Living / Insights

A Patriotic Pen

Montblanc pays tribute to Lady Liberty with a limited-edition pen inspired by a true American icon.

June 27, 2012

There are several unmistakable structures that symbolize New York City, but none are more patriotic (or recognizable) than the Statue of Liberty. In celebration of American freedom, Montblanc has created the Statue of Liberty Artisan Edition pen, an immaculately crafted limited-edition writing instrument that pays tribute to Lady Liberty ($33,000). Gustave Eiffel, who also created the Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed the Statue of Liberty as a gift to the United States. The tower’s famed lattice structure is showcased on the exterior of the pen, which is constructed from 750 solid gold fittings over a gray PVD coating; it’s finished with a motherofpearl Montblanc emblem at its summit. The barrel is engraved with the date of the Declaration of Independence in Roman numerals. The cap symbolizes the Statue of Liberty’s crown, while the citrine jewel and clip represent her glowing torch. This Statue of Liberty Artisan Edition pen, only available in an exclusive run of 50, is showcased at a special display at Montblanc’s Madison Avenue flagship. 598 Madison Ave., 212-223-8888


Celsius X VI II Releases Another Luxe Cell Phone

Company prepares for the debut of their second mobile device, designed to last a lifetime.

June 25, 2012

French company Celsius X VI II, which specializes in luxury mobile devices that combine 21st-century technology with centuries-old Swiss timekeeping, has recently released a limited-edition phone for $312,000.

Designed to last a lifetime, the company’s first model, LeDIX Origine, is already on the verge of selling out. Luckily, their latest creation, the LeDIX Furtif, will be available at the end of June for those looking to give their mobile device a luxury upgrade.

The first mobile phone with a carbon fiber structure, the highlight of the LeDIX Furtif is still the tourbillon timepiece. Using 330 of the phone’s 700 mechanical parts, the LeDIX Furtif features the world’s most off-centered flying tourbillon. Framed with six golden wings and protected by shock absorbers, the tourbillon engine is showcased through a sapphire crystal breastplate.

Celsius X VI II has eliminated any magnetic effects on the LeDIX Furtif for the highest possible accuracy. They have also developed the Remontage Papillon, a patented system engulfed in the hinge of the phone. The Remontage Papillon supplies the watch movement with an added three hours of power reserve each time the phone is opened.

Co-founder and co-CEO of Celsius X VI II, Edouard Maylan, cites the company’s goal as designing a technically superior phone with eternal value. Formed in 2006, the company started “with the dream of creating a completely micro-mechanical mobile phone, where every function of the mobile would operate mechanically through the sole human energy.” Maylan describes each device as “a piece of art taking six months [and] 35 craftsmen, watchmakers, and engineers to produce.”

The Furtif comes in three eight-piece limited editions, offered in a choice of pink gold, platinum, or black inserts. With the Furtif retailing for $315,000, Celsius is on their way to redefining the luxury phone market.

—Victoria Hinojosa


2013 BMW 7 Series Coming Soon to Showrooms

Newly spruced up 2013 BMW 7 Series adds more performance, luxury, efficiency, and safety.

June 15, 2012

The newly spruced up 2013 BMW 7 Series adds a touch more performance, luxury, efficiency, and safety to its already significant packaging.

Technically speaking, the V8 engine for the 2013 model has been given a boost—receiving a 45 horsepower jump and a torque increase of 30. Specifically, the 740i and 750i will feature BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, xDrive all-wheel drive, Auto Start Stop, and a freshly enhanced powertrain. The ActiveHybrid has adopted the 6 cylinder to replace the previous V8.

The subtly revised exterior boasts new technologies, including LED headlights (LED fog lights are included on models without the M Sport Package) and a sleeker 9-slat kidney grille—opposed to the BMW classic 12-slat. But the internal changes are more of note, with the upgraded interface and redesigned iDrive (dubbed “iDrive 4.X”), which promises a crisper display, faster start-up, and a more functional navigation with the ability to learn your driving route. And for a little something extra, the Bang & Olufsen high-end Surround Sound system is also an available option.

Expect the new BMW 7 series: 740i, 740Li, 740Li xDrive, 750i, 750i xDrive, 750Li, 750Li xDrive, and the 760Li in showrooms late this summer with pricing starting at $74,195.



