Dec 23, 2023
The 7 Best Luxury Gifts (2022): Devialet, Prada, Rimowa, Urwerk
Jeremy White If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED What defines luxury?
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED
What defines luxury? For years, the world looked to Coco Chanel for florid descriptions of what is or is not luxurious. That would seem most unwise today, considering it has been recently reported that she was a Nazi intelligence operative and an anti-Semite.
Perhaps the most WIRED view would chime with that of American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder, who said that “the future is the most expensive luxury in the world.” For me, though, Oscar Wilde put it best (naturally): “I’m a man of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best.” It's a yardstick I thoroughly endorse—and, for those of us with friends or family for whom it is impossible to buy, heeding this maxim should never fail to deliver a desirable gift, even to someone who supposedly already has everything they could wish for.
Here then is a compilation of ridiculously fine items in all manner of categories, from audio marvels to dramatic coffee tables, from electric rides to poker perfection. All would make truly astounding presents, though none, I should warn you now, will be wallet-friendly. After all, high-end too often equals high price. For those understandably on a budget, never fear, we have you covered with our superb list of absolute bargains for $25 or less, as well as plenty of other smart gift guides. Anyone else wanting to indulge in some gear grandeur, read on.
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In WIRED's group review of the best electric motorbikes this year, we fell in love with this retro wonder from a small British company. The RM1 not only conjures up the aesthetics of classic bikes for the likes of Triumph and Norton, complete with cabling wrapped in a braided sheath that cleverly mimics an exhaust, it also boasts swappable batteries. Once you have gone roughly 40 miles (80 miles when two batteries are fitted), you can pop the battery packs out of the motorcycle, slot them into a fan-cooled charger that plugs into a standard outlet, and charge from flat to full in just four hours. The 45-mph top speed might not match wilder ICE rides, but when your bike looks this good, why would you want to be hooning down highways anyway? Besides, a more sedate steed should be a darn sight safer too. And, as it is classed as an electric 125-cc equivalent, in the UK all you need to ride is a CBT licence. Based in the US? Such has been demand that Maeving says it is going to expand and sell internationally.
If you don't know the French audio firm Devialet (pronounced: duv'-ē-a-lay), you should. It did, after all, bring us the superlative Phantom speaker system that blew our aural socks off in 2015. Well, now it is back with it's smallest speaker yet, called the Mania, promising to deliver the brand's famed high-standard sonorous experience but in a diminutive package. The speaker features four full-range drivers and two force-canceling visible woofers squeezed into a spherical, water-resistant exoskeleton. It’s portable, with a 10-hour battery and an integrated handle inspired by luxury watches. At $790, this is Devialet's “entry-level” offering, but you get an impressive frequency range from 30 to 20,000 hertz, 95 dB of thumping volume, and 360-degree sound. The Mania will even tune its own output depending on where in the room it is placed. All the wireless options are here—Bluetooth 5.0, Airplay 2, Spotify Connect—and it has voice assistant support on board.
Rimowa, the metal luggage brand last seen selling a 12-bottle wine case created with Lebron James, returns once again to the world of vice with this sleek poker set. Everything you need for many hours of friendly financial ruin is neatly sequestered in an attaché encased in Rimowa's signature anodized aluminum. Microfiber compartments house the poker pieces—350 chips in six colors: 120 white chips, 90 red chips, 50 green chips, 50 blue chips, 20 black chips, and 20 purple chips—along with one silver anodized aluminum “dealer” button, two packs of cards, and a velvet poker mat on which to play. Had enough of the cards? You get six dice in silver anodized aluminum thrown in as well. Oh, and an integrated combination lock keeps the contents safe en route to the tournament. If you want to chain the attaché to your wrist as well, be our guest, but you'll have to source your own handcuffs.
In 2019, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris acquired a Duffy London Abyss coffee table to become part of the permanent French national collection. Now, the design firm is producing a new limited run of 25 pieces that echo this arresting interior object. Layers of the natural Birchwood and sculpted blue glass come together to replicate the perception of water and its changes in color at different depths. What other coffee table do you know of that has been crafted specifically to conjure oceanic topography and imbue a general feeling of serenity? For this 2023 edition—available in a 120-cm or 140-cm diameter—Duffy London is also offering the base section carved from a single block of white Italian Carrara marble. Apparently, the marble and blue-tinted glass serves up “a purer blue, with an almost arctic-like effect” linking back to Christopher Duffy’s original inspiration for the Abyss table to mirror the aesthetic of icebergs above and below the waves.
Prada has, believe it or not, only just released its first-ever fine jewelry range. All of the pieces are made of recycled gold, and all feature, in some form or another, the classic Prada triangle. The near 50-piece gender-neutral collection starts at $1,420 and, according to Prada jewelry director Timothy Iwata, aims to offer “contemporary meaning and relevance to classic shapes.” Mission accomplished. The pieces can be purchased made-to-order, or, if you're organized enough to think ahead, many can be preordered. While the gold is 100 percent recycled, the diamonds are certified, verifiable, and traceable via the Aura blockchain. Two standouts are the Eternal Gold Chain Bracelet in yellow gold, which will set you back $15,600, and the $10,400 made-to-order Eternal Gold Choker with medium pendant in 18-karat yellow gold on an elegant velvet ribbon.
If your fussy loved one has a penchant for watches, they most likely will already own a Rolex, a Patek, an Omega, or all three. What they will likely not have is an Urwerk. The Swiss watch brand invented the satellite-cube hour indicator, essentially creating a new mechanical way of displaying the time, and it has been putting out brilliantly bonkers timepieces since 1997. The UR-120 “Spock” is a new take on Urwerk's distinctive triple satellites on a carousel, only this time each satellite is a pair of cubes that sequentially split, rotate, and then merge to display the hours. Of course, as these cubes split, they form a V that the brand says is inspired by the Vulcan salute, hence the moniker. It’s water resistant up to 30 meters, and, as this watch measures 44 mm by 47 mm, it's better suited to larger wrists. Its power reserve—the length of time it continues to run when you are not wearing it—is a gargantuan 48 days.
Back in 2019, Bentley joined with high-end snow gear brand Bomber to create a pair of skis celebrating the car brand's 100-year anniversary. The Centenary Edition 84 had 24-karat, gold-plated diamond-shaped inserts, no less. Now the collaboration continues with a new collection of a helmet, a set of poles, and additional ski designs. Limited to just 200 pairs, and made using Bomber’s signature wooden-core sandwich construction, Bentley's new Ice Edition Ski is meant for all levels of skier, and it should serve your loved one well from bumps to powder. If you were wondering how the $995 helmet might count as luxurious, the leather, Kevlar, and carbon-fiber construction includes an integrated (and removable) photochromic visor as well as a patented “fragrance release system” to keep the inside of your lid smelling as fresh as the mountain air.
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