Style: Fountain Pens for Writing the Right Way

As someone who looks deeply beneath the surface of things, I have been obsessed for some years by the great philosophical question: when did expensive pens become "prestige writing instruments?" I trace this development to the early 1990s, when two things happened.

At the Geneva Watch Fair, a Return to Simplicity

The watchmakers at last week's Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva were in a philosophical mood. Georges Kern, chief executive of IWC, quoted Darwin in presenting his company's new line of diving watches—and its sponsorship of the Darwin Foundation in the Galápagos: it is not the strongest nor the most intelligent but "the one that is most adaptable to change" that survives.

There's More to Geneva than Watches

Even a serious horolophile like me tires of looking at watches at some point. So thankfully, the SIHH is held in elegant Geneva, where I managed to have a mighty good time even when I wasn't at the fair.For dining, I recommend Roberto, a local landmark that offers Italian classics done exceptionally well, in a setting that seems untouched since the early 1960s.

'Tis the Season for Perfume Pageantry

One of the great harbingers of Christmas is a sudden spike in fragrance advertising. Images promoting eaux de toilette are an important and, for me at least, much loved part of the year-round adscape, but at this season the assault on our olfactory nerves is stepped up, with many firms seeing 50 percent or more of their business done at the end of the year.Every now and again a big-budget advertisement with the production values of an Academy Award winner streaks across our screens.

Cuba's Best Cigars Come in Limited Edition Runs

I was being driven around Havana the other day when the taxi driver told me a joke. A Cuban descending into hell finds it divided by nationality. The torture of the day involves beatings with sticks sporting nails at their ends.

Foulkes: Handmade Objects Are True Luxury

If you have ever wondered how much more pleasure is to be derived from a handmade luxury object than from a machine-made piece with pretensions to luxury status, I am in a position to tell you.

The Luxuries of Technology

I am caught on the horns of an argumentum cornutum, pondering the question, "Can a technology product be a luxury product?" It is the sort of philosophical issue worthy of a 21st-century Aristotle or Socrates.

For Whatever It's Worth

Often when I wander down the world's great shopping streets, I silently curse the concept of shareholder value. It always seems to me to come with an expectation for constant growth, and for this, luxury companies need to find ever more ingenious ways of getting us to spend more.There are some brands that achieve this almost effortlessly.

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