Van Cleef & Arpels – A Retrospective

Van Cleef & Arpels’ reputation in the jewelry world is founded on its unyielding commitment to craftsmanship, beauty, and innovation. Through the marriage of Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef, two prominent jeweler’s families came together to establish Maison Van Cleef & Arpels at Place Vendome in Paris in 1906. By seeking out the most magnificent stones and working with extremely gifted jewelers, the firm would quickly gain international acclaim among the wealthy – from aristocrats to maharajas and celebrities. Not long after their inception, they opened branches in many French cities and resort towns of Nice, Cannes, Deauville, Lyons, Vichy and Dinard. By the 1940’s they had a presence in other international hot spots, including New York City.

WWI Shapes Artistic Trends

Stylistic trends evolved rapidly in the 20th century, particularly after the many hardships of World War I subsided. The war drastically changed the role of women in society – with their husbands away at battle, they became single heads of the household, taking on the dual role of caretaker and provider, and in many instances assuming the work of their husbands.

When the war ended, the pace of change was accelerated by newfound joie de vivre defined by uninhibited creativity and freedom of expression. Women were at the forefront of this, celebrating their post-war emancipation and prosperity by cutting their hair and their hems, darkening their make-up, and lowering their waistlines – a look known as la garconne, or ‘the female boy.’


This big move in fashion in the 1920’s inspired jewelry houses to take exciting creative leaps, and Van Cleef & Arpels’ formal and material experimentation brought them an enormous amount of attention amongst the elites in Europe, placing them amongst the small group of esteemed jewelers – alongside firms like Cartier and Mauboussin.  Mirroring the gallant times, their pieces began to take on a more geometric and linear shape, and combined the intensity and boldness of colored stones such as onyx, rubies, emeralds and sapphires with brilliant colorless diamonds, most often set in platinum.


In addition to wearable jewelry, they made cigarette boxes, lighters, and vanity cases, all magnificently crafted functional works of art. They pulled from multiple sources of inspiration, including the cubist movement and Egyptian motifs such as sphinxes, and scarabs. One example of this affinity to Ancient Egyptian art is the flexible band bracelets from a 1924 collection, each decorated with ruby, emerald and sapphire pharaonic motifs.

Crafting a Distinct Style


As the company’s distinct style evolved and they gained acclaim throughout Europe, they began to enter exhibitions and in 1925 won the grand prize for “The Roses” bracelet at the ExpositionInternationalle des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The platinum bracelet, complete with diamond and ruby rose motifs, accented by yellow diamond centers and green emerald stems and leaves was a true masterpiece. It incorporated modern design techniques while paying homage to the order and more delicate styles that marked the turn of the century. This type of design embodies the true artistic genius of Van Cleef & Arpels: its ability to adapt to the ever changing tides of artistic trends while remaining faithful to those characteristics that defined their brand from the start – femininity, nature and elegance.

The stock market crash of 1929 revolutionized jewelry in an unpredictable way. Shapes became softer and more delicate, while the size and scope of the jewelry grew quite dramatically. During the 1930s, we begin to see large and bold brooches and earrings, and wide bracelets worn on each arm in multiples. The experimental multi-colored combinations that were so popular in the 1920’s segued into a more monochromatic color scheme of all diamonds or a single colored stone, with emphasis being placed on the cut of the stones as well as the three-dimensionality of the pieces.


One of the great examples of this is Van Cleef & Arpels “mystery setting” or “Serti Mysterieux” patented in 1933.  This unique gemstone setting technique takes distinctly chosen gemstones, custom cut to fit together side by side in a very precise way, and places them on a carefully formed metal grid-like structure which follows the curves and contours of the gemstones.  The visual effect is that the gemstones appear to have no structure holding them together. This was primarily done with calibre-cut rubies and sapphires.  This type of setting technique was such a remarkable advancement in jewelry, and these pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels are so coveted by collectors, they bring enormous premiums at auction today.

Expansion to the U.S.

