Some of the latest gadgets are ideas for completely new objects, performing new functions, and it is likely that we will see many in Milan during Design Week. Some of the latest concepts on the market seem outlandish and improbable, and some seem almost sadistic, such as the iQ alarm clock that, once it starts ringing, can only be stopped by solving a problem of logic. But there are some gadgets out there that don’t really do anything new: they just take an old function and do it differently, better, with more style.
Imperiali Genève Cigar Chest
Emperador cigar chest by Imperiali Genève
The perfect example is the Emperador cigar chest by Imperiali Genève, a young Swiss company whose ambition is to reinvent existing objects at unprecedented levels of refinement. It comprises 2,675 components, and performs several functions. It can only be opened by entering a personal code into the LCD display, which is revealed by touching one of the nine touch buttons on the cover. Inside, there are 24 Grand Cru cigars kept in perfect conditions. The piece includes an automated cigar cutter, table lighter, intelligent ashtray, and a tourbillon timepiece. It costs exactly one million Swiss francs. www.imperiali-geneve.com
Richard Mille RMS05 Fountain Pen
Richard Mille's fountain pen
Richard Mille’s fountain pen shows the same sort of approach. It took four years to develop, and it has a mechanism, displayed under the transparent sapphire top, that releases or retracts the white gold nib. You remove the cap, then press a button on the top, and the nib appears from the bottom, ready to write. The pen is made in NTPT Carbon, a high-tech material that is light and strong, and, when machined, takes on a distinctive pattern that makes every piece unique. The price of each pen is €112,000. www.richardmille.com
Ehang 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle)
The Ehang 184 AAV
Just when we thought drones were passé, here comes the ultimate drone. The Ehang 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) doesn’t deliver your pharmaceuticals, or your book bought from Amazon. It delivers you. It has four arms with a total of eight rotors, and can carry one person with a case, flying at up to 500 metres altitude and at about 100 km/h. It doesn’t require any piloting skills: you just get in, select your destination, and then press the ‘take-off’ button. The craft is already functional, but it is likely to require changes in legislation in most countries to be operated. Price reportedly around €250,000. www.ehang.com
Sherman Smartwatch by MB&F
Sherman by MB&F
Sherman by MB&F looks like a robot, but in actual fact he doesn’t do very much at all. He looks like a Mars Rover but can’t go anywhere unless you push him. Neither does he try to kill Sarah Connor or help Luke Skywalker. He is priced at 13,800 Swiss francs, and he does two things: he displays the time, with a mechanical movement, and he makes you smile. And that, in today’s day and age, is probably the most useful function of them all. www.mbandf.com
Vertu Signature Touch for Bentley
The New Signature Touch is Vertu’s latest smartphone, with the brand’s largest sapphire crystal screen ever at 5.2 inches, and the signature Vertu sound quality providing perfect clarity for both voice and music. In the exclusive Bentley version, the finish features a combination of two Bentley leathers, Beluga and Hotspur, and you can personalize the phone with eight types of leather and 16 thread colours. The Bentley App provides dedicated content linked to the world of Bentley cars.
Every part of the Signature Touch is hand-crafted to an exceptional level of finish and tolerance, on a par with high-end watches. Ring tones and alert tones were specially created for Vertu and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The phone is an open door to the Vertu Concierge service for 24-hour assistance worldwide providing bookings and lifestyle recommendations. The Vertu Life service offers additional, personally tailored privileges such as exclusive access to private members’ clubs, and VIP packages to sports events.
Design sketches of Signature Touch for Bentley
Technically, the New Signature Touch is state-of-the-art and beyond, with exceptional battery life (up to 300 hours stand-by, up to 5 and a half hours talk time) and quadband connectivity. The pack includes a Bentley leather case, wall charger, car charger, micro USB cables, spare battery, a polishing cloth, and documentation. It’s a little more expensive than your ordinary mobile, but it is much more than just a phone. It includes the Lost Phone service so that if you lose it or it is stolen, you can lock it, erase data remotely even after the SIM card has been removed, and restore factory settings. www.vertu.com