Had a particularly productive 2007? If you’re looking to reward yourself or a business associate with a little (or not-so-little) holiday gift, we’ve got a few elegant ideas for you, from the low seven figures down to the low four figures.
Ahead of their time
There is no shortage of stunning watches on the market. While your choice of neckwear can show some flair, an attractive watch can make a real statement about your personal style.
Bell & Ross BR01
Billing itself as the tool of the trade for bomb disposal experts and astronauts, Swiss watchmaker Bell & Ross has captured the precision of aircraft cockpit gauges in its extra-large (46 mm) BR01 Instrument line of watches (including the limited edition Titanium Orange and Blue models, featured here). The BR01′s carbon fiber dial and photoluminescent coating assure easy readability. An automatic three-counter chronograph (hours, minutes and seconds) complements the mechanical movement; rubber or synthetic fabric strap. $5,400-$6,000.
When a Timex simply won’t do, there’s always the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, the Rolls-Royce of timepieces. Finished in white gold with tachymeter engraving on the bezel, the most distinctive of the Daytona line features special screw-down pushbuttons and a 44 jewel chronometer movement with a special “Oysterlock” bracelet. Self-winding and waterproof to 330 feet. $27,900.
Breitling Superocean Hertitagage
Since 1884, Switzerland’s Breitling has hand-crafted watches also geared for pilots and sea-going professionals, but those who spend much of their time at the bottom of the Marianas Trench will appreciate the Superocean Heritagage, water resistant to 5,000 feet. Available in a 38mm size with a bronze dial on an all-steel ocean classic bracelet ($3,040) or a 46mm model with a black dial, a black ocean racer strap and an all-steel deployment buckle ($3,120).
High-speed luxury in BMW’s stately 750i
Those with a taste for smooth, distinctive European motoring that’s as comfortable as an executive jet – and about as fast as a G4 heading down the runway – will find no fault in the recently updated and handsomely appointed BMW 750i.
With yards of sumptuous Nasca leather in the cabin and more dash-mounted buttons and controls than a cathedral organ, the big Bimmer is heavy on both comfort and technology. The gizmos can border on James Bond territory, including a heat-sensing Night Vision setup which can detect bounding deer 1,000 feet away and display them on the interactive iDrive screen, plus a voice-recognition control system, keyless entry and push-button start.
But settle behind the 750i’s meaty wheel, securely positioning yourself in the 20-way adjustable heated/cooled/massaging seat, and you’ll find a machine whose sporty character lurks underneath its limousine-class finishings.
Powered by a 360 horsepower 32-valve 4.8 liter V-8, the 750i will roar to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds, topping out at an electronically limited 150 mph. And despite being parked on gleaming 20-inch wheels, the BMW’s electronic Active Roll Stabilization helps provide handling precision that’s borderline scary for a 4,500-pound automobile. Corners melt away and the ride is as crisp and precise as any of BMW’s smaller sedans; manual shifts are possible in Steptronic mode using thumb and forefinger trigger buttons.
The 750i’s exterior lines have been softened just a bit from the more controversial Bangle makeover a few years back, resulting in a clean, distinctive look. A gigantic, flat-topped trunk will swallow umpteen sets of golf clubs or a family’s worth of luggage.
Interior refinements are virtually limitless, from the superb 13-speaker Logic7 surround sound audio system (with optional satellite and High Definition radio) to an improved version of the love-it-or-hate-it iDrive controller. The twisting silver knob on the center console is designed to seamlessly integrate navigation, entertainment, Bluetooth phone and climate operations – displayed on a full color screen on the dash – but it can be a complicated system to master.
Overall attention to detail shows up in small refinements such as head rests which articulate to comfortably curve around your noggin to doors which self-adjust to stay open despite the angle of incline. Passengers will enjoy ample leg room and can be entertained by an optional rear viewing screen or even their own iDrive controller in the center armrest; the slightly larger 750Li model (or the positively frightening 438 horsepower 6.0 liter V-12 760Li) both feature an extra 5.5 inches of accommodation.
Owners seeking a truly distinctive experience can also opt for BMW’s Individual program, which allows you to customize the 7 series’ paint and interior to your own tastes.
Executive class and Autobahn-ready, the big BMW does little to let you down.
Base price: $76,575 (as tested, $86,990)
4.8 liter V-8, Six-speed Steptronic transmission
0-60: 5.8 seconds
EPA figures: 15 city/23 highway
Your own airline
The quickly evolving personal jet revolution is beginning to take hold. Does it make sense for you?
An $87,000 BMW is a nice way to get you to and from the office, but while we’re at it with this luxury wish list thing, let’s step it up a notch.
Business and personal air travel for the well-to-do set is on the verge of a revolution with the ever-increasing popularization of the VLJ – Very Light Jet.
This new generation of “personal jets” is bringing private jet ownership – and at the very least fractional ownership – well within reason for elite producers who travel frequently, are fed up with the commercial airline system, and are not good candidates for pricy standard corporate jets.
Several aircraft manufacturers populate the VLJ market with jets already available or soon to be certified. VLJs are officially defined as “Jet aircraft weighing 10,000 pounds or less maximum certified takeoff weight and certified for single pilot operations.” They typically seat four to seven people (including the pilot) and feature advanced cockpit automation. They can utilize shorter runways than conventional jets, meaning much more access to general aviation airports. They are relatively cheap to maintain, easy to fly, and safe. They cruise at more than 300 miles per hour with a range of about 1,000 miles.
A driving force in the surging popularity of VLJs is the price of the jets themselves. They run from just over $1.5 million to nearly $4 million for some of the most popular VLJs, placing them well within the reach of many businesses and individuals.
Albuquerque-based Eclipse Aviation holds a claim as being the first VLJ manufacturer with its Eclipse 500, a four-passenger jet that can be yours for about $1.6 million.
One of the new entrants to the VLJ market is the A700 from Centennial, Colo.-based Adam Aircraft. With a price tag of $2.3 million, an innovative design and the ability to seat seven, the A700 is poised to become one of the primary players in the VLJ category. Like Eclipse Aviation, the company has a healthy backlog of orders despite the fact it is not expected to receive FAA type certification until mid-2008.
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