Tag Archives: TOP 10

Top 10 Hotels 2016 Sofitel

Top 10 Most Luxurious Hotels 2016

Ranking high-end hotels for luxury is a tough job but Hotels.com has just fearlessly come up with a top 10 list. It comes to us by way of the wire services but it goes to show that rest and relaxation matter more than top-notch dining and glittering fixtures.

Take New York City for example. If you’re in town for business and want a place where a good night’s sleep is all but guaranteed, consider booking a room at the Hotel Sofitel New York. Of course, it was ranked one of the top 10 luxury hotels by users of Hotels.com. Yes, the users of Hotels.com exhort you to try to legendary SoBeds and actually, so do we!

In the travel site’s “Loved by Guests Awards,” the top 10 hotels achieved near-perfect scores from guests for offering luxurious hotel experiences that include designer toiletries and deep sleep for the weary.’

The Sofitel in New York, for instance, is singled out for their SoBeds which are so popular among guests that they’re sold at the Sofitel boutique, notes Booking.com.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando also received high marks for spoiling guests with luxurious in-room amenities from Salvatore Ferragamo that go above and beyond soap and shampoo to include face masks, lip balms, and hand and eye creams.

Topping the list is the W Taipei in Taiwan, which draws repeat guests for its central location and contemporary decor and is particularly popular among younger travelers.

“We had a great time staying at the W,” reads one review. “Stylish and modern furnishings, very conveniently located near shopping/restaurants, useful amenities such as 24 hr facilities for exercise and swimming.”

Here are the top-ranked luxury hotels according to Hotels.com:

Design Festivals Around the World

Visit These: 6 Design Festivals Around the World

Pay attention, designers and design aficionados. As global festival season approaches, cities around the world vie for top spot as design capital of the world. Here, we bring you six of the best design festivals from around the world that you should have on your itinerary, should you be lucky enough to be planning a trip abroad.

Helsinki Design Week ( September 1 – 11)

As the largest of its kind in the Nordics, the Helsinki Design Week (pictured top) is a multidisciplinary design festival that hosts close to 200 events throughout the week. Held with the aim of promoting emerging talent, trends and international design collaborations, the annual event has successfully seen crowds of up to 120,000 people turn up previously.

Paris Design Week (September 3 – 10)

This Paris-wide event – organized to overlap with Maison & Objet – holds events in more than 300 venues in five areas in the city. Seven countries will participate this year, namely China, Ukraine, Estonia, Finland, the Flanders region on Belgium, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Denmark. Expect a cultural mash-up of exhibitions, cocktails and promenades as different nationalities culminate in the French capital.

London Design Festival (September 17- 25)

Known for collaborating with museums and cultural centers in the city, London Design Festival is organised to promote the city as a creative hub and gateway to the world of design. Its “Landmark Projects” installations program, in particular, has seen some of the world’s best designers commission work for it, including Alex Chinneck’s “A Bullet from a Shooting Star” in 2015.

Vienna Design Week (September 30 – October 9)

For a design festival that draws crowds of over 360,000 visitors, it is no wonder Vienna Design Week is already into its ninth edition. The annual festival chooses a district within the city to focus on so there’s something new to look forward to every year. This year, the spotlight is on the 5th Viennese municipal district of Margareten.

Design Week Mexico (October 5 – 9)

Temporary installations for Mexico Design Week

Like a hub that connects artists, architects, designers and entrepreneurs to the public, Mexican design week is an accessible platform of events. Its dedication to bridging this gap earned it the appointment of World Design Capital for 2018.

Dutch Design Week (October 22 – 30)

As the largest design festival in Northern Europe, Dutch Design Week expects more than 275,000 visitors and 2,500 designers yearly. Unlike many others, this visionary festival chooses to focus on designs on the future instead.

13 Shades of Blue: Fall/Winter 2016 Trend

The seasonal wardrobe update is just around the corner and it seems that blue is set to reign supreme. In numerous shades, such as electric blue, pale blue, turquoise, navy and lavender, the color is now a “must-have” for the upcoming season.

Electric Blue: Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Courrèges

Electric Blue: Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Courrèges

Proving to be a favorite among designers and fashion brands, the shade will be seen in designs that are set to be lively, feminine and sensual while retaining hints of rock’n’roll. At the latest fashion week shows, Louis Vuitton used the shade in numerous forms while Saint Laurent splashed electric blue on fur coats, shoes, dresses that were included in its retro, rock’n’roll style. Another brand that utilized the shade, was Courrèges who chose to pair it with touches of white.

Dark Blue: Dior, Prada, Kenzo and Stella McCartney

Dark Blue: Dior, Prada, Kenzo and Stella McCartney

Skipping black, the darkest blue was also another shade to be seen this season for womenswear. From New York to Milan, London and even Paris Fashion Week, the runways were filled with the hue. Kenzo was won over by this deepest of blues, choosing it for suits and coats, as a head-to-toe look, and combined with a tiger print, while Sonia Rykiel and Dior opted for a glittering, sparkly version of the shade. Stella McCartney unveiled two-toned dresses and midnight blue puffer jackets. In a more classic form, the color was in evidence at John Galliano and was chosen for military-inspired jackets at Prada, Jason Wu and Chloé.

Light Blue: Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Missoni

Light Blue: Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Missoni

For fall, the colour will be seen in pastel and bright shades such as azure, sky blue and turquoise. On the catwalk, Missoni paired the most audacious tones of blue with other bright colors, balcks and greys. Over at Fendi, the palestblue was seen on its thigh-high boots and fur while Balmain and Dolce & Gabbana added touches of sky blue to their collections.

Blue on Blue: Versace and Diesel Black Gold

Blue on Blue: Versace and Diesel Black Gold

Three brands deserve a special mention, for having blue as the dominating shade in the collections. Versace, used all kinds of blue as a head-to-toe look, combined with other colors, and mixed with hints of pink. Diesel Black Gold and Byblos Milano took a similar path with a whole range of pieces in the colors of the sky and the ocean.

4 Exotic Cars at Daytona: Charity Drive

Ever wanted to race around a world famous track, have an evening with Hollywood celebs and A-listers, and do a car show all for children’s charity? I had the privilege to attend such an event. Celebration Exotic Car Festival in Florida, gives individuals with exotic cars the opportunity to spend two days on Daytona International Speedway driving the infamous 24-hour circuit. Afterwards we headed to an amazing 5-star wine and dinner cooked by Wolfgang Puck himself.

Of course, to close the fun few days, there was a car show that Make a Wish Foundation had some Wish Kids attend. I’m sure you are all want to know more about the details of the cars well, we had cars such as Pagani Huayra, Bugatti, McLaren P1, Vipers, Ferraris of your calling, along with some race cars.

Porsche GT4

Porsche GT4

During the event I had the chance to drive the new McLaren 570s which I won’t go into much as I did a story on the McLaren P1 last month but what a fast, fun, and light little car. I also had the opportunity to drive the brand new Viper ACR Xtreme. This car is pretty much a race car that is street legal. It can produce roughly 800kg of downforce and 650bhp. This thing is quick!

All American muscle with a lot of downforce, the car is a blast and brings me back to what it’s like to be in a real GT race car. The car has set production car track records everywhere it goes. The interior is full of carbon fiber and alcantara and has a great short shift manual 6 speed transmission. I also had the opportunity to take out one of the latest cars out there, the Porsche GT4. This was a fun and tactile machine.

Definitely a great car for the track, but in my opinion, a little underpowered. I think this is probably because of its bigger brother that always has the stage – the Porsche GT3 RS. Give this car 100 more bhp and I think you would have one of the fastest cars on the track. The feedback from the steering was amazing and the balance was on point.

Dodge Viper ACR Xtreme

Dodge Viper ACR Xtreme

I didn’t get the chance to drive the Pagani Huayra, but that car is a work of art as you can see from the photos. I wouldn’t consider it a track car, but more an investment and a beautiful piece of art. Everything about it was beautiful and over the top.

Each year the event has grown tremendously and helped raised over $1 million for children’s charities. Stars from Orange County Choppers, Happy Days, Star Wars cast members have attended, with next year’s special guest to include Mr. Jay Leno. If you ever are in the Central Florida area in early April, be sure to make this an event you attend, as it’s not only for an amazing cause, but also one you will never forget.

McLaren 570S

McLaren 570S


This article was first published in Palace magazine.

