Friday, 9 June 2017

Esprit de Vitesse - Creating a Masterpiece - Part 2

Our masterpiece, Esprit de Vitesse had arrived safely at its final destination. Now we had to find a cost effective route to enable us to join our creation before it ceremonial departure to a new life.

After only 6 hours (over two day researching) I found the almost perfect solution via Geneva and onto Nice. Monsieur John was not impressed. "Why spend more time away when we need only one night", was the question posed. My retort was simple and curt, "trust me!"

A few days later, with our hand luggage and plethora of reserve and emergency components, we began our intrepid journey to the land of luxury via Luton airport. Following a short fuel stop at Pret' we were soon en route, whizzing our way to Geneva on the red eye flight. On time we landed and disembarked without a hitch. Soon we were in the arrivals area and it was my honour to introduce Monsieur John to the pleasure that is Martel. Those fabulous petite sandwich au thon, poulet et fromage. But, alas, Monsieur John was having none of it. At approximately 09:30 in the morning his mandatory travel diet demanded a rich chocolate eclair - bon chance!

We were soon on the express train taking us from the airport to Cornavin, the main station in Geneva and just a few minutes walk from my cousins apartment. As we alighted, carrying our precious Esprit de Vitesse Razor cargo, I noticed a more than usually busy station and then I thought, we had walked into the set of the latest Star Wars film, seeing replicas of Darth Vadar all about us. But the worldly Monsieur John knew better. Hmm, said he guess there must be a football match today. He was, of course, absolutely correct. We had arrived in Geneva, not only on cup final day, but as we  were to discover very soon, Ascension Day, meaning all the shops were closed. This we found out as my cousins lovely wife text me requesting we bring some bread home with us. Thus we had to take care to avoid both the trams and the fans.

We arrived safely at the apartment, made the various introductions and presented the meager bread I had purchased. Once our luggage was dropped we turned to the task of a photo shoot opportunity on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). I confess to knowing Geneva quite well so I was promoted to tour guide thus we wandered down from the apartment past the Mandarin Oriental hotel and toward the lake eventually ending up on Bains des Paquis for what turned out to be an interesting photo shoot and afternoon.

Once we had explored our new little environment we decided to shoot still and moving images at the far end of the Jetee de Paquis close to the light house. We began on the rocks taking preparatory shots when a father of a young family enquired as to our purpose. I naturally tried to retort in my basic french to which he replied, "you're not from Watford are you?" After managing to control our laughter we agreed to let the father have pictures of our fabulous Esprit de Vitesse Razor, to which he promptly handed me his camera and continued eating.

You will of course see the results of our effort at Bains des Paquis, and like it or not we were happy with the results save for one major omission, of which the more travelled amongst you will have already pondered. We were missing the obvious. No picture of le Jet d'Eau, the fountain, Geneva's most famous landmark. But naturally, on the day we arrived it was turned off. We consoled ourselves with a pleasant lunch where we were located enjoying a tasty Greek Salad and Plat du Jour, in the middle of a lake.

Later we pressed on around to the other side of the lake for additional photos from the lower shore line and by sneaking onto a private jetty some shots using the ferry boat as a back drop. Naturally I paid for my nefarious activity by receiving a nose burning headache inducing sun burn. Unlike my fellow protagonist I had not protected myself and was now suffering as we slowly made our way back to the apartment for what was to be a delicious dinner of merguez (a spicy mutton sausage typically served in North Africa) and salads. Monsieur John looked a little unsure of this savoury dish, but one bite and he was convinced.

Following this delicious repast and a pleasant chat with my dear cousin we departed to our individual sleeping places for our sumptuous 4.5 hour sleep, waking again at 04:00 in time to get to the airport for the early flight. Efficiently we completed the human tasks before departing for the airport via the train station. Here I made a little faux pas, leading us to transit Swiss customs and security before they sent us back to exit via French security and customs. However unaffected by this we had time to enjoy a coffee and croissant before boarding the flight to our final destination. This was a short flight, over very quickly.

From Nice airport we took a taxi to Gare Nice Ville, where we took time to enjoy un jus d'orange frais and croissant (well he had a chocolate eclair of course). Being prebooked we collected our train tickets and within 25 minutes had passed through Eze, Beaulieu and Villefranche to arrive in Monte Carlo station, a truly modern elegant station with a rabbit warren of tunnels leading all over the city. Being brave and considering the confusion that leads up to the Monaco Grand Prix we opted to walk from the upper exit that overlooks Port Hercule to our first destination which was Place du Casino. Once there we easily located our first appointment, being located in the beautiful temporary structures now based in the centre of Parc Place du Casino. The staff at Czarina then pointed us in the direction of their new shop located on Avenue Princess Grace, where we were to meet the lovely Tamar and present our unique products and services.

