These 27 Best-in-Class Gifts Will Make Them Say ‘That’s the One’
Luxury products, tested and approved.
Every week in Bloomberg Businessweek, the editors of the magazine test a wide range of products, whether the latest gadgets or high-performance sports equipment. Those luxury products that measure up the best eventually go into a page called “The One,” and so in time for the holidays, we’ve collected a few of our favorites from 2019.
The Living Room
Amazed: The Game
Here’s a riddle: What word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly? If you said “incorrectly” you might be a whiz at Amazed, a $30 game co-created by actor/writer/producer/magician Neil Patrick Harris. The foldable, double-sided board offers 16 variations of a labyrinthine course. Players compete by solving brain teasers, puzzles, and codes to win. The roll of a numbered, six-sided die determines how many spots you move, and the color of the square you land on determines the difficulty of the question you have to answer.
Dedon Mbrace Rocking Chair
At more than 40 inches deep, 30 inches tall, and 42 inches wide, Dedon’s Mbrace rocker is an expansive, exceptionally comfortable $2,960 chair. Its triaxial open weave creates a tactile, overlapping pattern that’s offered in four colors, including a rose-hued version called spice. It also comes with the option of adding a half-cushion (as shown, from $520) or a full one (from $1,090) or an ottoman ($990). Intended for outdoors, it’s suitable inside, too—and is equally cozy without the cushions.
Bang & Olufsen A/S, the 94-year-old Danish electronics company, has earned a reputation for audio devices with minimalist design and maximalist sound. The Beosound Edge ($3,500) continues in that tradition. Looking like a large snare drum turned on its side, the 20-inch-tall unit offers 800 watts of amplification divided between a 10-inch woofer, a pair of 4-inch midrange drivers, a pair of ¾-inch tweeters, and a hidden port in the front that can open to boost bass levels. Select tracks and volume, either through the streaming platform of your choice or by rolling the speaker a few degrees to the left or right.
Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod
Keeley’s devices have been under the boots of musicians ranging from country superstar Brad Paisley (an early supporter) to Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead to John Mayer. This $179 pedal, though, looks almost too nice to dirty up. The case is screenprinted with a stylized rocket that creative director Robby Harris says was “inspired by vintage Japanese robot art.” The silver knobs, meanwhile, control volume, tone, and “nitro” (or gain).
This 20-lb., 48-by-78-inch weighted blanket turns comfort into something stylish enough for your sofa. The chunky open-weave design is made of nothing more than organic cotton enhanced with a touch of stretchable elastane. (Some options, such as the $250 category-leading Gravity Blanket, have glass beads inside.) Snuggling under the $259 blanket is like being soothingly embraced in a full body hug, or being very cozily shrink-wrapped.
Miku Baby Monitor
At the heart of parental sleep anxiety—or sweet, sweet relief—lies the baby monitor, an increasingly polarizing device nonetheless engineered to bring peace of mind. The Miku, which went on sale in January, is a tech-obsessed parent’s dream, combining sophisticated design with artificial intelligence to provide data-filled updates on the sound, motion, humidity, and temperature in the room. Notably, the $400 monitor can also track an infant’s breathing without requiring her to wear a dedicated device. It uses Wi-Fi to stream high-definition video and audio to an app on your phone.
Remarkably simple to use, the $200 SmartSleep light provides a wide range of options to customize your nightly routine. Touch the home button, and it opens up into five icons, which include ones for an alarm bell, brightness, and sound. Even better, you can set the strength of the wake-up light to your preferred intensity of dawn. And though most “smart” gizmos that come with a ton of settings are anything but, this one will actually get your devices out of the bedroom, making it easier to rest easy. If not, you can snooze for nine more minutes by tapping the top.
For years, designer and model Olatz Schnabel attended everything from museum openings to film premieres with her then-husband, the artist Julian Schnabel, who wore his signature pajamas. It inspired her to create an eponymous line of PJs that are light and comfortable, yet durable and attractive enough to wear in a variety of situations. That expanded to robes, shirts, slips, and bedding made in the U.S. from 100% high-grade silk. Almost all Olatz items—for men and women—are made to order, with a painstaking attention to detail.
Hario Furiko V60 Water Dripper
Sure, there are less cumbersome ways to create cold brew, but none is guaranteed to generate interest from guests in your kitchen—especially if they’re fans of grandfather clocks and other novelty decor. The concentrate is a lighter color than immersion-based versions but retains a powerful flavor. And the metronomic sway of the $1,395 dripper gives your day a meditative start.
