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Sport a luxury tag this Diwali

Soumik Sen | October 25, 2003

How do you stay 10 steps ahead of the Joneses, the Singhs and the Kapoors? The easiest way used to be to drive a BMW or to sport a luxury tag like Mont Blanc or Omega.

But, what do you do when the Joneses, Singhs and Kapoors are all sporting the same fancy tags?

One way of stealing a march on all those upwardly mobile folk out there -- especially since it's the Diwali season -- could be to check out the limited editions that are coming on the market.

Would you, for instance, like to own a two-door Zen Carbon or Steel? Only 600 models have rolled out of the Maruti factory in Gurgaon, so you won't meet too many lookalikes on the road.

Or take the Tata Safari. Its 2003 limited edition has a range of amazing add-ons including the Sony Playstation 2, a 10 CD Changer, two front headrest integrated LCD monitors and a 12-litre refrigerator cum warmer.

The Fiat Palio too tried to steer into the limited edition business by producing 500 vehicles that carried Sachin Tendulkar's signature.

Unfortunately, Palio's limited edition didn't do too well and people only noticed Sachin's outings in Fiat's upmarket cousin, the Ferrari.

If you aren't keen on limited-edition roadsters there are scores of other options. The luxury watch and pen segments, for instance, have several offerings that they are pushing heavily during the festive season.

Luxury watch manufacturer Tag Heuer has introduced two limited-edition products for two very different customers.

Fitted with a countdown mechanism, for timekeeping, the Kirium Formula 1 is also endowed with alarm and diary appointment functions: it displays the time in a second time-zone and features a perpetual calendar.

The Kirium Formula 1 Chronograph is available with a case and bracelet crafted in brushed steel (Rs 95,500), as well as a black rubber strap matching the dial (Rs 89,800).

What's more, TAG Heuer has equipped the Kirium Formula 1 with a chronograph mechanism measuring time to the nearest 1/100th of a second.

For cinema buffs, there's the "2000 series Exclusive Automatic Chronograph" costing Rs 94,400. This is the watch Shah Rukh Khan was given when he was made brand ambassador for the brand.

While Tag Heuer is tightlipped on the number of such products available , chances are that if you rush now, you can get one.

Other luxury watchmakers are also stepping forward to grab the connoisseur's imagination. Take Corum, which has taken the limited-edition concept to its logical conclusion.

The Classical Dragon has an enamelled dial that is hand-painted with Asian influenced designs. Each of the 50 limited editions has a different dial. And at Rs 21 lakh, the diamond-studded Dragon, could set afire purses and hearts alike.

For ladies, there's a 2003 Corum Bubble special edition featuring the lacquered dial of a roulette wheel, with the seconds hand carrying a white ball that moves to time. It costs Rs 150,000.

Omega has moved onto the racetrack. You can't get a better brand ambassador than speedster Michael Schumacher who isn't allowing anyone past him on the Formula I championship track.

Omega launched the limited-edition Speedmaster Broad Arrow, priced at Rs 104,000, to commemorate Schumacher's championship run this year.

The back of the case has "Michael Schumacher- Five times World Champion" engraved on it.

Production of this special model is limited to 555 individually numbered pieces, of which 50 are available with a matching 18-carat gold bracelet and 505 with a black alligator leather strap with 18-carat red gold foldover clasp.

Commemorating Omega's receiving of the Snoopy award from NASA, the limited-edition Snoopy Award version of the Speedmaster chronograph, has been launched by the watchmaker with a price tag of Rs 109,000.

This highly collectable timepiece is available exclusively in stainless steel with a stainless steel bracelet and production is limited to 5,441 numbered pieces, with the unusual number reflecting the time that the Apollo 13 mission was in space: 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds.

For the deskbound there's nothing like owning a classy writing instrument. And Mont Blanc has always been aware of this.

"Exceptional things are limited, without limits, life would have no exception," proclaims the first page of the Mont Blanc brochure.

Every year Mont Blanc pays tribute to outstanding figures who have made a major contribution to art and culture.

Mont Blanc reaches out through time and commemorates figures like Alexander the Great, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and writers including Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens.

The latest addition this year is in the form of the limited-edition Jules Verne pen paying homage to the master of science fiction.

Worldwide only 14,000 fountain pens and 12,000 ballpoint pens are available for the collector, priced at Rs 35,000 and Rs 18,900 respectively.

Mont Blanc has also introduced the donation pen category which honours outstanding music personalities. For every pen sold 25 euros will be donated to cultural projects like the restoration of the original manuscript of Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

The Yehudi Menuhin limited-edition donation pen with 2,000 pieces available worldwide bears the legendary violinist's signature on the gold-rimmed cap and is priced at Rs 14,000 for the ballpoint version and Rs 22,500 for the fountain pen with the 18-carat gold nib.

Mont Blanc insists that its limited-edition pens are a good investment. "Mont Blanc writing instruments give annual returns of 25 per cent to 50 per cent , and there are enough connoisseurs looking for authentic limited editions," says Sonke Tornieporth, vice-president, sales.

Jewellery maker Tanishq has also joined the fray in this clutter of world-renowned brands. It recently unveiled its limited edition collection -- Tanishq Zoya, designed by Pallavi Dudeja.

Tanishq's exclusive collection of 17 single-piece, limited-edition designs in diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones set in white and yellow gold are priced in the Rs 250,000 to Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) range.

Each piece of jewellery has a specially sourced stone, imparting a unique and contemporary look.

This time around, with exclusivity the buzz word in collectibles amongst the spending fraternity, it hopes -- like everyone else in the limited-edition business -- to strike gold.

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