Haute-horlogerie, or the esteemed craft of fine watchmaking, is the point at which the most meticulous expression of engineering meets the worlds of art, luxury and peerless elegance.

For centuries, the world’s most talented craftspeople and the greatest timepiece studios in the world have consistently pushed the envelope, taking opulence and precision to wondrous new heights. New complications and awe-inspiring new techniques have achieved the barely-imaginable within impossibly-thin components, crafted from precious metals and gemstones. The phases of the moon, perpetual calendars, and timekeeping perfected to a thousandth of a second have been mastered, encased in beautiful housings, and collected by those for whom second-best is never an option.

 

 

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In the world of luxury goods, where the astonishing and the extraordinary are de rigueur, haute-horlogerie remains a pinnacle of sophistication.

As is the case in any of the luxury industries, fine timepieces have a zenith entirely of their own. Purchased as treasured possessions, status symbols and investment pieces, certain watches from a small number of workshops have risen to become far more than the sum of their parts; an elite scene within an elite scene, capable of fetching eye-watering prices at auction.

The world’s most expensive timepieces consist of a curious blend of items, their value arising from an array of explanations. Some, as one might expect, are imbued with historical significance – once gracing the list of Hollywood royalty and literal royalty alike. Others represent a pioneering breakthrough in the watchmaker’s artistry, presenting world-first and record-breaking complications. Others still justify their price tags from the materials used, gilded in the most precious metals and encrusted with a king’s ransom in diamonds.

Haute-horlogerie is a scene in which the limits of possibility are almost completely ephemeral, and present a testament to human endeavour in ways unrivalled by other creations within the luxury industries. In this article, we’re going to be peering into the truly fascinating and glimmeringly opulent world of the most expensive timepieces, and gazing in wonder at just what it is that makes them record-breakers like no other.

10. Vacheron Constantin 57260 – $8 Million

 

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For those in the know, there’s simply no Swiss timepiece brand quite like Vacheron Constantin. The last word in sleek and precision-led luxury, this maison of horlogerie has been astonishing collectors for centuries, bringing perhaps the most quintessentially Swiss vision of luxury to the world of fine watchmaking.

Ever the pioneers, the 57260 release embodies its astonishing price tag for good reason: it is the most complicated timepiece in existence on Earth today. That’s some feat in an industry where complications continue to become ever-more impressive, year on year, and even more astonishing when one sees that this record-breaking watch not only features an eye-opening list of features whilst still looking incredibly beautiful and peerlessly stylish.

Hand-crafted by three masterful artisans over the course of eight years, the 57260 boasts 57 complications across 2,826 individual components. An array of calendars, including a zodiac calendar and a beautiful moonphase, and unique features such as a double backward split-second chronograph make this timepiece a truly legendary creation.

9. Patek Philippe 1518 Stainless Steel – $11 Million

It’s no great surprise to see Patek Philippe on this list – the Genevan watchmaking house has been astounding collectors and enthusiasts since the early 19th century, and has been responsible for many of the great leaps forward in haute-horlogerie across the past two hundred years.

The 1518 Stainless Steel chronograph, sold for $11 million in 2016 at a Swiss timepiece auction, is an unusual addition on this countdown of the world’s most valuable watches. Not least because it’s made from stainless steel – a relatively humble material, especially among the Patek Philippe range which usually utilises rose and yellow gold. However, it’s the uniquity of this watch that justifies its value; it’s the only perpetual Patek Philippe calendar chronograph crafted from stainless steel, and was part of an extremely limited 1943 run.

For completists and collectors, it’s considered one of the Holy Grail watches of the world, which goes some way towards explaining its astronomical price.

 

8. Paul Newman Rolex Daytona – $17.6 Million

Photo by: Martial Trezzini/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ wristwatch with rare ‘Tropical’ Dial.

Celebrity status and the Rolex house of fine watches go hand in hand – few other timepiece brands have a cult and household name status like Rolex’s… and its Hollywood A-lister clientele have often helped drive sales figures into the millions over the years.

The Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is perhaps the most iconic example of this kind of celebrity association. Hollywood royal and star of some of the most loved movies of the 60s and 70s, Paul Newman was a diehard Rolex aficionado, and the infamous Daytona model was gifted from his wife as a gesture of love and reflection of his enthusiasm for motorsports. Featuring a distinctive black and cream dial, the actual model Newman wore was originally a custom-made piece, but it spawned a line of timepieces in honour of the original after he wore it on the Daytona track while pursuing stardom behind the wheel.

Rolex, motorsports and a Hollywood legend combined? Of course the Paul Newman Daytona is on this list, and commanding a truly incredible price.

 

7. Jacob & Co. Billionaire – $18 Million

 

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When it comes to some of the most glamorous timepieces on this countdown, their value is almost immediately self-explanatory. That’s certainly the case with this item from Jacob & Co, which utilises a stunning full skeleton face to embody a daring watch which sparkles almost unlike any other.

To ensure the creation of a luxury timepiece worthy of its $18 million price tag, Jacob & Co encrusted the watch with 260 carats of flawless emerald-cut diamonds. The result is a sparkling gem – a peerless item which matches decorative panache with bold innovation – that never fails to captivate the imagination.

 

6. Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication – $24 Million

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A Sotheby’s Employee Shows the Henry Graves Supercomplication Handmade Watch by Patek Philippe During a Preview at Sotheby’s Auction House in Geneva.

Yet another release from Patek Philippe, and one which rockets us into the $20 million plus bracket, this timepiece takes its name after the American banker Henry Graves Junior. Graves himself commissioned the watch to a number of exacting standards and demands, and the Swiss studio delivered in signature meticulous style.

The Henry Graves Supercomplication combines an 18-carat gold bezel and bracelet with twenty-four complications, formed from a stunning 920 interconnected components. It represented a number of challenges for the watchmakers of Patek Philippe, but their efforts resulted in a timepiece which was the first of its kind for the brand. A first-minute repeating complication came with major sonnets, a fixed clock, beautiful moon phase detail, split-second chronographs, astrological charts, chiming alarms and more.

A rather romantic detail: the star chart featured on the watch’s face features the view of the night sky from Graves’ home in New York, showcasing the spectacular attention to detail that typifies this whole creation.

 

5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Joaillerie 101 Manchette – $26 Million

Valued at $26 million, the Joaillerie 101 Manchette from Jaeger-LeCoultre is a timepiece fit for royalty – literally so, as it was specifically commissioned by the French president as a gift to the late Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate her ongoing reign.

Gifted in 1952, the timepiece features no fewer than 576 brilliant diamonds and a vibrant sapphire dial, the combination of which reflects and references Elizabeth II’s crown jewels. Within the mechanism, you’ll discover the critically-renowned Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 movement – regarded for decades as among the finest anywhere, and until 2010 held the title as the tiniest movement in the world – and the winding crown adds further sophistication to this shimmering gem of a watch.

4. Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette – $30 Million

Photo by: Georgios Kefalas/EPA/Shutterstock
A Replica of the Legendary Watch the ‘Marie-antoinette Grande Complication – Breguet No 1160’ is on Display at the World Watch and Jewellery Show ‘Baselworld’ in Basel Switzerland 25 March 2009 the Original Marie-antoinette Pocket Watch was Completed in 1827 34 Years After the French Queen was Guillotined and Four Years After Watchmaker Breguet’s Death the Original Watch was Reported to Have Been Stolen in Jerusalem in 1983.

All of the timepieces on this list are, by their very nature, of historical significance. However, this particular watch takes the historical aspect of haute-horlogerie to new heights of wonder, and has an almost mythic quality lauded by watch-lovers worldwide.

A gold pocket watch of inestimable beauty, the Breguet Grande Complication was supposedly commissioned by Queen Marie Antoinette herself in 1782. No stranger to the headiest heights of luxury, the queen of France never lived to see the completion of the timepiece – which received its final finishing flourish in 1827, following 45 years of meticulous craftsmanship and the sourcing of eye-wateringly precious materials – as she had a historic date with the guillotine, kicking off the start of the French Revolution.

 

3. Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300 – $31 Million

As we’ve seen, Patek Philippe has forged a powerful and lasting reputation for the very utmost in excellence in watchmaking. The Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300 gilds and cements that reputation further than ever, presenting complications which go above and beyond even the loftiest heights previously attained by the Swiss brand.

With twenty meticulously-crafted complexities, a fully-detachable case and twin dials lasting ten thousand hours and tuned to the most exact timekeeping, this timepiece is as beautiful as it is wondrously engineered. With a pristine minute hand, time struck alert, instantaneous perpetual calendar, date repeater and four-digit annual display being just the beginning, it’s perhaps no surprise that there are 1,366 individual components in this watch, each working harmoniously to produce a creation that’s more than the sum of its parts.

While the $31 million price tag may put this timepiece out of reach to all but the uppermost elites of the world, there’s no doubt that this complex watch features craftsmanship, attention to detail and artistry worth every dime.

 

2. Graff Diamonds The Fascination – $40 Million

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The World’s Most Valuable Transformable Timepiece ‘The Fascination’ a Watch with a Detachable Part That Becomes a Ring Pictured at the Booth of Graff Diamonds at the Official Opening Day of the World Watch and Jewellery Show ‘Baselworld’ in Basel Switzerland.

The second-most expensive watch in the world looks like no other, and sits almost entirely in a league of its own. Crafted by Graff Diamonds – arguably the world’s most exclusive jeweller, catering for royalty and billionaires with its timeless opulence and astronomical levels of sophistication – it’s a splendid creation that pushes at the boundaries of what horology can be.

Until just a couple of years ago, The Fascination was the most expensive timepiece in the world. Looking at this dazzling innovation, it isn’t difficult to see why: it’s literally encrusted with 153 carats of flawless white diamonds, providing a shimmering mirage of elegance that harkens back to the golden age of Hollywood glamour. In the very centre of the timepiece sits a 38.13 carat pear-shaped diamond ring – a detachable detail that can be removed and worn, showcasing the innovative heart of this astonishing work of art.

 

1. Graff Diamonds The Hallucination – $55 Million

At the very top of this list of the world’s most expensive timepieces, we discover an item of haute-horlogerie which is so opulent, so decadent and so valuable, it outstrips the nearest competitor by a full $15 million in price… and that competitor comes from the very same jewellery maison, and the very same designers.

With a client list that includes European royalty, Hollywood legends such as Elizabeth Taylor and contemporary mega-rich tycoons ranging from Donald Trump to Oprah Winfrey and beyond, Graff Diamonds knows that luxury has no limits. That’s the spirit behind the creation of The Hallucination; a fittingly-titled watch that showcases 110 carats of the world’s most dazzling coloured diamonds, resulting in a $55 million confection quite unlike any other on Earth.

With pink, yellow, blue, orange and scarlet diamonds – each cut to perfection to put their brilliance on a pedestal – covering the dial, face, bezel and platinum bracelet of this watch, it’s an item that truly goes beyond the most imaginative heights of luxury. Little is known about the nature of the movements and workings within the watch, but frankly, the timepiece’s appeal is all in that incredible sparkle and the craftsmanship that went into the jewelwork. Laurence Graff, the maison’s current leading jeweller, claims The Hallucination to be a ‘celebration of miracles’, and it’s hard to disagree – it’s a truly impressive feat to bring together so many beautiful coloured diamonds into a single flawless design.

 

The World’s Most Decadent and Valuable Examples of Haute-Horlogerie

There you have it – the run-down of the ten most valuable timepieces of Earth, each a shimmering example of brilliance, historical significance, innovation and peerless engineering.

The very nature of the luxury watchmaking and timepiece investment industry, of course, means that it might not be long before this list alters quite radically. New designs, new complications, new uses of gemstones or new desires and whims within the ever-shifting horology marketplace mean that next year may see plenty of new inclusions. However, that’s the very essence of the world of luxury goods… and that’s a big part of what makes it such a fascinating world to explore.

Bold new leaps in innovation, a whole new generation of technology, blistering acceleration and industry-defying top speeds… the world of high-end supercars, hypercars and all-round luxury vehicles just keeps turning.

Every year brings forth new concepts from the greatest car manufacturers on the globe, and pushes the limits of possibility while exceeding even the wildest imaginations of those fortunate enough to be able to afford them. It’s an industry which thrives on breaking records and reinventing the wheel, and – by all accounts – 2023 is set to unveil some of the most awe-inspiring vehicles the world has ever seen.

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We’re in the midst of a truly exciting time for the supercar scene. The electric revolution is well underway, and the ascendency of the electric supercar has dynamised the industry’s most imaginative designers, giving them a carte blanche to head back to the drawing board and dream up some seriously remarkable creations. The past twelve months has seen incredible progress in the performance, endurance and overall design credentials in the electric supercar scene (the new Pininfarina Battista immediately springs to mind, with its 350 km/h top speed and sleekest of forms), and the notion that this is merely the beginning of a dramatic sea change in the world of luxury cars is a deeply exciting one.

It’s not all about electric, however. Despite petrol-free automobiles dominating much of the news this year, there’s still ample space in the supercar industry for machines issuing their iconic guttural growl… and 2023 and beyond promises some spectacularly beautiful releases on the horizon.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most highly-anticipated supercar launches of the next year, and begin compiling our wishlists, making space in the garage and sensing the tingling, design-led excitement that lies in the months ahead.

Rolls Royce Spectre


Vide0 Courtesy of: Top Gear

When it comes to luxury cars which put opulence, decadence and a timeless level of comfort and class first, few – if any – brands can compete with Rolls Royce. Both very much of the establishment while continually pushing at its limits, both informed by past glories and looking boldly to the future, every new Rolls Royce release is an eagerly anticipated one. Indeed, it’s the kind of car brand that, for individuals of a certain status and class, represents a truly must-have quality… and the forthcoming Spectre is set to feature in some of the world’s most enviable collections.

