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No Mere Accessories

The Rise of the Fashion Watch

It wasn’t so long ago that watches with fashion brand names on their dials were routinely dismissed as pretenders, mere arm candy for people with more money than good sense or taste. While there are still plenty of those watches twinkling from department store jewelry counters, other brands — ones more often associated with jewelry, luggage and trench coats — have quietly elbowed their way into loftier company. These five made a splash at this year’s BaselWorld.

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Feline Fatale

The Cat’s Unbagged: A Quick Spin in the Jaguar XFR-S

The Jaguar of today is no bespoke joke. Now under Tata ownership, Jag’s turned into a luxury automaker that cares about its drivers. The Italian Racing red paint, imposing rear wing and juggernaut 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S ($99,000) are evidence of that fact. It’s not a car for the British dandy. Instead, it’s the business end of Jaguar’s quest to make a beastlier brawler out of already imposing XFR.

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McLaren's Latest Weaponized Vehicle

Breakdown: McLaren 650S

McLaren has been a racing powerhouse for 50 years, but they’re a relative newcomer to the consumer supercar scene (their first was the extremely limited-release F1 in 1992). It was just three years ago that their MP4-12C ripped onto the stage, a rocket that hit the apex on its head with its first try. Now it’s dead. Before you get upset, know this: its replacement, the 650S, is better by a fair clip. We take a closer look.

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MI-6 may come knocking

Breakdown: David Brown Automotive Speedback

If you lament the death of old-school design — the kind that makes timeless cars like the Ferrari 265 GTB/4, the Jaguar E-Type and the Aston Martin DB5 so iconic — then you’ll rejoice over the new David Brown Automotive Speedback. Recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Speedback is a throwback to simpler times with the benefit of modern underpinnings and technology. The niche British carmaker (so niche that it has one model and no factory yet) has made its debut baby an absolute stunner.

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A tap-dancing gorilla in rich mahogany

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Bentley Continental GTC V8 S

The Continental name has been a part of the Bentley family since the early 1950s. Though the 2014 Bentley New Continental GTC V8 S ($216,000) remains relatively unchanged in its iconic style and interior club room feel (which rivals a rich mahogany office), what’s under the skin of this Monaco Yellow grand touring torpedo sets it apart from previous generations.

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Another automotive kidney punch to us Yanks

Power Wagon Reborn: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Packed with the same kind of rip-roaring five-door flavor as the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon and the Audi RS6 Avant, Jaguar’s XFR-S Sportbrake does up the wicked and track-ready XFR-S sedan with more cargo space and a nice big rear door for all those Home Depot runs.

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Best of Show

Best Watches of SIHH 2014

Every year we come away from Salon International Haute Horlogerie, the world’s most prestigious watch show, feeling privileged and awed. This year was no different. The competitive environment of the show, the electric vibe among the attendees and the enthusiasm of brand reps and watchmakers showing off their new creations make the Palexpo in Geneva a wonderful place every January.

After we’ve returned home and slept off the jetlag, we like to poll our team of Timekeeping contributors for their picks from the preceding week. So with our further ado, here are our favorite watches of SIHH 2014.

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Do You Wanna Go to the Moon?

The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna

When the doors open on the annual SIHH watch fair in Geneva, there’s a stampede of journalists to the A. Lange & Söhne booth to see what new timepiece miracles the Glashütte brand has introduced. The German brand never disappoints, and this year is no exception: the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna ($215,100+) is a spectacular timepiece, yet another tour de force from Glashutte. In this video Lange’s Technical Director, Anthony de Haas, explains the masterpiece.

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Tapered tail, savage sport

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Audi RS 7

We hopped a flight to the deserts of Las Vegas, where early one morning we had our pick of 10 shiny new 2014 Audi RS 7s ($104,900). Over its short tenure, Audi’s A7 Sportback has garnered endless praise and multiple awards, and the sportier S7 has impressed wholeheartedly with its ramped up athleticism and rakish looks. But we were righteously eager that morning in particular because the maniacal RS 7 takes both and soundly trounces them to smithereens.

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The Lebron James of luxury sedans

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Audi S8

If the 2014 Audi S8 ($112,000) were a person, he’d be the CEO of a tech conglomerate who lives in Manhattan, competes in triathlons, dates supermodels and always finds himself surrounded at the coolest who’s who parties. The S8 has daily driver looks with supercar stats, making it arguably the perfect car for those who can drop $112k. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to sell our Apple stock to get some wheel time in this 520-horsepower German statement.

