Classic Luxury

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Photos courtesy Cheval Blanc Randheli

Discretionary income can underwrite some impressive possessions and adventures. A growing trend is to go classic – whether old or new – from a vintage Rolex watch like Sean Connery wore as the ever-dapper agent 007 (you can have your own 1946 Rolex Oyster Chronographe for $25,500) to a modern $400,000 Rolls-Royce Drophead like David Beckham’s. Classic, understated luxury is the new collectible.

Vintage autos

Richard Sevenoaks peddles emotions and memories … ones with four wheels, curves and open air.

Sevenoaks runs Leake Auto Auction in Tulsa, and many buyers with discretionary income seek bygone luxury cars, especially so-called Retro-Mods. These classic vehicles are updated with modern brakes, engines and electronics.

While $75,000 may seem like a steep price to pay for a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, it comes with a fuel-injected V-8 engine, power steering, disc brakes and a killer sound system.

“The Retro-Mod is the hot portion of the market right now,” Sevenoaks says. “You get, essentially, a brand new car with a cool body. For instance, old drum brakes could cause you to drift at high speeds, so new technology is a lot safer.”

This 1958 Corvette Comes with a fuel-injected V-8 engine and power steering.
Photo courtesy Leake Auto Auction

Sevenoaks has been with Leake for 45 of the company’s 53 years and married founder Jimmy Leake’s daughter, Nancy Leake, who “grew up around all these great old cars,” he says.

Throughout the years, Cadillacs have always sold well, especially to collectors. Such demand is why that ruby red 1941 Caddy convertible runs $45,000.

“It’s that big, ol’ heavy iron from Detroit that people like,” Sevenoaks says. “If you were driving a Cadillac in the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, you were the big baller because everyone wanted one. So the children and grandchildren of those Caddy owners look back and want what the old man had or wanted.”

Sevenoaks stresses that it’s not just men who come around wanting these vintage luxury cars.

“If a wife or daughter comes along, she’s as much of a motorhead as the guy,” he says. “She’s as much into it as he is.

“A restored classic vehicle like this is an emotional buy, but it’s in your garage and you can take it out on Saturdays, turn up the radio and have a hell of a good time.”

Leake has auctions twice a year in Dallas, and once annually in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. Go to leakecar.com to find an illustrated brochure of all the company’s listings.

The first chris-craft Brent Howard restored is now valued at about $100,000, he says. Photo courtesy Brent Howard

Chris-Craft boats

Classic lines, luxurious materials and refined beauty make Chris-Craft a quality choice for well-to-do boating enthusiasts.

“For 142 years, we’ve been building boats one way: by hand,” the company says. “From beautifully sculpted hardware made from custom-fabricated stainless steel to carefully selected and meticulously applied teak, we design and craft every detail that you see and touch. There is nothing brash or overdone. Nothing trendy or frivolous. Just classic lines and elegant touches that contribute to their beauty, as well as their overall form and function.”

Even previously owned Chris-Craft boats command premium prices; there’s a 2015 Corsair for sale in Oklahoma for $399,000.

Brent Howard of Howard’s Classic Boats on Grand Lake restores collectible Chris-Craft boats for enthusiasts across the country. He knows quality when he sees it.

“Chris-Craft was known for innovation and high quality,” Howard says. “During the early era, suppliers graded mahogany wood as Chris-Craft as the best, then one, two or three. In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Chris-Craft moved to fiberglass, steel and aluminum, and continues to this day with high quality boats.”

Chris-craft continues to produce classic, luxurious boats today.
Photo courtesy Chris-Craft

Howard says antique and classic Chris-Crafts are in high demand for many reasons.

“The name is still revered, ” he says. “On the water, they are a head turner from new boats costing 10 times as much, and I like owning a piece of history.”

Howard is refurbishing a 1947 Chris-Craft Cruiser for himself – 36 feet long with Chris-Craft’s classic, clean lines.

“It’s my favorite restoration. I love the lines,” Howard says. “We are restoring every inch of the boat: re-powering, teak decks, electronics behind original gauges, updated galley.”

He is also adding creature comforts such as air conditioning, custom-built furniture and music, he says.

“The boat will be better than new and a lot less invested than $800,000 to $900,000 for a new Chris-Craft,” Howard says.

For more information, go to chriscraft.com.

Vacations

When one thinks of a luxurious French holiday, Courchevel in the Alps or Cannes on the Mediterranean might be the places to rent a high-end maison.

But if you want to really get away – as in half a world away – and have the full-blown classic French treatment, there’s Cheval Blanc Randheli, 45 luxury villas amid the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, 400 miles off the southeastern tip of India.

Cheval Blanc excels in pampering, with properties on St. Barthelemy in the West Indies and in Courchevel. But Randheli may be Cheval Blanc’s crown jewel, 9,500 miles from Oklahoma.

This premier white horse (the translation for cheval blanc) even has its own sea plane made especially for getting visitors around the atoll and right up to the villas … but only after they’ve put on their sporty new espadrilles, courtesy of the maison.

The price for the top-of-the-line owner’s villa is not listed by Cheval Blanc. One has to apply with the company for a rental before getting close to learning the rate; however, various reports put it at around $50,000 a night.

What you get for that is a four-bedroom, two-story, 1,000-square-meter master suite on a private island; a substantial private guest villa; a “well-being” spa with a double-treatment room, an outdoor terrace and a yoga master; 24-hour access to the Azimut 98 Leonardo, the maison’s fully staffed, 30-meter yacht; and 24-hour access to a dedicated dhoni on which one can sail to the main island for the maison’s five exquisite restaurants and three classy bars.