 In the late 1930’s Van Cleef & Arpels expanded their business to the United States, opening stores in Palm Beach and New York City. World War II in Europe was hard on the jewelry industry, and the Arpels family relocated to New York City to escape the war and take advantage of the economic prosperity that was growing in the U.S. Their firm, along with many others, would once again modernize their repertoire. Jewelry of this time is characterized by its substantiality and contrasted materials.  During the war platinum was mainly used for military purposes, so the metal of choice in jewelry was yellow gold, and often-times rose gold, which was yellow gold mixed with copper.  Common design themes from previous eras such as bows, flowers, and ribbons were reworked to reflect a more masculine wartime fashion sense with the bigger and bolder design sensibilities. With women wearing heavier fabrics that were often dark in color, brooches became the jewel of choice, as they could be showcased on clothing.  Many of the Van Cleef & Arpels brooches of this time combine their previous design successes, such as the Mystery Setting, with the softer curved lines of the period.


Since the gravitational center of the arts was beginning to shift from Europe to the U.S., Van Cleef & Arpels’ New York atelier became the production center for many of their new designs.  Along with the more audacious pieces, we see production of other popular motifs as well, including ballerinas, fairies, and flowers – all of which shared an underlying theme of light-heartedness and optimism.


Because of the many different influences in jewelry at the time, it is worth pointing out another major inspiration for jewelry houses for the era spanning the 1930s and 1940’s – the Machine Age – where elements of mass production were reinterpreted in yellow and rose gold.  Perhaps the best example of this was exhibited by Van Cleef & Arpels with its ‘honeycomb’ or “Ludo” bracelet, which was essentially a wide flexible band of repeated hexagonally-shaped links, often set at the center with colored precious gemstones, finished with an elaborate clasp.


Expertise in Collectable Designs

Of many things that Van Cleef & Arpels did really well during the 20th century, one that stands out in particular is its ability to make jewelry that is extremely ‘collectable’, producing designs that catered to many different types of collectors, which included extremely high-end pieces as well as more commercial pieces. In fact, Van Cleef & Arpels were the first among the high-end jewelry houses of the time to come out with a ‘boutique’ collection, which offered jewels that were both fashionable and reasonably priced. By the 1960’s their boutique line, which incorporated pearls and semi-precious stones in necklaces and earrings, as well as the more playful animal motifs in brooches, was highly successful. Other jewelry houses would follow suit not long after.


Alain Bernard, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels North America said it best when he stated, “There is truly an elegance that surrounds the house. They have the uncanny ability to go back into their archives and reimagine pieces that are perfectly in keeping with the modern woman.”


Today, we see these twin values of innovation and classicism live on through designs, such as the trademarked ‘Alhambra’ necklace introduced in 1968. Through its continued dedication to impeccable craftsmanship paired with a touch of whimsy, Van Cleef & Arpels continues to win over the hearts of jewelry collectors both on the retail and secondary market levels. They have produced some of the most iconic collections of jewelry and stand today as one of the most tremendous and well-respected houses of the industry.

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1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

A truly gorgeous Alfa Romeo and still painted in its original Bluette color, not much more need be said on the matter. It really is a no-brainer! At such a tempting estimate is there any other car that can feel so special for such a low price? So many have been tampered with, modified and changed back to red. This is a glorious early production car which has been sympathetically restored in the last year. Pick up a bargain that won’t look out of place anywhere in the world.

Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000


1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione

Some cars really do come with a ‘golden ticket’ and this is one of them. A stunning SWB with Le mans provenance, period correct and lovingly maintained through its life. Yes, you can buy cheaper SWBs, but this car will open doors quicker than the concierge at the Four Seasons! Imagine a historic race, rally or tour and this car will no doubt gain your entry, not to mention the invites to some of the world’s most famous car events. An original NART team car with a 7th overall at the 1960 Le mans 24 Hours, it is of course also matching numbers!

Estimate: $15,000,000 – $18,000,000


1979 Porsche 935

Provenance, a word so often misused but in the case of this wonderful Porsche 935, it is absolutely spot on. Winner of the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and raced to second place by Hollywood legend Paul Newman at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1979. The car is iconic in its original Hawaiian Tropic livery and is still recognized and raced worldwide. It also famously raced in computer giant, Apple colors, the only race car known to be sponsored by the then fledgling brand. Most recently, the car could be seen on display at the 2016 Classic Le Mans.