Why? Because the new Spectre is the first electric car in the Rolls Royce coupe range, representing nothing less than a new ‘third pillar’ of the esteemed British brand. The Cullinan SUV and Phantom paved the way with forays into the world of the electric vehicle, and the Spectre is set to establish a paradigm for the manufacturer to follow into a brave new future.

The luxury EV has spent much of 2022 being subject to some seriously extreme test conditions – recent photos show a (heavily camouflaged) Spectre battling through -40C temperatures at a Swedish arctic test site, and it’s now just finished being honed for public use.

Ferrari Purosangue SUV


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Ferrari will never, ever make an SUV – that was the official line from arguably the most iconic and renowned Italian supercar brand for decades. How things have changed. The first-ever Ferrari SUV is (as you’d expect, given their long-running hardline stance against such models) quite a big deal, and it’s fair to say that the Ferrari Purosangue barely qualifies as an SUV in the first place. As sleek and low as an SUV can possibly be, it’s as unusual as it is groundbreaking, offering long-distance luxury in peerless Italian comfort and style.

The Ferrari Purosangue offers a normally-aspirated V-12 engine (rumours abound regarding a V-6 hybrid version on the horizon), providing speed and a satisfying reminder of the brand’s signature boom. With a starting price of $300,000 the SUV is very much at the top end of the luxury car market, although collectors will doubtlessly see this release as a potential turning point in the history of the brand, and one well worth the investment.

Maserati GranTurismo


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No list of the most anticipated supercars would be complete without at least one Maserati model – the House of the Trident has proven, not least over the past couple of years, to be one of the most exhilaratingly innovative brands in the world today, changing with the times while remaining utterly true to the values on which it built its name.

The 2023 Maserati GranTurismo marks a bold new chapter in a story that’s now 75 years old – the launch of the Maserati A6 1500 was a mid-century pioneer in performative automobile production, and the forthcoming 2023 model is set to have every bit as much impact. Maserati has combined the high performance of a contemporary sports model with the kind of luxury and comfort that’s built for distance driving… and not only in their combustion-engine design, but also in their 100% electric iteration of the GranTurismo, the first Maserati with an electric powertrain.

Both are as sleek and sensual as you might expect from a brand new sports car of this pedigree, and best-in-class mechanics meet an exceptional purity of form and finesse. With every component designed and produced in Italy, the Maserati GranTurismo is poised and ready to be a brand new favourite with UHNW individuals, for whom second-best is never a viable option.

Aston Martin Vanquish

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Topping the ultimate wishlists of supercar lovers worldwide, the Aston Martin Vanquish is a work of exceptional beauty and finesse – an aesthetic and technical triumph that speaks volumes of the pristine standards set by this most iconic of British brands.

Vanquish is by no means a new name in the history of Aston Martin, but the 2023 iteration of this legendary line is set to rip up the rulebook and establish a brand new paradigm to fall head over heels in love with. A mid-engine supercar explicitly designed to rival the Ferrari F8 Tributo and McLaren 720S, it’s a low-slung futurist vision of a classic past, packing a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V-6 engine with a blistering 700 horsepower.

Latest reports from Aston Martin claim that – despite the swirling rumours surrounding this spectacular release – the Vanquish will start production in earnest in mid 2023, with launch set for early 2024.

Koenigsegg Gemera


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For those in the know, Koenigsegg – while not the most internationally renowned household name in the world of hypercars – is the brand to watch. The original Gemera was unveiled back in 2020 at the Geneva motor show to riotous applause, and the Swedish luxury car brand has spent the past couple of years expanding upon that original vision to produce something truly impressive.

Dubbed the ‘Tiny Friendly Giant’, the new iteration of the Gemera will be a four-seater model (reflecting a growing trend for more ‘family-friendly’ supercars, if such a thing can be imagined) with the brand’s now-iconic dihedral doors and ‘Mega-GT’ inspirations. Refined, sensual yet practical, the Koenigsegg signature of straight lines and no-nonsense opulence results in a supercar which points to a truly exciting future.

The stats are as impressive as can be: powered by a high-capacity electrified powertrain offering 0 – 62 mph in under two seconds, the new Gemera has a top speed of 250mph while providing ample luxury in its ultra-comfortable cabin. What’s not to love?

Aspark Owl


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Those with their finger on the pulse of concept supercars in recent years will be more than familiar with the Aspark releases – they’ve been some of the most thrilling realisations of a contemporary supercar so far this century, typifying an almost teenage-dream image of how a hypercar can and should look, feel and perform. The Owl is a bonafide mean machine impossibly low to the ground, built with incredible curves and boasting some seriously impressive credentials.

The 21st century Osaka supercar brand hit the headlines this year with information about the forthcoming Owl, which promises to be the world’s fastest electric vehicle. The winning pairing of a super lightweight and aerodynamic body (which looks, let’s be honest, absolutely incredible) and a 600 horsepower electric engine results in a 0-60 acceleration of 1.69 seconds. This record-breaking speed, and the fact that it’s produced by an electric engine, is rapidly sending ripples across the globe. A new dawn of possibility has arisen, and it’s come in the form of an Aspark Owl.

Devel Sixteen


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The streets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are awash with some of the most glamorous, luxurious and performative hypercars in the world – it’s only natural that the UAE would begin production of a homegrown model sooner or later. Well, when it comes to the Devel Sixteen, it’s definitely been a case of ‘later’ rather than ‘sooner’. This almost-ridiculous-looking supercar has, over the past decade, slipped into almost mythic will-they-won’t-they status, with production being delayed numerous times and new concepts demanding serious re-thinks to ensure it lives up to the hype.

There’s no denying the Emirati supercar is a beautiful beast – oversized wheel arches, insanely low chassis, monstrous rear fascia and a neat monochrome colour palette make it as distinctive as it is futuristic.

With its sixteen (yes, sixteen) cylinder engine and 2000 bhp, it has already made the bold claim of being the fastest car in the world. Will it ever truly progress beyond concept status and be available on the open market? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, however: if it’s going to hit the streets anywhere on Earth, the United Arab Emirates is where it’s going to look most at home.

Zenvo V12 Hybrid


Video Courtesy of: Top Gear

Zenvo Automotive recently issued a press release stating the launch of their completely new, 100% clean-sheet V12 hypercar next year – a hybrid model that utilises pioneering technology to unleash 1,800 bhp.

Kept tightly under wraps until very recently, the as-yet-unnamed hybrid will make its public debut in 2023, and only relatively few details have been made available. We know, for example, that the new Zenvo will feature a never-before-seen modular chassis, a modular V12 engine and an all-electric drivetrain, with every component built in-house to an innovative set of specifications.

It has been announced that this new project is due to be launched in two separate versions. The first will be a GT-style hybrid, possibly featuring an electric front axle motor (do we detect the possibility of a four-wheel-drive hypercar?), and the second being a track-focused yet road-legal supercar, offering a downforce that promises incredible performance specs.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06


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We’ll kick things off with a new supercar preparing for launch across the Atlantic: the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. This particular manufacturer has always spoken to those who dream of the US’s wide open spaces, the sense of high-octane liberty that few other countries can provide in such ample quantities. The Z06 is arguably the iconic brand’s most successful realisation of that widescreen dream to date.

The Z06 is a mid-engine Corvette that follows hot on the heels of the 2020 Stingray – already a cult favourite amid certain circles. While the Stingray emphasised the muscle, the Z06 is all about precision. A striking appearance, an incredible roar and a decidedly more tactile feel and focus comes to the fore, and the Z06’s wider and more sculpted front and rear fascia – defining New World confidence and accentuating those exotic proportions – promise a truly exhilarating supercar experience.

For those with half an eye on the racing scene, the Z06 is clearly reminiscent of some of Corvette Racing’s finest moments. Indeed, the Z06 chassis is almost identical to the C8.R Corvette Racing model, and the engine architecture is barely any different, either. As such, for those with access to seemingly endless open roads (or those who love the idea of owning an updated and sleek slice of future-forward Americana), the Z06 is right up there with the hottest picks of 2023.

2023 Ford Mustang Series

Video Courtesy of: NFS MOTOR SPORT

The Ford Mustang is about as legendary as a supercar series can be, feeding adolescent daydreams and the ambitions of full-grown adults alike, as well as pushing the envelope of performative possibility both on the racetrack and open road.

Ford has followed a slightly bumpy period with a truly spectacular year, with several new releases being announced for 2022, 2023 and 2024. The 2023 Mustang – unveiled by the Blue Oval – is possibly the last ever generation of this timeless muscle car to be propelled by an internal combustion engine. Times are most definitely a-changing, and even Ford’s most petrol-centric champion range is feeling the shifting of the sands. The Dark Horse variant on the new Mustang has now been revealed, offering serious spice to a new generation of American supercars, and – incredibly – there’s still more to come.

The latest announcement from Ford’s Mustang HQ is that an all-new Ford Mustang GT is set to be launched in Australia next year, and it’s guaranteed to be a remarkable new iteration on an ongoing range imbued with serious mythos.

When it comes to vehicles and possessions which exude the absolute utmost in opulence, the zenith of ostentatious displays of wealth and the absolute in extravagance, nothing quite sets the bar like a superyacht.

From princes and monarchs to oligarchs, business moguls and assorted world-leading tycoons, the superyacht is a status symbol unlike any other. Seafaring palaces, bedecked in rare and precious materials, they’re always sure to draw crowds of admiring and fascinating glances when they pull in, floating monolith-like, to the most luxurious port towns and marinas on Earth.

Perhaps the most mesmerising aspect of the superyacht industry is that the limits of possibility, the headiest heights of imaginative engineering, and the already lofty maxims of design are almost without fail superseded with each and every year. In an exclusive industry aimed squarely and solely at the richest and most powerful consumers in the world, too much is never quite enough. More is most definitely more, and decadence and elegance have the potential to be redefined with every showstopping launch.

As such, superyachts keep getting bigger. They keep getting faster. They keep getting more and more glamorous and eye-wateringly sophisticated… and as such, they keep getting more expensive. With the billion dollar mark already broken at the top end of the industry, the innately competitive nature of the UHNW individuals of the world continues to challenge the planet’s most ambitious boatyards. The result? Smashed records, reinventions of the wheel, and bold new wonders consistently achieved.

In this article, we’re going to be taking a closer look at a rundown of the world’s most expensive and glamorous superyachts. Criss-crossing the Mediterranean and frequenting the spectacular marinas of Monaco, the Arabian Gulf, Bali and beyond, these vessels are the pride, joy and fiercely-guarded possessions of the world’s most elite individuals.

Awe-inspiringly impressive when glimpsed on the horizon, even more so when witnessed up close, and truly astonishing on the inside, these are – without a shadow of a doubt – some of the most beautiful and meticulously-crafted vehicles imaginable.

 

10. Pelorus $300 Million

An imposing large white yacht, Pelorus, sits moored on a blue-grey river on an overcast day.

Photo by: Martin Lueke/Shutterstock

Constructed by the world-beating Lürssen shipyard back in 2003, Pelorus was destined to be a record-breaking vessel from its very earliest inception. Sitting in a league of its own, the beautiful vessel is currently owned by Hong Kong real estate billionaire Samuel Tak Lee, who bought Pelorus from a member of the UAE royal dynasty (who chose to remain anonymous) for $1 billion – a truly groundbreaking sum at the time. Those weren’t the only owners of this magnificent vessel, however. It was previously a prized possession of Hollywood mogul David Geffen, as well as among the collection of superyacht enthusiast and Russian businessman Roman Abramovich.

Taking its name, most fittingly, from the ancient Greek word for ‘enormous’, the 115-metre ship’s opulent interior was designed by superyacht maestro Terence Disdale, and Tim Heywood – in partnership with engineering firm Wärtsilä – designed the exterior and engines. It’s a superyacht that packs a considerable punch on the waves, reaching a top speed of 20 knots, and features a beautiful expansive deck as well as a spacious private deck exuding from the main suite.

 

9. Al Said $300 Million

Al Said looms so large over neighboring boats at a dock in Muscat, Oman, that you could be forgiven for mistaking her for a cruise ship. The very tall white yacht with blue accents rests over a jewel-toned sea on a calm, sunny day.Photo by: Ngoc Tran/Shutterstock

While some superyachts act as private havens for discreet billionaires to retire to, others are veritable floating palaces, fit for balls, banqueting and parties of the most opulent nature. The 159-metre Al Said, the 7th longest privately-owned ship on the sea, is definitely in the latter category.

Owned by the Sultan of Oman, Al Said is capable of accommodating up to 70 guests and over 150 crew members, thanks to its dazzling number of rooms, cabins and private suites. While few details of its doubtlessly beautiful interior features are in the public domain, it is known to have a fully-equipped concert hall, built to house a 50-piece orchestra, and an accompanying ballroom and full-sized leisure area.

8. Radiant $320 Million

The Radiant, superyacht with a ocean-blue lower hull and white upper decks, is spotted sailing out to sea near the hilly coast of Monte Carlo.Photo by: Drozdin Vladimir/Shutterstock

With some considerable fanfare, the superlative design team at Lürssen launched Radiant back in 2009. It is currently listed as the 32nd largest luxury vessel in the world, and is presently in the ownership of Abdulla Al Futtain, a UAE multimillionaire with a propensity for ostentatious purchases and a dazzlingly extravagant lifestyle.

