Looking back to look forward

A Prodigal Week № 22

It’s Friday. It’s five o’clock in London. That means it’s time to down tools, pour yourself a drink and look back at what A Prodigal Week it has been.

Glass in hand? Let me offer you some canapés of news and views.


Hello again, old friend

The excitement I felt as pictures of Mercedes’ new SL started appearing this week was as much to do with the new model’s handsome looks as it was my teenage wet dreams about what I still consider to be one of the best things the brand has ever done: the R129 series of SL. In production when I was at my most impressionable (from 1989 until 2001, for those of you wondering), the R129 remains one of the world’s most desirable cars more than twenty years on. That said, as Autocar reports this week, the new SL is going to have a pretty good crack at matching it:

The seventh generation of Mercedes’ SL roadster brings back the fabric roof and 2+2 layout of earlier incarnations and receives both four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering as standard.

Set to go on sale in the UK early next year, the R232-generation SL has been developed by the AMG performance car division and is expected to share its drivetrains, chassis, electrical architecture and other key components with the second-generation AMG GT, due in 2023. 

The tech sounds as impressive as you’d expect from a new Mercedes but what got me all hot and bothered - and thinking about my teenage crush - was the styling. Finally, an SL to aspire to again.

Also worth your time

  • New Range Rover revealed: “Peek under the same-again suit and you’ll find the most extensive rewiring ever to be applied to the family. This is a Range Rover that must be classier, yet cleaner, brilliant but less bling. It’s a Range Rover with a conscience.

  • BMW i4 released: “The first M-powered electric BMW makes you forget about the 4-Series with all its petrol power.”

  • Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo 2021 reviewed: “In terms of sheer desirability the Maserati is in a league of its own.”


Belligerent tool

More nostalgia. I miss a time when phones were all different, don’t you? Nowadays you’re an iPhone guy or an Android guy. If you’re the latter, you most likely choose a Samsung Galaxy because, you know, they’re the best. But that’s why I’m so very happy that Sony is still plugging away at its Xperia line, devices that stand out from the crowd for their singular focus on being awesome camera phones and their belligerent reluctance to play by others’ rules. Reviewing Sony’s latest, The Verge writes:

The Xperia Pro-I includes the same BIONZ X imaging processor found in Sony’s A9 professional mirrorless camera for sports, which allows it to take up to 20fps in burst shots similar to Sony’s recent smartphones like the Xperia 1 III. This is the rare smartphone camera that is fast at autofocus, and capable of real-time eye tracking (humans and animals) in both stills and videos. Speaking of videos, Sony claims that the Xperia Pro-I is is the first smartphone in the world that can record 4K videos at 120fps and be able to preserve all 120 frames. While other smartphones can record 4K videos, they often compress the frames into a smaller file, which means you won’t have as much control in post-production.

No mention of it in their review but I also love the tall and narrow aspect ratio of the Xperia’s screen. This thing is first and foremost a video tool. It demands respect.

Also worth your time

  • Google Pixel 6 reviewed: “Despite some minor flaws, these are excellent phones for the price.”

  • Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition reviewed: “A bigger screen with smaller bezels makes the Paperwhite better than ever. It remains the best e-reader on the market.”

  • Apple AirPods reviewed: “Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality. The company also expanded availability of key features like spatial audio and Adaptive EQ to a more affordable set of earbuds while keeping all of the convenience of AirPods intact.”


Pussy piece

Given how many times variations on this article have been written, you might think I would tire of stories about James Bond and his watches. You’d be wrong. Fratello’s ranking of James Bond watches had me drooling all over again this week.

I’d long thought my favourite wasn’t a ‘Bond watch’ but a ‘Pussy piece’. I’m referring of course to the Rolex GMT-Master on Honor Blackman’s wrist in Goldfinger. But now I find out that David Niven wore one too as James Bond in Casino Royale. 🎉

Also worth your time

Don’t miss…

🍎 Apple’s October event was its best in a very long time. Not least because we finally got the MacBook Pro we’ve been begging for.
Discover the highlights >

🎧 Prodigal Persiflage turns its attention to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, the Gérald Genta Arena Retro Mickey Mouse Disney, the Greubel Forsey GMT Earth Final Edition, and…er…the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection.
Have a listen >

🍾 Talking Hands is back after a six year hiatus (not counting the NOS episode we unearthed). Eric and I sat down over a bottle of wine to discuss the vintage Omega Speedmaster and Breitling Navitimer.
Watch it here >