Vested Interests 10 investment-worthy gifts that keep on giving
Rare is the object that not only maintains its value, but increases it with time.
Sure, there are intangible things that do this: real estate, stocks, debt. But whence the investment you (or your progeny) can actually use?
Right here, in our list of 10 functional items that only get better — and more valuable — with time.
From handsome watches to vintage cars to a bottle of bourbon that’ll accrue value faster than gold, these goods gift well and age even better.
Know any recent graduates? Pick something out for ‘em.
They’ll thank you later.
THE LEATHER DUFFEL
Cavalier III No. 98 Leather Duffel GHURKA
Are wheels, retractable handles and newfangled fabrics prerequisites for a decent carry-on? No, sir. No they are not. The essential bag for the jetset — the leather duffel — features none of those things. And Ghurka’s Cavalier III No. 98 is the platonic ideal of the form, known for its rugged craftsmanship and timeless aesthetic. A vintage chestnut leather exterior opens up to a plaid cotton twill lining, which will signify your standing as a seasoned globetrotter from the Cliffs of Moher to the pyramids of Egypt. Many makers deal in these duffels, but Ghurka holds its bags to a higher standard by never pretreating their leather: they work exclusively with raw hides that arrive naturally unblemished.
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph FROM OUR SPONSOR
Hung jaws. Audible gasps. Removed spectacles. The reactions to an exceptional Swiss watch are many and varied. All are desirable. An object that’ll prompt them: The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph. The current model is built on their in-house Calibre 16 automatic movement, but still takes its design cues from the iconic, swashbuckling original. Specs: a jet-black 43MM polished titanium case with ceramic fixed bezel, 42-hour power reserve, brown calf-skin strap and water resistance to 100m. That all adds up to a package that is robust, rugged and functional in the best way possible. It’s a watch that would’ve looked great 50 years ago, it’s a watch that’ll look great 50 years in the future, and it’s most definitely a watch that looks great right now.
In the late 1940s, Ferry Porsche, Ferdinand's son, suggested to his father that they graduate from making VW Beetles to break into the nascent sports-car market. Built on the skeleton of their unassuming economy car, the Porsche 356 was born. The aluminum steed was Porsche's first entry at Le Mans and went on to win its class in ‘51, when the manufacturer cranked the displacement from 1100cc to 1500cc and the horsepower from 40 to 60. Later, the 356 would become a favorite of James Dean (it had a cameo in Rebel Without a Cause) and among Porschephiles, it continues to represent collector’s gold. You can pick up an early 356 (in fixer-upper condition) for around $20k, but the most coveted models (the ‘65 edition chief among them) can run well into the six-figure mark.
Today’s hi-tech rain gear has a lot to owe to cotton and wax. But don’t think of waxed cotton as dated tech. Rather, think of it as an old workhorse with a great track record. Worn by early outdoorsmen and revered because it can be rewaxed and made new again and again, waxed cotton is still the preferred weatherproof fabric for many. The outfitter for those early explorers: Filson, which got its start in 1897 supplying gear to prospectors on their way to the Great Klondike Gold Rush. The Seattle company is still at it today, and their Tin Cloth Field Jacket — made from their proprietary heavy-duty Tin Cloth coated in oil-finish wax — stands as a tribute to adventurers past and present. Figure in Filson’s Repair Department and you’ve got a lifetime’s worth of protection.
Few purchases pay back the buyer (or gift-giver) better than professional-caliber cookware. Especially when that cookware is Griswold cast iron. Manufactured in Erie, Pennsylvania, for 70 years, Griswold is no longer in production, a fact that has failed to stop — or, in fact, encourages the formation of — groups of collectors who sift through recent purchases and discuss the value of various logo stamps. (Of little value: the “small caps” stamp of Griswold’s final, 1937–1957 period, when it had been subsumed into another, less esteemed cookware maker.) Once endowed with a set of Griswold cookware, you’re in the literal club. Before long, you’ll be comparing the logos (the large, pre-1937 one is actually a gorgeous bit of design) and trading Griswold-specific recipes for “lamb or rabbit cakes” — though we stress that no adorable animals were injured in the preparation of either.
Paul Cox makes the sort of blades that scream, “I may be delicate and beautiful, but do not mess with me.” He forges German and Damascus steel into remarkably stunning knives, typically grinding the edge down to an impossible one-20,000th of an inch before tempering them in heat and oil baths and then using a 20-ton press to affix the blades to brass, nickel or silver guards. The handles are usually whittled from exotic woods from Africa and Australia, though he also does them in abalone and pearl. You could skin a buck with one of these, but they’d also look mighty stellar displayed on your mantle.
Of course you take photos with your phone. But unlike your phone, Leica’s flagship M series — first introduced in 1954 — is built to last longer than, oh, say a year. Beloved by photojournalists, street photographers and a cult of admirers for its discreet body and versatility, Leica’s new MP Rangefinder is a stripped-down mechanical version with the same classic styling of the past. Yes, it’s a film camera. But film is a beautiful medium that comes with its own romance and substance, and isn’t that worth investigating? For certain.
No other mid-century masterpiece communicates our true shared values — of elegance, of ingenuity, of simplicity — as ably as Charles and Ray Eames's iconic lounge chair, which was so American in its formal values that Charles later admitted it was inspired by the look and feel of a well-worn baseball mitt. On its debut, it was recognized as a next-generation, New Land update of the classic English club chair; it trades that piece's stodginess and formality for a new, near-floating shape that seems poised to take flight. Buy it, of course, with its matching footrest, and don't worry about depreciation: according to our back-envelope calculations, this is one investment that'll grow with the best of them. Its continued success, a half-century after its launch, proves that true style never goes out of fashion.
Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Bourbon OLD RIP VAN WINKLE
There’s a fervor over Pappy Van Winkle whiskeys, and for good reason: the original distillery that crafted the luscious wheated bourbon closed in 1992 and left little of its vaulted spirit behind (hence those price markups). But what little remained ... wow. Age that magic juice 25 years, and you end up with the surprisingly “new” Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Bourbon. This is 100% Stitzel-Weller whiskey, a throwback to the stuff that made the original Pappy great. It’s a softer, sweeter bourbon that arrives in a handmade decanter crowned with a silver topper, encased in a wooden box and topped by a lid crafted from one of the whiskey’s 11 remaining barrels. Save and sip for special occasions.
Most people don’t pay attention to what’s under their feet. But for L.A. fashion photographer Mikael Kennedy, rugs might as well be gold ore. He calls himself the rug dealer, and says he only gets high on his own supply. Meaning: he exclusively sells pieces that have first been displayed in his home or office. He has an unrivaled eye for textures, colors and patterns, selecting his wares much the same way a photographer approaches a subject. Persian rugs. Navajo blankets. Piles. Flat weaves. All are vintage, as evidenced by their handsome patinas: when we visited him, he pointed out a prayer rug emblazoned with knee-shaped impressions where a former owner had made their daily devotions.