Smartphones for making a big statement

Timothy Barber
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SOME walks of life call for subtlety, restraint, understatement. Some, however, call for brash, brazen, over-the-top statement-making. People for whom bling is still in and status symbols a requirement of doing business, have a bit of a problem when it comes to phones. It’s difficult to separate yourself from the crowd when the crowd – including the kind which goes around smashing up half of London by organising itself on smartphone networks – already has the best there is. iPhones, Blackberries and other smartphones are beautiful, perfect pieces of democratic design, but they’re no status symbol.

A fine watch is a status symbol, though, and it’s the watch companies who are coming to the aid of those who want something out-of-this-world for their phone, and are prepared to pay for it. Which brings us to the new Link smartphone from TAG Heuer. Replacing the company’s previous luxury (but non-smart) phone, the Meridiist, it’s a robust, swanky-as-all-hell slab of touchscreen Euro-style. Running on Google’s Android system, its specs include 16-million colour screen resolution, a five mega pixel camera, 11 hours of music play time, and a body that’s engineered with all the precision of a shockproof TAG watch. Crocodile skin, black PVD, rose gold, fine leather and corrosion resistant stainless steel are all on the shopping list, depending on which version you go for.

THE CHAIRMAN from Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin is another Swiss watch company, and one that’s famous for making such out-of-this-world watches that one of its creations was simply given the name Le Freak. Its phone, going under the appropriate title of the Chairman, was released in 2009 and is properly groundbreaking – it creates its own supplementary energy by incorporating the self-winding technology used in watchmaking. On its reverse, a circular porthole reveals a winding rotor, just as you’d see on the underside of an open caseback watch.

LE DIX by Celsius X VI II
Mysterious French company Celsius X VI II created this wonder, which includes an incredibly complicated, micro-engineered tourrbillon clock mechanism in the the clam-shape handset. It is, of course, absolutely pointless, especially given a price tag that runs to six figures. The constant rotation of the tourbillon mechanism is something one can stare at for hours while pondering the meaning of your life. Not that this will give any answers.