art deco fonts, some with drop shadow and lots of style — and I was intrigued that they put a lot of effort into all of that.

*For more information, please visit www.redseagallery.com

Story Credits

This article was originally published in Art Republik