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One fast land barge

Behind The Wheel: Rolls-Royce Wraith

Rolls-Royce issues new models with a frequency not unlike solar eclipses, so the introduction of their latest car, the Wraith ($284,900), was nothing short of momentous. The public’s anticipation of the car at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show was met with a stunning deviation from the pure stateliness of the previous two cars. The two-door four-seater captured the audience and the automotive world with a bold fastback design that put an unmistakably bright feather into a strong, staid tweed cap. We shooed the chauffeur and stepped in the driver’s seat.

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Rising Stars from the Rising Sun

Aces of Asia: 10 Best Japanese Cars

Japanese cars have long been the epitome of reliability and trustworthiness, but they haven’t always been beautiful to look at. Things have changed with the current generation of Japanese cars, which boast great design and more personality than ever, along with driving dynamics that can rival (and even best) the Germans in some cases. Their bombproof reliability hasn’t been altered through the generations, either. Here are the ten best rising cars from the land of the rising sun.

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Sleighs are for losers

Blizzard Beasts: 10 Best Vehicles for Winter

You’re an hour late to the Christmas get-together, but not because that red velvet blazer you love so much is nowhere to be found. No, instead you’re trapped in a snowdrift in your vintage AMC Gremlin. No fruitcake for you. You could’ve fared better this holiday season with some better wheels. May we suggest some truly treaded steeds for your hapless self?

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Fall for all of them

Roundup: 10 Best Cars for Fall Driving

The end of the summer doesn’t mean that the best driving months are behind us. With the arrival of fall comes cooler temperatures, the rainbow of foliage colors and fewer vacationers on the open roads — all reasons to open up the throttle. But all leaf-scatterers are not created equal. Some have drop-tops for feeling the crisp air zip by your ears and others want to blast snaking backroads; still others will get you, your gear and your family to the annual fall camping spot. These ten cars — our favorites for taking fall driving to the next level — can do it all. If you’re lucky enough to drive one, your winter doldrums just got put on hold.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Fueled by Champagne

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Bentley Flying Spur

The application to work at Bentley must go something like this: here’s some wood, some metal and a cow…go make a car. Bentley arguably sets the industry standard for this wild world of luxury vehicles, and it’s mind blowing how much work goes into their hand-crafted, hand-assembled chariots. As the Flying Spur is essentially a stretched Continental GT, it had carried that namesake since its inception — but the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur ($200,000) drops the prefix and gets a boost in power and a fully refreshed exterior that separates it from its two-door brethren.

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To drive or ride? That is the question.

Behind The Wheel: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

If anyone “missed” purchasing a Maybach, then it’s time to rejoice in the heralding of a German luxury sedan that makes no bones about its levels of refinement, complexity and utter technological wizardry — the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We got to drive (as well as experience) the limousine-level sedan recently in Toronto.

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Super is an understatement

The Fast and the Glorious: The Supercar Test

Supercars are easily the Kate Uptons of the automotive world: stunning to behold, unobtainable by the average human and wicked in all the right ways. Even in an age of high fuel costs and environmentalism, they still get our attention. Exotic materials, radical designs, pavement rippling performance lead to stratospheric prices, which ensure that for most men, these cars will remain a fantasy. We got to drive a handful of supercars that made us happy to be alive and gave us good reason to change our underwear.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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When perfect is not enough

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus

In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It’s undergone only minor changes — until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.

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Speciale Edition

Breakdown: Ferrari 458 Speciale

Though we lament the (hopefully temporary) disappearance of the “Scuderia” name from Ferrari’s newest street-legal sports car, the Ferrari Speciale doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it boasts improved aerodynamics, increased power and decreased weight for blistering acceleration and unparalleled handling. We have all the impressive Italian details in our breakdown.

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Sleight of hands

Want This, Get This: URWERK UR-210 or SEVENFRIDAY P1

If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found an example of übermodern haute horlogerie and an affordable option that gives a similarly avant-garde look.