This is a historic car with a very desirable racing history that will surely set the auction room alight with excitement, do not be surprised when this car smashes through its estimate!

Estimate: $4,500,000 – $5,500,000


1985 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale

Group B really is the stuff of legends, a time in motorsport history where cars were free to become monsters, sadly, the cars really were monsters and after a series of major incidents in 1986 the class was disestablished. To gain approval, manufacturers had to build 200 street going versions of the proposed rally car. There is considerable doubt from many that Lancia ever produced 200, in fact figures below 100 have been passed around over the years!

The main thing you need to know is that Lancia combined supercharging and turbocharging in the S4 to reduce the considerable turbo lag other manufacturers were suffering from by running huge turbos on their cars. On its first competitive outing at the 1985 Lombard RAC rally in 1985 the team scored a 1st and 2nd making it one of the most successful debuts in rallying history.

This car you see here was previously finished in Verde York and known by many as ‘the green car’. While it looks truly stunning in the more classic factory red, one would be inclined to return the car to its original hue. Apart from that the Straddle specification is a hugely important car in motoring history and far rarer than is documented.

Estimate: $475,000 – $550,000

1961 Ferrari 250 GTE Series 1

The 250 GTO, SWB and California, are the cars that often capture the headlines and the big money, but it’s a lesser known fact that the 250 GTE is an increasingly rare car. This is down to the fact that many have been converted to SWB and GTO specification over the years. It’s no surprise that there are more racing nowadays than in the past! As such, an original GTE is now a car that is still very good value and very similar to its richer family. This particular car is LHD, not as rare as the RHD models but LHD is as these cars were envisaged from the factory so for the purist that’s a big tick.

Sadly, this car is not in its original color and any serious collected should consider reverting back to its original Grigio Argento paint with Rosso interior. I would personally say that these classics also look so much better in any color other than Rosso Corsa unless it’s a period racing Ferrari.

Estimate: $450,000 – $550,000


©2016 by Gooding & Company Inc.

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The Future of Watches is Bright, the Future is Green?

There’s been a rumor whispering its way around the watch world for the past few months. In a surprising twist, the color green is supposedly primed to overtake blue as the couleur du jour, but is this supposition realistic, or just grist to the gossip mill?


Image author’s own

When I was first approached to discuss this topic, I dismissed it offhand. As a watchmaker, I understand that the color blue is not only prevalent for traditional reasons, but also for practical ones. Blue is a color that can be created naturally, by heat-treating steel to 290 degrees Celsius. With the exceptions of anodized aluminum, oxidized copper, and PVD coatings, the color green cannot be made to appear naturally. None of those techniques are pure; none of the results elegant.

Blue gives off a sense of tranquility and harmony in the context of a watch movement. This is, I believe, down to its natural origin. Green elements in watches often look forced, or invasively manipulated. But things are changing. With the advent of new materials in watchmaking, achieving a green that is as comfortable in appearance as a blue is now evermore feasible. In addition to that, brands who are keen to harness the green buzz, but don’t have the capacity or inclination to create a new-fangled material to carry the color, are exploring its application in more sympathetic areas of the watch – the dial or the strap, for example.


Image supplied courtesy of Meistersinger

And although I don’t believe for a second that green will ever overtake blue, it does seem to be the flavor of the week and is likely to establish a much more accepted position in the watchmaking spectrum.

One retailer that has given us more than their fair share of green watches is Harrods, London. Harrods’ traditional colors are gold and green, with many brands desperate to feature on their world-famous fine watch floor creating limited models for exclusive sale in the Knightsbridge store. Smaller brands like Meistersinger and NOMOS Glashütte have offered up dial and strap variants that are only available in Harrods, while bigger brands have pushed the boat out even further with watches built from the ground up to evoke the reputable style of this famous fashion outlet, with my personal favorite being the Hublot Big Bang Unico Italia Independent Watch in green. Made of Hublot’s own ‘texalum’ material, this model takes the show-stopping appearance of the Italia Independent model, and adds a splash of camouflaged cool to the range.