The Paris Review Literary Salon

Lit-loving actors and actresses perform readings at the magazine’s salon series kick-off.

June 13, 2012

Dorothy Parker

The Paris Review will launch a series of literary salons beginning tonight at The Strand (7 PM). Actress Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope) will read from Dorothy Parker's 1957 interview with the magazine and actor Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) will read Denis Johnson's Car-Crash While Hitchhiking. The price of admission is the purchase of The Paris Review's summer issue or a $15 Strand gift card. The summer issue features fiction from Ann Beattie and Sam Lipsyte, essays by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Rich Cohen, J.D. Daniels, and Davy Rothbart, and poems by Sophie Cabot Black, Robert Bolaño, and more.  828 Broadway, 3rd Floor Rare Book Room, 212-473-1452

—Jessica Ferri


Reveling in Atlantic City

The weekend jaunt to New Jersey’s most infamous city on the water gets an upgrade.

June 08, 2012

Beyoncé performs during Memorial Day weekend at Revel

The Greyhound bus trip from New York’s Port Authority to the casino strip in Atlantic City is the stuff of legend: tales of smoke-saturated senior citizens in neon plastic visors and fanny packs define the narrative. Once you arrive at America’s Playground, what you’ll find rarely compares to New York’s high-end, luxury experiences—until now. Just ask Kim Kardashian, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, and Jay-Z, who all made appearances at Revel during the Memorial Day weekend grand opening, which centered on a series of four concerts by the one and only Beyoncé.

For the refined New Yorker less interested in visors and more in vistas, the newly opened Revel resort offers a solution: A completely smoke-free facility that spans 6.3 million square feet and stretches 47 stories into the air above AC. Fully visible as you approach the city on the Garden State Parkway, Revel is by far the tallest building on the coast and the second tallest in the entire state of New Jersey, behind Goldman Sachs in Jersey City. The resort has more than 1,800 hotel rooms with ocean views, two nightclubs, 14 restaurants from celebrity chefs such as Iron Chef Marc Forgione, high-end fashion retail, an Exhale spa, and, of course, a giant casino gaming floor. The list seems exhausting, but it’s all part of the vision.

“It’s [Revel CEO] Kevin Desanctis’ vision to make Revel a resort proper that happens to have a casino in it,” Michael Prifti, principal at BLT Architects, Revel’s executive architect of record, says. “The property in its physical manifestation is an expression of that vision. By design, the elevators from the hotel towers don’t go to the casino. And the casino is different in its aesthetic, design, and layout than other casinos in Atlantic City.”

A total of 67 design teams worked together to conceive, plan, and implement Revel. This grouping includes Scéno Plus, the creatives responsible for Cirque du Soleil’s theater in Orlando, who put their magical touches on the entire casino, giving a dramatic feel to a place that could have been drab and unimpressive.

“We did a lot of benchmarking and took great pains to make sure we achieved intimacy and warmth,” Prifti says of the interiors, which were entirely built out in just over 12 months. “There should always be a sense of discovery, and every time you turn around a corner, you will find something really unique, new, and appropriate to that experience.”

And despite the sheer massiveness of the property, Prifti says, it’s the detailed touches that make Revel stand out.

“We are conscious of the vibe of the space and the energy level of the experience,” he says. “In the hotel lobby, for example, the scalloped ceilings with the light coves are illuminated. During the day, there are red and orange lights akin to sunshine, and after dinner, there are more blues to add an electric atmosphere of excitement at night.”

A relationship with the ocean, the space to see and be seen, and exemplifying that it’s of its place: these were the three guiding principals of Revel’s design teams, all of which BLT Architects managed and coordinated, Prifti says.

“The sinuousness of the glass and its reflectivity show the sky and the ocean, because they are reflected [in the façade of the building],” he says. “You see the continuousness of the horizon as it extends around you, and [the building] merges into its place on the Jersey shore. It has so much opportunity for people watching. You can stand anywhere on the property and look out to the boardwalk and see people walking—and they can see you.”