Nordic Design Fairs northmodern design fair

3 Nordic Design Fairs: Northern Lights

What do CERN, chocolate and 1.618 Paris have in common this autumn? Obviously, all are involved in these three Nordic design fairs. If you’re not sure what CERN and 1.618 Paris are, well read on… This autumn, we invite you to forget IKEA, wrap yourself up warm and head to these three design events in northwestern Europe: Formland, Northmodern and the NordDesign conference.

northmodern, August 18-20

Denmark has a new furniture and lifestyle trade show, taking place at the same time as Formland (see bottom) in Copenhagen’s Bella Center. Called northmodern (literally spelled all lowercase but we’ll abandon that odd syntax henceforth), it was launched in January 2015 and is reportedly inspired by the Danish Modern movement. The fair invites international businesses, professionals and design enthusiasts to celebrate “holistic, sustainable contemporary living” with a focus on Scandinavian and Nordic design.

For the fourth edition of the fair, hotly-anticipated shows include Englebrechts with their new Plateau and Petit Plateau furniture collection designed by Erik Magnusson. The Scandinavian lighting brand Pholc will exhibit for the first time, and luxury specialists 1.618 Paris (sustainable luxury is this agency’s thing) will curate the 450 m² Crystal Hall space, the fourth time the company has appeared at the show. For subsequent shows, northmodern will be collaborating with Dezeen, the most-visited architecture and design website in the world.

NordDesign 2016, August 10-12

This year, the biannual conference on Design and Development is being hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the city of Trondheim. The conference aims to evaluate the Nordic approach to design, as well as “topical issues on design, development, and innovation that strengthens both our theoretical understanding, and the connection between theory and practice.”

The opening keynote speech will be given by the appropriately-named Markus Nordberg from CERN, the European organization for nuclear research in Geneva (which you may recall being responsible for the Large Hadron Collider). Honestly, we’re not making either Nordberg’s name or CERN’s participation up. Other anticipated presentations include those from Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen (Imperial College London) on “What If a Computer Could Design?” and Andy Dong (University of Sydney) on “Design as a Theory of the Firm and Strategy.” Yes, Dong is apparently his real name and we’re not doing this for a laugh.

Nordic Design Fairs Formland Spring 2016

Formland, August 18 – 21

The biannual interior and design trade fair has grown over the past 32 years (shame on you if you’re just hearing about it) to become a hub for “the newest, the best, the strangest and most inspiring” Scandinavian designs of the present and future. The fair, which takes place in Herning, Denmark, is divided into 11 different “communities”, from Light to Interior-atelier, Bloom and the Next Stage for creative entrepreneurs.

Within the fair itself, a number of different events will be taking place, such as the Food & Chocolate Festival featuring free talks and tastings (maybe edible furniture and fixtures?), and the FOCUS trend zone, where experts invite visitors to explore five different zones of colors, textures and materials.

Concours d'Elegance

8 Classic Car Shows You Should Visit

Ever fancied seeing a 1886 Karl Benz Patent Motor Car or the all-original Daytona Coupe in person?  As summer comes around, owners of some of the world’s most desirable cars take their gems out for a little spin at the classic car festival. August sees a slew of events, starting with Schloss Dyck.

2016 Classic Days Schloss Dyck – August 5-7, Neuss Castle, Germany

Concours-1886 Karl Benz Patent Motor Car

This show offers auctions, racing and dedicated displays of German and US classics. Mercedes will be bringing a host of its most significant cars, including the 1886 Karl Benz patent model — in other words, the modern motorcar ‘ancestor’.

Concours d’Elégance Bürkliplatz-Zurich – August 17, Zurich, Switzerland

With a backdrop as picturesque Lake Zurich and the Alps, this classic car lovers’ paradise is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Expect more than 70 concours-level cars from Edwardian to post-war era.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elégance – August 21, California (pictured top)

Dubbed the world’s most famous classic car event and the main highlight of Monterey motoring week, the event will see legendary vehicles including every Ford GT40 that ever took to the track, and witness record prices go down at the show’s auctions.

Salon Prive – September 1-3, Oxfordshire UK

Now in its 11th year, the show’s highlight is the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance, considered one of the top five in the world for the quality and rarity of the cars on display.

Chantilly Arts & Elégance – September 4, Chateau de Chantilly, France

The event might only be in its third year, but its already garnered attention from some of the most impressive classic car owners in the world. This concours also honors the most beautiful privately owned veteran cars, the best concept cars and grand prix owners’ clubs and holds a supercar rally.

The Goodwood Revival – September 9-11, Chichester, UK 

Concours-All-original Shelby Daytona Coupes- 2015's Goodwood Revival.

You should be familiar with this but don’t confuse it with the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Next month, the car show will feature some of the world’s most desirable classic cars and race cars compete on a track once used by some of the greatest drivers in motorsport history.

Ferrari Passione – September 23-24 Silverstone, UK


The Italian marque will display more than 100 of its key models from its seven decade history, while pitting classic models against each other on the race track. Look forward to contests between 1970s Ferrari 308s against 1990s F355s. You’ll also get a rare glimpse at the the firm’s XX experimental race cars there.

The 12th Annual Japanese Classic Car Show – September 24, Long Beach, California

If you’re a fan of Japanese cars, this would easily be paradise for you. An unadulterated celebration of all automotive things Japanese, expect brands the likes of Nissan, Datsun, Mazda and Toyota at the show. It will also celebrate 50 years of the iconic Toyota Corolla, honor the life of racing driver Yoshimi Katayama and will unveil the Honda N600 Serial Number 1 following a large-scale restoration.

4 Luxury Asian Hotels: Banyan Tree X SilkAir

Asia has a lot to offer, and if you’re planning a trip to this very diverse continent (which you shouldn’t even think of as a single place), count yourself lucky. In a partnership with SilkAir, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has rolled out a range of promotions to seven idyllic properties in four iconic Asian destinations. Think of it as less planning on your part: the package includes full-service SilkAir flights, exclusive discounts of up to 30%, complimentary upgrades, dining offers and experiences at spas and Laguna Golf Clubs.

Banyan Tree Lijiang at Lijiang, China


Luxe meets tradition in Banyan Tree Lijiang, where once can bask in China’s history while taking a retreat located 2,400 meters above sea level and framed by the majestic Snow Jade Dragon Mountain. One can pick from a Garden Suite, Mountain View Suite, or Jet Pool Villas, and indulge in activities like yoga or play tennis on outdoor courts. In fact, one is reconnected with nature in this hotel – Lijiang isn’t a UNESCO heritage site for nothing.

Rates begin at $283 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and complimentary upgrades when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 30 March 2017.


Banyan Tree Phuket at Phuket, Thailand


Phuket has increasingly a spot on many’s travel itineraries in recent years – and rightly so. Breath-taking coastal views, pristine waters and stretches of glisteneing sand can all be found at the charming Bang Tao Bay, a stone’s throw from Banyan Tree Phuket. Opt between a variety of Pool Villas, ranging from the Banyan Lagoon Pool Villa to the Grand Two Bedroom Villa. In between dipping into pools and long, leisurely walks down the shores, one can indulge in cooking classes, golf classes, and even a turtle club for children.

Rates begin from $627 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 25% are offered on F&B, best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Phuket when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 20 December 2016.


Banyan Tree Lang Co at Lang Co, Vietnam


Picture dramatic vistas spread across a rugged landscape of unspoiled nature. Nestled in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage sites, eco-diverse mountains and spectacular national parks, Banyan Tree Lang Co is an all-pool villa resort. Visitors can stay in a Lagoon Pool Villa, Sanctuary Pool Villa, Beach Pool Villa and Seaview Hill Pool Villas of up to three-bedrooms in size. It is not all just pools, however; this hotel also boasts meeting rooms, a Laguna Sea Sports Centre and Marine Lab, as well as a gym and yoga pavilion. Having stayed at this location ourselves, we recommend it heartily and whole-heartedly. Although, as with all Banyan Trees, the fact that the best restaurant is the signature Saffron (Thai cuisine) is a little jarring.

Rates begin from $258 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 20% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Lang Co, when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid for bookings until 15 August 2016 and for stays until 22 December 2016.


Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum at Luang Prabang, Laos


Steeped in old-world charm, one is surrounded by breath-taking natural landscapes as they seemingly take a trip back in time. More than just vintage charm, however, the hotel also has royal origins: it once belonged to Laos’ four-time Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma. Live in classic French colonial interiors in the Garden Wing, Residence Twin to the Maison Room. Enjoy spas, al fresco dining at the Elephant Blanc restaurant and in-room dining while on stay.

Rates begin from $120 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments and gallery products, plus a complimentary traditional Laos set menu dinner with a minimum stay of two nights). This offer is valid for bookings until 31 August 2016 and for stays until 23 December 2016.


Terms and conditions apply.