Other notable examples are the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 Titanio with green dial and Harrods-engraved case back, and the Rolex date-just that sports a green dial with gold applied Roman numerals, encircled by a diamond-studded bezel that replaces the normal fluted style with aplomb.

With Harrods’ current showcase of 23 exclusives, many of which exclusive to the store itself, the exposure of the color green in high-end horology has never been easier to appreciate. Head down to their Knightsbridge store and check out the Made with Love exhibition and the Brompton Road window displays to learn more.

About the Author: Fell Jensen is a WOSTEP qualified watchmaker, working as a consultant in the UK market.

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Driving the 2017 Honda NSX


25 years ago Honda gave the world the NSX, a car that set the term ‘the useable supercar’. In a time when fast cars were unruly, fearsome and very tricky to drive fast, the NSX was to set a supercar DNA that so many manufacturers now follow. Borro headed out to Portugal to discover if the new NSX can still mix it with the big boys.

Give your parents the keys to supercars such as the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 458 or McLaren 570S and they will soon be happily driving along the road. Modern supercars are very easy to drive and this is thanks to the original Honda NSX, a car that rewrote the rule book on how a supercar can drive. Here we are in Portugal for the launch of the all-new Honda NSX to see if it can again disrupt the competition.


From the outside, there is no denying the beautiful lines of the car, it is quite frankly stunning with a sexier form than the angular Audi R8 which most will compare it to. It feels very futuristic much like the original R8 did when it was launched.


Inside, the cabin is nice, but there is no escaping that this is a Honda and while there are some nice touches, ultimately some buttons feel a little below par in a car at this price point. The seats don’t height adjust, but the position is good and you are sitting so low it’s not a real problem. Just like the original, the scuttle is low and coupled with the super thin A-pillars the visibility is impressive. But the large dash area does give off bad reflections on sunny days that can be annoying when driving.


The car has four modes: Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track. After a long day at work when you just want to get home, quiet really does fit the bill. Sport is for regular road use and the setting the car automatically defaults to, Sport+ makes everything come alive and the engine sound suddenly gets very serious. Interestingly this mode uses the battery power more than Track mode and Track mode just tightens everything a bit more and allows you to play around more on track sliding the car out of corners. If you are feeling really confident, everything can be turned off.

I mentioned battery power. This car is a hybrid but not in a sense that you can drive 100 miles in EV mode. The small motors aid the way the car accelerates, slows and steers. On track the car sucks itself into corners and then will launch out of the apex just as quickly as any supercar can. The 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo is mounted very low as are the batteries so the center of gravity is impress and this really helps when pushing the car hard. The trade-off is weight, the NSX weighs 3,803lbs but unlike the Nissan GT-R you never feel that weight on track, direction changes and braking are effortless and communication is surprisingly good given all the trickery at work in this car.


The car is ferociously quick off the mark thanks to the small electric motors, it certainly feels like it is on the cusp of 60mph in 3 seconds although Honda is not too concerned about providing official figures. But the car will go on to a top speed of 191mph, plenty!


The ride is very impressive, both on a mixture of public roads and the race track, when you do finally find the grip limit, the car is very forgiving and drifts can be easily held as the car progressively breaks away.

At $167,700 the NSX is well into league of some serious competition. Priced more than a base Audi R8 but less than its old school rivals the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari 488GTB the biggest problem will be brand image. Right now there is no natural stepping stone through the Honda range up to the NSX like there is for Audi owners. What Honda really needs is an impressive year in Formula 1 to reignite that engagement with the brand they used to have.

Honda has made a fantastic usable supercar and if the Honda badge doesn’t put you off, you will be rewarded with one of the finest sports cars on the market.

Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, gasoline is very much in his veins.

Image Credits © Honda 2016

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Are Event-inspired Watches Worth Your Time?