JA Unendlich Kambin Teapot
Not to be confused with tetsubin—the Japanese kettles used to boil water—cast-iron teapots, or tetsu kyusu, have the same heat retention and durability as their stove-top cousins. A delicate enamel glaze inside, however, makes them strictly for brewing tea after the water has been heated, not sitting on an open flame. The $79 Kambin pot from German brand JA Unendlich combines a traditional sand-casting process with craftsmanship that’s evident in its detailed, brightly colored exterior.
Marcato Atlas Pasta Maker
For all of Italy’s noodle knowledge, the country hasn’t had the same success creating pasta machines. But Marcato’s Atlas 150, produced in Campodarsego, about 20 miles west of Venice, has been around for more than 50 years. At 5 pounds, the $100 device is lightweight but sturdy, with a steel body and anodized aluminum rollers. An adjustable dial offers three settings—for lasagna, fettuccine, and tagliolini—and 10 thickness options, ranging from paper-thin, for ravioli, to ¼-inch, which works well for udon.
Burlap & Barrel Spices
Co-founder Ethan Frisch left his job as a pastry chef in New York to work for a nongovernmental organization in northern Afghanistan in 2012. But even while he dealt with the construction of roads and schools, his chef’s sensibility remained. The Wild Mountain cumin seeds ($10 for 1.5 oz., center right of photo) he discovered there are tiny, but they pack powerful fragrances of pine and mint. Friends at other NGOs put him in touch with a farm co-op in Zanzibar, where sun-dried black pepper ($8 for 2 oz., atop cinnamon) punches through with fruitiness and heat—and totally redefines a spice you thought you knew.
Pretty Cool Popsicles
The Popsicle is a unique treat: It can spark blissful childhood memories even while operating within the constraints of most summer diets. In the case of the vibrantly hued pops from Pretty Cool Ice Cream, it can also deliver satisfaction through looks alone. Star pastry chef Dana Cree, formerly at Chicago’s Publican, opened her Logan Square shop in 2018, where she arranges her treats—in flavors such as cucumber-lime (bottom left) or Midwestern classic Blue Moon (top left)—as if they were stylish Parisian pastries.
J&E SmallGoods Sausages
Steaks and chops are the heroes of butcher shop cases, but why not sausages? Surely elevating humble ground meat with spices is a more ambitious endeavor. “Kielbasa” is Polish for sausage, but elsewhere it’s often synonymous with a dark red link that’s as subtle as a brick. And yet J&E SmallGoods owners Jocelyn Guest and Erika Nakamura aim higher. The duo opened the now-shuttered White Gold Butchers in New York before moving into consumer-packaged goods. Their juicy links are made from sustainably raised beef and pork, without nitrates or nitrites, and are redolent in hickory smokiness.
Even if you’re a regular Fuji customer, it’s easy to start out overwhelmed by all the buttons. But with just a little practice, they become second nature, whether adjusting ISO (light sensitivity), shooting mode (single, rapid-shooting, video), or shutter speed. Its image stabilization function works great with still pictures, helping reduce blur from shaky hands, and it’s phenomenal with video. Tones reproduce well, colors are rich, and the resolution is stunning—proof that mirrorless cameras are the direction to go. A Nikon or Canon is more recognizable, but this is the camera that will make people ask how you got that shot.
Flow Pollution Tracker
Thanks to the development of inexpensive sensors, several products claiming to test air quality have hit the market in recent years. Flow ($179), developed by Paris-based Plume Labs SAS, is a portable pollution sensor that’s encased in aluminum punched with a pattern of asymmetric holes for “360 air intake.” The device uses a tiny fan to suck in air as a combination of lasers and membranes detects what’s in it.
Finding comfortable, high-quality headphones for an active lifestyle has long required some sort of compromise, whether in design, function, or battery life. The $250 Powerbeats Pro take a step in the right direction. Apple Inc. acquired Beats by Dr. Dre in 2014, and these have similarities to its own AirPods, including speech accelerometers to filter external noise and motion detection that recognizes when the buds are in your ear so they start playing right away. At just 20 grams (0.7 oz.), they’re lightweight enough to wear for hours—whether you’re taking business calls or training for a marathon—without causing the ear soreness that can come with long listening sessions.