Lürssen was keen to highlight the technological advances that Radiant represented, proclaiming it a triumph for the shipyard due to its astounding power and acceleration. With a pair of MTU 16V 1163 TB73L engines within its flawless hull, the yacht churns out an incredible 8715 horsepower on the waves. However, the true glory of Radiant is its multifaceted interiors, which have been designed to offer a glamorous retreat for its owner and guests while at sea. The ship features a gym – complete with sauna, steam room and spa – as well as a sizable swimming pool, cinema, and on-deck jacuzzi.

 

7. Motor Yacht A $323 Million

Two men in white shirts look at futuristic looking white yacht with wrap around windows above the main deck, moored on the Thames in London England. Photo by: Leon Neal/Getty

Don’t let the dull name mislead you – Motor Yacht A is a spectacularly innovative and luxurious vessel, with a design and body shape which, once seen, is simply never forgotten. Launched by Blohm + Voss of Hamburg, it was created to the specifications of Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, who longed for a superyacht based on the forms of a stealth warship and Soviet submarine.

The results are nothing less than remarkable. That sleek, imposing shape is quite unlike any other luxury vessel on the sea, and this superyacht – whether sailing the Maldives or pulling into Monte Carlo marina – never fails to make an impact. As one might expect, the interiors are both vast and extravagantly decorated; Motor Yacht A features six enormous guest bedrooms as well as the master suite, each fitted with moveable walls allowing the inhabitants to tailor their living space to their desires. In true oligarch style, the yacht also features a 2,500 square foot disco, perfect for entertaining those lucky enough to spend time on this utterly unique vessel.

 

6. Serene $330 Million

Serene, a ship with a striking mostly black hull with stark white accents, sits moored at a dock in Miami, Florida.Photo by: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

With its striking monochrome appearance and luxuriant black hull, Serene is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful superyachts in the world today. Designed by EspenOeino, its stark colour scheme and effortlessly sleek lines make this vessel a high point in the engineering firm’s portfolio. The interiors too – bedecked in marble and gilt flourishes – were a triumph of Reymond Langton Design, and commissioned by Yuri Shefler, a Russian vodka magnate.

At 8321 tons and 440 feet in length, Serene has the capacity to house 64 passengers and 54 full-time crew members, each committed to ensuring the utmost in comfort and luxury for Shefler, his family, and his closest friends. With 24 double cabins, each fitted in tropical hardwoods and Italian marble, it’s an opulent ship on which no expense has been spared.

 

5. Dubai $350 Million

Super yacht "Dubai" is moored at the Doha Sailing Club in Qatar on an overcast day. The massive white yacht gleams brightly against a grey sky and grey sea.Photo by: Ross Land/Getty

A luxury superyacht which takes its name from the planet’s most ostentatious city is always going to be a wonder to behold, and the stark white – and utterly enormous – Dubai certainly lives up to even the wildest of expectations. Commissioned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei and crafted by the twin dream team of Blohm + Voss and Lürssen, Dubai was launched in 2006 to the wonder of the yachting world.

The ship was given a considerable overhaul by its second owner, a certain Sheikh Mohammed Rashid al-Maktoum, who ordered a redesign of the interiors to meet his lavish tastes. This included covering almost every surface with the most beautiful hand-made tiles, gilt detailing and exotic marbles, fitting new sun decks, a series of jacuzzis, and – perhaps most famously – a magnificent central staircase which changes its hues with the sunlight streaming from above. Classical-inspired mosaics cover the floor, and the private suites are among the largest on the superyachting scene.

 

4. Motor Yacht A+ / Topaz $527 Million

Motor Yacht A+, a white yacht with a steeply angled bow, sits moored in Barcelona Spain. She towers over the adjacent brick quay as passers-by casting long shadows walk quietly below on a sunny evening.Photo by: Tutti Frutti/Shutterstock

Formerly known as Topaz, Motor Yacht A+ is a megalithic superyacht boasting 147 metres, a 21 metre beam, and an awe-inspiring 7990 horsepower engine that unleashes a top speed of 25.5 knots on the waves. Renowned for an array of industry-beating electronic and technological features – as well as its vast interior space which includes cavernous leisure rooms, a spectacular central ‘hall’ and pristinely-designed living quarters – Motor Yacht A+ is currently owned by the Deputy Prime Minister of UAE, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The sun deck provides ample space for sunbathing and relaxing in front of an outdoor cinema screen… which is exactly what Hollywood royalty Leonardo DiCaprio did during a recent World Cup. Indeed, the actor made full use of the twin helipads on board the yacht, inviting 20 close friends to enjoy the sporting competition in peerless style, and the utmost in discretion.

 

3. Azzam $600 Million

Azzam, a massive white yacht with 5(!) upper decks, is docked at the shipping port of Casablanca Morocco at dawn... all 5 of it's deck lights are illuminated. Cranes prepare numerous colorful shipping containers for transfer in the background of this bustling port..Photo by: Andy Ginns /Shutterstock

What does $600 million buy you? If you’re so inclined, it could purchase nothing less than the largest private yacht in the world; Lürssen’s industry-beating Azzam. This luxurious and supersized vessel measures in at an astonishing 179 metres, and is widely regarded as the most beautiful superyacht on the sea. Engineered with meticulous attention paid to the smoothness of its sailing capacity (the ship is reportedly so well-balanced, the chandeliers hang perfectly still even when sailing at full tilt), Azzam is a wonder of superyacht design, boasting four layered sun decks and a multitude of viewing platforms.

When one owns a yacht of this value and ostentatious elegance, it’s understandable that thoughts turn to security and safety. Azzam is not only one of the world’s fastest yachts with a top speed of 30 knots, it’s also one of the most well-guarded and secure private vessels on the ocean. With a missile defence system as part of its security set-up and a bulletproof main suite, Azzam is as much a fortress as it is an opulent seagoing vehicle.

 

2. Eclipse $1.5 Billion

The 3-deck white-hulled superyacht, Eclipse, is anchored off a cliffy beach in the Balearic Islands of Ibiza Spain. Night is falling, and a sleepy town twinkles atop the cliffs, miles away. Eclipse herself puts on a dazzling light show with dozens of underwater circular lights, giving the stately yacht a glowing turquoise halo around it's waterline.Photo by: Pilguj / Shutterstock

Russian business mogul Roman Abramovich is a man known for his love of superyachts, opulent purchases, and a lifestyle which sets no limits on luxury. It is, therefore, quite fitting that he should be the present owner of Eclipse – not his first or only superyacht, but undoubtedly his most spectacular, most valuable, and most jaw-droppingly impressive.

Constructed by Hamburg’s superyacht go-to shipyard, Blohm + Voss, Eclipse is a monumental 536 feet in length, making it the second-largest ship of its kind in the world. However, its size is put to the most sumptuous of uses, as the Eclipse features a literal boat-load of luxurious amenities. With 24 double guest cabins, a pair of full-size swimming pools, a plethora of hot tubs, a discotheque, two helipads, a mini submarine (capable of diving 50 metres below the sea) and three launch boats, it’s as well-stocked as a superyacht can possibly be. What’s more, Eclipse features next-gen intruder detection systems and a fully-operational sea-to-air missile setup, ensuring its passengers’ full safety and security.

 

1. History Supreme $4.8 Billion

History Supreme, an over-the-top yacht with a gold lower hull, a white deck, and a huge glass-enclosed cockpit, kicks up spray as it goes "full speed ahead" over a choppy, deep blue sea.Photo Courtesy of: Stuart Hughes

Sitting in pole position is the legendary History Supreme, arguably the most beautiful – and undeniably the most valuable – superyacht in the world today. Suspected to be the property of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok (although its owner is an official secret), History Supreme takes opulence and luxury to hitherto unimagined and unimaginable new heights.

The master suite of this peerlessly-elegant vessel is bedecked in some of the rarest decorative features on Earth, including a sculpture carved from meteorite, and design flourishes made from – seriously – a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Also within the master cabin, to complete the Bond-villain aesthetic, is a 24-karat gold Aquavista Panoramic Wall Aquarium and a display cabinet featuring an 18.5-carat diamond valued at $45 million. The precious materials on this beautifully-realised vessel don’t end there, either. The ship itself is crafted from 100,000kg of gold and platinum, providing its dazzling finish and going some way towards explaining its astronomical multi-billion dollar value.

 

An Industry Built on Dazzling Dynamism

There you have it – the ten most valuable superyachts in the world today. As is always the case in the highest of high-value industries, this list represents not only the zenith of a sizable iceberg of beautiful vessels… it’s also likely to shift and change considerably within the next decade.

New innovations, new styles, new whims of luxury fashion and new concepts in shipbuilding are sure to introduce new contenders with even more dazzling features. Indeed, the concept ship Streets of Monaco, set to launch any day now, is already reimagining superyacht design for a new generation of UHNW individuals. Watch this space, and watch the waves.

Few modes of transport signify the loftiest ambitions, the headiest heights of wealth or a commitment to high living quite like a personal helicopter. Private jets may be roomier, replete with service staff, gilded conference rooms and full size beds… but as of yet, they can’t softly touch down on the bow of a superyacht, land trackside at the world’s greatest sporting events, or offer the sheer levels of freedom and spontaneity that helicopter pilots and passengers revel in.

 

Photo by: Austin Neill

Just like every other aspect of the world of luxury lifestyle and possessions, helicopters are subject to the whims of fashion and the changing tides of trends. From bold new designs to level up the sleekness and beauty of the chopper itself, to new brands and innovators joining the ever-evolving world of luxury helicopters, 2022 has been a dynamic year in this fast-moving field.

Let’s explore the latest helicopter trends in a little more depth, and uncover some of the factors influencing helicopter enthusiasts the world over today.

Taking Inspiration from Supercars

Fast, flashy and boasting the latest technological wonders, supercars and hypercars are a staple in the lifestyles of UNW individuals. However, it’s important to remember that the world’s greatest supercar brands aren’t merely designing toys for those lucky enough to afford them; they’re remarkable innovators and early adopters of next-gen technology.

It comes as no real surprise, therefore, that there’s a dynamic and symbiotic crossover between many of the most renowned supercar and helicopter brands. It’s an exciting and febrile scene, and some of the most successful collaborations have produced helicopters which are more than the sum of their composite parts; the supercar brands breathe new life into imagining what a luxury helicopter can be, how they can look, and – importantly – how they can handle the skies.

We’ve seen fantastic collaborations between mainstays of the luxury car and aerospace world, most notably Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz, which focus primarily on performance and dialling up the luxurious credentials of private helicopters. However, more recent years have heralded altogether more ambitious – and eye-wateringly beautiful – collaborative projects.

The one we’re most excited about? That will have to be the meeting of minds between Airbus Helicopters and Aston Martin. The iconic British luxury car manufacturer is no stranger from matching the utmost in luxury with absolutes of innovation, and the ACH130 Aston Martin Edition – the result of a one-year collaboration between the brands – has reimagined an Airbus helicopter through the lens of the DB11, arguably one of the most beautiful vehicles Aston Martin has imagineered.

ach130

Photo courtesy of: Airbus

The exterior of the helicopter showcases subtle flourishes of Aston Martin’s signature style, yet it’s the interior where the car brand has truly made its mark. With their instantly-recognisable ‘Pure Black’ ultra suede covering pretty much every surface, this is a luxury private helicopter that takes luxury and comfort to wholly new heights of ambition. Brogue detailing, custom plaques, and a striking attention to detail leaves pilots and their guests in no doubt whatsoever which brand is behind the wheel of this creation.

Has the Flying Car Arrived?

For decades, the idea of the flying car – something neatly between a private car and a lightweight helicopter – has felt like the stuff of sci-fi movies and childhood fantasies. However, 2022 has brought with it a flurry of concept creations and technological advances which suggest the flying car may well be within reach, at least for those whom money is no object.

Those with their finger on the pulse of motoring pioneers and innovators will know that Xpeng – a remarkably ambitious Chinese vehicle automaker – has been blazing new trails in the world of self-driving cars. However, they recently unveiled a secretive project to the world which is well worth getting excited about; a flying car.

Produced by Urban Air Mobility (Xpeng’s dedicated flying car wing), the HT Aero flying drone-car-helicopter crossover has supposedly been successfully tested across 15,000 flights, demonstrating just how ready manufacturers might be to take the plunge into a new age of helicopter design. Looking at the HT Aero, it’s impossible not to be impressed – it’s the stuff of James Bond’s wildest dreams, and manages to tread the line between being a vehicle unlike anything we’ve seen before… whilst also being a stunning road-capable electric supercar that wouldn’t look out of place in any luxury collection.

In spectacular sci-fi style, the rotor mechanisms which allow the flying car to take to the skies fold outwards from the chassis, meaning drivers can either speed down highways or helicopter their way out of the rush hour traffic. Beautiful, groundbreaking, and said to be ready for manufacture in 2024, we’re daring the dream that this is what the (near) future may just look like.

Luxury is a Super Lightweight Helicopter

The key appeal of owning a luxury private helicopter is surely the untethered sense of freedom they provide. However, the ability to land pretty much anywhere you desire comes down to a matter of weight… and the lighter and more agile the helicopter, the more options you have for where you can take them.

Zefhir Helicopter

Photo courtesy of: Zefhir Helicopter

Enter the Zefhir, Curti Aerospace’s 2022 offering. This ultra lightweight release has been designed for discerning private pilots seeking high-quality two-seat single turbine choppers which match style with substance and an amazing opportunity for unlimited discovery. Built around a carbon fibre airframe (and boasting the biggest luggage space for a helicopter of its size category, making it ideal for opulent weekends away!), it’s as light, durable and efficient as it is elegant and stylish.

