If there was ever a wallet that was ahead of it’s time I’d be hard-pressed to find anything as innovative as the Dunhill Biometric Wallet. Back when this wallet was released in 2011 it gained popularity not just because of its distinctive look but also its high price point. Once dubbed the most expensive wallet in the world the Dunhill was the first of its kind. Some might even say the Biometric was the first ‘smart wallet’ ever that used technology along with traditional materials to create unique and innovative functionality.
Dunhill is a brand that shouldn’t need an introduction. Classified as a premium or designer brand the company was founded in 1983 by Alfred Dunhill who cemented their fame in jumping on the ever-increasing popularity of automobiles at the time. This line of accessories called ‘The Dunhill’s Motorities’ which was one of the first of its kind and gained popularity with car owners across England. From here Dunhill went onto become a top brand in luxury clothing and apparel and is still doing this today.
Look & Design
As a luxury product it’s fair to say Dunhill didn’t skimp on the materials it used to create their signature wallet. As mentioned the Biometric wallet what’s known as a ‘hard case’ wallet that uses a hardy exterior with an internal mechanism to store your cash and cards. In the case of the Biometric wallet the outside is made from a highly durable and lightweight carbon fiber that keeps the wallet safe against theft and potential damage while providing a high-class look and feel.
The size is something also worth mentioning. Coming in at 8.5 x 11 x 2 cm the wallet is on the larger size compared to most. Being 2cm thick is also an issue as the wallet said to be highly noticeable and uncomfortable in the pocket. Given the technology within the wallet I understand why they probably couldn’t get this down to a smaller size but this would, and did, but a lot of people off purchase this wallet.
Functionality & Utility
Let’s not beat around the bush. Where the Biometric wallet really shone was with its innovative range of smart features something never really seen before in a wallet. This main feature was the inclusion of a Fingerprint scanner on the outside top of the wallet. I can’t confirm or deny the accuracy of the scanner nor the process for setting it up but if it worked as intended it was sure to be a fantastic security measure and a fun little trick/gimmick to show off to with friends.
The wallet also allowed you to connect the wallet through Bluetooth to your mobile or smartphone. This allowed you to use another one of the wallet’s main security features, a sounding alarm that goes off if you and your wallet are separated by more than 5 meters. In terms of its security I’m pretty impressed by the way it worked.
So how did the wallet fair as an actual wallet? Well, the inside of the Dunhill had two main areas for storage of your belongings. The first hosts a standard stainless steel money clip used for storing your banknotes in a secure and easy to access manner. The clip was high quality, durable, and added to the overall aesthetics of the wallet.
The opposing side to the wallet is literally another wallet. Think of it as a Russian Doll with a smaller leather wallet being inside. It’s an odd thing to instead of integrating card slots into the Biometric wallet you simply use another wallet inside itself. Not a big fan of the way it doesn’t use the space given efficiently and basically gives you a smaller wallet within another wallet. I personally feel this is a lazy, or cop-out, approach to designing a wallet.
One thing that got the attention of many people was the dear price tag of the Biometric wallet. Coming in at a price of $875 in 2011. Often referred to as the most expensive wallet in the world the Dunhill set a price that not only reflects its stake as a luxury brand but also a wallet so very different from what people were used to.
Legacy & Verdict
So what was it that eventually caused Dunhill to discontinue its Biometric wallet? I personally think it’s a combination of a few things. Firstly, its price tag. Although Dunhill is a designer brand I think even for them this very high price tag was beyond the deep end especially for wallets that compared to other luxury goods never really extended this high price tag.
Secondly, with the rate at which technology was advancing the Biometric wallet suffered from its own features becoming obsolete or old over only a short amount of time. This would require Dunhill to continually update and re-release the wallet to keep up with modern technology and the smartphone industry which its device would integrate with. This is something Dunhill didn’t want to do in the long run.
Finally, the wallet itself wasn’t actually the best. It was fairly large and didn’t have amazing functionality to capitalize on this size. By 2011 the big trend in minimalist wallets was well underway and people were ditching the bulky bi-folds for much smaller and slimmer wallets coming onto the market. This very well could have influenced people’s decisions in the matter. For more information on the Dunhill, Biometric wallet check out the original website listing at the Wayback Machine using the link below.