The Ul­ti­mate Box of Tricks

Im­pe­ri­ali has cre­ated the world’s most ex­pen­sive, and frankly the world’s most im­pres­sive, cigar hu­mi­dor

Virtuozity - - HANDMADE -

All we hear these days is how some­thing is ‘the very best’ of this, or ‘the great­est ever’ that. But how much of this is just PR hy­per­bole? To be fair, al­most ev­ery prod­uct mak­ing bold claims sim­ply can’t de­liver what it claims.

It was with this in mind that a small Swiss com­pany set out to make some­thing that truly was the very best of its type, any­where, ever. The cho­sen sub­ject was the hum­ble cigar hu­mi­dor.

Named the Em­per­ador, the black pol­ished hu­mi­dor fea­tures a beau­ti­fully lit, cir­cu­lar win­dow in the cen­tre of the top sur­face, re­veal­ing the ex­quis­ite lock­ing mech­a­nism, sur­round­ing a stun­ning tour­bil­lion time­piece. The en­sem­ble looks wor­ry­ingly like one of those overly com­plex bombs from a James Bond movie, circa the Sean Con­nery era.

By press­ing on the gold, raised Im­pe­ri­ali let­ters, your per­sonal code un­locks the hu­mi­dor with a sat­is­fy­ing mix of spin­ning cogs and slid­ing locks. The lid then si­lently rises up to re­veal one of the most com­plex sys­tems you are ever likely to see to look af­ter 24 cigars.

The cigars are ar­ranged like the sun, ra­di­at­ing from the cen­tral lock­ing mecha- nism, each con­tained in a clear, glass tube. Re­move one and you break a small laser beam, caus­ing the cigar stor­age gauge to drop by one.

The laser will de­tect any size of cigar that will fit in the tube, re­gard­less of length and width. We tried to fool it with a cig­a­rette, but it was hav­ing none of it and still regis­tered there was some­thing re­sid­ing in the tube.

The hu­mi­dor fea­tures two other indi­ca­tors with me­chan­i­cal hands, dis­play­ing, in real time, the rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity and tem­per­a­ture in­side the chest.

Per­haps one of the clever­est things about the hu­mi­dor is how it cre­ates its hu­mid­ity. With a nor­mal hu­mi­dor the owner is re­quired to oc­ca­sion­ally add wa­ter to the sys­tem. Not so with the Em­per­ador. The hu­mi­dor cre­ates its own wa­ter, by ex­tract­ing it from the at­mos­phere. Yes, free wa­ter, al­beit in small amounts. It guar­an­tees a con­stant hu­mid­ity level of 70% and a tem­per­a­ture of 16 to 18 de­grees Cel­sius, re­gard­less of ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. These vari­ables can also be eas­ily ad­justed ac­cord­ing to the user’s wishes.

But its party tricks don’t end there. Another touch-sen­si­tive but­ton un­folds the front of the hu­mi­dor, al­low­ing a tray to slide si­lently out to­wards you, re­veal­ing an ash­tray, lighter and cigar cut­ter, all styled in the same design as the main hu­mi­dor cabi­net. But as you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready guessed, these are not your com­mon or gar­den items.

These three de­vices again live up to the hu­mi­dor it­self. The laser-guided cigar cut­ter (yes, you did read that cor­rectly) en­ables the cigar to be ei­ther me­chan­i­cally cut or per­fo­rated in the man­ner of a punch, even de­tect­ing the thick­ness of the cigar. The gas ta­ble lighter and its three noz­zles of­fer a per­fect flame, which can be ad­justed to suit the user. Lastly, the ash­tray opens by the magic of me­chan­ics when­ever a cigar is brought near. The open­ing, which re­sem­bles a photo lens, is so clever that you can put your fin­ger in­side and it won’t close on you. How­ever, wave your hand over it and it flicks open with­out fuss.

And it doesn’t end there. The hu­mi­dor comes stocked with a full set of 24 spe­cial Im­pe­ri­ali Em­per­ador cigars, which the com­pany pro­duces in the fer­tile plan­ta­tions of the Ja­mas­tran Val­ley (south Hon­duras) and the Jalapa Val­ley (north Nicaragua).

The cigar is aged for 48 months, with the leaves care­fully pro­cessed with the ut­most re­spect to cre­ate an ex­cep­tional Grand Cru. Rich, com­plex and bal­anced, each cigar is wrapped in gold leaf, which as it burns turns into gold ash.

Im­por­tantly, the cigars are not sold sep­a­rately, so only one of the lucky 12 peo­ple per year to own this hu­mi­dor can buy these cigars. If you want to taste one, you’ll need to have some rather well-heeled friends.

But it’s not all about in­dul­gence and high-cost. There’s a CSR side to Im­pe­ri­ali as well. Within the 2,675 high-qual­ity com­po­nents, com­plex me­chan­ics and state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy are sev­eral in­ter­na­tional patents. The com­pany has a stated aim of us­ing these for good. For ex­am­ple, Im­pe­ri­ali is look­ing into scal­ing up the wa­ter pro­duc­tion sys­tem to in­vesti-

gate if a larger sys­tem could pro­vide wa­ter to im­pov­er­ished and drought-stricken parts of the world. A num­ber of the other patents have pos­si­ble uses in the med­i­cal and re­search fields.

Mix­ing ul­ti­mate lux­ury and CSR will be com­plex for the brand, but cer­tainly adds a unique twist to the story. Imag­ine wa­ter pro­duc­tion sys­tems in Africa, funded by a prod­uct so far re­moved from that arena. Very neat, if the com­pany can pull it off.

Does any­one ac­tu­ally need a $1 mil­lion hu­mi­dor? Of course not. But if you think in those terms then this is clearly not a prod­uct aimed at you. The dif­fer­ence be­tween some­thing you ‘need’ and some­thing you ‘want’ is key here. No­body, and we mean no­body, needs a hu­mi­dor that costs this much money. But then again no one needs a Porsche 918 or a Sun­seeker power­boat. How­ever, we are hu­mans and for the lucky few these are things they want, and im­por­tantly can af­ford.

Re­mem­ber, there are only go­ing to be 12 of these made per year, so it’s a very small and exclusive club that is be­ing tar­geted. This is a prod­uct for peo­ple who have ev­ery­thing and also aren’t go­ing to flinch at spend­ing a mil­lion bucks on some­thing to im­press their friends.

It’s for peo­ple that have to have the best, peo­ple who want to bring it out at a party to im­press and amaze in equal mea­sure.

And that’s handy, be­cause the Em­per­ador hu­mi­dor does both with ease.

Im­pe­ri­ali founders David Pasc­i­tuo and Stephane Naz­zal.

The hu­mi­dor comes stocked with a full set of 24 spe­cial cigars.

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