4 Brazilian Restaurants 2016

4 Brazilian Restaurants: Rio Away From Rio

Not all Olympics fans will be lucky enough to go to Brazil (we know we aren’t!). In any case, you could argue that something as big as the Olympics is perfect for television but whoever you are and wherever you might be, food is not something best enjoyed vicariously. This is by no means perfect but maybe try Brazilian cuisine (hopefully not for the first time) at one of the four popular restaurants the AFP has picked out for you from around the world.

Maloka (Paris, France)

As Oka restaurant moves to the 5th district of Paris at the end of November, Rio de Janeiro-born chef Raphaël Rego has transformed its old location into a new restaurant called Maloka. With solid experience at Taillevent and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon behind him, Rego transports his customers to Brazil with no stopovers, serving local cuisine made with ingredients imported from his homeland. Parisians are introduced to cassava, a new twist on the traditional feijoada (a pork and black bean stew), and pao de queijo (cheese rolls) as they partake of genuine caïpirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail. This has become a hot culinary destination in Paris since its recent opening.

28, rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 75009 Paris

Beach Bistro 96 (New York, USA)

Rockaway Beach — a free beach accessible from Manhattan via the subway — has become a cool neighborhood of Queens beloved by surfers. Since May, a chef has been attracting foodies, and even a New York Times restaurant critic, to his Beach Bistro 96 here. A native of the town of Santos, in southern Brazil’s São Paulo state, Carlos Varella is the Big Apple’s latest hot favorite. Like his fellow Brazilian Raphaël Rego in France, he prepares culinary specialties from his home country such as pao de queijo. This former professional surfer’s menu also includes picanha, a cut of beef with a layer of fat that protects it during grilling.

95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Beach 96th Street, The Rockaways, New York

Cabana (Newcastle, UK)

The latest Brazilian eatery to open in the UK is in Newcastle. Cabana restaurants have opened their tenth address in this northeastern English city, offering a relaxed atmosphere and traditional Brazilian cuisine that has been given a modern twist for a new audience. This new business has also sourced some of its furnishings from Brazil’s poor communities such as the recycled jeans from a favela in São Paulo that have been used to line the restaurant’s chairs. Cabana already operates in London and Leeds, and plans to open another restaurant in Southampton in the near future.

117 Newgate Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Regina’s Farm (Fort Lauderdale, USA)

If you live in Florida, Regina’s Farm can transport you to the Brazilian countryside. Regina, a young Brazilian living in Fort Lauderdale was missing her native state of Minas Gerais, so decided to recreate a traditional Brazilian farm in her backyard. Brazilian culinary specialties are prepared on a wood stove in the company of roosters and chickens. Regina serves soups, cheese bread, fresh guarapa (iced sugarcane juice) and much more. The farm is a non-profit-making venture, which is only open to diners on Saturday.

1101 Middle St., Fort Lauderdale

4 Spotlight Artists for Art Stage Jakarta

Mark your calendars. For the first time ever, Art Stage Jakarta will be dropping into Indonesia this weekend. With the inaugural art fair just round the corner, here is a little sneak peek into some of the artists featured. See you at Art Stage Jakarta!

Naufal Abshar

"High-end" lifestyle (detailed view), 2016

“High-end” lifestyle (detailed view), 2016

His story might resonate with the hearts of many. As a child, Indonesian artist Naufal Abshar found that he preferred art more to his academic studies. Today, he translates socio-political issues into art, where he believes that humor is the best form of criticism. His “HAHA” series will be on display at Art Stage Jakarta.

Yoshimoto Nara

Untitled, Yoshitomo Nara. Price realized $52,500 in 2013. Image courtesy of Christies

Untitled, Yoshitomo Nara. Price realized $52,500 in 2013. Image courtesy of Christies

We’re pretty sure you’ve seen his works before, even if his name might not instantly ring a bell. His enigmatic little girls have attained blue chip status in the art world, and can be considered iconic imagery in Japanese contemporary culture. Observe as he communicates stories in a single frame rather than through a collection of pictures, where his personal narratives hold strong.


Erianto, Live and Life #2, acrylic on canvas, 85 x 125 cm, 2016

Erianto, Live and Life #2, acrylic on canvas, 85 x 125 cm, 2016

For Yogjakarta-based artist Erianto, blurring 2D and 3D art is his style of choice. Imagine cardboard packages and wooden crates painted to look as though they are real. For Art Stage Jakarta, Erianto will look to portraying one’s innate need for communal togetherness, drawing inspiration from shoaling and schooling – it’s all about seeking a sense of belonging.

Natee Utarit

Natee Utarit - The Magician King, 2016 [90.5x68.5cm] oil on canvas

Magic is Thai artist Natee’s theme for Art Stage Jakarta – or rather, Samlee, a Bangladeshi magician is. An enigma to Natee, Samlee caught the artist’s attention when he dropped out of sight at the peak of his fame. Having found the magician by chance later, Natee decided to paint Samlee, in hopes of further unravelling the mystery shrouding Samlee.

Richest men in the world: Top 10 billionaires on the Forbes List

It takes more than a fancy car or luxury property to get onto the list we are about to share. In fact so exclusive is this group that few would ever be able to climb to the top and stay there, as the number one billionaire has done all these years on the Forbes List. And yes, The Donald doesn’t make the cut here so you know this is serious.

Jokes aside, one thing is certain: these high net worth individuals have placed their investments in more than one industry, which would explain why they rake in the millions each year. Having said that, some like Jeff Bezos (who rises several spots) track along the lines of their companies (that’s Amazon, in case you’ve been hanging on to your Blockbuster and Borders cards). We take a look at the individuals whose wealth and income will make you greener than the greenback.

Bill Gates, $78.3 billionbill_gates

Really, it is no surprise that this tech mogul sits at the top of the food chain (but atop our Richest of All Time story). While he is best known for that little tech company called Microsoft (remember those guys?) he started after dropping out from Harvard University, it is not his direct source of income. In fact he only owns 2.5% of the company, which makes up a mere 15% of his fortune. His other investments happen to be in other industries such as the Canadian National Railway (believe it or not).

Amancio Ortega, $73.1 billion

Up two spots from last year is the Spaniard multi-billionaire behind fashion label Zara. From a family-owned textile manufacturer to the owner of brands such as Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, this is one success story that has defied even the financial crisis in Spain. He currently draws in an annual $400 million in dividends alone after stepping down as chairman of the company. His other source of income comes from property investments in countries such as Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami and even New York.

Jeff Bezos, $65.8 billionJeff Bezos Amazon chief executive

He is the head of aerospace company Blue Origin and also the founder of Amazon — he also happens to make running various companies look like a walk in the park. Bezos has also set the bar high as an employer. Rather than axing disgruntled employees who may or may not have had a part to play in The New York Times piece that reported unfavorable working conditions in Amazon, he wrote an open letter to say that it was not the kind of company he would have employees work in.

Warren Buffet, $64,7 billion
Warren Buffett chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett

He may be an octogenarian but that has not stopped the fourth richest billionaire from expanding his portfolio to include aerospace and technology firms. His company Berkshire Hathaway also owns companies such as Dairy Queen while also investing in Coca-Cola, IBM and Geico. While he has billions to spend, Buffet is known as a frugal man who still lives in the Omaha home that he bought in 1958. He was recently in the news after his company’s failed venture to buy Yahoo.

Mark Zuckerberg, $53.5 billion


Another Harvard dropout, Zuckerberg is one more tech billionaire in the list (is this a sign?). He currently holds the title as richest billionaire under 40 years of age — something few of us will be able to say. In just one year, his fortune rose another $18 billion thanks to the rising Facebook stock price. His other venture that has seen gains is the Oculus Rift VR, which started shipping headsets in March of this year. Another major gain for the social media kingpin was the birth of his daughter and if those milestone pictures are anything to go by then it is safe to say that he cherishes her more than those billions in the bank.

Larry Ellison, $51.6 billionLarry-Ellison-Forbes-AFP

A former employee for the CIA (he built their databases), this billionaire founded Oracle and turned it into a database-software giant.  Since 1977, he headed Oracle as its CEO. However in 2014, he stepped down as CEO but remained as the chairman for the board of directors. While technology may be his cup of tea, his children are looking to explore Hollywood by financing films such as Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustle, The Terminator and Mission Impossible.

Carlos Slim Helu & Family, $50 billionCarols-Slim-Helu-Forbes

He may be the seventh on the list but Slim Helu happens to be the biggest loser since 2015. Thanks to the weakening economy and stricter regulations in the Mexican telecom Industry, the former second richest man slipped two places in 2016. Apart from being a leader in the telecom industry in Mexico, the billionaire also owns a 17% stake in The New York Times.