 

Timepieces

Whether you fancy yourself the King of Cool like Steve McQueen (LeMans, released in 1971), sporting a Tag Heuer Monaco with the premium Calibre 12 movement, or you prefer a more modern timepiece, such as a $30,000 Jaeger LeCoultre Dometre, high-end watches will always be classic.

Father and son Larry and Steve Rowell of R&R Estate Jewelers in Oklahoma City see all kinds of collectors – and watches – in their shop. They know that while technology has changed the way many feel about luxury timepieces ($1,000 iPhones, anyone?), many still seek the high-quality tickers of yesteryear – status symbols then and status symbols for collectors now.

“Collectors can be rather eclectic,” Steve Rowell says. “Someone may own a very expensive Omega watch that is highly sought after, yet value a Ball, which most people have never heard of, but are such fine Swiss timepieces that they are extremely desirable.”

Some collectors seek watches simply for the enjoyment of owning them, he says, while a few may wear their high-priced watches daily.

Some drop serious scratch for collectible watches that may well be locked away in a safe, such as a solid-gold Jules Jurgensen minute repeater, which Larry Rowell says sells for tens of thousands of dollars.

“This one was made in 1893 and we were lucky to get the original packaging with numbers on the box that match the watch,” he says. “And it’s engraved; it was given as a gift on Dec. 25, 1893, to a wealthy construction company owner who was worth something like $75 million when he died in 1909.”

Wealthy collectors are the bread and butter of the vintage watch business, he says.

“You may think $50,000 to $60,000 is a lot to pay for a vintage watch, but there are timepieces out on the market today made out of stainless steel that go for $100,000,” Larry Rowell says. “But when people have that kind of disposable income, it’s nothing. I know a man who has an extensive Rolex collection and, when I get an unusual Rolex in hand, he is here with cash in hand. Money is no object.”

Aviation

Once people catch the flying bug, they better have deep pockets because flying as a hobby is a pricey adventure.

Bill Christiansen, who owns Christiansen Aviation in Tulsa, knows the business commercially and as a private collector himself.

“My red Stearman came from a friend who spent lots of money to refurbish it,” he says. “It was a World War ll basic trainer for beginning military pilots. It was a great trainer to teach a pilot to fly.”

Photo courtesy Bill Christiansen

Christiansen Aviation stores planes for individuals and businesses, operates a flight school, provides maintenance for small aircraft, leases many aircraft to a university flight school and sells aircraft, many of them single-engine Cessnas. The company is also where hobbyist pilots and young pilots dreaming of flying for commercial airlines can learn to fly.

“The cost to obtain your private pilot license is around $9,000,” Christiansen says. “If people will take three lessons per week, it normally takes five to six months. You have to have a minimum of 40 flight hours to obtain your private pilot license.”

But what wealthy Oklahoma collectors clamor for are vintage planes.

“Tulsa has become a hub for vintage, war bird plane owners,” he says. “It is everything from a P51 Mustang to a World War ll trainer like the Stearman I own. All pilots who own these planes have them as a hobby because they love to fly them.”

Christiansen notes that singer Jimmy Buffett is an avid collector and pilot.

“When Jimmy Buffett came to Tulsa to have the grand opening for Margaritaville, he landed in his corporate jet at my facility and wanted to see my plane up close,” he says. “I introduced myself and we had a great conversation about flying Stearmans [Buffett owns one, too]. He is an avid pilot with lots of flying hours.”

If you don’t have time to get a pilot’s license but you still want a jet-setting lifestyle, check out Jet Linx or NetJet. Both offer luxurious, private travel to wherever your heart desires, and both offer Jet Card services, including end-to-end transportation, in-flight gourmet meals and concierge services.

Precious jewels

Perhaps the most memorable icon when it comes to classic luxury is Jackie Kennedy, whose style still influences collectors – with pieces from her personal collection and vintage replicas and derivatives that keep her and what she wore en vogue.

When Sotheby’s auctioned off pieces of Kennedy’s jewelry, her engagement ring from her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, fetched $2.35 million – $600,000 more than what Sotheby’s expected.

This Art Nouveau necklace with amethysts and natural freshwater pearls is another example of classic luxury available to vintage enthusiasts. Photo courtesy Scott Gordon Jewelry

Scott Gordon, an Oklahoma City jeweler and gemologist, is well versed in classic, luxurious jewelry.

“Deco has never really gone out of style, and those pieces signed by famous makers, such as Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpel, or which have been owned and worn by famous people, such as Wallis Simpson [the late Duchess of Windsor], have this double cachet of collectible period and prestigious provenance,” Gordon says. “Jackie Kennedy’s love of jewelry by David Webb has given his pieces great success for many years now.”

The Penny Preville Collection, available at Bruce G. Weber in Tulsa, hearkens back to the classic jewelry as such icons as Jackie Kennedy. Photo courtesy Diamond Cellar

For something more contemporary, but still classically influenced, look to Penny Preville designs, available in Oklahoma through Bruce G. Weber Precious Jewels.

One of the first famous names to purchase one of Preville’s jewels was none other than Jackie Kennedy, and film stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker have followed suit and worn Preville’s designs on the red carpet, according to the designer’s website, pennypreville.com.

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