Zefhir wears its Italian design credentials on its impressive carbon fibre sleeves, and offers exclusive interiors to ensure absolute decadence alongside the freedom to explore the skies. It’s also impressively safe – the Zefhir is the first private helicopter to feature a ballistic parachute, which deploys in the (unlikely) event of an engine failure. Always the early adopters and pioneers of thrilling new features, this private helicopter is the first and only chopper in the world with a tried and tested parachute system… something we’re bound to see become more commonplace in the near future.

Where Style Meets Substance in the Skies

For the longest time, helicopters – while undeniably celebrated for their practicality, versatility and ingenuity – were far from considered beautiful. If 2022’s luxury sector proves anything, it’s that aesthetics need not interrupt innovation, and that beauty and excellence absolutely can go hand in hand for those who wouldn’t consider settling for anything but the best.

The HX50, crafted by the eminently impressive Hill Helicopters, has frequently been hailed as the world’s first truly luxurious private light helicopter. Designed to turn heads, capture hearts and introduce a pioneering new form to the helicopter scene, it’s unquestionably beautiful – both outside and in.

Indeed, while we could wax lyrical about the sleek lines and daring shapes of the HX50, it’s the Nappa leather and top-to-bottom Alcantara-line interior detailing that sets it clearly apart from all competitors. A thoroughly opulent experience from take off to landing, the five-seater helicopter has clearly been created for those used to life’s finest things. This includes climate control, full Bluetooth connectivity, iPad displays for live flight data delivered in style, and artfully-curated ambient lighting in the cockpit and seating area. Stunning!

The Future is Electric

As the world changes, the luxury sector often uncovers solutions which blaze trails for others to follow. In the fast-evolving world of electric vehicles, this has been very much the case from the beginning; while EV options are becoming more and more commonplace, it was those early pioneering (and most certainly not cheap) electric cars which laid the foundations for success, and it’s the growing fleets of electric supercars which continue to bring breathless ambition to the scene.

The same applies to the luxurious world of private helicopters. More and more members of the global elite wish to pay increasingly careful attention to their carbon footprint while globe-trotting from location to location, as well as there being a strong desire to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations. As such, electric helicopters are becoming increasingly de rigueur for collectors and enthusiasts, and their capabilities, hover potential and distance covered increase with every new generation.

Tesla helicopter

Concept art by: Antonio Paglia Design

There has been speculation about a Tesla helicopter hitting the market for some time now; it would, after all, be a fitting addiction to Elon Musk’s arsenal of electric vehicles gradually taking over the world. While we haven’t seen a Tesla helicopter hit the open market, this may well change in 2022; EV news sites have been ablaze with the first images of H160 – the concept chopper by Antonio Paglia which has supposedly captured the imagination of Elon himself.

It’s a remarkable vehicle, featuring bold cutaway sections to assist with a lightweight body and a slick, dynamised design that’s both familiar yet utterly thrilling to look at. As such, it’s not beyond the realms of imagination to think that this helicopter – or at least something very much like it – may well be the next big thing.

Extreme Destinations for the Ultimate Getaway

With the freedom to travel pretty much anywhere with enough space to land, it’s unsurprising that helicopter owners are an intrepid and adventurous community, always with their finger on the pulse of the latest luxury hotspots. While until relatively recently, the helicopter set’s most popular haunts were the decadent party towns of Monaco, Dubai, Singapore and the like, the past couple of years have seen an interesting shift in places where helicopter owners are heading.

Photo by: John O’Nolan

Make no mistake, the luxurious bars of Cannes aren’t in any danger just yet. However, there has been a resurgence in more adventurous and unusual helicopter locations, particular among the global elite seeking to fill life with unforgettable adventures. Let’s take a quick look through 2022’s most sought-after locations for those with the freedom to take to the skies at will.

Photo by: Mario Karner

The Fox Glacier, New Zealand

New Zealand has long had a powerful allure for those in search of adventure. However, the spectacular Fox Glacier, located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, has recently rocketed up the bucket list charts, not least because it’s best viewed from a private helicopter.

Those flying over the 13km glacier will benefit from birds-eye views of all its peaks and crevasses as it winds its way down the valley, as well as the majestic Mount Cook on the horizon. No helicopter trip to Fox Glacier would be complete without touching down on the ice, where the otherworldly and tranquil surroundings truly have to be seen to be believed.

Photo by: JC Gellidon

Base Camp, Mount Everest

Of all the world’s extreme destinations, Mount Everest is surely right up there with the best of them. Everest’s base camp is nestled over 5,000 metres up the world’s mightiest mountain, and is accessible via helicopter – perfect for those in search of breathtaking Himalayan views, but without the time or inclination to take the trek on foot.

A truly remarkable location, surrounded by some of the most dramatic landscapes and deepest wildernesses on Earth… it isn’t hard to see the appeal.

Photo by: Sammy Wong

Victoria Falls

The world’s elite are fond of superlatives – the biggest, the longest, the most expensive, the rarest – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the world’s largest waterfall has made it onto this list. Again, it’s an iconic wilderness location best viewed from the air, and a helicopter is (at present) the only way to view this awe-inspiring natural wonder in its entirety.

 

Even better, the 108 metre tall and 1,708 metre wide waterfall is an ideal location to view wild hippos, elephants and other examples of Zimbabwe’s incredible wildlife.

Luxury Helicopter Trends 2022: A Dynamic Scene Driven by Innovation

A potent signifier of wealth and luxury and a genuinely practical tool for getting around in style – it’s not hard to see why personal helicopters are hugely popular with those who can afford to own one.

As new technological advances take helicopters into a whole new age of excellence, new trends dictate new designs, and changing tastes drive new locations up the must-see lists of their owners, it’s undeniably fascinating to see helicopter trends shift and progress. In 2022, we crave freedom and the beauty of the great outdoors more than ever before – what better way to uncover its potential than from the cockpit of a personal chopper?

 

Luxury is, by its very nature, a state of extremes. It revels in the headiest heights of opulence, the zenith of decadence, seeking out the rarest, the most precious, the most distinguished and unusual.

From gilding and gold-plating almost anything imaginable to encrusting even the most everyday items in diamonds and precious gems, the luxury goods industries have proven adept at serving the whims and fantasies of the world’s elite. Few industries, however, take these extremes of whimsy and fantasy to the level of the luxury vehicle scene, where childhood dreams of supercars and flying machines can be realised, often with utterly stunning and pioneering effect.

In this piece, we’ll be lifting back the velvet curtain on some of the most unusual, expensive and outlandish items in the vehicle collections of the rich and famous. This is a realm of genuine extremes – possessions which go above and beyond the ordinary, and which elevate luxury lifestyles to the echelons of science fiction. It’s one in which too much is rarely enough, and in which the thrilling nature of removing limitations realises its absolute potential.

Let’s take a closer look at an array of ultra-exotic vehicles, and the possibilities they allow the individuals fortunate enough to call them their own.

Exploring Land, Sea and Everything In Between With Amphibious Vehicles

 
 
 
 
 
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Luxury living is all about removing the obstacles that everyday life often throws in our faces. It’s an approach to life which sees the impossible as surmountable, and which recognises the world – and all of its terrains – as places to explore, places to uncover and call one’s own.

This, in essence, is part of the draw of owning a luxury amphibious assault vehicle – a pioneering set of military vehicles which has only recently begun to emerge as part of the collections of the ultra-elite. Their appeal isn’t difficult to understand; with an amphibious vehicle, the world becomes your oyster. Both land, river and sea open their gates to discovery, and no terrain becomes off-limits.

 
 
 
 
 
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Luxury amphibious vehicles come in two key categories: you have the serious, boisterous and imposing models – such as the Shaman, a colossal eight-wheeled ATV currently popular with Russian oligarchs keen to make the most of their hunting trips – and lighter, more fun-based vehicles, such as the effortlessly stylish Iguana Knight. While the former boasts a 146-hp Iveco engine designed to overcome even the roughest terrain and float on water, the latter is more at home on a superyacht in Monaco; its tank tracks mean land movement is possible but limited, yet can hit blistering speeds of 88km/h at sea.

Whether you’re looking for some serious off-roading time camping with your friends, or prefer the freedom of zooming off the beach into the sparkling sea waters, there’s an amphibious vehicle that’s perfectly suited to your lifestyle.

Luxury Airships, Where Old School Elegance Meets Cutting-Edge Innovation

 
 
 
 
 
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There was a time when the airship was considered the absolute height of European luxury. Stately, sedate and utterly imposing, behemoths of the sky in the form of zeppelins were a true mark of sophistication – a signal of a bold and ambitious future of international travel. Of course, these dreams of airborne intrepidation were somewhat dampened by a certain high-profile air disaster, but decades later, airships (now thankfully safeguarded from combustion) are beginning to take to the skies once more.

The latest generation of luxury blimps aren’t just beautiful, they’re a technological marvel in and of themselves. Relying on non-combustible helium and a range of bulletproof materials, companies including US-based Skunk Works and French brand Flying Whale have reinvented the airship for a new generation. Aeroscraft, a California-based company, has created a solar-powered airship that is set to be used for luxury trips from the US mainland to Hawaii, and their prototype designs look nothing less than spectacular – a vast flying saucer-esque machine, fitted with the utmost in opulent detailing, and capable of cruising at an impressive 80 miles per hour.

Whether airships will eventually find their way into private ownership is yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure, however, the commercial flights delivered by Aeroscraft and others are guaranteed to bring back an imperial glamour the world hasn’t witnessed for almost a century.

Private Tanks: The Ultimate Boy’s Toys

 
 
 
 
 
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Contemporary city life can be stressful – this is a truth universally acknowledged. Little surprise, therefore, that the ultra high-net-worth individuals of the world are increasingly looking to add a truly monolithic all-terrain vehicle to their garages. Indeed, private luxury tanks are becoming, while not commonplace, more and more featured on the wishlists of those with the capital with which to indulge their fantasies.

While there are now numerous armoured vehicles on the market which could be described as ‘tanks’, not all truly live up to the moniker. Enter the Howe & Howe Ripsaw EV3-F4. Its name might be a little ungainly, but the vehicle more than makes up for that in raw power, limitless versatility, and a sleek-yet-unmissable look that signals a new horizon for luxury tanks in the private market. A high-end tank without a cannon (thankfully, in fact, without any weapons systems), the EV3-F4 is designed to offer the utmost in both robust durability and remarkable levels of comfort.

While not fit for warfare, the EV3-F4 comes with a wide array of military-grade tactical equipment – this tank isn’t just for show, it’s genuinely capable of tackling almost any imaginable terrain. This not only comes down to a frankly terrifying 6.6 litre turbo diesel V8 engine, capable of hurling out 800bhp of torque and supporting a 4.5 ton frame, and propelling it to speeds of 60 mph while the driver relaxes in a heated and ventilated seat.

Bulletproof Glamour and Armoured Exotic Cars

The increasing trend in armoured exotic cars and bulletproof supercars provides a fascinating insight into a certain sector of the luxury vehicle industry. On the one hand, it could be assumed that the ultra-rich are prone to bouts of paranoia – not entirely without reason. On the other, it showcases that the old adage ‘more is more’ rings totally true when it comes to this level of wealth and spending power. After all, if you have the capital with which to superpower your luxury vehicle and make it capable of withstanding an explosion… why wouldn’t you?

Of course, there are practical uses for armoured vehicles – some people in the top ranks of society genuinely do need that extra layer of protection, and luxury car manufacturers worldwide are consistently competing to match beauty and style with amazing degrees of security. Built to withstand gunfire, bomb blasts and more, many of the latest luxury armoured cars come with 007-esque details like the ability to emit smokescreen, defending drivers and passengers from attack.

Let’s take a quick peek at three of the most iconic armoured luxury vehicles out there today.

A black Mercedes Benz G 63 AMG is looking sharp as it stands ready outside a black airplane hanger on an overcast day.

 

  • Mercedes Benz G 63 AMG

The first choice of armoured luxury vehicle for many of the world’s elite, this beautiful Mercedes comes replete with black leather interiors, bullet-resistant shielding, surveillance cameras and customised lights. With a floor made from grenade-proof material, it’s certainly worth its $1 million price tag for those who need to feel absolutely secure when on the move.

An intimidatingly huge black Knight XV armored truck stands imposingly on the tarmac. Eleven out of ten threatening aura.Image courtesy of Conquest Vehicles
  • Knight XV

A veritable beast of an armoured vehicle, the Knight XV is a limited run of 100 SUVs, making it an exclusive and valuable choice for those needing security across multiple terrains. Packing a monstrous V10 engine and a Kevlar body, the interior is as luxurious as you might expect a $650k vehicle to be, including elegant leather stylings and a satellite television.

The iconic striped silver grill and interlocking circle logos of a sleek black Audi A8 Security armored car "pops" against the dark grey rectangular panels of the showroom walls.

  • Audi A8 Security

Matching style with substance is central to the Audi brand DNA, and their armoured flagship vehicle is no exception. Custom aluminium alloys and a range of bulletproof materials make it certified by the German Ballistics Testing Centre as VR7 Ballistic Standard – basically, it’s a car that can withstand bombs and grenades, while still delivering its passengers to their location in timeless elegant fashion.

Into the Unknown: The World of Ultra Exotic Private Submarines

The mysteries of the deep have maintained their allure since time immemorial, and it’s no real surprise that the ultra-rich have deep sea exploration in their sights – after all, where else on Earth can you be assured the absolutes of peace of quiet, and views and vistas which are as exclusive as can possibly be?

