It's the age-old question that's challenged gift buyers for decades. What do you buy the man who has everything? In a world where money means nothing, expense becomes a redundant concept - instead, people look for increasingly outlandish expressions of someone's 'master of the universe' status. Failing that, a ridiculously expensive wristwatch is usually a safe bet.
Last week saw Basel play host to its annual watch fair, where the great and the not-so-good gathered to see how they could blow the best part of two hundred grand on an outrageously fancy bangle that tells them they're running late for their annual tramp-shooting excursion. If you've ever gazed longingly through the jeweller's window at an Omega display, this stuff will make you feel like the wretched pauper you truly are.
Generating the most press interest was the new 'temps suspendu' model presented by Hermes. Starting at a meagre 18,000 Swiss francs, this 'suspended time-piece' does exactly what it says on the velvet lined tin - it stops time in its tracks. Hold on a second, before you click 'add to basket', you might also want to consider the Hublot alternative, which offers its omnipotent owner the chance to slow down or speed up time. A function likely to come in very handy next time you find yourself watching anything that stars Russell Crowe.
The only drawback? It's about 185, 000 Euros. Come on, admit it - you're already considering selling your flat, if only because you secretly thought that Hiro Nakamura was so much cooler than Nathan Petrelli.
So how exactly does a carbon fibre and magnesium fashion accessory manage to give you dominion over the laws of time and space? Don't worry if you're confused, you're not alone - I'll bet my fifteen year-old Pop Swatch that Stephen Hawking's carer is scratching his head for him.
The simple fact is that these watches, as beautifully crafted and desirable as they are, don't really grant you access to your own personal wormhole. To put it another way, they simply alternate between working and, well, not working. A bit like British Airways baggage handlers. If I wanted a watch that occasionally stopped telling the time, I could pick one up at my local Jet garage.
When he's not designing 800 thread count invisible garments for imperial heads of state, Jean-Claude Biver is also CEO of Hublot. He told Reuters: "The value of a watch is not to give you time. Any five dollar watch can do that. What we are offering is the ability for example to stop time or make it disappear... Time is a prison and people want to get out of it sometimes."
But maybe I'm missing a trick here. If you can afford one of these extraordinary indulgences, you probably have a bunch of minions who hang on your every command. In which case, they'll be quite happy to hold perfectly still until you reactivate the time function. That way, you get to feel all-powerful for a few minutes, and they get an impromptu game of musical statues. Sometimes, everybody wins.
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