Face Masks Go High-Tech, But Do You Need One?
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Face Masks Go High-Tech, But Do You Need One?

We tested a few ‘smart,’ app-enabled masks to see if they’re too much trouble—or a breath of tech air.

By RACHEL WOLFE
Wed, Feb 10, 2021 2:26amGrey Clock 2 min

FOR THE PAST few weeks, I’ve been strapping on “smart” masks, a new breed of face-covering you have to plug in to charge each night or pair with a phone app. Their promise: superior, or at least geekier, pandemic protection. The brands behind them back up the claim with a dazzling range of snazzy features.

The AirPop Active+ Halo Sensor mask (above, $190, airpophealth.com), for instance, measures my breathing rate and alerts me when it’s time to change the disposable N99-equivalent filter. With a washable shell and rubber seal that moulds to my face to minimize air leaks, the mask doesn’t feel scratchy like other medical-grade models I’ve tried. People even nerdier than me will like that it tracks your location to let you know the quality of the air and the approximate number of particles it’s protected you against.

Others I tested, like the N95-equipped MaskFone (approx. $80, maskfone.com), have integrated wireless earbuds to prevent dreaded mask-muffle on calls, or mechanical ventilation systems that release heat you generate by exhaling. All are designed, according to their manufacturers, for a world where even getting vaccinated doesn’t obviate the need to wear a face-covering.

But, as buzzy as this wizardry might be, are high-tech masks really worth the fuss compared to their no-brainer counterparts?

Dale Pfriem, principal of Protective Equipment Consulting Services and part of a standards-development working group addressing federal mask guidelines, says he’s in favour of any feature that makes people more likely to wear their masks. As long as the products meet fit and filtration standards, that is. (The AirPop is compliant with EU Committee for Standardization and ASTM International barrier-mask guidelines.)

“For me,” Mr Pfriem said, “the simpler the better.” He opts for disposable N95s which he wears until they become stretched out or smelly. And, no, he doesn’t need a slickly designed app to tell him when that’s the case. “I don’t want to have to think about it too much.”

Pairing my AirPop mask to my phone certainly did not liberate me from thinking. At one point in my trial, I was forced to puzzle out why passersby were suddenly staring at me, their eyes merry. Then I realised I’d somehow triggered a “party mode” feature that makes the AirPop flash rainbow colours. After an attempt to care exactly how many particles the mask had caught, I admitted I was bored. Ultimately, I ignored the app and used the AirPop merely as a particularly protective face mask. The headphones in the MaskFone, though? Those are pretty cool.



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
Mon, Jun 24, 2024 4 min

Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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