History, significance, and relationships play a huge part in the depreciation-resistance of a luxury wristwatch. If a watch was popularised by someone famous (like the Hamilton Ventura and Elvis, or the Monaco and Steve McQueen), it can fearlessly face down time; if a watch was the first of its kind, or a total aesthetic outlier, it will age gracefully (even if it is an objective monstrosity); if a watch is tied to a particular point in history, or inextricably linked to a feted event, it stands a pretty good chance of holding its value for generations to come.

Image supplied, courtesy of Omega

A lot of the value attached to watches associated with, or even specifically created for an event, is reliant on the congruity of the pairing – how much sense does it make? Another important factor is the level of collector interest in the event itself, irrespective of previous interest in watches. If a watch appeals to collectors from multiple fields, it is more likely to succeed.

Shooting for the Moon

Two of the best examples of event-inspired watches from history come from the same brand. Omega’s partnership with the Olympic games was seminal. It changed the face of luxury timekeeping forever. The games provide countless collectibles every four years. Museums and private treasure-troves the world over, are packed to the rafters with trinkets, curios, and knickknacks commemorating this quad-annual celebration of sport and culture.

OmegaImage supplied, courtesy of Omega

Not only did Omega step in to the sporting realm at the right time, they were also on the forefront of scientific exploration. In the 1960s, they produced the Omega Speedmaster, which became the first watch on the moon. Its Plexiglas crystal made it perfectly resistant to the constant bombardment of space dust while outside of the lunar module. What some on Earth would consider its weakness became its strength. Where even sapphire would shatter, Plexiglas could flex and survive. Omega has since released many watches commemorating the successful moon landings and other ventures into space. There is a huge pre-owned market for Speedmasters, driven by fans of astronautical and horological history alike.

Fashionable Friends Fall Short

 More recently, though, we’ve seen a lot of partnerships that are little more than billboards: An opportunity for some mutual back scratching that elevates neither the event, nor the special edition product. If you are a collector of either, then perhaps some merit can be found, but for the most part, these relationships are hollow, impermanent collusions that offer little in the way of long term investment.

BremontImage supplied, courtesy of Bremont

One of the most interesting recent collaborations is that of British brand Bremont and the America’s Cup race. Bremont, a brand renowned for its aviation background, cleverly justifies their involvement with the storied contest by reminding us the ‘pilots’ of these boats, actually take flying lessons to learn how to handle their craft.

What makes this partnership interesting, though, is the fact Omega has links to sailing, and even used to produce the America’s Cup watches (although Bremont is the official timekeeper these days). A multi-brand collection united by a single event is a rousing possibility. Were the America’s Cup to find itself a new timekeeping partner in the near future, owning the earlier iterations of the competition’s specially produced watches would be a real coup.

And I suppose that is the crux of any collection – one-offs are great, but it is context that creates true value. Owning many items within the same vein makes for a far more cohesive cache. But these kind of collections are rarely compiled by accident, and expensive to assemble deliberately. But then that’s all part of the fun, and why watch collecting is an endlessly enthralling, emotional rollercoaster that we all love to ride.

About the Author: Fell Jensen is a WOSTEP qualified watchmaker, working as a consultant in the UK market.

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The Evolution of Luxury Watches for Women

You may have noticed a significant increase in the number of high-end watches for women. Since the dawn of time keeping, fawning over the celestial dance, and agonizing over how accurately each and every second has been recorded has been an idiosyncratically male pursuit.

Image supplied courtesy of Hermes

Image supplied courtesy of Hermes

The pernickety nature of watchmaking on all levels suits men perfectly. The creation of a timepiece requires the commonly male traits of single-mindedness and obsessiveness. But although that appears ‘obvious’ it is not, nor has it ever been, exclusively the case.

Women like watches too, and, quite crucially, for the same reasons as men. Even in these difficult times, it is the women’s sector that is growing the quickest. This is perhaps facilitated by the trend of larger watch diameters. This means that women’s watches are finally boast enough space to harbor a seriously complicated movement, while remaining fashionable. The advances in material technologies too have enable designers to shrink caliber that would once have required a six-month gym membership to lift, into a wafer-thin engine suitable for use in a piece that is suitably elegant to appeal to modern, more gracile sensibilities.