Michael Bloomberg, $48.3 billion

The former mayor of New York is back to helm his ship that is the media-and-data company we have come to know. At 74, the former Harvard Business School graduate has shaken up the company that bears his name by cutting jobs in the media sector to refocus resources in business and financial news. He was also recently in the news for his address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he tore into The Donald. Actually, Buffet did the same after the DNC and Mark Cuban went to town on Trump’s ego on Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

Charles and David Koch, $44.2 billion each

The Koch brothers may be billionaires with the most awkward names to most but both Charles and David are heavyweights in the political world, supporting libertarian causes. Neither has joined others in the billionaire brigade in thrashing The Donald but that may yet change. Having led Koch Industries since 1967, Charles has seen it move from a $50 million business to a $100 billion empire. Together with David, the Koch brothers run America’s second largest private company. From oil pipelines to refineries and even paper towels, these brothers seem to have something to do with everything. Another reasons the name Koch might be familiar is because David has a building named for him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Source: Forbes

Top Auction Sales 2015 vs 2016

Stellar auction results from last year and this year continue to inspire confidence in luxury goods as an investment class but a slowdown is definitely underway. The 2016 Knight Frank Report released earlier this year observes that its own Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) rose by 7% in 2015 compared with a 5% drop in the FTSE 100 equities index (Brexit will make the FTSE a less-than-useful gauge next year). The report also notes that classic cars are the strongest performer (+17%) while furniture is in the red (-6%); these figures represent price changes over the course of 12 months to Q4 2015.

This year has been confusing for us to report on so we thought we would bring you the Knight Frank selection of top lots at auction in 2015 (scroll to the bottom), while noting some strangeness and a string of disappointments. The strangeness here is the record-breaking sale of the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti, which auction house Artcurial moved for $35 million (pictured top). At the time, various sources (ourselves included) reported that it was the most expensive car ever sold at auction but, due to currency volatility, this has been thrown into doubt.

As the Knight Frank report notes, the 2014 Bonhams sale of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for $38 million so retains the USD record; the 1957 Scag holds the Euro record at 32.075 million. At 2014 exchange rates, the Scag would have beaten the Berlinetta but not so today. We are now in the position of having two Ferrari claimants to the throne of most expensive car ever sold at auction! The failure of the Ferrari 275 NART Spider to sell in May brought some clarity to the current situation, with experts from every auction house anticipating and warning of a slowdown in Ferrari auction prices and, consequently, in the entire classic car segment.

Look no further than the top lots sold to date for some context. All-time highs were recorded in 2015 for Jaguar ($13.2 million), Porsche ($10.1 million) and McLaren ($13.75 million). The best result we have for this year to-date is the aforementioned Scag, with everything else failing to even register on the newsworthiness scale. This explains why you may not have read anything about impressive auction sales recently.

Picasso's $179 Million 'Les Femmes d'Algers'

Picasso’s $179 Million ‘Les Femmes d’Algers’

In the world of art, Picasso’s Women of Algiers remains the best performer at auction to date, selling for $179.3 million in May, 2015. Records thus far in this year include personal-bests for Jean Michel Basquiat (57.3 million) and Frida Kahlo ($17.2 million), far below last year’s stars Modigliani ($170 million) and Twombly ($70.5 million).

Diamonds also lost their sparkle in 2016, with the Lesedi la Rona failing to sell this year. Given that this is second largest diamond ever mined, its failure to find a buyer (Sotheby’s estimated $70 million but the final bid was $61 million) is lamentable. Nevertheless, the success of blue diamonds at auction last year continues to fuel hope for the colored diamonds subset. As long as Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau keeps buying these, prices look to stay rock-steady.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

Knight Frank 2015 Auction Stand Out Sales

Picasso: Women of Algiers ($179,300,000 – sold by Christie’s, May 2015)

Marc Newson: Lockheed Lounge ($3,700,400 – sold by Phillips, April 2015)

Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight ($13,200,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, August 2015)

Patek Philippe Doctor’s Chronograph ($4,987,383 – sold by Phillips, May 2015)

Blue Moon of Josephine 12 carat blue diamond ($48,400,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, November 2015)

6 Michelin Star Singapore Restaurants Tested

It was a monumental moment when Singapore’s first Michelin stars were bestowed. Some were happy that the nation’s food was finally awarded the prestigious recognition they deserved; however, others were not so pleased at the idea of being told what good cuisine is by non-Singaporeans, especially since no local fare made its way above one star. Nevertheless, now that the dust has somewhat settled, there is at least one thing most agree with: that all the restaurants christened with their new shiny stars deserve every bit of their gleam. Enter a few eateries that have caught our eye (and growling stomachs).

The Kitchen at Bacchanalia – 1 Star


Its signboardless front is most certainly not indicative of its lack of renown; this restaurant has a reputation for its homely atmosphere, as well as its penchant for sustainably sourced ingredients. Look forward to delicacies like the Wagyu au Poivre Vert – as long as they have sufficient stock of sustainable beef.


39 HongKong Street, Singapore 059678

Osia – 1 Star


It is opened by Australian celebrity chef Scott Webster and helmed by chef de cuisine Douglas Tay, what more do you expect? Experimental food is the name of the game here, with offerings like foie gras with banana textures, and the Byron Bay Berkshire Pork Rack.


8 Sentosa Gateway, Festive Walk, Singapore 098269

Terra Tokyo-Italian Omakase – 1 Star


Everything – from the bottarga of fresh mullet roe to the acqua pazza of poached fish and seafood – has been handpicked by chef Seita Nakahara at the market just that morning himself. Go for the omakase, a set of three courses; don’t say we didn’t tell you.


54 Tras Street, Singapore 078993

Cut by Wolfgang Puck – 1 Star


Only the very best make the cut, and with this restaurant, the main event comes in the form of the 100 percent Wagyu Beef steak; it just melts in your mouth. Then there’s their constantly updated list of almost 60 original cocktails. Be prepared for a real treat.


The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Level 2

Waku Ghin – 1 Star


Does Waku Ghin need introduction? It was previously crowned number seven on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant and Top 50 of the World’s Best Restaurant – and it’s no wonder. Expect only the freshest in its decadent 10-course menu; we recommend the Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Caviar.


10 Marina Bay Sands, L2-01, Atrium 2, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands 

Odette – 2 Stars


Opened by the head chef of one of the most distinguished French fine dining establishments, it is only natural – albeit admittedly shocking – that Odette received so much press coverage even before it opened. Check out the North Highlands beef tartare, paired only with the finest wines, for this is French dining after all.


1 St. Andrew’s Road #01-04

Read more about the restaurants on Men’s Folio Singapore.

most expensive beach holiday 2016

Most Expensive Beach Holiday: French Polynesia

Luxury living is mainly about choosing the best possible experiences life has to offer, something we often equate the most expensive indulgences, but is your beach holiday better because it was more expensive? A new ranking places French Polynesia top of the most expensive beach holiday list, while Vietnam is on the opposite end, recognized as the most affordable destination for a beach holiday. What does this mean, really, when it comes to choosing a holiday destination? This news gives us the perfect reason to have an objective look at the options.

After whittling down an initial list of 900 destinations, travel website TravelBird calculated the cost of spending a day at the beach at 250 coastlines around the world, looking at the average cost of sunscreen, water, beer, ice cream and lunch.

The result is the 2016 Beach Price Index, a ranking created to serve as a budgetary guideline for holidaymakers looking at booking a beach holiday.

You might be thinking, what about the quality and price of the hotel stays but you can easily control that. The quality of meals can vary widely too so there might be some doubt about that but sunscreen is sunscreen…well, apparently not.

While the beaches of Vietnam and India dominate the lower end of the list, for example, the luxurious beaches of French Polynesia and Seychelles emerged the costliest destinations, setting sun worshippers back between $55 and $60 a day for the privilege of soaking up the tropical rays. Remember, that is not inclusive of flights or any other transportation as well as the nightly rate of the hotels and resorts. This is about the bare necessities.

Because on La Plage de Maui in Tahiti, a bottle of sunscreen purchased from the resort, local pharmacy or supermarket averages about $22, a bottle of beer about $8, and lunch about $25.

That compares to Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An in Vietnam, where both sun protection and beer costs about $2, and lunch $8. Think about that for a second and zoom in that sunscreen. The price of sunscreen at Hoi An is literally less than 10% what it costs in Tahiti. It really speaks for itself.

The report also breaks down the daily costs of visiting what they consider to be the top surf beaches, family beaches, most romantic and most relaxing beaches for would-be visitors.

For instance, surfers headed to Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica, ranked the top surfing destination, are advised to budget about $28 for the day, while a day at the top-ranked family beach, Tulum in Mexico, averages about $29.

