The Most Exquisite Way To Say “Thank You”

At this time of year and having received a multitude of extraordinary and thoughtful gifts my mind turns to how to say “Thank You” in the most appropriate fashion. Sending an email is out of the question and most certainly beyond the pale. The only way to express one’s gratitude properly is in a personalized written communication on customised stationery.

There is a marvellous little enterprise located on the Bd. Malesherbes in Paris’ tony 8th arrondissement called Benneton Graveur-nothing to do with the similarly named Italian mass production clothing company. Benneton Graveur makes some of the most beautiful and delicious stationery that I have ever encountered.


The art of “graveur” the French word for engraving the mirror image of a design in a hard material to make prints of the design has been practised for millennia, as evidenced by seals found in Upper Egypt. But it wasn’t until 1565 that a Frenchman, Martin Schongauer raised engraving from a craft to a true art form.

Schongauer, the trailblazer, taught his art to the German master, Albrecht Dürer, and was even admired by Michelangelo. He left 115 burin-work copperplates.


His disciple, Dürer, did most of his engraving on wood and some on metal (early 16th century). After that, some of Europe’s greatest artists perpetuated the art, and improved on it as new technologies appeared.
Europe’s greatest engravers in the 17th century were Jacques Callot, and Rembrandt, in the 18th, Fragonnard and Goya and in the 19th century, Gustave Doré, and more recently Picasso (with his renowned scenes of bullfights).

The most renowned contemporary engravers include Alechinsky and the Catalan Tapies.

By the early 19th century, the emergence of a Bourgeois class, a taste for fine craftsmanship and an intense social life created the need for “Job Printing,” i.e., paper products (personal announcements, calling cards, greeting cards, stationery products, etc) so necessary to high society. They were made from hand engraved tools and dies by master artisans.
In 1880, Emile Benneton, a French carver and engraver set up shop in Paris and founded the Benneton House in the Madeleine church quarter.

Benneton’s taste for beautiful things and his love of delicate workmanship made him a success, and soon he was supplying products by appointment to the courts of many European countries. The intellectual and artistic elite were frequent visitors to his “Maison” on Boulevard Malesherbes.


Since then, the company, which has always remained in Benneton family hands, has been able to preserve its heritage of savoir faire and still supplies a discerning and elegant clientele the world over with the same carefully crafted engravings, with the same taste in the choice of colors and papers, and always, the same quest for elegance and detail.


The Key To Eternal Youth

It’s at about this time of year that my somewhat ageing (and aching) post Xmas body looks forward to its annual pilgrimage to Montreux in Switzerland and the home of the celebrated Clinique La Prairie for a thorough medical check and tune up.


From it’s foundation back in 1931, Clinique La Prairie has gained worldwide fame thanks largely to the efforts of Professor Paul Niehans, one of the most well known and respected pioneers in the field of cellular therapy, who injected fresh cells from the foetuses of unborn lambs into his patients. This heritage has evolved over the years and as a preventative against the effects of ageing, the treatment has been sought after by patients coming from all around the world, including many VIP celebrities and politicians such as Margaret Thatcher, President Putin and Ronald Reagan.

Today CLP as it’s known to its significant body of adherents has 60 consultants all dedicated to ensuring that patients can live better and longer.

The main reason for travelling to CLP is to partake in the so called Revitalisation Programme which consists of a 6 day battery of medical tests culminating in the exclusive cellular treatment which these days is extracted from lambs livers and administered orally. It tastes rather like swallowing liquid foie gras a not altogether unpleasant experience. For the medically squeamish the treatment originally consisted of several injections in the buttocks. I know which way I prefer to take my medicine.

The accommodation and food are rather splendid and luxurious and allows one to choose from a 1000 calorie a day diet or the more gourmet friendly healthy eating option containing a few more calories but which is much tastier. “Champagne” as the mineral water is described by the charming Head Waiter is the drink of choice at meals although there is a fine wine list containing some interesting half bottles which are useful for the lone dining patient able and willing to imbibe or his or her companion.


There is also a very good spa and beauty treatment center perfect for your partner if they are not taking the Revitalisation Programme.

The only forbidding factor here is the price which if you need to ask how much it is you probably can’t afford. The 6-day Revitalisation Programme starts at at about $30,000. On the other hand when you hear that mice treated with the CLP extract live on average for 40% longer than the untreated variety it sounds like a bargain-for some.

Bianca Mosca Launches Custom Watch Strap Service

Bianca Mosca known for its ultra luxury bags, wallets and accessories made from prime Louisiana alligator leather is launching a range of hand crafted custom watch bands in seventeen striking colors.

The watch bands come in colors such as St.Tropez Blue, Orange and Pink as well as more traditional black, brown and navy blue.

Customers can select their choice of color, width and length as well as the stitching in a configurator and place their order online.

The linings of Bianca Mosca’s straps are made from a high performance antiperspirant compound rubber. Moisture is evaporated and the wearer’s skin regulates the temperature under the bracelet to offer supreme comfort allied to the elegance of the fine alligator leather.

A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:

“These bands are the perfect replacement for a standard watch band and a great complement to the fine craftsmanship of a modern or vintage watch.”

The straps are hand made in Bianca Mosca’s workshop in France and cost $295 including free shipping. Hand stitching is available for a supplementary charge of $50.

For more information visit:


Create Your Own Watch Strap

As a huge watch fan I’m always interested in new ways to embellish my modest horological collection with the addition of a choice new watch strap.

My favourite material is Louisiana alligator which is beautiful to admire, supple, durable, water resistant and wears extremely well. The problem is that most of the straps I see at jewellers seem to be a little boring being available only in a choice of dull black, brown and the occasional blue. Sometimes I long for something a little more racy and in a more exciting hue.

jean rousseau leather.jpg

Well now you can find almost anything imaginable by visiting the Bianca Mosca website. BM, known for their alligator bags and accessories, have introduced a fabulous new online made-to-order watch strap service where you can equip almost any watch, modern or vintage, with a sublime new strap with a wide choice of custom options.

Bianca Mosca’s alligator is prime grade, center-cut and square scale and is without a shadow of a doubt the best that money can buy. Combined with their special tanning technique their material is not only water resistant but UV-resistant too and guaranteed to be hypo-allergenic.

Another great feature is that the lining of BM’s watch straps is made from a specially developed antiperspirant type of hi-tech rubber. Moisture is evaporated and the skin regulates the temperature under the bracelet to offer supreme comfort allied to the elegance of the fine alligator leather.


There is a huge choice of colors in both shiny and matte alligator including Blue Jeans, Emerald Green, Shiny Red and Havana Brown. You can also select your choice of stitching color as well as the strap width, length and padding height and buckle type. Hand stitching is also available for a modest surcharge.



This new service should prove to be an  excellent way to transform a quotidian existing strap into something quite extraordinary and of course all designed by you!