Private luxury submarines or submersibles have become the latest in a long line of extravagant superyacht toys, ideal for allowing yacht owners to make the most of their time on the waves. Split into various categories – some purely for fun, some for more serious expeditions beneath the waters – luxury submarines represent a pinnacle of technology being used for leisure time, and offer plenty of fascinating features that, once again, fulfil no shortage of childhood fantasies. Here are three of our favourites on the market today.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Seabreacher Z

Arguably one of the most technologically advanced sea vessels of all time, Seabreacher Z is a two-seater submarine superpowered by a 300hp engine. With amazing underwater propulsion, the shark-inspired design sees the Seabreacher mimic the tail articulation of dolphins and whales – a seriously impressive feature, and one which looks like it provides no end of fun.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • C-Explorer

For those looking to really get below the waves, explore shipwrecks and reefs, and live out their intrepid adventurer dreams, the C-Explorer does it all. Capable of reaching a maximum depth of 1,000 feet and staying underwater for an incredible eight hours, this mini sub offers 360-degree views and a climate-controlled cabin.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Necker Nymph

A 4.6 metre submarine with an open cockpit, the Necker Nymph was designed for Richard Branson to use on Necker Island, his exclusive paradise resort. Perfect for a brief sojourn into the deep, it’s capable of diving to 150 feet – an extension of scuba diving, perhaps, but a whole lot of exciting fun regardless.

Ultra Exotic, Ultra Exciting: Vehicles Which Go Above and Beyond

When it comes to exotic vehicles which take ownership of every road, elevate their owners above the clouds and even dive deep beneath the sea, too much is simply never enough. As we’ve seen, the market for such vehicles continues to push the boundaries of possibility, unveiling new horizons and frontiers for those willing and able to explore them.

As technology continues to scale ever headier heights, there’s little doubt that ultra-exotic vehicles will continue to astonish and amaze. We await further developments, further realisations of dreams, and further innovative marvels with bated breath.

The lustre and allure of gold has captivated the minds of man since time immemorial. Its seductive colour, remarkable malleability and ability to withstand the effects of time have made this precious metal – quite literally – the gold standard of opulence, luxury and audacious beauty throughout the centuries.

Recent technological advances have realised many of the most decadent dreams of the global elite, enabling those with a taste for gold to bring this most coveted of elements to a vast array of objects and possessions. Specialised designers – most notably in the United Arab Emirates – have demonstrated how almost anything and everything can be gilded or gold plated, bringing new opportunities to display wealth and opulent style for those who never settle for second-best.

While a gold-plated smartphone or timepiece is within the reach of many looking to bring that unmistakable lustre to their life, a gold-plated vehicle elevates the love of gold to wholly new levels. To rev the engine of a gold-plated car, take to the skies in a private jet glittering with gold, or even head to sea on a yacht featuring ostentatious gold detailing (or more, as we’ll see…) makes a statement unlike any other.

While gold-plated vehicles are gradually – very, very gradually – becoming more commonplace thanks to new techniques in metalworking, they still remain a precious and eye-widening rarity, even among the collections of the world’s wealthiest individuals. With their irresistible appeal, head-turning ostentatious attitude and undying commitment to the headiest heights of decadence, gold-plating a vehicle remains an undisputable zenith of luxury – let’s dive a little deeper into a selection of gilded examples, and pause in wonder at a truly exclusive collection of prized possessions.

Gold-Plated Cars: Peerless Luxury on Wheels

 

Gilded cars aren’t as new a phenomenon as one might think. There’s a rich and opulent history of luxury cars – most notably, a series of Rolls Royce special releases in the mid-20th century featuring gold wrapping – in various private collections worldwide, and in the realm of Ultra High Net Worth individuals, the sky has always been the limit when it comes to decadent custom-made supercars.

However, recent years (and a whole host of new gold-plating techniques and technologies) have opened the floodgates for what is possible in this particular field. While once, gold cars were generally coated in an ultra-fine film of the precious metal, new examples of this extreme in luxury have included hypercars featuring genuine gold-plating, solid gold components and other innovative uses of this most desirable of natural elements.

  • The 22-Carat Porsche Boxster

Let’s begin with a somewhat intriguing release, from the German town of Pforzheim. Famed for the quality of its local gold and the jewellery industry which grew up around it, Pforzheim rocketed into the world of contemporary luxury in 2005 when Visualis, a local company, announced it would produce a record-breaking Porsche Boxster custom car. Unlike other vehicles which came before and featured a golden wrap, this Porsche would be a concept car coated in real gold – a bonafide leap forward in an industry which has since sprouted wings and reached hitherto unimaginable heights.

Visualis commissioned goldsmith Bernd Hoeger to cover the Porsche in beaten gold, and after a year of groundbreaking work, the vehicle was revealed. Covered from nose to tail in 22-carat gold – from the steering wheel to the custom rims and everything in between – this truly was a pioneering project which highlighted what was now possible in the contemporary alchemy of goldworking. The curious part? The price of the project was never revealed, and details of where the Boxter is today are decidedly shadowy.

  • Gold-Plated Bugatti Veyron

The gold car collection of Turki Bin Abdullah from the House of Saud is perhaps the ultimate example of an obsession made possible by a net worth of $1.4 trillion, and pole position in an oil dynasty which has never shied from ostentatious displays of wealth. With over a dozen gold-wrapped cars in his fleet, Turki Bin Abdullah’s collection would warrant an entire article on its own, and his gold-plated Lamborghini regularly turns heads as it zooms its way through the streets of London and Dubai.

Gold Plated Car

However, most supercar lovers would agree that it’s the House of Saud’s Bugatti Veyron which takes the crown. Arguably one of the most beautiful vehicles ever made, this example of shoot-for-the-moon vehicular design was created entirely from scratch, introducing new concepts to the already ambitious supercar brand. A top speed of 258 MPH and boasting a 8.0 litre quad-turbocharged engine would be enough to make any car lover’s heart flutter… but Abdullah’s decision to have the car gold-chrome plated and fitted out with detailing in precious gemstones takes the luxury to a new dimension. Supposedly valued at $10 million, it’s one of the most valuable cars in the world today, and one which set a new standard for automobile opulence.

  • Tesla Model Excellence 24K

t will come as no real surprise that there’s a Tesla on this list – few (if any) contemporary car producers have captivated the imagination of the elite in such a way, and innovative use of materials and concepts runs through the brand DNA in ways nobody can fail to be impressed by.

Tesla Model Excellence 24KSource: insideevs

In association with Caviar, the Russian electroplating specialist that produces an array of eye-watering high-end products coated in gold, the Tesla Model Excellence 24K is a world first for the car brand. Plated in 24 carat gold, the Model Excellence 24K is, by some distance, the world’s most expensive electric car, limited to a 99 vehicle run for those in search of the future of ‘sophistication, luxury and self-confidence’, according to the Caviar press release.

With a grille, side skirt, front and rear bumpers, discs and mirrors dipped in gold, it’s a statement vehicle which matches innovative technology with timeless decadence. The choice to use 24 carat gold (the purest of the pure) is a testament to the brand’s commitment to perfection, and one which guarantees its place in the history books.

The Airborne Extravagance of Gilded Planes

For the uppermost crust of one-percenters, gold cars are a mere gateway to a realm of gold-plated vehicles, and among the most coveted are those which leave terra firma behind as they thrust their way into the skies.

While there has not yet been an aircraft made that’s literally coated, plated or gilded in gold – due, most likely, to the various limitations inherent to aeroplane design and weight distribution, etc – there are several examples which have more than compensated for this in their interiors. Gold-soaked private jets are perhaps the ultimate calling-card of the super rich, offering a liberated opulence for the individual’s most exclusive inner circle that no land-based vehicle could hope to match.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most renowned examples of airborne luxury, and the way gold has been interwoven in their design.

  • The Sultan of Brunei’s Boeing 747-400
The Sultan of Brunei’s Boeing 747-400
Brunei6

source: designlimitededition

The Sultan of Brunei, who topped the world’s rich lists for decades throughout the later 20th century, is renowned for his indulgent eccentricities and remarkable collections of ultra-valuable vehicles (including a gold-bedecked Silver Spur II Rolls Royce which would have slotted well into the previous section).

The Sultan of Brunei’s Boeing 747-400
The Sultan of Brunei’s Boeing 747-400

source: designlimitededition

Supposedly worth up to $40 billion, he’s the proud owner of the most expensive private jet in the world – a monumental Boeing 747-400 that’s been dubbed the ‘floating palace’ as a result of the sheer volume of gold coating and creating its decadent interior. Reportedly, the ruler paid somewhere in the region of $400 million for the plane itself… and then spent $120 million extra on customising the vehicle to his precise and eye-popping specifications. The Sultan’s wishes? To cover every interior surface in gold plating, custom-made Lalique crystal detailing, tropical hardwood and artisan carpetry.

  • Donald Trump’s Record-Breaking Jet

Famed as much for his audacious love of gold and finery as for his relatively short-lived political career, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Donald Trump’s private jet breaks a slew of records. Bought for $100 million and the size of three regular private jets – the largest of its kind in the world – the former president’s favourite aircraft pulls no punches when it comes to gilded glamour in the interior.

According to various reports, the plane boasts pure gold light sockets, seat buckles, bathroom sinks and faucets, and the individual cabins are also trimmed in the precious metal. Elsewhere inside, lucky fliers will find customised cream leather seats, mahogany cabinets and desks, and a spacious master bedroom complete with waterfall shower. The entire renovation of the jet supposedly cost the Trump estate $250 million, but is currently in need of a replacement Rolls Royce engine, meaning it’s presently grounded at a private lot in Orange County.

Golden Yachts: A Status Symbol Like No Other

When the unrivalled freedom of the open ocean meets the unlimited imagination of the global elite, the results are rarely less than spectacular. Indeed, the world of high-end superyachting is one which almost annually outdoes itself when it comes to luxury and sophistication, and regularly raises an already lofty bar into stratospheric levels of opulence and glamour.

While there are several superyachts which feature millions of dollars’ worth of gold in their interiors, there are a small collection which utilise this precious metal in altogether more innovative and unmissable ways. For our final dive into the world of gold-plated vehicles, let’s head out onto the waves for a pairing of ocean-going vessels quite unlike any other.

  • The History Supreme: History in the Making

Shrouded in mystery and featuring some of the most astonishing luxury details seen anywhere, ever, the History Supreme is a record-breaking superyacht supposedly owned by a Malaysian businessman with an undisputed Midas touch. One hundred feet in length, the History Supreme was designed by Stuart Huges, who was directed to make use of – in all seriousness – 100,000 kilograms of solid gold and platinum.

The result is utterly remarkable. Taking three years to create, the yacht is reported to have a full deck coated in precious metals, and a dining area, railings, and even an anchor crafted from gold. Perhaps most astonishing (and with the greatest visual impact), the hull of the vessel is wrapped in a layer of gold, and the master bedroom exceeds all former notions of luxury by boasting walls of meteorite and – again, in all seriousness – Tyrannosaurus Rex bone. The world’s most valuable ship, The History Supreme looks to hold onto that title for some time.

  • Khalilah: All-Carbon, All Luxury.

Those who witnessed Khalilah moored at the Monaco Yacht Show must have believed Auric Goldfinger himself had turned up for the festivities. The world’s first all-carbon yacht, valued at $31 million, is a showstopper of a vessel, coated as it is in custom Cordova Gold from bow to stern in a dazzling display of ostentation and wealth.

This gem of a ship isn’t just a phenomenal treat for the eyes – it’s a bonafide technological marvel, constructed using ultra-light all-carbon composites that offer optimal speeds of 26 knots on the open waves. Paving the way for a new generation of speedy superyachts, it pulls no punches when it comes to opulence and glamour, with interiors fashioned from rare and valuable materials glittering throughout its two master suites and five guest quarters.

Gold Plated Vehicles: A New Zenith of Global Luxury

If there’s one truth about luxury consumerism, it’s that too much will never quite be enough. As soon as a new threshold in the extremes of extravagance has been crossed, another is rapidly set – resulting in the ‘gold standard’ of luxury becoming ever greater, ever more impressive, and ever more inspiring to those who seek the utmost in all.

Gold plated vehicles represent perhaps the most audacious aspect of this truth; new approaches to electroplating, new alloys pushing the possibilities of what gold can do, and new high water marks to attain and overtake continue to take this particular corner of the luxury industries further.

Indeed, when it comes to gilded cars, planes, yachts and more, we truly have entered the golden age of innovation.

 

Throughout the 20th century, notable global luxury brands, especially those from Europe, had a presence in the Middle East. However, major market expansion didn’t begin until the 1990s, when mono brands set up many more shops in the region mostly through franchise arrangements.  Since the turn of the millennium, the market has been growing at an annual rate of about 10%.  Indeed, in 2022, the Middle East and China rival the traditional luxury markets of Europe, North America, and Japan.

The Middle East market, in particular, has become lucrative for global luxury brands due to emerging trends combined with its age-old customs.

The Nature of the Middle East Luxury Market

It is important to point out that the middle east is not a homogeneous market. It is a region with 18 countries and a population of slightly over half a billion. Residents speak diverse languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, and Kurdish.

Contrary to an outsider’s first impression, the Middle East is a cultural melting pot. In addition to general trends that might be observed, unique factors shape the demand and supply of luxury goods in specific countries, cities, and local communities.

For example, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most globalized nation in the region. Dubai, its capital city, is in world’s top five most visited cities. It hosts close to 20 million visitors annually, with over 80% being foreigners.  The clientele of the luxury brands in the country is a mix of sophisticated locals and discerning tourists and travelers.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, a market research company, the most purchased luxury products in the Middle East include clothing and apparel, footwear, bags, perfume, jewelry, and watches and of course, luxury vehicles.