Here are some of the results (below) and, a different perspective on the best beaches of 2016:

Top five most expensive beaches around the world
  • La Plage de Maui, Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Mareto Plage Publique, Moorea, French Polynesia
  • Anse Vata, Noumea, New Caledonia
  • Anse Georgette, Praslin, Seychelles
  • Anse Soleil Beach, Seychelles
Top five cheapest beaches
  • Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Ho Coc Beach, Ho Coc, Vietnam
  • City Beach, Nha, Vietnam
  • Long Beach, Phu, Quoc, Vietnam
  • Varkala Beach, Kerala, India
Top five surf beaches
  • Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica
  • Watergate Bay, Newquay, UK
  • Cote des Basques, Biarritz, France
  • Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia
  • Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Top five family beaches
  • Tulum Beach, Mexico
  • Phra Nang Beach, Ao Nang, Thailand
  • Coronado Beach, California, USA
  • Plaka Beach, Naxos, Greece
  • Palolem, Beach, Goa, India
Top romantic beaches
  • Whitehaven, Beach, Whitsunday Islands
  • Kailua, Hawaii, USA
  • La Plage de Maui, Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Cayo Coco, Cuba
  • Ile Sainte Marie, Madagascar
  • This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Polinesia Perancis, Pantai Liburan Termahal

Connaught Bar Named World’s Best 2016

The Connaught Hotel in London might just boast one of the finest penthouses in the city, which makes it the ultimate dream accommodation for travelers, but definitely has the best watering hole, the Connaught Bar. Over the weekend the hotel’s bar helped cement its status in the world of luxury hotels, having been named the world’s best bar 2016. Seriously, the bar is so famous that it is just called the Connaught Bar, with nary a thought for the hotel that hosts it.

As part of the “Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award”, the event saw 100 industry experts’ award winners in five main categories. With finalists from America and around the world, the awards recognized the efforts of mixologists, cocktail menus and bars. The event also saw the Connaught Bar walk away with the award for best international hotel bar.connaught_bar_drinks

Located in one of London’s most desirable and fashionable neighborhoods, the bar boasts a luxurious interior and a carefully concocted menu. The bar was designed by David Collins, the man responsible for the interiors of restaurants such as Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, The Wolseley and Gordon Ramsey. Apart from restaurants, the interior designer has also been the creative mastermind behind retail interiors such as Jimmy Choo and Harrods as well as Madonna’s New York and London apartments.

At the Connaught Bar, guests can look forward to plush leather seats amidst 1920s inspired décor as they sip their cocktails. Yes, because people with class sip… Surrounded by silver leaf walls decorated in pink, pistachio and lilac, bartenders in spiffy suits, white-gloves, crisp white shirts and black vests serve up some interesting concoctions. From the Mulata Daisy, made of eight-year-old rum, creme de cacao and fennel seeds to the Sakura that is created with Pear Williams EDV, cherry blossom liquor and plum wine, the cocktails promise to give you that tingly feeling.connaught_bar_bartenders

Other winners include:

Best American Restaurant Bar: Saxon + Parole (New York)

American Bartender of the Year: Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common (Portland)

Best American Cocktail Bar: Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)

Best American Hotel Bar: The Elephant Bar at The NoMad (New York)

Best New American Cocktail Bar: Sweet Liberty (Miami Beach)

Best International Bar Team:American Bar at the Savoy (London)

Best International Restaurant Bar: Hawksmoor Spitalfields (London)

International Bartender of the Year: Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five (Tokyo)

Best International Cocktail Bar: Happiness Forgets (London)

5 Boutique Rio Hotels to Explore

Yes the Rio Olympics are really happening and if you’re going, you deserve better than the safety of big brand names. So, if you are that-way-inclined, here is a selection of five quirky options, each one independent by design and a tribute to good design.

While there’s a time and place for behemoth hotels that sell cookie-cutter rooms in the same neutral, inoffensive palette of beiges and browns, they can do injustice to the city of Rio, which is a kaleidoscope of colors.

Take a tour of some of the city’s boutique design hotels that will sleep A-list visitors looking for more than just a place to lay their head throughout the Olympic games.

One of the common denominators threading the selection, put together by the AFP? Many are designed by expats from France who became enamored with the city. AFP of course is a French newswire service so go figure!

Hotel Fasanodeluxe_suite-Hotel-Fasano-Rio

Lovers of good design will appreciate the Hotel Fasano, which bears the esthetic stylings of design heavyweights such as Philippe Starck and Brazilian talents Oscar Niemeyer and Sergio Rodrigues. Often described as a masterful example of understated elegance, Hotel Fasano attracts A-listers for its prime location in the heart of Ipanema, its penthouse swimming pool, and stunning views of the Atlantic. It is where the elite go to see and be seen. All 79 rooms and 10 suites feature a balcony and marble bathrooms. King-size beds are covered with Egyptian cotton sheets, goose down duvets, and are designed to maximize views of the sea.

Hotel Fasano – Av. Vieira Souto, 80 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Casa MosquitoCasa-Mosquito-Rio

Designed by Frenchmen Benjamin Cano Planes and Louis Planes, Casa Mosquito is the result of a major restoration that transformed a sprawling private home into a boutique hotel made up of nine rooms. Suites pay homage to Rio icons such as Carmen Miranda, Pixinguinha, Madame Satan, Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, and are decorated with pieces curated from Paris, Rio and Sao Paulo. Décor is clean and modern with statement wallpaper and crisp white bedding, while some of the terraces offer views of Copacabana and Ipanema.

Casa Mosquito –  R. Saint Roman, 222 – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Hotel Santa TeresaHotel-Santa-Teresa-Rio-Boutique-Hotel

Set among lush gardens, mango and apricot trees in Rio’s bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa, this boutique hotel pays tribute to its historic past as a coffee plantation mansion by using natural and ecological materials like dark tropical woods and banana tree fiber in its 44 rooms. Walls are decorated with folk art created by local and native artisans. Palm trees fan guests at the outdoor pool, where guests can sip on caipirinhas after their Xingu massage or Amazonian oil bath, and before their Brazilian dinner.

Hotel Santa Theresa –  Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 660, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Mama RuisaMama-Ruisa-Hotel-Rio

Guests in search of a quiet, bed and breakfast-type experience will want to look into the Mama Ruisa which offers seven rooms in the Santa Teresa area of Rio, popular for its cobblestone streets and bohemian vibe. Palm tree fronds brush at guest windows as rooms overlook the mansion’s tropical gardens and are decorated in flea market finds that illustrate Rio’s colonial past — no two rooms are alike. The property also features an outdoor pool and lounge area.

Mama Ruisa – R. Santa Cristina, 132 – Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

La Suite by DussolLa-Suite-By-Dursol-Rio

The location of La Suite by Dussol may scare travelers off as it’s a half-hour drive from Ipanema, tucked into a residential area of Joa. But the boutique hotel is a starred address for travelers in the know, for its chic design and panoramic views of the ocean, Ipanema beach, the forest of Tijuca, Christ the Redeemer and the Cagarras Islands. Designed by Frenchman Francois-Xavier, rooms are themed after a single color – black, white, purple, green, pink, blue and yellow – to reflect the kaleidoscope of Rio’s tropical color palette and decorated with original, local art.

La suite – R. Jackson de Figueiredo, 501 – Joá, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP list.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Lima Hotel Butik di Rio Yang Patut Dikunjungi

New York iStock generic with Central Park

New York Tops US Livability Ranking: Report

A new report ranking the top US cities in categories such as culture, education, diversity and prosperity places New York at the top of the heap, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago. Curiously, for those who care to know, the Big Apple losses out in the prosperity stakes to unlikeliest of cities…

Released by consultancy group Resonance, the 2016 US Place Equity Index measures major cities across the US with populations of more than 500,000 across 23 areas that are grouped into six core categories: place, product, programming, people, prosperity, and promotion.

Cities are evaluated based on statistics and reviews on social media sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. After topping the leaderboard in four of the six categories — place, programming, product and promotion — New York is ranked the best overall city in the US.

Place is defined as the quality of a city’s natural and urban infrastructure; product is characterized by a city’s key institutions and attractions, and programming defined as its arts, culture and entertainment.

The People category considers a city’s diversity, immigration, educational attainment. Prosperity is defined by its economy and promotion, the quantity and quality of online reviews.

Where New York failed to take the top spot is in the category of People, which was awarded to Miami, a city rich in “human capital” with its diversity and education levels.

Likewise, the Big Apple loses to Plano, Texas in the category of prosperity, where unemployment and poverty rates are lower and average household incomes higher than their counterparts.

