London Calling

How the British-based Vertu adds luster to luxury cell phones.

The story of almost any luxury item you own (or lust after) probably originates in an intimate, unassuming European workshop: Lamborghini sports cars are created in the Italian village of Sant Agata Bolognese; Hermés artisans hand-stitch leather Birkins in a Parisian suburb called Pantin; in Hamburg, a Montblanc craftsman tests every pen in an environment of absolute silence so that he may properly hear the scratch-woosh when the metal nib alights on paper.

Mass production be damned, an object’s inherent allure – and value – increases dramatically if it stems from an artistic vision and is crafted by hand.

For your cell phone – yes, your cell phone – to tell a similar story it would have to be a Vertu. It would be fashioned of the most luxurious materials imaginable; from its sapphire crystal screen and sumptuous leather back case to its platinum rails and diamond-studded bezel.

It would hail from the company’s headquarters in Church Crookham, a quaint town 39 miles west of London, where jewelry and watch industry specialists create the devices by hand, blending time-honored design traditions with 2lSt-Century mobile technology.

Relatively new to the luxury market’s coterie of boutique brands, Vertu, a subsidiary of Nokia, was launched in 1998.