Given their broad base appeal, the most common brands purchased in terms of volume are Prada, Burberry, L’Oreal, and Shiseido.

Key Drivers of the Middle East Luxury Market in 2022

The Middle East market is an attractive market for luxury brands because of several factors, including the following:

High Disposable Income

The Middle East is a major producer fossil fuels.  Five countries from the region are in the top ten oil producers and with it comes a  a significant amount of foreign exchange, and trade flowing into the region.

Besides funding infrastructure development, the revenue provides free social services. Part of it flows through private enterprises and into the pockets of the citizenry.

Also, oil production revenue and national sovereign wealth funds result in citizens in the region paying relatively low  taxes. For example, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain do not impose individual income taxes and citizens in these countries receive income stipends from their respective governments.

The recent increase in petroleum prices equates to an increase in disposable income relative to the rest of the world. Recent market research indicates that while about 53% of consumers in Europe, North America, and Japan reported an increase in their expenditure on luxury goods, the number was 70% in the Middle East.

The trend is likely to continue especially with the growing demand for oil. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has predicted that the global demand for oil will reach its peak in 2030.

Constant Flow of Tourists

Most governments in the Middle East have invested in establishing tourist attraction sites. That is how, for example, Dubai can receive close to 20 million tourists annually, putting it in the top five most visited cities globally.

Religious pilgrims significantly drive up the number of visitors to holy sites in the region, particularly Mecca. Visitors from other regions also come to the region for leisure and business. Many have high disposable income and easily shop for luxury goods in the local stores.

Magnificence as a Tradition

Even before luxury brands identified the Middle East region as a viable market, there existed a culture for thousands of years that celebrated opulence and with historical precedence.  Mansa Musa, King of the West African Mali Empire and a man considered the wealthiest in history single handedly caused in inflation in Alexandria, Egypt and Cairo through his generous gifts of gold to the local populous.  His benevolence was during his pilgrimage to Mecca. This happened over 700 years ago.

In that era, gold jewelry, fine robes, silver utensils, and exotic animals demonstrated extravagance.  In 2022, the people in the region express their opulence through luxury vehicles, equestrian activities and exotic watches, cars, and residences.

Youth Culture

About 50% of the population in the Middle East is under the age of 25, and about 35% is under the age of 18. A report by Deloitte has indicated that the young people in the region have higher disposable incomes than the global average.

Luxury brands welcome this fortuitous fact:  The youth are more likely to buy luxury items than their parents.  According to research by Klarna, a Swedish payment processing firm, Gen Z at 33% and Millennials at 39% have the highest percentages of buyers of luxury goods among all generations.

Family Knows Best

Middle Eastern society is still grounded in intricate and extended family ties. This makes word of mouth a powerful marketing channel. Indeed, family and friends have a huge influence over the individual.

This is an opportunity for luxury brands as they can easily be promoted within families with little effort besides providing quality and the best customer experience.

How Middle East Luxury is Evolving into the Future

Like in other parts of the world, the luxury goods market is changing in the Middle East. In the short term, the changes likely to be witnessed include continued growth in the purchasing power of households.

And the growth of the purchasing category of the population, as the younger population moves to their 30s and 40s , expect this trend to spillover into larger luxury purchases and brands are keen to accommodate this.

A Shift towards Digital Distribution Channels

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in particular, has become one of the markets with the highest percentage of consumers who buy luxury goods online. The digitization initially came as a nudge from the COVID pandemic. Some of the brands that have stepped up their digital campaigns in UAE include Prada, and Richemont Group, which the research firm Mordo Intelligence reports that it grew sales by 8% as a result.

Localization of Brands

There is a move towards more localization, customization and personalization of products and the supply chains. For example, in 2021, Prada SPA unveiled a capsule collection dedicated to observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid al-Fitr. In May 2020, CHANEL introduced a New Le Lion fragrance in the Middle East seven months before launching in the global market.

Adoption of AI and Other Technologies

There is growing adoption of AI technologies in the region such as augmented reality (AR) to help shoppers make better decisions on digital platforms. For example, using AR, Gucci has tested the possibility of trying shoes virtually in the UAE.

Addition of New Product Categories

Another trend that will become more apparent with time is the adoption of new categories of luxury products. For example, Aurae Lifestyle, a payment processing service provider, is releasing into the market customized payment cards.

The cards are symbols of status through the gold metal material they are made from and their designs. Besides facilitating holders to spend their money conveniently in stores, the processor provides concierge and lifestyle services.

In the foreseeable future, the Middle East will likely continue being a growing luxury market that embraces new technologies and ways of doing things.

Inicialmente inventado como una alternativa descentralizada a los medios de pago tradicionales, bitcoin finalmente se ha convertido en el vehículo favorito para los comerciantes que pueden soportar ganancias y pérdidas extremas debido a su volatilidad. Sin embargo, a medida que su popularidad crece en los últimos años, los comercios ahora también lo aceptan como medio de pago junto con las monedas fiat.

Es de destacar que las tiendas de lujo también comienzan a subirse a este tren. Aurae Lifestyle ha sido testigo de un crecimiento significativo en las compras de lujo debido a la reciente apreciación del bitcoin.

Hemos decidido realizar nuestra propia investigación en esta área para averiguar qué motiva a compradores y vendedores a cambiarse a este medio de pago de alta tecnología, los obstáculos experimentados y los beneficios obtenidos.

Las marcas de lujo comienzan a aceptar bitcoin

Antes de 2017, solo un puñado de comercios de lujo aceptaban bitcoin como forma de pago. Algunas tiendas online colocaban tímidamente sus direcciones BTC en el pie de página de sus sitios web con la esperanza de que los usuarios conocedores del tema encontraran la manera de realizar el pago, pero eso era básicamente todo. Ahora que Shopify ha habilitado oficialmente los pagos con cripto en su plataforma y que Woocommerce admite complementos para este propósito, las cosas se han vuelto mucho más fáciles para todas las partes involucradas.

Algunas de las grandes marcas de lujo que ya han habilitado los pagos con cripto en sus sitios web incluyen a:

Travala.com: esta agencia de viajes de lujo no solo ofrece bitcoin como medio de pago, sino también una amplia variedad de altcoins para el pago junto con los métodos tradicionales fiat.

Hublot: el relojero de lujo Swill ha anunciado recientemente planes para emitir relojes que solo se pueden comprar con bitcoin.

Las plantas de Louis Vuitton, Cartier y Prada planean utilizar blockchain para rastrear mercancía falsificada.

A medida que las marcas de lujo más grandes y establecidas adopten la cadena de bloques y las criptomonedas, las empresas más pequeñas seguramente seguirán su ejemplo. Al igual que otras innovaciones, la cadena de bloques y la criptomoneda tienen ventajas y desventajas para todos los participantes del proceso.

Ventajas para los compradores

Los grandes comercios tienen la mentalidad de que el cliente es lo primero, así que echemos un vistazo a los posibles beneficios que obtienen los compradores de lujo cuando sus marcas favoritas permiten pagar con criptomonedas.

  • Transacciones instantáneas: con bitcoin, el tiempo promedio para que se confirme una transacción depende del tiempo necesario para que se cree un nuevo bloque, que es de 10 minutos en promedio. Este tiempo puede ser más largo cuando la red está congestionada, pero nunca supera las dos horas. Además de bitcoin, también existen otras altcoins como TRX y EOS que permiten confirmar transacciones en cuestión de segundos. Si deseas comprar artículos de lujo con criptomonedas, pregunta si tu boutique de elección también acepta estos métodos.
  • Compras transfronterizas (internacionales): los bancos y otros servicios financieros centralizados suelen ofrecer sus servicios dentro de las fronteras de sus jurisdicciones y las grandes compras transfronterizas suelen implicar transferencias bancarias internacionales. Si bien los servicios de pago como PayPal se diseñaron inicialmente específicamente para este propósito, los límites de tamaño de las transacciones suprimen la cantidad de compras de lujo a gran escala que pueden facilitar. Para compras más pequeñas, las tarifas de transacción juegan un papel fundamental a la hora de determinar si las compras se realizarán mediante PayPal.

    Con las criptomonedas, las tarifas de la red se determinan a Satoshis por Vbytes (sats / vByte), y la cantidad de BTC enviada no influye en sats / vByte, sino más bien en la congestión de la red y el peso del bloque. Como tal, para una compra grande, las tarifas de la red no dependen del precio de compra. Una analogía para la persona común sería el tráfico de vehículos, los peajes y el tiempo de espera. Los peajes pagados son independientes del valor del vehículo y el tiempo de espera depende totalmente del tráfico en la cabina de peaje (tarifas de la red). Dada esta dicotomía, las compras de lujo en ciertos casos pueden ser viables al usar criptomonedas.

  • Transparencia: cada transacción en cripto se registra en un libro de contabilidad público para que cualquier parte interesada la verifique. Los compradores no tendrían dificultades para probar su pago, ya que simplemente pueden mostrar el enlace con la confirmación de la transacción.

Preocupaciones de los compradores

Si bien comprar con BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda tiene ciertas ventajas, existen preocupaciones que los consumidores deben conocer. Las criptomonedas se encuentran en etapas tempranas en comparación con los métodos de pago tradicionales y también vienen con una serie de advertencias sobre fraude que los usuarios deben tener en cuenta. Con las criptomonedas, no hay forma de deshacer una transacción o de obtener un reembolso una vez completada. Esto, desafortunadamente, atrae a personas con una propensión natural a cometer fraude. Por lo tanto, depende del comprador confiar. Para evitar tal situación, verifica las credenciales del comercio de lujo antes de realizar un pedido. Los sitios web que ofrecen reseñas de terceros, como Trustpilot, también pueden resultar útiles a la hora de hacer tu investigación.

  • La volatilidad crea incertidumbre: no es ningún secreto que bitcoin es bastante volátil. El reloj de lujo que hoy cuesta $ 10,000 puede perder un porcentaje considerable de su valor en un solo día. ¿Puede la tienda de lujo de tu elección soportar esta volatilidad? ¿Su modelo de negocio es lo suficientemente sólido? Asegúrate de que la empresa tenga una formación sólida y estudia con quién estás tratando antes de realizar cualquier pago.
  • Tarifas altas cuando la red está congestionada: Bitcoin, debido a sus características técnicas, impone tarifas de red muy altas cuando demasiadas personas intentan enviar fondos a través de la red al mismo tiempo. Esto suele ocurrir aproximadamente una vez cada 3 años cuando los precios de BTC aumentan y todos se vuelven locos. Considera realizar pagos con TRX y otras criptomonedas alternativas si la congestión es demasiado alta.
  • Se requieren conocimientos técnicos básicos: las criptomonedas fueron creadas y adoptadas por técnicos que se enorgullecen de hablar su propio idioma. Desafortunadamente, esto requiere cierta fluidez y conocimiento sobre sus protocolos y procesos. Por lo tanto, es importante tener algunas habilidades técnicas básicas.

Beneficios para los comercios

Ahora bien, ¿qué ventajas ofrecen las criptomonedas para los comercios? Descubrimos cuatro beneficios de aceptar criptomonedas durante nuestras conversaciones con los propietarios de tiendas de lujo:

Huella geográfica ampliada: con las criptomonedas, los comercios pueden aceptar fácilmente pagos de clientes de todo el mundo. Ya no es necesario limitar a los clientes a una región específica debido a los protocolos del procesador de pagos. 

Base de clientes ampliada: no solo se establece la huella geográfica, sino que muchos de los primeros en adoptar bitcoin han migrado de compradores del mercado masivo a compradores de lujo. Si bien no sabemos quiénes son, según CBS News, hay casi 100,000 millonarios de bitcoin recién acuñados.

Reducir los costos de la infraestructura bancaria: los costos de configurar una billetera para aceptar BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda son insignificantes en comparación con las tarifas bancarias y las tarifas del procesador de pagos centralizado.

“Holla Back” en las devoluciones de dinero: con las criptomonedas, los comercios controlan el proceso de reembolso y no están sujetos a los caprichos de los clientes que abusan de los privilegios de devolución de dinero.

Preocupaciones de los comercios

Por supuesto, con los beneficios, también existen desafíos y problemas que los comercios también deben considerar si deciden aceptar BTC y otras criptomonedas.

Preguntas legales: dado que las criptomonedas no están controladas por ninguna entidad central, surgen muchas preguntas sobre su estado legal. Hay solo un pequeño puñado de países donde Bitcoin se define como un medio de pago legal. Otros lo prohíben estrictamente o no brindan ningún recurso ni orientación, lo que deja a las criptomonedas en un área gris. 

Si has decidido aceptar BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda como método de pago, consulta a tu abogado fiscal, tu contador fiscal y tus representantes legales para asegurarte de que cumples con las regulaciones de tu jurisdicción.

Volatilidad: este problema es quizás el más grave para los comerciantes que pueden perder sus ingresos en un corto período de tiempo cuando el precio de BTC cae abruptamente. Para evitar tal situación. Considera convertir BTC en una moneda estable como USDT o USDC inmediatamente después de recibir el pago o agregar estas monedas a la lista de opciones disponibles.

Envíos al extranjero: si bien las criptomonedas facilitan la aceptación de pagos transfronterizos, el envío es otro proceso importante. Si decides expandir tu geografía, piensa detenidamente cómo vas a entregar los productos a tus clientes.