Here are the top 10 overall US cities for 2016:

  • 1. New York
  • 2. Los Angeles
  • 3. Chicago
  • 4. San Francisco
  • 5. San Diego
  • 6. Boston
  • 7. Houston
  • 8. Miami
  • 9. Washington
  • 10. Seattle

7 Perfect Sports Chronograph Qualities

Dreams do come true sometimes and when envisioning the perfect sports chronograph, we found ourselves listing out the qualities it would have to possess. Rather than to keep it all to ourselves, we knew it would entertain those who share our passion for fine watches. We present the seven sports chronograph qualities in our checklist.

The Movement

An El Primero movement from 1969. Note the column wheel at 12 o’clock. The intermediate wheel that meshes with the chronograph wheel to drive it is in red

An El Primero movement from 1969. Note the column wheel at 12 o’clock. The intermediate wheel that meshes with the chronograph wheel to drive it is in red

The movement may lie hidden within the case, but it makes its presence felt in very palpable ways, from the functions available to the dial’s layout and the pushers’ tactility. Variations abound, but some options are definitely preferred over others here.

Switching and transmission

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrogirder

TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrogirder

For a start, there’s the familiar stomping ground of a chronograph’s actuation and coupling to consider. Actuation refers to the “switch” that controls the chronograph. Cam actuation uses the eponymous component, which is fairly easy to produce and assemble, but has a drawback of uneven tactility – the initial force required to start the chronograph is noticeably higher than what’s needed to stop or reset it. A column wheel, in contrast, is more difficult to manufacture and finish than a cam, but promises a smoother pusher feel akin to what gun enthusiasts describe as “snapping a glass rod” when they talk about a trigger’s tactility.

The coupling system determines how the chronograph mechanism is powered by the base movement. In horizontal coupling, a wheel swings horizontally and engages with the base movement to allow the chronograph to draw energy from the gear train. This engagement can be precisely adjusted, since it’s a system of levers that can be visually inspected by the watchmaker. It has its disadvantages though. For one, the connection puts an additional load on the mainspring all of a sudden. This reduces the energy sent to the balance and hence its swing amplitude, which affects isochronism. The meshing of wheels also causes wear and tear, and leads to a chronograph seconds hand that’s prone to flutter and backlash when the chronograph is first started. The vertical clutch does not have these problems, as the chronograph mechanism is constantly engaged with the base movement, and started by frictional meshing of two discs pressing into each other vertically. It’s considered a better solution but does, however, demand more skill in regulation and adjustment.

Rolex’s Calibre 4130 with column wheel and vertical clutch

Rolex’s Calibre 4130 with column wheel and vertical clutch

Quick ticks

A movement’s beat frequency typically runs from 2.5Hz (18,000vph) to 5Hz (36,000vph) in modern calibres. All else being equal, a movement with a higher beat rate will be more accurate, as the balance gives more “readings” per second, which averages out any erroneous beat’s timing to a greater extent. This is why quartz movements, whose crystals vibrate at 32,768Hz, are far more accurate than mechanical ones. A chronograph’s resolution corresponds to its beat rate – a 4Hz movement can measure elapsed time down to 1/8th of a second, while a 5Hz one goes to 1/10th of a second. Taken to the extreme, this can yield mindboggling results like TAG Heuer’s Carrera Mikrogirder, which beats at 1,000Hz to give a resolution of 1/2000 second.

Further complications

Flyback and rattrapante/split-seconds chronographs are variants on the simple chronograph. The flyback function allows a chronograph’s reset pusher to be actuated while the chronograph is running. This makes all its hands “fly back” to zero and continue running without lag – useful for timing consecutive events such as the legs in a plane’s navigation pattern. The rattrapante chronograph has two chronograph seconds hands. Actuating a third pusher stops one of them to allow an intermediate timing to be read, and pushing it again snaps it forward to catch up with the other instantaneously.

The verdict

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 calibre in the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 calibre in the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The ideal movement for the ultimate sports chronograph should have the following: a column wheel for smooth and confident actuation, vertical coupling for greater accuracy and a precise start to the chronograph second hand, high frequency that’s both more accurate and capable of measuring smaller units of time, and split-seconds functionality to time simultaneous events that will arguably see more use than a flyback function.

Note the two column wheels

Note the two column wheels

Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF361 has all of the above, but is limited to just 50 pieces, and is constructed in gold. Relax the requirements, however, and more options present themselves. There’s Zenith’s El Primero, which remains the only high-beat chronograph movement in mass production, but it uses horizontal coupling and is a simple chronograph. Rolex’s Calibre 4130 is both column wheel-actuated and vertically coupled, but beats at 4Hz and lacks a split-second functionality. The list goes on (both Rolex and Zenith movements are detailed here).

Making A Case

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver chronograph in steel, with ceramic pushers

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver chronograph in steel, with ceramic pushers

A great movement is nothing without a case to protect it – and everything else – from the ravages of the outside environment. Of course, details such as water resistance and a scratchproof sapphire crystal are non-negotiable. However, the choice of material and production technique for the case are less clear cut given the permutations of the available options.

Metals and coatings

Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero

Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Ultranero

By eliminating precious metals like gold and platinum, as well as exotic ones such as tantalum, only stainless steel and titanium are left when it comes to metallic cases. Both are available in several variants. Grade 2 titanium, for instance, is close to steel in terms of its hardness, but it is far less dense, and therefore much lighter. Grade 5 titanium, on the other hand, is significantly harder than its Grade 2 sibling and just as light, but lacks the latter’s unique drab grey appearance.

Both steel and titanium cases can be toughened with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating applied via physical vapour deposition (PVD), which significantly increases their surfaces’ hardness. This is commonly done nowadays for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and its only drawback is perhaps the hassle and costs of repairing a chipped/damaged coating – the original layer of DLC must be completely stripped before the case is polished and a new coating is reapplied.

Exotic stuff

Instead of steel or titanium, ceramics and carbon can also be used to make a watch’s case. These materials vary in hardness and density, but generally exhibit a high level of toughness with a touch of the exotic. Ceramics are fairly straightforward – compact the powdered formulation in a mould, bake it under high pressure to sinter it into a solid, then machine this mass to create a finished case. Carbon, on the other hand, can be forged, baked, or vacuum-moulded together, often with other “ingredients” such as quartz fibres to enhance its properties. The last step is still machining though, to achieve the desired shape and contours.

New production techniques

Panerai PAM578

Panerai PAM578

The available materials described above are fairly well understood, and new ones being introduced tend to be variations on existing themes, with marginal improvements over current offerings. New production techniques, however, sometimes create paradigm shifts. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), for example, was introduced by Panerai earlier this year in its Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio PAM578. The technique is already in use elsewhere, including the aerospace and medical industries, and works just like 3D printing – a solid component is “built” from a metal powder using a laser, which sinters the powder layer by layer. Unlike subtractive production, which involves removing material by cutting/milling out unwanted parts, DMLS is additive, and capable of producing solid components with hollow interiors. As the PAM578 shows, a hollow titanium case can be made with DMLS, with no loss of structural strength or water resistance thanks to the manipulation of the internal space’s shape.

The verdict

Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme

Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme

The clear winner here is the latest and greatest technology available – DMLS. Titanium, especially its Grade 5 variant, is already light and hardy enough to stand up to general abuse. With DMLS, further weight savings can be had for an extremely comfortable chronograph with no loss of strength.

Shock Proof

The MRG-G1000HT uses Alpha Gel for shock protection, like other metal-clad G-Shocks

The MRG-G1000HT uses Alpha Gel for shock protection, like other metal-clad G-Shocks

Shock protection such as Kif or Incabloc is ubiquitous in modern calibres, and serves to protect the delicate balance staff, which must be thin to reduce friction, yet support the weight of the entire balance wheel. Why stop there, though? The entire movement can be protected, and there are various ways to do this.

Suspended animation

A movement can only receive shocks through its case, so isolating the two from each other is a very viable method. Richard Mille does this in the RM 27-01 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal by suspending the movement with four braided steel cables, each just 0.35mm thick, and using a system of pulleys and tensioners to adjust their tautness. The brand claims that the watch has a shock resistance of 5,000G – enough to survive a tennis match on Nadal’s wrist.

Instead of minimising the contact between the movement and its case, Franck Muller took things to the other extreme with the Vanguard Backswing, its golf-themed timepiece. The watch has a relatively small movement just 26.2mm across, which is fitted into a case measuring 44mm by 53.7mm; a wide spacer ring containing silicone inserts takes up the rest of the inner case and cushions the movement from shocks and vibrations.

