Vertu Signature mobile phone

The luxury brand's exclusive new handset is a heavy hitter in the world of jewel-encrusted mobile phones.

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By  Madeleine Collins Published  October 30, 2008

The luxury brand's exclusive new handset is a heavy hitter in the world of jewel-encrusted mobile phones.

When I first lay eyes on the new Vertu Signature mobile phone, I'm not particularly impressed. But then again I am peering down at the handset spread out before me in what looks like hundreds of pieces.

I'm at the launch of Vertu's exclusive new Signature collection - which has been especially designed to celebrate Vertu's tenth anniversary - at the swanky China Moon Champagne Bar in Raffles Hotel.

"To own a Vertu mobile phone is a status symbol in the Arab world," a friend had earlier informed me. I'm not really into status symbols, but I was curious, so along I went.

There's no champagne in sight in the dimly lit bar, but there is a technician standing behind a spotlit counter, painstakingly assembling a Signature handset in front of a mesmerised audience.

The collection comes in a choice of white gold, yellow gold and stainless steel. Tonight we are witnessing the creation of a stainless steel version, and each expensive and highly polished piece, including solid gold screws, is laid out on black velvet, from where it gleams back at me.

Impressive stuff, but then Vertu do claim the Signature phones are the ‘most highly crafted phone ever made'. I kind of get their point thanks to this display, but I still can't imagine how it will all fit together so perfectly to form the handset that would be placed in my hand an hour later.

When that time did come, the main thing that struck me about the Signature phone was that it was pretty heavy.

Sleek, slim and sexy, yes. But definitely on the heavy side for a phone.

The reason? The entire face of the phone, I am told, is made of sapphire. They call it the ‘sea of sapphire' for some reason, but who cares? The fact that it takes two weeks to create in a 2000 degree furnace is enough to impress me. Even if it's not a pretty sapphire blue colour.

"It's almost impossible to scratch," the technician goes on, "and so hard that it can only be cut or scratched with a diamond." How on earth Vertu managed to come across that fact I don't know, but clearly they have a handy stash of spare diamonds to test such theories.

As for the keypad, 4.75 carats of solid ruby bearings are embossed in each number. A nice touch if little red jewels are your thing, but they are so tiny I would have never known they were rubies if I wasn't told.

Which kind of sums up the Vertu Signature phone. It is without doubt a strikingly beautiful handset that features all manner of impressive features and jewels. And you get what you pay for - at 9,500 euros for the stainless steel handset, and a cool 29,000 euros for the white gold version.

But at the end of the day it is still a phone, and I wonder how much I would care about rubies after a few days of shoving it in and grabbing it out of my handbag, back in the real world.

And then comes the clincher. All of the sounds produced by the Signature phone are from an exclusive piece of music composed by the Oscar-winning composer Dario Maranelli, I am informed. Wow! If that doesn't make you feel like a celebrity, nothing will.

And there's more. The music was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the solo flute pieces played by Andrea Griminelli, who is apparently one of the world's leading flautists. I'm agog with admiration.

"The challenge was irresistible" said Maranelli (in the press release), of attempting such an impressive feat. "Perhaps no one has yet written a piece of concert music specifically aimed at being used as a ring tone, and then recorded it with one of the best orchestras in the world." He took the words right out of my mouth.

"Can I ring it from my phone?!" I cry excitedly. "What's the number?" "No madam, there's no SIM card in it," comes the answer. Oh.

The next day I learn that 'vertu' means, 'A knowledge or love of or taste for fine objects of art'. After last night's experience, I do feel I fit the bill. I still can't afford one of their phones though.

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