The Awain Phantom car key.
The Awain Phantom car key.
Image: Awain

While I often try to forget its existence, I was again reminded this week about the concept of ultra-luxury, bejeweled car keys—you know, the kinds of keys for people whose 18-karat gold emblem on the front of one of their four dozen supercars just isn’t enough. It was at that point I wondered: Why?

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What reminded me of this grotesque concept was a recent Motor1 story, which featured a one-off Bugatti Chiron key by a company called Awain. The company makes various keys, with the cheapest one on its homepage listed at $11,000, and Awain says on its website that its mission is to create “the world’s most extraordinary keys for the world’s most extraordinary cars.”

The key paired with the featured Chiron is called the Phantom, which comes with nearly 35 carats of diamonds set in 18-karat gold. It’s listed on the company’s site for $554,000 at current exchange rates—or, in other forms of measurement, far more than the homes or net worths of many people. This thought spiraled me into a perplexed mental debate with myself, as trivial things unrelated to my life often do.

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You see, perhaps it’s my “poor” showing, but if I’m spending money for show, I see little value in putting that much toward an item that will mostly sit in either a pocket or a purse. It’s not even a flex, because no one will see the key unless you shout: “Hey, people, look at my car key!” And who does that?

Plus, if you have the cash for this kind of key, said people will undoubtedly be more interested in your exorbitantly priced car. Why not spend your $554,000 on something more obviously showy instead, like a diamond bodysuit?

Anyway, I got to thinking: Are the appearances of car keys important, for the short period that others might glance at them in public? How do my car keys stack up to these Bugatti keys? Will I be looked down upon?

Let’s compare the stats here.

Phantom Key Fob:

  • Made of: 18-karat white gold, a choice of wood or colored leather
  • Features: 34.5 carats of diamonds, unspecified gemstones
  • Weighs: nearly half a pound
  • Costs: $554,000

My Key Fob and Set:

  • Made of: I dunno, keys? The fake leather that covered the fabric attaching my key fob to a key chain has worn away over the years, so now it’s just, like, gray felt. The key itself is also a bit grimy? I should clean that.
  • Features: a CVS card I used to scan to get discounts on milk when I bought it near campus in college; two scan cards from my old gym that I keep for nostalgia, which have collected various discolored particles on the white barcode side over the years and are unattractively peeling at the edges; a decade-old rhinestone Texas Longhorns keychain, which has yellowed over the years and become rather ugly, but I’m too lazy to remove or replace it; keys to both my house and my mom’s, in case I don’t feel like paying to run the heater and decide to just use her utilities instead
  • Weighs: enough that my parents always told me it would probably screw up my ignition over time when I was a teenager
  • Costs: I mean, they came with the car? I don’t know. The Longhorn emblem was maybe $8.
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I’m just saying, my keys are fine, and they didn’t even cost $554,000. I’d take the diamond bodysuit instead.

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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