Image Supplied courtesy of Bulgari

Image Supplied courtesy of Bulgari

Prior to this reassuring rise in ‘proper watchmaking’ for women, the major maisons would occasionally throw a bone to the fairer sex in the form of a patronizingly diamond-studded, quartz-driven, ambassador-bolstered billboard for their male collection. The big players in the watch industry wanted women to wear their watches, but only because it permitted the men they assumed would be buying them for their wives and girlfriends, to get clearance to buy more of their higher-priced, range-defining pieces. Pieces like the Hermes Le Temps Suspendu and the Van Cleef and Arpels Pont des Amoureux have set the bar very high, and this is only the beginning.

Candidly speaking, I’ve always thought the industry to be massively sexist and behind the times. Perhaps we have the global economic crisis to thank for this new dawn – the old guard of watchmaking have been forced to look closely at their consumer base and ask, what is it that people really want? And, for the first time in history, a huge proportion of the market is made up of self-sufficient, independent women, with means an inclination to buy a watch of their choosing that displays their character in the same dexterous way in which men have been able to do for decades.

Image supplied courtesy of Van Cleef and Arpels

Image supplied courtesy of Van Cleef and Arpels

Having worked at the bench for several luxury brands, it is apparent to me that the industry is still too reliant on men’s pieces. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the difference in size between a woman’s and a man’s watch is lesser now than it has been in the past, but I think it is likely to shift further towards an even split. Although I do not expect the industry’s output to ever reach a true 50/50 divide, it is worth noting that the wealth of female watchmakers (which is a much higher percentage of the overall work force than the percentage of watches designed specifically for women) may have something to say about this in the future, as women continue to become a serious force in an industry that was once incredibly male. It’s only right their watches are taken seriously too.

About the Author: Fell Jensen is a WOSTEP qualified watchmaker, working as a consultant in the UK market.


Having worked at the bench for several luxury brands, it is apparent to me that the industry is still too reliant on men’s pieces. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the difference in size between a woman’s and a man’s watch is lesser now than it has been in the past, but I think it is likely to shift further towards an even split. Although I do not expect the industry’s output to ever reach a true 50/50 divide, it is worth noting that the wealth of female watchmakers (which is a much higher percentage of the overall work force than the percentage of watches designed specifically for women) may have something to say about this in the future, as women continue to become a serious force in an industry that was once incredibly male. It’s only right their watches are taken seriously too.

About the Author: Fell Jensen is a WOSTEP qualified watchmaker, working as a consultant in the UK market.

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Delving into the Self Drive Car Trend


With Jaguar’s recent announcement that they will be creating a fleet of more than 100 autonomous research vehicles over the next four years, Appreciating Assets decided it was time to delve deeper into the dark art of self-driving cars.

Google Fast on Tesla’s Heels


In America, Tesla seems to be conceding to battle calls for the disabling of their Autopilot feature after a few recent incidents. With 94% of traffic fatalities the fault of drivers in the U.S. in 2015, it seems unfair and the easy option to blame technology that still requires common sense when being used.

The latest Tesla X 60D is a seven-seat electric SUV priced from $74,100, Autopilot is a $3,000 option and will surely be popular as customers embrace the exciting technology which will be vital to resale values. Up until now, Tesla has enjoyed strong market share but it’s clear to see those days are numbered as all major manufacturers have vehicles in development.


Google is the company people are following with most interest. The company’s fleet of around 25 fully autonomous vehicles log 10,000 to 15,000 miles each week and have covered well over 1 million miles already.

The possibilities are very exciting, as Google themselves say “Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, regardless of their ability to drive. Ageing or visually impaired loved ones wouldn’t have to give up their independence. Time spent commuting could be time spent doing what you want to do.”

Self-driving Leaders in the UK


Jaguar will start trials with vehicles on a 41-mile route later this year. Other car-makers are already spending billions of pounds on autonomous technology, with Ford part of a government-sanctioned testing project in England, and Volvo planning to test driverless cars in London next year.

Nissan also aims to build its first mass-market vehicle featuring ProPilot technology at the its plant in Sunderland in 2017. While BMW have recently announced plans to start producing fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 for ride-sharing programs.