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Grand Touring Family Style

Behind the Wheel: Ferrari FF

It’s a well-known fact that the mellifluous sound of a Ferrari V12 is ultimate bellow of the vehicular gods. The now-famous Ferrari V12 first showed up in the 1947 125 S, the Italian automaker’s first roadgoing car. Since then, some form of 12-cylinder Ferrari engine (V12 or Flat-12) has showed up in no fewer than forty cars over the past seventy years. One of Ferrari’s most recent offerings, the Ferrari FF, makes use of the V12 staple, albeit in its most powerful form ever in a roadgoing car — but the FF also makes a noticeable departure from Ferrari Grand Tourers of the past through polarizing style, all-wheel-drive, practical (yes, practical) seating for four and enough cargo room to hit the road for more than a day. We got the behind the wheel with family in tow.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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A WEATHER STATION ON YOUR WRIST

Breakdown: Breva Genie 01

A lot of people are calling the Breva Genie 01 ($163,000 in pink gold) a “weather station on your wrist,” and our gut reaction is to look for another (less tedious) name. Trouble is, it fits. Weather is the real function of this timepiece.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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The Poster Child For Invincibility

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz’s longest-running production model, the Gelandewagen (G-Wagen), is a testament to versatility and timeless style. For $135,000 one can not only look ultra tough in this military-inspired ride but drive like it as well. Plus, the humble 382 horsepower, 5.5 liter V8 from the “regular” G-Wagen goes bi-turbo in the AMG and jumps to 536 wild horses. We got behind the wheel deep in the Catskill mountains to give AMG’s beast a good thrashing and see how much it would bite back.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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Slow bullet

Behind The Wheel: Volkswagen XL1

In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don’t exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It’s no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.

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Newman or Everyman?

Want This, Get This: Vintage Rolex Daytona or Vintage Tudor “Big Block” Chronograph

Today we’ve got a vintage version of “Want This, Get This”, and its timing couldn’t be better. 2013 is the convergence of two important events in the watch world: it is the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Daytona and also the year in which Tudor makes its American market comeback. One is virtually unattainable to mere mortals and one will give you the same look and Rolex pedigree without having to mortgage your home.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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Not exactly roughing it

Airstream Land Yacht

The vintage polished aluminum of Airstream Trailers is as recognizable as the curvaceous body of a ‘Vette. Nowadays, they transport everyone from happy families to celebrities; Felix Baumgartner even holed up in one before his stratospheric leap. Previously unchanged in its 82-year history, the newly released Airstream Land Yacht ($140,000) brings a new level of sophistication in materials and design to this classic roving hotel room.

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A Complicated Beauty

Photo Essay: A. Lange & Söhne Double Split

We’ll never own a watch like the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split, the world’s only mechanical split seconds and split minutes chronograph. Not many people will. But just wearing it for a month was a privilege, like taking a lap in a vintage Aston Martin DBR or sipping a dram of 1962 Macallan. To try to distill down its essence to a mere hands-on review seems almost blasphemous. So we won’t. This is a watch to be gazed on and lingered over. Enjoy the photos.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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The weapons of a track day toreador

Full Throttle Thrills: Top 5 Track Cars

Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was the very definition of insanity; obviously he never studied lap times. In fact, we’ll take the track over studying the theory of relativity any day. But we need the right steed. Whether your wallet can handle them or you’re just dreaming, here are our picks for the five best track cars around.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original GP series, OCTANE a premium take on all things motoring.
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Big everything

The Power Flayers: 5 Best Performance SUVs

A performance SUV is something tantamount to a chainsaw with jet propulsion. There’s really no need for it, but to dismiss it is to deny man’s inherent quest for power, in whatever form it may come. Gear Patrol’s wheeled staff had a chance to cruise around in some of the best four-wheeled tarmac eaters that just happen to ride on stilts in celebration of Octane‘s launch. Here’s what they thought.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original GP series, OCTANE a premium take on all things motoring.
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Some cars take it to 11. This takes it to 13.

Bull & Bravado: Driving the Lamborghini Aventador

Six hundred ninety-one horsepower. All-wheel-drive. A gearbox so mechanically high strung you instinctively quiver before each pull of the shift lever. And of course, the obscene sheet metal geometry. Enormous in every direction and specification, it makes us pause and wonder if this is what pornographic design is. Welcome to the Lamborghini Aventador.

canon-logoSpecial thanks to our friends at Canon for helping make this film possible. When only the best will do, expect Canon. Long Live Imagination.