A Cigar That Ages Like a Fine Wine

I love a great cigar, but it wasn’t until last week that I had the opportunity to experience something so special. I had met up with one of the founders of PuroTrader, to catch up and enjoy a smoke. I love talking with him about cigars, as he is a true aficionado and has such a vast knowledge about the market.

We had sat down at 10£ in Beverly Hills and had been talking about our recent travels when he that he announced that had a surprise for me. He laid down a box of 1982 Cuban-made Davidoff No. 2 cigars on the table.

Considered a “must have” for anyone interested in the best handmade Havanas, the 1982 Cuban-made Davidoff cigar weighs about 8.5 grams and is considerably thinner than most cigars I smoke. As you would expect, this is a rare find since they stopped making the Cuban version in 1991. It is still considered one of the most highly sought-after smokes among serious cigar aficionados, not just coveted for its quality, but also for its rarity. It is an excellent mild day-time smoke for those who want consistency and quality. Considering how well aged the cigar is, the ammonia created during the fermentation has completely disappeared leaving just a cigar that is full of flavor, without any harshness. This reveals all the subtleties and subtext found in a perfectly crafted cigar.

Very rare Davidoff No. 2 cuban cigar

For many cigar smokers, that white oval band bearing the scripted “Davidoff” logo with “Cuba” printed on its side is a real mark of excellence.

Davidoff No. 2 cigars in box

This rare cigar costs around $1,300 per box of 5, and over $9,000 for a box of 25 that is if you can find them. But if you are lucky enough to purchase a box, know that it is worth every dollar.

Immediately upon opening the box, I could see the Clara wrapper was delicate, and the band was just starting to show a yellow tint from the oils of the different tobacco leaves aging as it escapes the cigar. As I removed it from the packaging, I could smell the warm flavors of the nutmeg and cinnamon mixed with the suede. I was surprised by how much flavor this petite cigar had for its size. Upon my first puff, I could taste the suede and black tea notes on my lips as the aroma of citrus peel, cinnamon and nutmeg started to develop and then change slightly, weaving in notes of the classic Cuban flavors of grass, hay, and leather with each puff. As it progressed, I could taste the natural honey start to come through as the stronger flavors start to fade and make way for more of the subtle notes. This was truly a cigar experience, that topped any I have ever had.

Although many cigars do improve with age, I believe Davidoff cigars are the top of that mark, aging like some of my favorite red wine. The Davidoff Chateaux series was named after some of the finest red wines in France by one of the founders, Zino Davidoff, who often compared his cigars to Bordeaux wines. A cigar from this series will be my next smoke, paired with a first growth Bordeaux to mark the occasion.

I have had many cigars that are aged a few years, but having my first 1985 Cuban-made Davidoff No. 2 cigar was a first for me. To me, this was the equivalent of opening a 1961 Petrus or 1947 Cheval Blanc. This was special. Just like a fine wine that ages in your cellar, this cigar will never come to pass again, once they are gone they are gone forever. So, savor the moment.

1985 Cuban-made Davidoff No. 2 cigar

You never forget your first Greubel Forsey

It was a piece of art. It was a white gold, Double Tourbillon that inclined at a 30 degree angle with a navy blue crocodile strap. I had lost my first fortune with the real estate crash in 2008 and had just hit a milestone with my new ventures. The first time around, I didn’t make the kind of sustainable investments that I do now. But I had grown so much and now had such a deeper understanding of intelligent investing opportunities. I knew not only would a watch like this hold its value, but it also told the story about where I was now. This was the statement of my new direction and outlook on life.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degrees
Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degrees, Rose Gold with White Dial – $500,000

I love the philosophy of this brand because they have always been so focused on creating something both technical and artistic. They understand the person that wants something made with the finest craftsmanship and creativity, and most importantly, accuracy. This isn’t for the person that just cares about labels and status. This is for the person that has distinctive taste and experience, and truly appreciates the painstaking levels needed to create perfection. To me, labels are for telling people who you are, craftsmanship is showing them.