Implementación técnica: si bien hay una gran cantidad de herramientas para automatizar los procesos de pago fiat, las herramientas no son tan variadas para las criptomonedas. Simplemente puedes poner tu dirección BTC en la lista de opciones de pago disponibles, pero la falta de automatización agrega complejidades técnicas. Si tu sitio web se ejecuta en Woocommerce o Shopify, puedes hacer uso de sus complementos integrados. Alternativamente, es posible que desees aplicar algunas herramientas proporcionadas por aplicaciones de terceros como Bitpay.

Las criptomonedas representan una herramienta de alta tecnología diseñada para resolver problemas específicos de los sistemas de pago centralizados. Dado que este sistema en sí es relativamente nuevo, naturalmente se esperaría que los desafíos enumerados anteriormente inhibieran la adopción por parte de muchos comercios. Las boutiques y otros comerciantes de lujo deben sopesar todas las alternativas antes de implementar las criptomonedas como métodos de pago.

Las top 3 boutiques de lujo que aceptan criptomonedas

A pesar de los obstáculos, algunos comerciantes se arriesgan. A continuación, te daremos un resumen rápido de 3 tiendas populares en el segmento de lujo donde se pueden comprar joyas, relojes y otros artículos exclusivos con cripto.

Bitdials.eu

Antecedentes: lanzada en 2016, Bitdials se posiciona como la primera boutique de lujo exclusiva de bitcoin del mundo. Entre los artículos de lujo que se ofrecen en la plataforma, se pueden encontrar relojes, joyas, oro, licores, automóviles y diferentes artículos de estilo como bolsos de cuero, cinturones y encendedores. Sin embargo, la tienda no vende nada por sí sola. En cambio, actúa como un distribuidor que ayuda a los compradores a encontrar la mejor opción. Además de BTC, los clientes pueden pagar con ethers y algunas otras altcoins.

Estadísticas de tráfico: debido a su longevidad, Bitdials.eu ha logrado atraer una audiencia sólida. El tráfico del sitio ha aumentado de 10.000 a casi 100.000 visitas únicas por mes según Similarweb.

Comentarios de los clientes: TrustPilot otorga a BitDials la mejor evaluación, ya que su calificación promedio es de 4.9 estrellas de 5 según más de 190 reseñas. Los clientes elogian la plataforma por el proceso de envío sin problemas, el excelente servicio y la puntualidad.

Infografía: Bitdials 4,9 / 5 estrellas. De diez mil a cien mil visitantes únicos al mes.

Ventajas: 

la tienda más vieja y más confiada

tiene de todo

Contras:

debes comprar artículos a través de proveedores externos.

Infographic: Bitdials 4.9/5 star rating. Ten-thousand to One hundred-thousand unique visitors a month. Pros: number 1 it is the oldest and most trusted, and number 2 it has pretty much everything. Cons: you must purchase items through third party vendors. Interesting Finds from Bitdials: 1. A classy black and white wrist watch with a big round face (Blancpain Villeret Watch for 0.467280 bitcoin). 2. An extravagant gold and diamond encrusted watch with a rectangular face (Cartier Tank Anglaise for 4.860000 Bitcoin). 3. A shiny grey supercar with eye-catching orange brakes peeking through the hubcaps (McLaren 720S Spider 4.0 V8 Performance for 15.783552 Bitcoin). A dark grey four door electric car (Tesla Model X for 5.757696 Bitcoin).

 

Bitluxuria.com

Antecedentes: Bitluxuria es una boutique de lujo más que acepta criptomonedas como único medio de pago. La gama de productos es limitada, ya que se centran principalmente en joyas y relojes, con preferencia por opciones más pequeñas y refinadas. La empresa está registrada oficialmente en Nueva York, Nueva York, EE. UU. Junto con Bitcoin, los clientes también pueden realizar pagos utilizando Litecoin.

Estadísticas de tráfico: 1.000 visitantes únicos al mes según SEMrush.

Reseñas de clientes: Bitluxuria está ligeramente por detrás de Bitdials en lo que respecta a las calificaciones, pero sus calificaciones son muy sólidas con un promedio de 4.5 estrellas basado en más de 20 reseñas en TrustPilot. El equipo que respalda el proyecto tiene un enfoque personal para cada uno de sus clientes y también brinda un servicio de primera.

Ventajas: 

selección curada por expertos

no compras a terceros

Contras:

los bienes disponibles son limitados

Infographic: BitLuxuria 4.5/5 Star Rating. One-thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: 1 expertly curated selction, and 2 buy direct with no third party sellers. Cons: the range of goods available is somewhat limited. Interesting Finds from Bit Luxuria: Number 1: A silver necklace with GIANT green gemstones that looks like it might be fit for royalty (BVLGARI Festa Necklace for 0.3727 Bitcoin). Number 2: A watch made of solid with highly intricate gearing visible behind the round face (Patek Philippe Complications for 3.1474 Bitcoin). Number 3: A sporty looking luxury watch that has every square inch covered in small diamonds (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 4.269 Bitcoin). Number 4: A very classy but understated gold watch with a round brown face and brown leather straps that looks like it would be right at home in an old cigar-tasting room (Cartier Rotunde de Cartier for 1.7607 Bitcoin).

 

Delouvois.com

Antecedentes: De Louvois existe desde 2016 y ha logrado ampliar significativamente la gama de productos ofrecidos. Su público objetivo consiste en emprendedores tecnológicos exitosos, adoptadores de Bitcoin y comerciantes profesionales. La propia empresa reside en Versalles, Francia.

Si deseas saber más sobre Delouvois, consulta nuestra entrevista con el fundador de De Louvois, Matthiew Michard.

Además de los relojes y las joyas tradicionales, el sitio web ofrece automóviles, obras de arte e incluso bienes raíces. El enfoque principal de la empresa, según Michard, siempre ha estado en las artes. Dado que la mayoría de las tiendas en línea que venden obras de arte en criptomoneda tienen problemas de diseño y una experiencia de usuario deficiente, De Louvois se esfuerza por “aportar algo de glamour a una industria que realmente lo necesita”.

Estadísticas de tráfico: 45.000 visitantes únicos al mes según SEMrush.

Ventajas: esta boutique es una boutique que recuerda a las boutiques de antaño, de masters antiguos a las finas artes.

Contras: poca cantidad de arte contemporáneo.

De Louvois. Trustworthiness rating not yet available. Forty-five thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: this botique is excellent at "old world luxury," from "old masters" fine art to antiques. Cons: underwhelming contemporary art selection, aside from a few stand-outs. Interesting finds from De Louvois: Number 1: A vibrant painting of a butterfly cut-out made by world-famous artist Damian Hirst in 2009 (selling for 0.32354 Bitcoin). Number 2: A nineteenth century "old master" painting by an unknown French artist of a young shepherd boy holding a white goat (for 0.02480 Bitcoin). Number 3: A Parisian Penthouse in the sixteenth arrondissement with a quaint balcony garden with little red flowers cheerfully overlooking the city (for 58.07081 Bitcoin). Number 4: A highly intricate wooden Louis the fourteenth desk with marquetery made circa 1700 (price listed as "available upon request").

Nuestra opinión

Los gerentes de relaciones de Aurae Lifestyle están equipados de manera única para abastecer, adquirir y guiar en el proceso de compra de artículos de lujo a nivel mundial. Además, nuestras relaciones globales en la industria de viajes nos posicionan bien para brindar valor real a nuestros clientes. Desde aviación privada hasta servicios comerciales de primera clase, propiedades vacacionales de lujo y experiencias de destino única, el equipo de Aurae está preparado para planificar y brindarte apoyo mientras disfrutas de la vida que has creado. Los miembros de Aurae Lifestyle disfrutan de este beneficio sin costo alguno. ¿No eres miembro de Aurae Lifestyle? Si calificas, definitivamente te alentamos a que examines si la membresía es adecuada para ti. Incluso si la membresía no es adecuada, te recomendamos que te comuniques con uno de nuestros gerentes de relaciones si necesitas ayuda para realizar una compra de lujo transfronteriza de alto valor.

Common Purchases

AL: “What do your customers buy the most often using crypto?”

MM: To be fair, it is still very early to notice any serious trends or patterns in that regard. We started De Louvois back in late 2016 when one Bitcoin was worth around $500, estimating that it would probably take a minimum of $250,000 per coin for the first significant cohort of adopters to start spending some of their coins and become regular customers and validate our business model.

We understood that this was a long-term bet that required a long-term vision. We believe this lack of long-term vision was the reason why similar initiatives such as BitPremier or The White Company ended up quitting. Until then, it will be our job to iterate, guess and adapt our offer based on data and by talking to our users.

[A note from Aurae Lifestyle: BitPremier was a bitcoin marketplace providing luxury items for crypto, the website is not operating anymore. The White Company started out selling luxury for cryptocurrencies as well, but then gave up on the whole enterprise and now only accept PayPal and a credit cards as payment options.]

What I can tell you for sure is that our primary focus has always been on the Arts, and there is a reason for that. It is no secret that the blockchain industry has huge issues with user experience and design. 99% of cryptocurrency-oriented services are ugly, dry, and frankly user-hostile.

Just open any online wallet or exchange to make sure yourself. And of course, the most glaring example of the lacking artistic vision in this industry is definitely Bitcointalk.org

We believe that Art and Artists will play a decisive role in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, just like they did during the personal computer revolution, thanks to companies like Apple working so closely with exceptional artists and designers. And that is exactly where we see De Louvois’ contribution and added value: bringing some glamour to an industry that really needs it.

Exotic purchases

AL:  “What are the most interesting items purchased on your website?”

MM: I can not tell you much about what people have been buying over the past years, but we certainly receive some “exotic” listing requests from time to time. 

The most peculiar request that we had to deal with came from a Canadian dog breeder who wanted to sell Canadian Eskimo Dogs on our marketplace. 

The dogs seemed happy and certainly well-fed, but we ended up turning down the offer due to our concerns that these “luxury dogs” may end up taking the place of a shelter dog while it did not seem fair to the 1.5 million shelter dogs being euthanized each year.

AL:  “Did they try to purchase it with Dogecoin?”

MM: Ha!, No.

Regional Purchases

AL: “Which region do most of your customers come from? Are there any customers from Latin America or Spain?”

MM: The funny thing with borderless permissionless cryptocurrencies is that you never know who will be knocking at your door. For that, we surely do get some surprises now and then. With that being said, most of our traffic and customers are US-based anglophones, and this is the segment that we are currently focused on. 

Latin America is a market that we really want to explore, though. Cryptocurrencies always had a natural synergy with these populations, for various reasons. It is pretty clear that countries like Venezuela dealing with major inflation issues on a daily basis will come to adopt these technologies in the most organic and natural way.

We are currently discussing this matter with a couple of South American jewelers and winemakers, so you can expect to see something pretty soon on our website.

Transaction Speeds

AL: “How long does a typical transaction take? How much time is required for the object to be delivered to the recipient after bitcoins have reached your wallet?”

Our partner vendors are expected to ship the purchased goods as soon as the transaction has gained 5 confirmations on the network (they receive an automatic email for that).

Here is how it works. Once customers reach our check-out page, they can pay with Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.

All incoming amounts are then converted to a stable coin USDC backed by Circle and Coinbase for a small fee of around 0.5%. Alternatively, customers can choose to pay using USDC straight away in order to save the fees.

This method allows us to freeze the price, effectively shielding both vendors and buyers from the inherent volatility of traditional non-stable cryptocurrencies. Without that method, doing business with cryptocurrencies in a professional manner would be impossible.

Miners Fees

AL: “Do you include miners fees in the price or do you cover them yourself?”

MM: Miner fees are clearly the biggest threat that our industry will have to tackle if it wants to become appealing to retail consumers and not just speculators.

The recent spike of fees on Bitcoin and Ethereum networks has made micropayments a thing of the past and rendered the entire Ethereum ecosystem as good as useless. Just think of it: transaction fees have exploded from a couple of cents in 2019 to nearly $75 in May 2021, before settling down around $15.

Luckily, we cater to items worth $500+, so the risk/benefit ratio still makes sense from an economical point of view, even with a flat $15 Ethereum transaction fee. 

Also, if you compare that $15 fee to a retail payment processor like PayPal, it’s still a pretty good deal. Paypal charges sellers up to 4.4% for international transactions and may charge buyers an optional 4.5% when a currency conversion is needed. So in the case of a $500 item, the Ethereum transaction fee is still cheaper than PayPal.

Bottom line is, we try to be flexible and absorb miner fees within our commission. The only reason we are able to do that is because we cater to relatively pricey items.

Other companies that have a smaller average cheque and deal with Ethereum-based microtransactions are currently in a much worse position than us, that’s for sure.

Increasing Transaction Speeds

AL: What are your recommendations for speeding up transactions?

MM: As a luxury marketplace, our mission is to provide the easiest and safest experience possible to both our customers and vendors. Consequently, we are extremely careful when considering and testing new solutions. 

We frequently monitor new initiatives trying to tackle this problem. Amongst other solutions, we are aware that Tron-based Tethers are becoming quite popular, but at this moment, we do not plan to switch from our current method (mostly for liquidity and security concerns) although that may change in the future when their blockchain becomes more mature and secure. 

As stated earlier, De Louvois is a long-term bet, and we are confident that the Ethereum team will solve their scalability and network fees problems with the incoming 2.0 release and the adoption of Proof of Stake consensus.

High fees won’t be life-threatening to us in the near future, although they currently prevent us from distributing our cryptocurrency, the Franc Louvois (LVF), to our vendors, business partners, and customers. That is indeed a huge drag, but we will just have to deal with it in the meantime.

