Cigar Aficionado

The restaurateur looks at the man lighting a cigar and scowls. But it's the lighter that irks him, not the smoke. "Whatever happened to the nice lighters?" he says, picking the plastic disposable off his bar in disgust. "In the old days, men used to go out to dinner, and when they lit their cigar or cigarette, they had a gold or silver lighter. Something elegant." His head drops toward his chest for emphasis. "Not like this."

Here is a lighter built for elegance: the Cartier Oval Lighter. A redesign of the first Cartier Oval, which debuted in 1968, the new lighter boasts curved lines that make it easy to hide it in the palm of your hand. But who would wish to veil such a beauty? The Swiss-made pieces, which come in five styles, have a welcome heft. They feel solid, are built to last, and make a nice gift to a son for his 18th birthday or college graduation.

The hinge is hidden, and when open, the lid reveals the thickness of the outer skin. The sturdy top is braced by a masculine, miniaturized piston, which appears strong enough to hold the piece together for thousands of lights. No hissing turbo flames here: the lighter has an old-fashioned finger of fire that gently lights your cigar. A larger tank than the original allows it to stay lit for 40 minutes, according to the company.

The Cartier Ovals come in five finishes: black accented in gold, black accented in platinum, steel, platinum or gold, and range in price from $240 to $360. The platinum and gold versions have a vertical gadrooned pattern, an ornamental notching that gives the lighters texture. All will be available beginning this spring, with a standard flame, or a wider, thicker flame designed for cigars.

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