After spending our time with our potential new agent we adjourned in the direction of Le Meridien Beach Plaza, the event home of Amber Lounge. Following a 20 minute walk we arrived and entered this exciting location. I moved towards the desk and was immediately asked if there to collect tickets. I replied positively and gave both my name and that of my esteemed colleague. Blank faces looked back at us. It was then I suggested the tickets may be reserved under the name of JP Razors. Suddenly faces lit up with welcoming smiles. Ah, JP Rasoir, ils sont arrives.

A small dance of gratitude and platitudes ensued whilst we were introduced to various members of the staff and shown around the place, given a secure place to store our possessions. Very cool thought I, and at that moment a nasty realisation occurred to me as my face glowed red (even more) as I realised I had ripped the entire width of my linen trousers. This issue resolved we went to position and install the Esprit de Vitesse razor into its allotted place within the auction.

A swift tactical manoeuvre ensued whereby I was able to acquire three safety pins and make an immediate but temporary repair. The harmonious balance of life restored we departed for a little light lunch. Unsure of where to eat we did as any self respecting Englishman would, we went to the nearest Irish Pub, McCarthy's, where Monsieur John contacted his good friend Mr Paul Oz, yes that Paul Oz, joining us for a light lunch of pizza, hamburger and chips, all of which I must say was jolly delicious.

We slowly meandered down toward Port Hercule in the direction of the floating Red Bull Energy Station. To my utter amazement Monsieur John made a few well placed  calls and voila we were guests of Red Bull, rubbing shoulders with Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and the all powerful Christian Horner. It was at this time our Twitter friend known as ETC found us, introduced himself and joined us for a while, regaling us with stories of how he became associated with the team. Paul soon departed to prepare for what was to be a long day for him, and soon after we did likewise. Although we struggled to find transport to get us back to Amber Lounge we eventually arrived in time to deposit the Razor in pride of place, but sadly to find our mirror laid out on a table and not as agreed hanging on the wall.

Once changed into our glad rags and looking more respectable we started to mingle and meet other guests including Mr wonderful, who had supplied us with the diamond lacquer dust, so precious it is only used by the world's most exclusive car maker (and us). Following a few polite conversations and some filming of our gorgeous Esprit de Vitesse we were ushered to our seats around the pool to enjoy the fashion show first, followed by the live auction. Both were enjoyable experiences, particularly the elegant models almost wearing bathing suits. After a short intermission we were led to our allotted dining table, sharing with five other guests. Two were French ladies from Paris, upset that no-one else was from Paris and that no-one involved in the classic art market they soon disappeared, and yes we did eat their food and it was even more delicious than our own.

Naturally Monsieur John, Paul Oz and I shared it with our other table guests, who, as it turned out all worked for the gentleman at the table. Listening to his stories I began to detect the faint odour of m-de-t. Not knowing Paul Oz too well I was happy to spend a very pleasant time in his company. After desert we adjourned to the night club and our allotted settees supplied with copious amounts of champagne for the remainder of the evening. Naturally from this point onward the evening degenerated into a very cool wild party for which I am a liberty to disclose no more.

At around 3 am we decided it was time to take a late night/early morning stroll around the port. En route we met a young lady who virtually demanded our Amber Lounge passes, for which we naturally politely declined. Wandering around on such a pleasant and balmy night reminded me why I like this place so much. Viewing the super duper yachts paid for by someone's tax effective planning, and wow, they really are super.

Returning to the party a little later it was soon time to make the calm journey by taxi up to the station to catch the early train to Nice. This is when it started. "Please Monsieur le Concierge, can we have a taxi for the station?". Mais oui monsieur, it will be here in three hours, perhaps Monsieur would care to walk?". Suffering from sciatica the entire time and already having been awake for 24 hours I did relish the thought of walking to the station, let alone the thought of missing the train and perhaps the knock-on effect of missing the plane. We arrived at the station about 3 minutes after the departure of our train. On the positive side we got to speak and sit with a very attractive lady from Hong Kong, who then assured us that we would be better off getting off the train at the station past Nice Ville as it was next to the airport.

Having taken her advice, against my better judgement, as we were now running late, we alighted the train and followed the crowd towards the station. as we got near the perimeter of the airport we saw that the signs had led us to an area enclosed with a wire fence. Therefore escape from stalag 13 ensued with people of all ages and shapes traversing a gap created in the security fence. Finally we crossed the main road and entered the terminal. Here we were told it was the wrong terminal. Time was getting dangerously short as we exited the building to see the transit bus leaving the stop.