Far from the bus ride of yesteryear—barring access to your own chopper, of course—Atlantic City International Airport, open for private jet landings, is about a 20-minute drive from Revel’s prime spot on the boardwalk. Now that’s classy. 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-225-9851



Confessions of a Power Broker: Raphael De Niro

Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Raphael De Niro explains the new standard for luxury living in Manhattan.

June 04, 2012

Developers are finishing luxury apartments with the same care as buyers, says De Niro

Two new downtown residential buildings are beginning a revolution, elevating the level of luxury to new heights, according to Raphael De Niro, one of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s premier realtors. The buildings, 41 Bond and 55 Warren, each include fewer than 10 units, but the apartments are spacious and embody an unparalleled quality. The demand for large apartments over 3,000 square feet is a well-established trend, but the ultra-luxe finishes on the two boutique buildings are a new consideration for upscale buyers. Says De Niro, “The apartments are finished to an extremely high standard— the way residents refinish custom apartments as opposed to the way developers handle them.” Carrara marble, terrazzo floors, exotic woods, and other extravagant finishes make these residences a prime buy for someone who might otherwise gut an apartment and spend $750 per square foot to rebuild it, De Niro explains. The talents of 55 Warren’s interior designer, Leopoldo Rosati, and 41 Bond’s architect, Peter Guthrie, ensure clean lines and the best use of the lavish materials. As banks are more willing to back these in-demand, high-end projects with spacious but few units over enormous 200-unit projects that take time to fill, De Niro predicts that the emergence of boutique buildings and the focus on quality detailing will continue. “It’s building excitement in Manhattan and raising the bar in terms of what people are starting to deliver in terms of new developments,” he says. 690 Washington St., 212-460-0655

—allison polster


Bentley Reveals Luxe SUV: EXP 9 F

The luxury brand's first SUV boasts all the usual Bentley trappings, but raises some debate.

May 04, 2012

Bentley made a statement the night before the Geneva International Motor Show during VW’s Group Night, where each of the parent company’s brands showcased their latest and most spectacular vehicles. The British luxury maker wowed the crowd with its first SUV concept, EXP 9 F.

Massive 23-inch alloy wheels; the signature bold Bentley grille; a powerful 6-liter W12 engine that can make up to 600 horsepower; an 8-speed transmission; a fold-down champagne cooler; and luxury tailgating fit for the Kentucky Derby, seem to overly exceed expectations of consumers looking to purchase an ultra-elite SUV. Bentley’s sports utility vehicle is in competition with other luxe cars like the Range Rover and Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo. While the design and composition keep all the usual Bentley trappings, it is unknown if this foray into SUVs will be met with negative or positive feedback.

—Kimatni D. Rawlins,; @ARtvKimatni


Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II: Technology & Tradition

Rolls-Royce’s new Phantom model embodies the brand’s dedication to quality and customer connection.

April 23, 2012

From connecting with their clients via private tours of their plants to throwing exclusive events for owners, Rolls-Royce is a brand that treats its customers like a close-knit family. These individual discussions with owners on what R-R stands for, what customers expect from the company and the product, and what it needs to be in order to move forward are exactly what inspired the brand’s new Phantom Series II model.

“When considering changes to our iconic Phantom, we first carefully listened to customers,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “Around the world they explicitly told us, ‘Do not change Phantom too much but introduce new technology where appropriate.’ And this is precisely what we have done.”

The end result is a blend of traditional and classic with modern technology that allows the Phantom to keep up with customer expectations. “It combined the spirit of its famous pedigree with superbly elegant design work, ground-breaking technology, and visionary engineering techniques,” said Müller-Ötvös.

Of note technologically are the full LED headlamps, and the completely revamped satellite navigation system with 3D landscape topography, guided view tours, and more, all on a much larger monitor. Best of all, its famous V12 direct injection engine has been updated with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential, which results in 10-percent improved fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

The car’s appearance has also gotten a few updates. In addition to the aforementioned LED headlamps are a virtual constellation of stars in the interior, and a slightly tweaked bumper. Just as with its unparalleled customer service, the brand will go above and beyond to create a custom luxury vehicle to your specifications—from humidors to drink cabinets to constellations in the shape of your zodiac sign, virtually anything is possible.