As far as Bitcoin fees are concerned… Well, my best guess is that the Bitcoin core team pretty much caved in on the idea of digital cash, and decided to focus on the “store of value narrative”.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any progress or plans being made to address the scalability issues of this network. Timid attempts such as Lightning Network are anything but sufficient at the moment, so that is where we are for now.

A 1984 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV, available on DeLouvois for ฿ 8.22349 .

 

An old oil painting sits on an easel in a room of French antiques.

A 20th Century Italian Painting depicting a Landscape with Figures, available on DeLouvois for ฿0.04870 .

 

A samurai helmet from three angles on a marbled background.

Early 18th Century full suit of Japanese Gusoku style Samurai Armor, available on DeLouvois for ฿ 0.17421.

Initially invented as a decentralized alternative to traditional means of payment, Bitcoin has eventually become a favored vehicle for traders that can bear extreme gains and losses thanks to its volatility. However, as its popularity has grown over the past few years, merchants are now accepting it along with fiat currencies as well.

Of note, luxury shops start jumping on this train as well. Aurae Lifestyle has witnessed significant growth in luxury purchases due to the recent appreciation of Bitcoin.

We’ve decided to conduct our own research in this area to find out what motivates buyers and sellers to switch to this hi-tech means of payment, obstacles experienced and benefits obtained.

Luxury brands start accepting Bitcoin

Prior to 2017, only a handful of adventurous luxury merchants accepted Bitcoin as a form of payment. Some online shops would timidly place their BTC addresses somewhere in the footer of their webpages hoping that savvy users would find their way to make the payment, but that was basically it. Now that Shopify has officially enabled crypto payments on its platform and Woocommerce supports a whole suite of plugins for this purpose, things have become much easier for all the parties involved in the process.

Some of the big luxury brands that have already enabled crypto payments on their websites include:

Travala.com: this luxury travel agency offers not only Bitcoin but also a wide variety of altcoins for payment along with traditional fiat-based methods.

Hublot: the Swill luxury watchmaker has recently announced plans to issue watches that can only be bought for Bitcoin.

Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Prada plant to use blockchain for tracking counterfeit merchandise.  

As larger and established luxury brands embrace the blockchain and cryptocurrency as business as usual, smaller companies are sure to follow suit. Just like other innovations, the blockchain and cryptocurrency come with pros and cons for all participants of the process.

Buyers Advantages

All great merchants have a customer first mindset, so let’s take a look at potential benefits luxury buyers gain when their favorite brands add cryptocurrency to the list of accepted forms of payment.

  • Instant transactions: With Bitcoin, the average time needed for a transaction to be confirmed depends on the time needed for a new block to be created which is 10 minutes on average. This time may be longer when the network is congested, but still, it is never higher than a couple of hours.  In addition to Bitcoin, there are also other altcoins such as TRX and EOS that allow confirming transactions in mere seconds. If you want to buy luxury goods with cryptocurrency,  ask if your boutique of choice accepts these methods as well.
  • Crossborder (international) purchases: Banks and other centralized financial services typically offer their services within the borders of their jurisdictions and large purchases across borders typically involve international wire transfers and depending upon the merchant and the customer’s international limits, credit card transactions. While payment services such as PayPal  were initially designed specifically for this purpose, transaction size limits suppress the amount of large scale luxury purchases they can facilitate. For smaller purchases, transaction fees play a critical role in determining if purchases will be made using PayPa. With cryptocurrency, network fees are determined at a Satoshis per Vbytes (sats/vByte), and the amount of BTC sent does not influence sats/vByte but rather network congestion and the weight of the block.  As such, for a large purchase, network fees are not dependent upon the purchase price. An analogy for the common person would be vehicle traffic, tolls and wait time.  Tolls paid are independent of the value of the vehicle and the time you wait is totally dependent upon traffic at the toll booth (network fees). Given this dichotomy, luxury purchases in certain cases may be viable when using cryptocurrency.
  • Transparency: Every transaction in crypto is registered on a public ledger for any interested party to verify. Buyers would have no difficulty proving their payment as they can simply show the link with transaction confirmation.

Buyers Concerns

While buying with BTC or any other crypto has certain advantages, there are concerns that consumers should be aware of.  Cryptocurrencies are in a nascent form when compared to traditional methods of payment and they come with a number of caveats that users should be aware of Fraud. With cryptocurrencies, there is no way to undo a transaction or to get a refund once completed. This, unfortunately, attracts individuals with a natural proclivity to commit fraud.  So, it is up to the buyer to trust but verify the merchant in order to have any type of recourse if there are transaction problems. To avoid such a scenario, verify the credentials of the luxury merchant prior to placing an order. Websites providing third-party reviews such as Trustpilot can also be useful when conducting your research.

  • Volatility creates uncertainty: It’s no secret that Bitcoin is pretty volatile. The luxury watch that today costs $10,000 may lose a sizable percentage of its value in a single day. Can the luxury shop of your choice stomach this volatility? Is their business model strong enough? Make sure that the company has a solid background and study who you are dealing with before you make any payment.
  • High fees when the network is congested: Bitcoin, due to its technical characteristics, imposes very high network fees when too many people try to send funds over the network at the same time. This usually happens approximately once in 3 years when BTC price surges making everyone crazy about it. Consider making payments with TRX and other alternative cryptocurrencies if congestion is too high.
  • Basic technical knowledge is required: Cryptocurrencies were created and adopted by technical individuals who take pride in speaking their own language. Unfortunately, this requires some fluency and knowledge about their protocols and processes.  Hence, it is important to have some basic technical skills.

Benefits for merchants

Now, what do cryptocurrencies have to offer from the merchants’ point of view? We’ve uncovered four benefits of accepting cryptocurrency during our conversations with luxury shop owners:

  • Expanded geographical footprint: With cryptocurrencies, you can easily accept payments from customers all over the world. There’s no more need to limit customers to a specific region due to payment processor protocols.
  • Expanded customer base: Not only is the geographical footprint established, but many early adopters of bitcoin have migrated from mass-market buyers to luxury buyers.  While we do not know who they are, according to CBS News, there are nearly 100,000 newly minted bitcoin millionaires.   
  • Reduce costs for the banking infrastructure: The costs to set up a wallet to accept BTC or any other cryptocurrency are negligible when compared to bank fees and centralized payment processor fees. 
  • “Holla Back” at Chargebacks: With cryptocurrency, merchants control the refund process and are not subject to the whims of customers that abuse chargeback privileges. 

Concerns for merchants

Of course with benefits, there are also challenges and issues that merchants should consider as well should they decide to accept BTC and other cryptocurrencies.

  • Legal questions: Since cryptocurrencies are not controlled by any central entity, many questions about their legal status emerge. There’s just a small handful of countries where Bitcoin is defined as a legal means of payment. Others either strictly forbid it or provide absolutely no recourse and guidance which leaves cryptocurrencies in the grey area. If you’ve decided to accept BTC or any other cryptocurrency as a method of payment, please consult your tax attorney, your tax accountant and your legal representatives to ensure that you comply with the regulations of your jurisdiction.
  • Volatility: This problem is perhaps the most acute for merchants that can lose their income in a short period of time when BTC price abruptly drops. To avoid such a situation. Consider converting BTC into some stable coin such as USDT or USDC right after you receive the payment or add these coins into the list of available options.
  • Shipping overseas: While cryptocurrencies make it really easy to accept cross border payments, shipping is another matter process. If you decide to expand your geography, think thoroughly beforehand about how you are going to deliver goods to your customers.
  • Technical implementation: While there is a big bunch of tools to automate fiat payment processes, tools are not that robust with cryptocurrencies. You can simply put your BTC address into the list of available payment options, but the lack of automation adds technical complexities. If your website runs on Woocommerce or Shopify, you can make use of their built-in plugins. Alternatively, you may want to apply some tools provided by third-party applications such as Bitpay.

Cryptocurrencies represent a high-tech tool designed to resolve some specific issues of centralized payment systems. As this system itself is still relatively new, one would naturally expect that the challenges listed above would inhibit adoption for many merchants. Boutiques and other luxury merchants should weigh all alternatives prior to implementing cryptocurrencies along with other traditional payment methods.

Top 3 luxury boutiques accepting cryptocurrency

Despite the obstacle, some merchants take the risk. Below, we are going to give a quick rundown of 3 popular online shops in the luxury segment where one can buy jewelry, watches, and other exclusive items for crypto.

Bitdials.eu

Background: Launched in 2016, Bitdials positions itself as a bitcoin-only luxury boutique. Among luxury items offered on the platform, one can find watches, jewelry, gold, spirits, cars, and different stylish items such as leather bags, belts, and lighters. The shop doesn’t sell anything by itself, though. Instead, it acts as an aggregator of dealers helping buyers find the best option. In addition to BTC, customers can pay with ethers and a few other altcoins.

Traffic statistics: Due to its longevity, Bitdials.eu has managed to garner a solid audience. Site traffic has bounced from 10k to almost 100k unique visits per month according to Similarweb.

Customers’ reviews: TrustPilot gives BitDials the best assessment as its average rating makes up 4.9 stars out of 5 based on 190+ reviews. The customers praise the platform for the smooth shipping process, excellent service, and punctuality.

Infographic: Bitdials 4.9/5 star rating. Ten-thousand to One hundred-thousand unique visitors a month. Pros: number 1 it is the oldest and most trusted, and number 2 it has pretty much everything. Cons: you must purchase items through third party vendors. Interesting Finds from Bitdials: 1. A classy black and white wrist watch with a big round face (Blancpain Villeret Watch for 0.467280 bitcoin). 2. An extravagant gold and diamond encrusted watch with a rectangular face (Cartier Tank Anglaise for 4.860000 Bitcoin). 3. A shiny grey supercar with eye-catching orange brakes peeking through the hubcaps (McLaren 720S Spider 4.0 V8 Performance for 15.783552 Bitcoin). A dark grey four door electric car (Tesla Model X for 5.757696 Bitcoin).

 

Bitluxuria.com

Background: Bitluxuria is one more luxury boutique that accepts cryptocurrency as the only means of payment. The range of goods is limited as they focus mainly on jewelry and watches, with a preference for smaller and refined choices. The company is officially registered in New York, New York, USA. Along with Bitcoin, customers can also make payments using Litecoin as well. 

Traffic statistics: 1,000 unique visitors per month according to SEM rush.

Customers’ reviews: Bitluxuria is slightly behind Bitdials as far as ratings are concerned, but their ratings are very robust with an average of 4.5 stars based on 20+ reviews on TrustPilot. The team standing behind the project has a personal approach to each of their customers and provides white-glove service as well.

Infographic: BitLuxuria 4.5/5 Star Rating. One-thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: 1 expertly curated selction, and 2 buy direct with no third party sellers. Cons: the range of goods available is somewhat limited. Interesting Finds from Bit Luxuria: Number 1: A silver necklace with GIANT green gemstones that looks like it might be fit for royalty (BVLGARI Festa Necklace for 0.3727 Bitcoin). Number 2: A watch made of solid with highly intricate gearing visible behind the round face (Patek Philippe Complications for 3.1474 Bitcoin). Number 3: A sporty looking luxury watch that has every square inch covered in small diamonds (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 4.269 Bitcoin). Number 4: A very classy but understated gold watch with a round brown face and brown leather straps that looks like it would be right at home in an old cigar-tasting room (Cartier Rotunde de Cartier for 1.7607 Bitcoin).

 

Delouvois.com

Background: De Louvois has been around since 2016 and has managed to significantly expand the range of the offered products. Their target audience consists of successful tech entrepreneurs, early investors and adopters of Bitcoin, and professional traders. The company itself resides in Versailles, France.

For those inclined to learn more about Delouvois, check out our interview with the founder of De Louvois, Matthiew Michard

In addition to traditional watches and jewelry, the website offers cars, artworks, and even real estate. The primary focus of the company, according to Michard, has always been on the arts. As most of the online shops selling artworks for crypto suffer from bad user experience and design issues, De Louvois strives to “bring some glamour to the industry that really needs it”.

Traffic statistics: 45,000 unique visitors per month according to SEM rush.

De Louvois. Trustworthiness rating not yet available. Forty-five thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: this botique is excellent at "old world luxury," from "old masters" fine art to antiques. Cons: underwhelming contemporary art selection, aside from a few stand-outs. Interesting finds from De Louvois: Number 1: A vibrant painting of a butterfly cut-out made by world-famous artist Damian Hirst in 2009 (selling for 0.32354 Bitcoin). Number 2: A nineteenth century "old master" painting by an unknown French artist of a young shepherd boy holding a white goat (for 0.02480 Bitcoin). Number 3: A Parisian Penthouse in the sixteenth arrondissement with a quaint balcony garden with little red flowers cheerfully overlooking the city (for 58.07081 Bitcoin). Number 4: A highly intricate wooden Louis the fourteenth desk with marquetery made circa 1700 (price listed as "available upon request").

Our take

The relationship managers at Aurae Lifestyle are keenly aware and uniquely equipped to source, procure and shepherd the process of purchasing luxury goods globally.  Additionally, our global relationships in the travel industry position us well to provide real value to our clients. From private aviation to first class commercial service to luxury vacation estates and unique one-of-a-kind destination experiences, the Aurae team is prepared to plan and support you as you enjoy the life you have created. This benefit is enjoyed by members of Aurae Lifestyle at no cost.  Not a member of Aurae Lifestyle?  If you qualify, we definitely encourage you to examine if membership is right for you.  Even if membership is not a fit, we encourage you to reach out to one of our relationship managers if you need assistance in making a high value, cross border luxury purchase.