Greubel Forsey IP1
Greubel Forsey IP1, Platinum, Limited to 11 Pieces – $650,000

To give you an idea of this intense watchmaking process, you need to understand that it isn’t just what you see on the outside that counts. The Greubel Forsey watch is a meticulously designed timepiece that has multiple tourbillons and wheels with the intention to improve the accuracy of telling time. Hundreds of parts are finished by hand, for a total of 400 to 500 man hours per timepiece.

Greubel Forsey GMT
Greubel Forsey GMT, Platinum with Black Dial – $630,000

In my opinion, Greubel is by far one of the rarest and finest watchmakers in the world. Their standards of excellence are unsurpassed. They create extremely limited edition pieces that exceed the expectation of any collector. In fact the Sapphire Project pictured below only has 8 made in the world. Its price tag is $1,150,000. When you already understand the uncompromising level of work that goes into every single piece, it is no surprise to hear that they continued to push the limits. With this piece, they chose the more difficult, expensive route using large blocks of sapphire crystal to craft a 3 piece case, instead of going the less risky, less expensive route of using multiple smaller crystals to create the different components. But the end result is that you have full access to the intricate details of this watch from every angle, capturing every movement in its best light.

Greubel Forsey Sapphire Project
Greubel Forsey Sapphire Project, Special Execution – $1,150,000

Now at this point in my life, I have become more of an avid collector and continue to grow my collections and investments. If it is the first time for you, I recommend speaking to someone who can really give you the insight you need to find the one that is best for you. I have worked with Steven Rostovsky in Beverly Hills for years because of his passion, knowledge and his understanding of horology. He is a collector first, but has also been dealing in high end collectible wrist watch market for over 16 years. You want an experienced dealer when you are making this type of investment. I recommend first choosing something that speaks to you and then consult with an expert on the investment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get into the details on what makes it so special. Learning about the history and uncovering all of the fascinating components that make this brand unique are all part of the journey.

Greubel Forsey QP Equation
Greubel Forsey QP Equation in White Gold with Anthracite Dial – $750,000

Putting The Pen To Paper

Putting the Pen To Paper

If you want to achieve something in life, you have to plan it. You have to write down your goals, create your list and develop a plan. In the modern world of laptops and smartphones, it certainly makes doing all of this so much more convenient, but to me, there is still nothing like taking a pen to paper.

I have been drawn to art and the written word since I was a child and even as a businessman, I find myself sketching out ideas, creating visual concepts and drawing out my thoughts with images or designs.

I prefer taking notes with a pen and paper. For me, I feel like I retain the information and process it better because I am physically writing it out. But I also just enjoy the art of writing, the inconsistency of the letters, the way the pen just flows on the paper. It has more of a connected feeling rather than having the letters just typed out on a keyboard.

But I want to share something with you. As a high school dropout, I never truly understood how to take proper meeting notes. That is until I was in a board meeting and someone called me out. They had noticed that I always had my notebook and pen, but never took notes during the meeting. I believe honesty is the best policy, so I told them the truth. I didn’t really know how to take meeting notes. We ended up in a conversation on how everyone took notes and their personal style with it. It was an incredible meeting and I learned a lot. I transitioned from just using it for the creative process of my career to integrating it into the more strategic side.

Like anything in life, I believe that you have to have the right tools to fit your lifestyle. For me, I had custom linen cards made for my suit pockets that are about 2.5 inches by 5 inches with my name letter-pressed in a burnt orange. I always carry 3 of these on me at all times and use them for note taking, jotting down ideas or explaining a design in a lunch meeting. And truthfully, sometimes I will end up using them to give out my information. I don’t believe in business cards and never carry one. Of course, I always carry a small Mont Blanc pen with me just for this purpose.