Monsieur John, without care for life or limb, stepped into the path of the oncoming bus and instructed the driver to stop and allow us to board which she promptly did. Our happiness at progressing was short lived as we realised the bus was stopping numerous times en route to terminal 2. Eventually we arrived, through security and rushing towards embarkation and the staff saying we were too late, but my persistent friend performed yet more magic and soon we were sitting in our seats, albeit a little flustered, in the aeronautical direction of Switzerland.

Arriving in Geneva, for me at least, was the same as arriving home. We were soon back in Martel for what had become our ceremonial snackette before boarding the train for the short journey into town and on to my cousins apartment. Once calmly ensconced there we opted not to relax and sleep but to have a guided tour led by my cousin. This was interesting and refreshing as you will see this time the Jet d'Eau was fully functioning, and how. We even paid an up close visit to see its remorseless power.

A little while later Monsieur John eyes lit up as we entered a favourite Lebanese Shawarma restaurant, which had doubled in size since my last visit, but lost none of the taste of its delicious meats and savouries. Both thoroughly fed and watered we were whisked to the airport ready for the final leg of our journey back to good old Blighty. Being blessed with offspring Monsieur John departed Switzerland having acquired most of the county's national reserve of chocolate.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Esprit de Vitesse - Creating a Masterpiece - Part 1

So it is a bright day in early April, when, after operating JP Razors for almost three months, we are invited to participate in the Monaco Grand Prix, Amber Lounge charity event. And no, not just any charity event but to support that icon of Formula 1, Sir Jackie Stewart.

Not the kind of people to shy away from contributing to the betterment of our fellow man, as evidenced by our modest contribution to the worthy Haven House Trust, and in consideration of the opportunity this represented to create something special.

My grandmother always said, " head in the clouds, feet on the ground". So this may well become the proving moment to test that theory. Both John and I were of single mind; to create something that would both demonstrate our capabilities and be a positive contribution to the benefit. As always, Monsieur John found the perfect solution in 5 minutes flat. Of course the balance of the design concept took us another 4 weeks to agree. Should we? Shouldn't we? Could we? Could we not?

The resulting miasma of creative thought, argument and congratulation came together when we realised we could engrave the face of a carbon fibre disc brake, the core component of this soon to be fantasy mirror. Thus our solution had been defined. We would create a fantasy mirror using an F1 Monaco raced carbon fibre disc brake at the core of the project. This would then have giant sparks flying from it in all directions. We like a challenge.

The final specification for this unique creation:
  • F1 Monaco raced carbon fibre disc brake
  • F1 Monaco raced brake pad
  • Silver wire to line perimeter around bolt heads
  • 21 metres of diamond cut silver wire - for sparks
  • 90 diamond cut silver baubles
  • 12 RBR gold plated bolt heads
  • 25 carats of crushed diamonds
  • 80 rubies
  • 16 Sapphires
  • Lashing of 18 carat gold coating
  • 5 grams pure diamond lacquer powder
  • RBR-F1 titanium torsion bar
  • 1 Stainless steel engineered razor head
The concept was to create something that was of course stylish and beautiful whilst representing Formula 1 and its relationship with the Monaco circuit which dates back as early as 1929.
Thus the idea was born; a disc brake with sparks flying from it represents the dedication and risk of the Grand Prix driver, then etching on the Monaco diamond heraldic pattern to the face gives the association with the principality. The crushed diamonds although neatly bonded to the disc brake represent the dust and detritus that brings additional risk to the drivers. By inserting rubies and sapphires to the mirror and razor stand we elevate the mirror to luxury status for which the principality is justly associated.

Here's how we created out little masterpiece - l'esprit de vitesse.

The disc brake face was etched with the diamond pattern of the Monegasque coat of arms, taking care to replicate the proportional size accurately although this was done part by machine and part by hand. The entire face was then cleaned and masked before cutting away each alternative diamond shape. Then cleaned again and prepared for a special lacquer formulation that included the crushed diamonds.

The next day, Saturday evening we arranged with our master sprayer to coat the disc brake face. He spent time preparing the various concoctions a dedicated sprayer needs before the artistic action begins. He then disappeared into the sanctity of the spray booth. We heard the boom of the air handling system fire into action and we prayed excitedly for the next 10 minutes.
He soon returned, our faces sank as we realised we were facing failure. Our secret weapon had failed completely.

I then made the silly suggestion that we re-lacquer the face and apply the crushed diamonds by hand. Of course they all smiled but we had nothing to lose. Our sprayer disappeared again to re-coat the disc face. When he returned we have prepared the crushed diamonds, which were mixed with a highly reflective silicate, by precise proportion, and started layering them onto the disc and applying light hand pressure to fix them in place.

