We were recently introduced to a little known London-based luxury brand called TMB Art Metal, which has the sort of built-in provenance other larger established brands would die for. TMB creates some of the most fascinating luxury cufflinks we`ve ever seen. What makes them beyond cool is that they are made using old recycled metals from famous cars and planes. Seemingly, if an old machine is being restored, they get hold of the original redundant metal and convert it into cufflinks, creating real history on the cuff along the way.
One of our favourites are some wonderful cufflinks made using metal reclaimed from a Spitfire that flew through England`s finest hour during the Battle of Britain before crashing in December 1940. The cufflinks, which feature miniature bronze Spitfires that resemble rose gold, have contrasting silver `arms`, and are limited to just 100 pairs.
For petrolheads TMB have also made cufflinks from the famous (if only for the fact that one recently sold for over £20 million!) Ferrari 250GTO. TMB`s GTO cufflinks are made using bits of original scrap body panel from one of these ridiculously expensive cars, which was built in 1962. In this case, as well as the value of the car it came from, it’s the scarcity of the `donor` metal that provides the real wow factor.
The story behind TMB harks back to the height of the Battle of Britain when, on 15th September 1940, Hurricane fighter pilot Ray Holmes heroically rammed a German Dornier bomber that had appeared intent upon bombing Buckingham Palace. As a result of Holmes` action – his guns had run out of ammunition – the Dornier crashed into the forecourt of nearby Victoria railway station. Meanwhile Holmes was forced to bail out of his crippled Hurricane, which crashed squarely in the middle of the junction of Buckingham Palace Road, Pimlico Road and Ebury Bridge.
Diving down at 300mph, and with nearly a ton of Rolls-Royce Merlin engine up front, the pilotless Hurricane bored a deep crater into the road on impact. Holmes, parachuting down unhurt, walked over to the site for a quick look and then retired to the nearby Orange Pub in Pimlico Road for a swift brandy before heading off to re-join his squadron at RAF Hendon. The crater was quickly filled in, paved over and forgotten.
Historian Christopher Bennett had long been fascinated by the incident, the most famous single event of the entire Battle of Britain. Despite the severe bombardment by the Nazis during the Blitz, the Dornier and the Hurricane were the only two planes to crash on the city of London throughout the entire duration of World War II. Following years of research Bennett located the remains of Holmes` historic fighter and, in 2004, the mangled Merlin V-12 engine and other components were excavated from beneath the road.
The most significant parts of the Hurricane were originally displayed at the Imperial War Museum before more recently moving to the RAF Museum at Hendon, which is where it took off from in 1940. But there was a mass of corroded metal left over and that`s when Bennett had the bright idea of converting some of these useless bits of aluminium into sculptures, one of which was presented to HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace – quite fitting considering the sculpture was made of metal from the very plane that had heroically saved that same building over six decades earlier!
TMB Art Metal (the TMB bit comes from the letters painted on the fuselage of Holmes` Hurricane) was born, creating cufflinks, sculptures and other items always incorporating original `donor` metals in their making. Entirely handmade and boasting the highest quality, TMB products are suitably expensively, their cufflinks ranging from around £600 to over £4,000, which is a lot of money. But they are rather special, particularly when you factor in the scarcity of the famous metals involved in their crafting.
If your partner wears cufflinks and likes planes or cars it`s hard to figure a more exclusive and special gift. Being limited edition and made of often irreplaceable and ultra-rare metals with fascinating provenance, they may even end up being rather good investments too!
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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