Derek Rose Brindisi Eye Mask
Scientists use the term “Goldilocks zone” to describe Earth’s distance from the sun, where conditions are just right for habitable life. The best sleep mask would be the same—not too tight or too loose and, if we’re being honest, not boring but also not at all silly-looking. London-based Derek Rose, a purveyor of high-end “off-duty clothing” since 1926, has figured out how to make a one-size-fits-all eye covering. The $100 Brindisi 42 mask is gently padded and made entirely from Italian silk; its name comes from the historic port on the Adriatic. Plus, it has an elastic strap that isn’t too constricting.
Orvis Pro Wading Boot
Developed by industrial designer Jim Kershaw, the Orvis Pro collection represents a new approach for the blue-blood brand: treating anglers like athletes. The upper of the boots uses sneaker technology, a one-piece ultralight “cage” of polyurethane that keeps water out and precludes the need for the seams and stitches that tend to fail on hard-worn wading boots. The soles were developed with Michelin, which cooked up a proprietary rubber compound. And its research and development team designed a geometric pattern that channels water while sticking to a stream bed like tires on a wet road.
Wilson Class 100 tennis racket
Normally, highly flexible rackets—the kind that provide a more forgiving sweet spot at the expense of control—are considered amateur-only. They can’t handle heavy rallies or targeted shots at net. But the Clash 100 balances that flexibility with a stability that allows the racket to comfortably function for midlevel to advanced players. Weighing 295 grams (10.4 ounces), it still gives you enough control to return a sizzling kick serve or slam a cross-court winner.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 360
There are cheaper pedal kayaks on the market, but none boasts the mobility of this fishing boat, which starts at $4,650. The patented drive system is simple to use, with a hand-operated knob, giving users full movement—forward, backward, and side to side. (Doing doughnuts is especially encouraged.) Hobie has also introduced retractable kick-up fins, allowing you to charge over underwater obstacles without fear of damage. And with a 600-pound carrying capacity, there aren’t many creatures from the deep that could sink it.
Giro Contact Goggles
Giro’s lens-swapping system, which the brand calls Snapshot, is an effortless exercise. Press the shutter button down on these goggles, and the lens pops out quickly; magnets help guide you to click the new one into place. Meanwhile, the Zeiss lenses manipulate blue light to enhance contrast and definition, and air vents around the edge minimize the chance of fogging.
Ana Khouri Teresa Earrings
For Ana Khouri, who grew up in Brazil and started a jewelry business in the U.S. in 2013, the appeal of earrings is their sculptural potential, as opposed to their being merely pretty. This approach has paid off: She’s become the jeweler du jour among Hollywood’s most discerning dressers, ranging from breakout star Claire Foy to the more established Glenn Close, who wore these $80,000 tanzanite Teresa earrings with a silver Gabriela Hearst number at the Critics’ Choice Awards this year. They combine the current yen for statement-making “ear pieces,” as Khouri calls them, with colored stones, another trendy motif on runways—and lobes.
Greubel Forsey Made 1
So far, there’s just one Hand Made 1, as production is severely limited because 95 percent of the watch is manually made. (The whisper-thin, coiled hairspring controls the oscillation of the timekeeping device and is perhaps the most impressive human-crafted item in the watch.) Each timepiece takes 6,000 man-hours to complete, with 800 individual parts fashioned by hand; Greubel Forsey hopes to make two or three a year, which means competition to own one should be fierce. It’s a handsome watch, with diagonally bisecting cutaway plates in nickel silver that are a signature aesthetic for the brand.
The blues are not learned in a monastery, Keith Richards once noted. And yet for instruments by Cindy Guitars, the materials may have come from a church. Cindy Hulej, who works out of Rick Kelly’s Carmine Street Guitars in New York City, produces bespoke axes out of pine, maple, and oak planks that are reclaimed from some of the city’s holiest institutions—Trinity Church near Wall Street, a Serbian Orthodox cathedral in the Flatiron District—as well as less-hallowed ground such as the Chelsea Hotel and McGurk’s Suicide Hall saloon.
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59
The 11.59’s broad dials end at a sliver of bezel, and cases come in a range of precious metals. (This one is rose gold.) The crystal is curved two ways, making for excellent legibility on its face and a distinctive hall-of-mirrors effect at an angle. All the collection’s watches are a gender-neutral 41mm, and for the chronograph, the brand made its first in-house integrated self-winding flyback movement. The Code 11.59 siblings will be central to the AP family for years to come, so a piece from the debut year, starting at $42,400, will be an undisputed collector’s item.