“Since its first appearance in 2003, Phantom has reclaimed the pinnacle of automotive luxury and refinement,” said Müller-Ötvös. “It is a completely unique and unequaled achievement that goes beyond its primary role as a car and becomes to many a work of art, a fine piece of jewelry, or a rare and collectible object of desire.”

—Josh Garcia


PAforADay Proves Assistants Are For Everyone

PAforADay provides temporary personal assistants to meet your needs.

April 02, 2012

New York-based PAforADay proves that personal assistants aren't just for celebrities anymore. Now, notoriously time-challenged New York professionals and companies can check a few items off their long to-do lists as they send a temporary personal assistant out to do everything from translating old cassettes to MP3s, to walking dogs and scheduling appointments. Time slots are available for as little as two hours and as long as eight hours per day ($20 per hour), 8 AM-10 PM seven days a week throughout the five boroughs. Even the booking is easy, with an online system that lets you list tasks, choose appointment times and durations, and more. And you won't get just any naive Andy Sachs from PAforADay—the service works to assign an assistant that best matches your needs.

—Cait Rohan


Test Drive: 2012 BMW 3 Series

New 2012 BMW 3 Series sets benchmark for vehicular excellence.

April 02, 2012

Take nearly any luxury sports sedan on the market today—any—and I would bet the farm that from concept to production, the car was benchmarked against the segment standard bearer, the BMW 3 Series. For decades, the 3 Series has ruled the roost. Yes, the Audi A4, Lexus IS, Infiniti G, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes C-Class are superb cars, but on the road, none of them feel like a BMW.

Under-the-Hood Power & Outward Perfection

For 2012, the new 3 Series is available in three trim levels: Sport Line, Luxury Line, and Modern Line. Outside of mechanical differences depending on your engine choice, each offers subtle changes in interior and exterior appointments. I spent 95% of my “regular” 3 Series time driving the superb 335i. It’s my kind of car: powerful, well appointed, and incredibly fun to drive. Ride quality is sporty yet compliant, and the only noises you’ll hear are the sweet sounds of a BMW engine under power.

Speaking of power, motive force for the 335i comes from a legendary line of straight six engines, and this 3.0-liter unit features dual scroll turbo-charging and outputs 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 miles per hour sprints come up in a rapid 5.4 seconds. No matter your choice of gearboxes, a six-speed manual or state-of-the-art eight-speed, the gear-changing experience is crisp. 

Stylewise, the 3’s dynamic proportions are shaped by the sweeping hood, short front overhang, long wheelbase, and set-back greenhouse typical of BMW. As expected, LED Corona Rings make quite a statement day or night.

Technology & Safety at Your Service

BMW ConnectedDrive offers a combination of available driver assistance technology and mobility systems. New for 2012 is a full-color Head-Up Display, which projects key information onto the windshield so it appears directly in the driver’s field of view. Also available is Surround View with Side View and Top View, which gives a bird’s-eye perspective of the vehicle and the area around it. In addition, an available Parking Assistant system helps the driver to parallel park. Among the other assistance technology available includes an Active Blind Spot Detection System and Lane Departure Warning System with camera-based Collision Warning system; a navigation system with real-time traffic information and an innovative comfort access function allowing hands-free opening of the trunk lid.

For those permanently wired to their iPhones, BMW ConnectedDrive also offers “apps” connectivity. The BMW Connected iPhone app offers a suite of entertainment and productivity applications for your 3 Series. My favorites are Pandora Internet Radio and MOG music service, with access to millions of songs that can be controlled through your iPhone and fully controlled via the iDrive rotary controller. You can also read Tweets and get Facebook updates at any time. Thousand of additional Internet radio stations from all over the world are accessible with the flick of the iDrive rotary controller.

On the safety front, this is a BMW, so rest assured every major safety feature available is standard. BMW Connected also comes into play here should your airbags deploy in a crash, giving emergency services the severity of the crash and likely trauma levels so they can prep before they arrive. Obviously, it also tells them where you are using GPS coordinates.

Pricing for the 2012 BMW 3 Series starts at $34,900 for the 328i and $42,400 for the 335i. Expect all-wheel drive and updated M3 versions in showrooms soon. 

—Brian Armstead,

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