In this picture, I have one of my favorite pens, a Limited-Edition Montblanc Masters for Meisterstück white porcelain rollerball pen. It is handcrafted with white Meissen Porcelain with a platinum-plated cap top and mother of pearl Montblanc emblem. The platinum-plated clip has an individual serial number and three platinum-plated rings embossed with the Montblanc name. The details of this pen are incredible, but is the weight of this pen that makes it my favorite for signing checks, contracts or writing letters. It will put you back about $2500.00 but is worth every penny. And yes, I do have different pens for different projects or purposes. If I am sketching a design, I like to use a fine liner, where if I am signing checks or contracts, I prefer a rollerball. To take a step further, I also like different pens based on what I am wearing at the time. For instance, if I am wearing a rose gold watch and cufflinks, I will use a rose gold pen in my breast pocket of my suit. And as far as brands, my favorites are MontBlanc, Montegrappa, Smythson & Cartier.

Now, the notebook. You need to start with a quality notebook cover. For me, that is usually a buttery leather or an exotic skin. I love crocodile, ostrich and even lizard. In the image above, I have one of my favorites, the Hermès orange ostrich, and leather notebook. Hermès does an excellent job with quality and craftsmanship. Each notebook is handcrafted with a saddle stitch that provides strength and repairability. They also use a very high-quality stationary grade paper in every notebook that feels and looks like Vellum. Which brings me to my next point.

The paper. The paper itself is very important. When I sign agreements, I use a heavier paper grade that matches the weight of the document. But when I am sketching or designing, I prefer Vellum, preferably made from calfskin, because of its ability to capture the finest detail. The modern version is still considered one of the finest materials for drawing, but it just doesn’t have the strength, durability, and clarity as the original. When we were designing the logo for CCCXXXIII in London, we wanted to use the original Vellum to really show every element of the design on a quality material that will last.

Listen, you have to do what works for you. For me, having a beautiful notebook and pen encourage me to use them and get creative. After working in front of a computer screen for hours, there is just something about sitting down with a pen and paper and letting the ideas flow. Trust me, you will your plan in no time and will genuinely enjoy the journey it took to get there.

A Setting To Last For A Century

Hermes Tea Set, A Setting to Last for a Century

Growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of fine plateware or expensive flatware. It wasn’t something that was considered a priority in my family.

When I was making my first million, I was more concerned about my focus and reinvesting back into my business then I was about investing in assets for my home. But when I made my fortune the second time around, I was in a much different place.

I was a father and wanted to start building my family heirlooms. I wanted to get a dinner collection, an espresso set and a tea set that would complement some of the fine art I had been collecting and would also be suitable to serve high profile guests and business partners. I also just wanted something special for my own family. I mean let’s face it, why wouldn’t we want to eat on luxurious table setting?

I had been looking around for a few weeks and came across this beautiful Hermès Bleu d’Ailleurs collection. I love the color blue and this was just so beautiful. I had already decided that I wanted real gold cups and flatware, so the gold accents in this collection were stunning paired with the blue hand painted plateware. For me, there was always something about blues paired with gold that just felt regal to me.

Now I want to tell you, I am not the guy that buys anything expensive just because of the label. Having worked my way to the top, I genuinely appreciate every detail that goes into something like this. I care about the craftsmanship, the work that went into each piece and the materials that were used to create it. So, the fact that this was a Hermès piece only told me that it was held to high standards. What really spoke to me were the details.

The Hermès Bleu d’Ailleurs collections are all specially handcrafted, as well as hand painted in Limoges, France. The painting on each cup is remarkable, so incredibly perfect. These pictures don’t do it justice. The porcelain comes from a very special white sand specific to one region of France. It is a much finer, white sand than most and therefore produces a lightweight porcelain, that is almost translucent. You can even see a shine through these feather light cups when you hold it to light.

I knew this was the set to have in my family for generations to come and was well worth the investment. It just elevates the experience of enjoying a meal with family and friends, or entertaining for business. Or even just a nice cup of tea after a long day. It makes me feel like every day is special. It reminds me of how far I have come. It also reminds me that make each day special. Life is short, enjoy it and savor it!