Steel cables suspend the movement inside the Richard Mille RM 27-01

Steel cables suspend the movement inside the Richard Mille RM 27-01

Gelled up

When Casio started developing G-Shocks with metal cases, it had to re-examine the issue of shock resistance, since the protection afforded by the original shock absorbing resin case was no longer available. The solution to circumvent this has evolved over the years, and the latest involves the judicious application of a high-tech material called Alpha Gel. This silicone-based substance is sourced from Taica Corporation, a Japanese R&D firm, and contains extraordinary shock absorption properties – a layer of Alpha Gel barely an inch thick can cushion a one-metre fall of an egg and keep it from breaking. By designing the movement and case to be in contact only at specific points, and “reinforcing” these points with Alpha Gel, the movement is effectively protected against shocks and vibrations.

The verdict

Suspending a movement with tensioned cables or floating it within a wide spacer ring are both effective solutions to creating a shock resistant watch. The main drawback, however, is the volume of space needed within the case to implement them. Alpha Gel thus emerges as a preferred option as it requires less internal space, which allows a larger movement to be used.

Surviving Magnetism

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph has a soft iron inner cage

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph has a soft iron inner cage

Magnetism is the bane of any mechanical watch. A magnetic field wreaks havoc on a movement’s accuracy by affecting the swing of the balance wheel, and continues to do so even after it’s gone should the movement become magnetised. From obvious sources like MRIs, to insidious ones like a handbag’s magnetic clasp, this invisible force permeates our daily life. Naturally, the perfect sports chronograph must guard against it.

There are two ways to render magnetism moot. The first is to shield the movement using a soft iron inner case, like what IWC does with some of its pilot’s watches. Such an inner case protects the movement by redirecting the magnetic field through itself, while remaining non-magnetised due to its soft iron construction. The advantage of this method is its simplicity and low cost – crafting an inner case with this common material is easy. In a sufficiently strong magnetic field, however, the soft iron inner case will be magnetically saturated, and any “residual” magnetic field will still pass through it to affect the movement. In addition, this principle requires a specific design – a sealed inner case that encases the movement – to work well. The dial and case back must thus have no cut outs lest the magnetic field affects the movement through these holes.

Rolex’s Syloxi hairspring

Rolex’s Syloxi hairspring

The alternative to shielding a movement is making its regulating organs amagnetic. The hairspring, pallet fork, and escape wheel can all be made in silicon, which is nonmagnetic, thanks to improved production techniques like DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching). As a silicon hairspring is already cut specifically to promote concentric breathing, the balance assembly is free sprung and not regulated. This necessitates a variable inertia balance wheel with weighted screws on its rim for regulation, so the balance wheel is not rendered in silicon.

The verdict

Silicon pallet and escape wheel visible through the dial cut-out

Silicon pallet and escape wheel visible through the dial cut-out

In most environments, a soft iron inner cage is more than sufficient protection for a watch movement; the design’s longevity attests to its effectiveness. Why stop there, though? Silicon parts aren’t just impervious to magnetism, but also require little to no lubrication while weighing less than their traditional counterparts. The no holds barred option will have to be silicon.

Visibility In Darkness

Barring electronic solutions like LED lights, there are two main methods to making a watch visible in the dark. The first involves Super-LumiNova or other such luminous paints, which glow in the dark after being “charged” with light, whether natural or artificial, ambient or directed. Luminous paint can be applied in any pattern and, with some tweaks in production, anywhere on a watch down to its case and lugs. It can also be recharged an unlimited number of times, and a sufficiently thick layer of it will glow in the dark for hours before fading off.

Luminox Navy SEAL Colormark Nova

Luminox Navy SEAL Colormark Nova

The alternative to Super-LumiNova is self-powered light sources driven by the radioactive decay of tritium gas. To achieve this, tritium is sealed within a glass tube whose inner surface has been coated with a fluorescent material – the (very low levels of) radiation from tritium excites this coating, which glows and gives off light. This glow is constant, and lasts through the night. Tritium, however, has a half-life of just over 12 years – after this period, only half of the tritium gas in each glass tube remains radioactive, which means that the brightness has also been halved accordingly.

The verdict

Why make a choice between the two? As Luminox has demonstrated with its Colormark Nova series of watches – the two technologies are not mutually exclusive. It makes sense to use tritium-powered light for essential indicators such as the hands and hour indexes, which can then be complemented with Super-LumiNova on other indicators, such as bezel markings.

The Bezel

The right bezel can greatly enhance a watch’s functionality; the challenge lies in narrowing down the available options. Should it rotate? If it should, in one or both directions? What type of markings should it have?

Longines Pulsometer Chronograph

Longines Pulsometer Chronograph

The Options

Rotating bezels tend to come in two variations. A diver’s rotating bezel only turns counter-clockwise, and comes with count up markings to allow its user to measure elapsed time by aligning the marker at 12 o’clock with the minute hand. Other timepieces, such as pilot’s watches, tend to have bi-directional rotating bezels containing either count up markings that function similarly, or count down markings that function as reminders for time sensitive events.

The alternative to these are bezels with specific markings that must be used together with the chronograph seconds hand. These are usually fixed bezels, although manufactures including TAG Heuer have made rotating ones in the past.

The most common one is the tachymeter, which allows the wearer to read off its markings for the hourly rate of an activity, by measuring the time it takes to complete one unit of it. Starting the chronograph and stopping it after a car has travelled for one kilometre, for instance, will give the car’s speed in kilometres per hour – the wearer just needs to see where the chronograph seconds hand is pointing to on the tachymeter. The unit does not matter; one can arrive at the number of cookies a person eats in an hour by measuring the time he takes to finish one cookie.

Tudor Fastrider Black Shield with tachymeter on bezel

Tudor Fastrider Black Shield with tachymeter on bezel

The pulsometer and telemeter function similarly to the tachymeter, but are more specialised. A pulsometer gives the heart rate of a person (in beats per minute) by using the chronograph to measure the time it takes for a certain number of heart beats, usually 10 or 30. The telemeter, on the other hand, indicates the distance to an event, such as a lightning strike. The chronograph is started when the event is seen, and stopped when it is heard. By assuming that light travels instantly, while sound’s average speed through air is around 300m per second, a calibrated scale – the telemeter – can be made, and the distance to the event read off it.

The verdict

The tachymeter is an easy pick here for being the “Goldilocks” bezel – it is neither too general to make proper use of the chronograph, like the diver’s bezel, nor too specialised, like the pulsometer. The flexibility inherent to the tachymeter is also an important advantage – any event can be timed and instantly converted to give an hourly rate.

The Strap

The attention that’s lavished onto a timepiece, down to the last screw, usually leaves little love for its strap. Yet, as the interface between watch and wrist, the strap performs a vital function, and can make or break the wearer’s experience. Ideally, the perfect sports chronograph will be paired with a strap that’s comfortable, robust, and also convenient to wear and adjust. Naturally, these requirements preclude a dressy leather strap, but what of the other options out there?

Rolex’s Glidelock fine adjustment system

Rolex’s Glidelock fine adjustment system

The Options

The evergreen choice for a sporty watch, chronograph or not, is a metal bracelet. Whether rendered in steel or titanium, a well-made bracelet stands up to abuse well, and maintains a presence on the wrist with some reassuring heft. Many bracelets also feature fine adjustment clasps, which allows the bracelet to be sized even more precisely for a wrist after adding or removing links. Since it doesn’t require a tool, such a clasp also allows the bracelet’s fit to be changed out in the field, which is perfect for impromptu adjustments when wearing the watch over clothes like a windbreaker, for instance.

The rubber strap is another popular option, thanks to its lightweight, waterproof, and hypoallergenic (when made with synthetic materials) properties. Out of all the available choices, Rolex’s Oysterflex probably takes the cake – it has an internal skeleton of nickel titanium that makes it unbreakable, yet maintains the supple feel of a rubber strap with all the advantages described.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Oysterflex bracelet

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Oysterflex bracelet

A third possible alternative is the NATO strap. Usually woven from nylon or an equivalent material, it has a section with two layers, and is fastened to the wrist via a series of rings and a regular ardillon buckle. Compared to the bracelet and rubber strap, it has two benefits – it can be swapped without any tools, and it keeps the watch on the wrist even if a springbar were to fail.

The verdict

Easily replaceable and capable of keeping a watch attached should a springbar breaks, the NATO strap is a clear winner. Brands like Tudor offers some of their timepieces with NATO straps, while myriad aftermarket options are also available. The icing on the cake is its cost – NATO straps, even premium ones, are relatively cheap.