To our amazement it looked spectacular, but would it survive the second phrase of re-coating with the second stage lacquer, a diamond dust infused clear coating designed to seal the entire disc. With trepidation we removed the remaining diamond masking piece by piece, revealing a stunning looking object. Then it was time for the 2nd stage diamond lacquer. This time so nervous were we that we unconsciously followed our sprayer into the booth. He smiled, posing the question as to whether or not we should remain during the next process. We did and were witness to an artist with a spray gun.

He turned our basic diamond encrusted disc brake into the core of beauty we were to finally achieve, encasing the entire disc in several coats of this amazing, glistening, diamond lacquer. The process was repeated for the Razor base successfully. The pieces were left to dry in the chamber for the remainder of the weekend. It was not until Tuesday evening that we next saw the result of our experiment. Now we had to carry out the next stages of preparation.

We created the sparks by hand shaping 3 varying lengths of wire erratically so as to replicate sparks. The longest of which was curved at the insertion end for fixing purposes later on. These then had to be soldered together in order to gold plate them and plant them into each of the 30 apertures on the edge of the disc brake. a relatively simple procedure as both of us have previous soldering experience. Ha Ha! Soldering is all in the flux. In our wisdom, for the test case we had decided to use a high grade stainless steel wire. of course this requires a special flux that no-one sells. as time was running short we had to locate and acquire the flux without delay.

Following 4 hours relentless telephoning we located a bottle of the flux, a liquid preparation. This cost a staggering £60.00, and yes, during the entire process we almost used a thimble full. However the most import point is that it did it's magic allowing the solder to find its adhesion piece to piece. With a sigh of relief, Monsieur John and I completed the process in a few hours. The next day the wires were cleaned along with the 12 bolts necessary and the inner ring which we created by hand and I am pleased to say, fit perfectly, allowing us to send all the components to the gold plating company out in the wilds of Essex.

Later that week saw the return of our components ready for assembly, well almost. Each component was laid out and checked, then cleaned.
The bolt heads required the insertion of 80 Rubies and 16 Sapphires, each of which has a diameter just under 2 mm. Time for me to step up and try something absolutely new to me. So tiny were these jewels and designed to fit perfectly into their respective vessels that this could only be achieved using a microscope and tweezers. 6 hours later and the task was complete. Now all i had to do was test the stability of the fixing and oops, several escapees I afraid. Try to find a 2 mm stone on the floor!

Fortunately we had anticipated by lack of skill and acquired spare gems. Intrepidly I re-inserted the gems, once sure they were fixed firmly partook of Monsieur John's generous offering of a chocolate biscuit. Now to stage 3. Fix securely, each of the gold plated baubles onto the tip of each wire ensuring a good and permanent attachment.

The following day Monsieur John inserted and fixed each bolt and wire with the delicacy reserved for a new born child. In fact this was our baby. The same process for the razor stand and all of a sudden we had a thing of beauty emerging before our eyes. Monsieur John then demonstrated how to gold plate onto stainless steel with the dedication and finesse of a maestro. Finally our objective achieved and undamaged we came to the realisation that we had to ensure it arrived at its Monaco destination in the same condition that it left its incubator.

We crafted our own wooden packing crate, lining it with black paint and red velour so as to protect the mirror as much as possible. Then we devised a secure method of fixing the mirror in place which would not damage it but hold it secure no matter the journey it may experience. We enclosed instructions and the trusty courier was called. a few days later we received the calming news that it had arrived at the Amber Lounge offices undamaged - a huge sigh of relief. a short telephone call later and the recipients understood we would deliver the razor personally.

It is rare, in today's modern world, to have the opportunity to design and create something, then further that experience by physically producing it alongside you co-worker. It is probably the first time in my life, and I am proud to state the fact, that I have done so and with almost seamless effort completing the task with Monsieur John and the help of our man Paul Cussell to whom we are truly indebted to his skill and patience.

In part 2 I will tell the story of our journey to, and experience at, the worlds greatest Formula 1 experience and after party, Amber Lounge.

Friday, 3 March 2017

JP Razors Pure Exhibitionist

There is an old saying that states "One instinctively knows when something is right" and this is the case with JP Razors' RB-No5 Razor, and true of its second release which is in the all important phase of final redevelopment.

Today, with so many new products vying for position and claiming their right to fame or infamy, it is necessary to separate your product from the crowd and promote it in the most positive way possible. John H says "We have made many beautiful and stunning products, both bespoke and limited edition, over the years but it is still necessary to put yourself and the product in front of those most likely to appreciate it".