Britain is hoping to be at the forefront of autonomous driving, partly due to a legal loophole. The UK is one of the European countries not to have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that stipulates a driver must be in the front seat of a car. However, the government is still working on its own regulation to keep pace with changing technology.

In the UK more than half of new cars now sold feature varying forms of autonomous safety.

Impact on the Car Market

Autonomous driving is certainly something that could change the lives of those less fortunate or that struggle with mobility to be able to drive. Whether or not we will find ourselves at auctions in 50 years cooing over classic examples of these cars it’s hard to say so right now, I will stick to driving my classic car.


About the Author: Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, gasoline is very much in his veins.

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Post-Brexit Art Market: Keep Calm, Carry On and Negotiate Hard


Lot and his Daughters painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens c.1613-14 sold for $58m at Christie’s, the centerpiece of Christie’s a week of sales in July branded Classic Week. It came for sale from the family of railway magnate Baron Maurice de Hirsch de Gereuth (1831-96) who acquired it from the Dukes of Marlborough.

The British art market, the second largest in the world, is putting on a brave face after the Brexit vote. No need to panic. Business as usual. Reasons for optimism. Precisely two weeks after the June 23 referendum, the sound of applause echoing for a $58m Rubens at Christie’s was proof that it will take more than 17.1m ‘leavers’ to upset this apple cart.

Thriving on Economic Uncertainty

The art market can enjoy economic uncertainty. It’s often said that auctioneers prosper by the three Ds – death, debt and divorce. And Brexit has something of all three. Following the global recession of 2008, prices for many art and antiques hardened and gold, silver and gemstones spiked. Expect more of the same – particularly in the context of the weakening pound. The immediate impact of a Leave vote at London’s summer fairs was that visiting Americans were happy to make deals at £1 = $1.30 that would not have materialised at £1 = $1.50.

Establishing the UK’s Art Market Pre-eminence

The Brexiteers also argue that cutting formal ties with the European superstate could be a chance for the UK to enhance its status as an entrepôt for art and antiques. The UK is the region’s dominant art market player with sales of $13.5 billion translating to a 21% share of the global market (France accounts for 6% of global sales, Germany, 2% and Spain and Italy just 1% apiece). However, its pre-eminence has been threatened by New York, Hong Kong and Beijing. There are those in the trade who say the EU – and particularly three regulatory areas emanating from Brussels since 1993 – hasn’t helped.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, senior figures from British Art and Antiques Plc are calling for the repeal of the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR), a potential reduction in import VAT on art and a review of export licensing thresholds. Axe them all and the London market could be set fair. Keep them and optimism begins to fade.

It won’t be easy. ARR, entitling artists to a royalty each time one of their works is resold through an auction house or dealer, puts London at an immediate disadvantage to its key international competitors. Yet at its heart, it is an ideological discussion. It has as many adherents in the artist lobby as it does detractors in the art dealing community.

Abolishing import VAT is perhaps more realistic. Currently the wildly differing tariffs levied on works of art as they are brought into the EU have played into British hands. What costs 5% in the UK is 6% in France, 10% in Spain and a massive 22% in Italy.

The Challenge of Being Heard

However, leaving the single market and imposing that 5% tax on items coming from Europe too would surely be a barrier too far for dealers and auctioneers who rely on consignments from the continent. A post-Brexit government seeking to champion British success stories would surely understand?

This is doubtless the right time to lobby for concessions, and much will fall on the shoulders of the British Art Market Federation (BAMF), who represent dealers and auctioneers and lobbies on their behalf. However, with a new Prime Minister and a new-look government faced with four decades of European legislation to unpick, art market red tape will scarcely be priority number one.

Hope for the art and antiques trade lies in being part of the discussion. At this seismic moment in British political history, being heard may be the biggest challenge of all.

Roland Arkell (LinkedIn) is the Contributing Editor at ATG Media.  For almost two decades, Roland has been writing about the British and international art and antiques market for Antiques Trade Gazette, the leading publication for serious buyers and sellers of art and antiques.

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