Magnificent Seven

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo with NATO strap

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo with NATO strap

To build the ultimate chronograph, one only needs to combine all the elements discussed above…right? Well, not exactly. If it isn’t obvious enough by now, the perfect chronograph doesn’t exist, not least because every wearer’s needs are different. The exercise that was done on the preceding pages was useful for revealing the breadth of available options to a manufacture, but choosing one over another for any category will almost certainly entail trade-offs, even if they weren’t explicitly mentioned. Making a strong, lightweight, hypoallergenic titanium case using DMLS is certainly an attractive proposition, but the process is slow, and far more costly than milling a similar case from a block of the same metal. In the same vein of things, a rattrapante chronograph with two column wheels and a vertical clutch may be the bee’s knees, but the production, assembly, regulation, and servicing of such a calibre will cost its owner, to say the least. Price and value are also important factors to consider for a watch buyer, which explains the longevity of the workhorse Valjoux 7750 – it’s not perfect, but it works, and it’s affordable. Ultimately, options are always a good thing, and the luxury of choice never hurts.

This article was first published in WOW.

6 Best Oscar de la Renta Looks by Peter Copping

Mention the words “red carpet” and couturier Oscar de la Renta’s name should come to mind. Celebrities have been known to flock to the atelier for many a special career- and life-defining moment. Following Peter Copping’s sudden departure announcement just yesterday, we look back at six stars who graced the red carpet in his finest creations throughout his two-year career as creative director there.

Emma Stone 

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The American actress channelled a little Victorian romance at last year’s Cannes Film Festival in a black Chantilly lace cocktail dress with organza ruffles, straight from Copping’s Pre-Fall 2015 collection for the label.

Karlie Kloss

Peter Copping_Oscar de la renta_red carpet_featured

The supermodel referenced the clear blue waters of the ocean with a vibrant silk faille gown at the De Grisogono Divine Party. The dress – from the house’s Fall 2015 collection – featured black embroidered flowers that made for a feminine juxtaposition to its subtly-edgy pointed neckline.

Claire Danes

Peter Copping_Oscar de la renta_red carpet_

Danes was a vision of class in a ruby broderie anglaise day dress from Copping’s Spring 2016 collection for Oscar de la Renta. The knotted neckline added visual interest to the contemporary silhouette, while the midi hemline finished the dress’ modest and feminine look.

Selma Blair

Peter Copping_Oscar de la renta_red carpet_

Like a burst of sunshine, Selma Blair’s outfit of choice was more than fitting for the occasion: Operation Smile’s 2015 Smile Gala event in Beverly Hills. The bold marigold silk faille cocktail dress with a black lace bustier and neoprene laser-cut floral embroidery saw sharp tailoring and contrasting, textural tones.

Jaime King

oscar de la renta-red carpet-featured


The actress and model donned a black lace gown with azalea organza underlay from Spring 2016 for the 2016 Parker Foundation Gala, channelling both sensuality and sophistication.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Peter Copping_Oscar de la renta_red carpet_

Purple isn’t exactly the easiest color to pull off on the red carpet, but Gyllenhaal made it work. The actress – in a dark navy and hyacinth duchessina backless bustier gown from Copping’s Fall 2015 collection– dazzled at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Enam Busana Oscar de la Renta Rancangan Peter Copping Yang Terbaik

Tiffany & Co. Debuts 4 Legendary Style Stars

Some stars have a certain inimitable style and Tiffany & Co. knows this well. Named the Legendary Style campaign, the powerful women don iconic designs that have helped cement the jeweler’s status in the world of luxury. The collaborative effort between Tiffany & Co. and its creative partner Grace Coddington, who joined the brand in April this year, is a surprise for many, considering her dislike for all things celebrity. Celebrity after all is fleeting while jewelry is forever. This in turn echoes the formula Tiffany & Co. has followed in the past (the all-American company always featured models).

Clearly, the 179-year-old brand decided to embrace change because the current campaign features the likes of Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, model and maternal health advocate Christy Turlington Burns, model Natalie Westling and Elle Fanning. The dynamic portraits were shot by David Sims and are juxtaposed with black and white close ups of the designs on the actresses. Join us for the briefest of brief looks at the four women and their portraits for the Tiffany & Co. campaign.Lupita-Nyong'o-Tiffany-Co-Legendary-Stars

Having captivated the world with her keen eye for fashion (we still can’t get over that baby blue gown at the Oscars in 2014) and confidence both on and off the red carpet, Lupita Nyong’o is a style star we look forward to when the awards season rolls around. Well, actually, we look forward to her in anything. The unexpected jolts of color in her outfits along with her undeniable star power pair well with the Tiffany T Square bracelet. Reflecting her strength and confidence, the design is an accessory that suits her to a tee.Elle-Fanning-Tiffany-Co-Legendary-Stars

We cannot deny that there is something magnetic about Elle Fanning that draws the eye, which may have been what made Nicolas Winding Refn cast her in The Neon Demon. Clearly, Tiffany & Co. were similarly affected y her allure. In her two portraits for the campaign, she is seen wearing the Tiffany Keys (representing a bright future) and the Tiffany Victoria that shows off the glamor that Hollywood is known for.Christie-Turlington-Burns-Tiffany-Co-Legendary-Stars

She may have been a major player on the runways in the 1990s (a decade that neither Fanning nor Westling will recall), but these days Christy Turlington Burns is focusing on issues she is passionate about. Her style can best be described as elegant and simple, which is reflected in her portraits. The model shows off Elsa Peretti’s Diamonds by the Yard as well as the brand new Tiffany T Square bracelets that are fitted with diamonds and set to be launched for fall/winter 2016.Natalie-Westling-Tiffany-Co-Legendary-Stars

A unconventional figure in the modelling biz and an avid skateboarder, Natalie Westling is a refreshing change from the ultra feminine models that have been featured in the past. With her androgynous features and care-free spirit, the model is a bold choice for to roll out the Tiffany T Two rings for fall/winter.

Invest in These: 4 London Luxury Properties

An uncertain future for many, a diplomatic mess and economic uncertainty await Britain (and the rest of the world) with its looming exit from the European Union. But there is a silver lining to be found between the chaos that is Brexit, especially for those still looking to invest in luxury property. While many in Britain are reeling from the effects of the sterling being at its lowest, across the world many are reaping the benefits. In short, for international players, there may not be a better time to bet hard on London property.

Even with all the changes and uncertainty, there are some things that remain the same. As a key location for the arts, London is also the home of several Michelin Star restaurants. As a cosmopolitan city, the British capital is also an attractive place for many a business to set down roots. With all the opportunities (not to mentions beneficial exchange rate), we take a closer look at a four luxury London properties.

500 Chinswick High Road500-Chiswick-High-Road---Living-Space

Situated in the prime West London district, this development offers 59 apartments, seven penthouses and five townhouses for the taking. Buyers on the lookout for apartments, can choose between one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments while those on the market for a townhouse will find a spacious abode with the four bedroom properties on offer. Ranging from 402 square feet to 1,660 square feet, the apartments boast oak veneer floors, Quartz worktops and luxurious bathroom fittings. Privacy is a key feature for every unit, as each comes with private outdoor space, secure underground parking and a concierge service.

Blake Tower (Barbican)Blake-Tower-London-Property

In the heart of London’s financial district is a development that was once the city’s YMCA hostel. The 74 homes that span 17 floors make up the fourth high-rise that complete the Barbican Estate. With a view of the London Eye, The Shard and Wembley, the property certainly celebrates its English link — after all it is named for the English poet William Blake. Designed by Chamberlain, Powell and Bon in the ‘60s, the apartments vary in size starting from 450 square feet to 2,000 square feet. From cultural institutions to reputable schools, the Blake Tower is a Song of Innocence and of Experience.

Kensington Row by St EdwardThomas-Earle-House---Penthouse---Living-Space

This cosy spot between Earl’s Court and Kensington High Street features one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and penthouses. While there are 500 apartments to choose from, the first phase of the development will see 82 apartments and penthouses up for grabs. The building will feature 12 floors of apartments, each with its very own private balcony or terrace. Ranging from 1,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet, the luxurious apartments give residents access to an equipped gym, private cinema and 24-hour concierge service.

205 Holland Park Avenue205-Holland-Park-Avenue---Plot-7-(23)

Rounding out the list is the first property on Holland Park Avenue in 50 years that has been newly built. Made up of 41 spacious two- and three-bedroom apartments, the exclusive property offers residents security in one of London’s most prized districts. With the living and dining areas providing comfort the three-bedroom apartment measuring 1,195 square feet also boasts a wood floored balcony. Those looking to start a family will be glad to hear that neighboring Shepard’s Bush is set to undergo a facelift to include two new playgrounds, public walkways and a tree-lined boulevard.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Berinvestasi di Enam Properti Mewah London