It is with this attitude we decided to embark on a madcap weekend of presenting ourselves and product at two major shows in England. It should be understood that the project arose on a Wednesday evening, the night before the first site set up was required. Perhaps you can imagine the preparation and insanity that ensued.

By Thursday midday we were on site at Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park for the site set up, working with our hosts Memento Exclusives to arrange the best possible presentation. For the following two days we drove from London to Coventry each day to present our wares to a bemused public, resulting in numerous enquiries and some nice video interviews.

Looking forward to the final on Sunday we received a telephone message offering us the opportunity to take over the stand operated by the F1 artist Jason Fowler at the Classic Car Show London for Sunday, the final day of that show. Following a small internal conference we decided a madcap dash and preparation was all that was needed to allow us to be there first thing Sunday morning.

We arrived at Excel at stupid o'clock in the morning allowing us just enough time to set up and be ready for the official opening time. This was achieved with the help of Fergus Campbell, the show manager, who was most helpful and supportive considering the pressure he must have been under from such a high profile event. It was certainly nice to arrive at a site with light and power provided making our task must easier.

More interest and international enquiries arose here, and all in all it was a spectacular event. It is a particularly well laid out and presented event. It seems the Classic Car Show London is continually evolving. we hope to be there again next year with a bigger, better more brilliant stand.

Thank you to everyone involved for your support at both Race Retro & Classic Car Show London which was attended by more than 37,000 fans. Thank you to all the new friends and enthusiasts we had the opportunity to meet. - see you next year if not before!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

RB-No05 Titanium Razor - From Raw Materials to Work of Art

From raw materials being cut by heavy duty grinder to the beauty that is revealed. It all appears so obvious but the path is spiked with 1000 questions.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Titanium Razor Handle

So it's a simple question; How difficult can it be to make a Titanium Razor handle?

Let's start with the basic material. Titanium (Ti) is a metal with an atomic number 22, originally discovered in Cornwall, England in 1791. Titanium can be alloyed with many other important metals but perhaps the two most important features of this metal are:

>  It is corrosion resistant not only to potable water but even to salt water and aqua regia

>  It has the highest strength to density ratio of any metal

These facts alone make it a metal of exceptional interest. Given it properties it is supremely qualified as a razor handle delivering resilience and hygiene.Now we have to work the metal and fashion it into our iconic razor handle.

For us the process starts when we cut the titanium torsion bars to the required size. Sounds simple? Try it yourself and see what resistance you meet or simply watch as we cut a thin section.

These Torsion bars have been engineered at the highest level by professionals for the Formula 1 industry thus ensuring the quality of materials meaning you will have possession of the finest balanced material available on planet earth.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

RB-No5 Titanium Razor

The Razor Sharp Art Revealed

The RB-No5 titanium razor is a limited edition model of 5 pieces. It is the first product delivered by JP Razors who will make only limited edition & bespoke razors. The handle components are made from re-engineered rare and precious materials. Work is carried out in-house in the Hertfordshire, UK.

The razor handle is made from a re-engineered titanium torsion bar removed from an F1 car. This delivers several benefits when shaving. The handle very lightweight and is unaffected by immersion in water or the the steamy environment of a bathroom. 

Being developed from a titanium torsion bar the base of the handle retains the original spline; the spline sits comfortably in the palm of the hand whilst shaving thus preventing the razor from slipping helping to prevent risk of cuts, due to the design of the spline it also allows the razor to stand upright unaided unlike 98% of all other razors. This makes razor highly practical when in a shaving situation.

The razor head is precision engineered from grade 303 stainless steel. JP Razors then refinishes the razor head with the Octa-Bevel design giving it a distinctive look. This is a process carried out by hand by craftsmen. Using stainless steel provides benefits of hygiene as opposed to normal chromed razors.

Read more about JP Razors

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Razor Sharp Art

With more than 18,000 years of razor shaving history this is the first epoch where men have chosen to follow an older more traditional path for shaving rather than look to new ideas. 

It seems we now pay homage to the historic masters of the razor who led such a profound development of this implement that affects the life of nearly every man on the planet. 

Innovators such as Jean Jacques Perret and William Samuel Henson who realised ideas that ultimately led to the safe and comfortable shave we can enjoy today.

In a creative twist to this renaissance of the razor sharp art JP Razors have developed a soon to be released of premium safety razors forged from some of the great moments in recent and past history. The first of which is drawn from the illustrious world of Formula 1, re-engineering solid titanium components to create a razor of rare aesthetic beauty and iconic style that can be defined by its legacy and performance.

For those men who want more than a shave - your time has come.