Rolls-Royce Wraith: A Rather Special Affair in Spa

Sleek steel meets solid stone

On the famous Formula 1 race track in Spa, a man who specialises in high quality natural stone meets the Rolls-Royce Wraith, one of the high points of automobile engineering. Both of them epitomise luxury and high-quality workmanship. Walter Alberti, owner of Real-Stein AG in Gibswil, and the classy Rolls-Royce Wraith have in two things in common – high quality and elegant design. Together, Alberti and I are test-driving this superb car on Belgium’s famous Spa-Francorchamps race track, because Alberti is a man who understands luxury. His firm deals in luxury stone products, the 'Rolls-Royce' of stone. He has a feeling for excellence and for beauty, and he appreciates the Rolls-Royce Wraith’s special qualities: the irresistible charisma of its coupé design, the use of wood grain and top-quality natural leather in the hand-finished details in its interior and the brilliant technology.

Herr Alberti, today we are driving to the Spa-Francorchamps race track in Belgium. What do cars mean to you?
On the one hand, it’s a convenient way to get about; on the other there is an emotional element. It’s because of this emotional element that the individual line and technology of a beautiful sports car fascinate me.

Today, you’ll be driving a Rolls-Royce Wraith on a race track. Have you ever driven a Rolls-Royce?
No, not yet. This will be my premiere.

Michael Gleissner, General Manager of Rolls-Royce Cologne is here to greet us on the race track and show us to pit 3: 'The key’s in the Wraith. Take it slowly, it’s got a V12 engine with 632 hp.'

Herr Alberti, in the field of natural stone, your company is the market leader in Switzerland. Luxurious interiors are a speciality of Real-Stein AG. Do you see similarities with this car?
Yes, of course. Not with natural stone, but with the perfect finish. Attention to detail creates luxury, that’s just as true for Rolls Royce as for us. A handcrafted finish and carefully selected natural materials are things we have in common.

Rolls-Royce stands for customisation without limits. You work with natural stone, which always has slight variations. How do you utilise your materials?
The client’s requirements are our central focus and we analyse these in detail. Once these have been identified, we show the client the different possible compositions of materials. It is also part of our job to answer technical questions and find solutions. We offer technically sound, durable solutions. As a one-stop service-provider, we give advice, suggest ideas and supply tradesmen, providing everything under one roof to make it possible for the client’s requirements to be met in the best possible way.

Apart from your showroom, do you have any other ways of bringing the client closer to natural stone and its use?
In addition to our showroom in Gibswill, we have an apartment at Lake Zurich where we show how our design language translates into reality. We show the different ways materials can be used and some surprising solutions for daily life. This is living: a real-life stage where different types of stone can interact with furnishings and atmosphere.

Where does Real-Stein AG do business?
At first it was regional, but today we do business right across Switzerland and even internationally.

Herr Alberti, I’ve just stopped the clock for our time for the last lap. It’s well under the previous rounds. Let’s get back to concentrating on the race track. What’s it like to be in a Rolls-Royce on a Formula 1 track?
It’s almost unbelievable how responsive this handsome car is. It’s incredible what power the Wraith can pull out. I’m impressed by how sporty this feels and in a Rolls-Royce too.

Looking at this car’s interior with its trim in the high quality piano lacquer, would you like to fit out a customised model with natural stone?
I love wood, leather, stone and beautiful cars. For me personally, this combination of wood and leather works very well. But I’d love to help Rolls-Royce make a possible special edition car with stone inlay – that would be hard to beat in terms of exclusiveness and individuality.

During our drive, you mentioned shellstone. What is that?
The shells of cultured pearls are treated to produce a 1 mm thick layer of mother of pearl, which can be carefully positioned by hand onto a base to make a mosaic. This extremely exclusive material is used for wall panels and bath tubs.

There will always be new trends. How do you respond to them?
At the moment, we’re planning a new lifestyle exhibition, which will open in 2015. We will incorporate the latest materials and the experience we are currently acquiring, and this will in turn set new trends.

What else makes your company different?
Our quality control is unparalleled. Each slab that we supply is checked in detail, photographed and described. For exclusive interior fittings, it is vitally important to choose the best possible combination of slabs available, so that the veins running through them are perfectly matched. To do this, we keep a record of our incredibly large stock and combine the stone slabs on the computer. In 2015, we will be installing a robot system which has been designed especially for us. It will be complemented by our equally new fully automatic warehousing and will run round the clock.

It’s time for a pit stop. Thank you for giving me some interesting insights into your company. I look forward to seeing your new lifestyle exhibition.

Walter Alberit, 51, proprietor of Real-Stein AG in Gibswil (founded in 1989), lives beside Lake Zurich. His whole family, including two grown-up sons, work for the company. His profession is not his only passion; he also loves exclusive cars, the Italian football club AC Milan, adventurous travel and top-quality wine. But beautiful interiors – with natural stone, of course – and good Italian food are important to him too.

Real-Stein AG in Gibswil, not far from Lake Zurich, can make your dreams for your home come true. All types of natural stone, from smooth cool marble to dark granite and shimmering mother-of-pearl – the many faces of natural stone – can be seen here at first hand. Each piece is a one-off. The Stone Gallery, an enormous showroom with a huge variety of large stone slabs, is impressive. The Stone Library displays more than 400 natural stones, each in three different finishes.

The most powerful and dynamic Rolls-Royce of all times, the Wraith is the most sporty car ever built by Rolls-Royce. But its elegant line and exquisite hand finish – typical Rolls Royce qualities – are equally impressive. Its sophisticated gear system is unique: the satellite-enabled gears are linked to GPS data. For example, if you are driving uphill, the appropriate gear will be chosen from a total of eight. This car is unparalleled!

Dimensions Vehicle length: 5269 mm I Vehicle width: 1947 mm I Vehicle height: 1507 mm I Wheelbase: 3112 mm I Turning circle: 12.7 m I Boot Volume (DIN): 470 ltr Weight Unladen Weight (DIN): 2360 kg I Engine Engine/cylinders/valves: V/12/48 I Power output @ engine speed: 624 bhp / 632 PS / 465 kw@5.600 rpm I Max torque @ engine speed: 800 Nm / lb ft @ 1.500-5.500 rpm I Fuel type: Super unleaded Performance Top speed: 250 km/h / 155 mph (governed) I Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 4.6 sec

After a tiring day on the race track, we don’t drive straight home but stop over in Germany close to the border with Luxembourg and France. We stay in Victor’s Residenz-Hotel Schloss Berg in Perl-Nennig along the Moselle River. This 5-star hotel with its Mediterranean villa and romantic renaissance castle is surrounded by picturesque vineyards. There are three restaurants to pamper guests. The Bacchus Restaurant and Victor's Country Tavern Restaurant 'Die Scheune' are two, but it is Victor's Gourmet Restaurant Schloss Berg that is particularly worth a mention. Run by Christian Bau, who has earned both three Michelin stars and 19 points in the Gault Millau guide, the excellent wine menu lists 750 different wines. For our evening meal, we abandon ourselves once more to 'Rolls-Royce' style elegance.

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