The first thing I noticed about the S. T. Dupont Line 2 lighter was its size and weight. About 2 inches long and an inch and half wide, it fit perfectly in my palm, and felt so satisfying; heavy enough to give a feeling of substance, but not so heavy to be bulky or awkward. Just holding the lighter, feeling its heft, was enough to sell me on it. It reminded me of the kind of lighter used in speakeasies during the Prohibition, or the kind of lighter used to light a fine cigar while enjoying an after dinner brandy.
S. T. Dupont lighters are pure luxury. The lighter I was holding was $525, and worth it. The cover of the lighter was made out of sliver plate and etched with tiny vertical lines, similar to a pin stripe suit. And this was a mid-range model. Some of the fancier, more expensive lighters are around $1000, made from of Chinese lacquer or gold dust lacquer. Clearly, S. T. Dupont takes making lighters very seriously.
But once I opened it, it became quickly obvious that the lighters have more going for them than just pretty looks. The noise it makes when is opens, that “ping” struck something deep inside me. It was the acoustic equivalent of the sheer joy you feel when you wear an old jacket and find 20 bucks. Opening the top again and again, hearing that sound, I was as giddy as a 6 year old playing with bubble wrap. Like leaning for a kiss, the “ping” is the best kind of surprise there is. You know what’s coming, you know what to expect, but it’s still such a thrill.
Incidentally, the “ping” was never supposed to exist; in the 50′s, when S. T. Dupont first started making lighters, a mistake was made, and two cogs accidentally ended up generating excess friction. This resulted in an unwanted noise whenever the lighter was opened. The company, striving for perfection, understandably wanted this mistake fixed. However, it didn’t take long for the “ping” to work its magic on customers, and needless to say, the company left the mistake in place.
The “ping” might be what makes S. T. Dupont lighters distinctive, but it is not what makes them special, what gives them their charm. The lighters are a case of the whole being greater than the sum; each aspects of the lighter, the weight, the “ping,” the high quality of materials, the care and precision that goes into the assembly, are all special in their own right. But, when put together these individual parts create a lighter unlike any other.
S. T. Duponts may be pure luxury and style, but owning one is also an indication you care about quality. The company is so concerned with providing customers with the best smoking experience that they offer three different burner styles: cigar, cigarette, and pipe. Cigars are wider than cigarettes, so the cigar burner is wider than the cigarette burner. The pipe burner is angled to better light the inside of pipes. It is this commitment to making exceptional lighters that gives S. T. Dupont lighters their charm and reputation for being one the best lighters. And, while there is more to the lighters than the “ping,” there is no denying it. It’s a sexy sound, evocative of style and luxury.
I knew this potent combination was bound to have an effect on women and I was dying to see it in action. When my friends and I went out that night, I carefully scanned the bar. After catching the eye of an attractive woman, I stepped outside for a smoke. She followed me out a few minutes later with a cigarette of her own.
“Got a light?” She asked me.
With a devilish smile, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my S. T. Dupont. As I opened it and prepared to light her cigarette, the look in her eyes told me all I needed to know.
It was love at first “ping.” ED/PUB:LM (something weird with the font in preview, don’t know why)