A while back, I did a review on a La China custom dalia that I received at the Encuentros Partagas festival from Nov 2014. In that review, I got to sort-of do an unboxing for a particular S.T. Dupont lighter that I had been looking for for quite a while.
It’s one of the earlier Xtend lighters, which were the original “Made in France” versions, and has been replaced by the made-in-China MaxiJet version in recent years. I don’t debate the quality or fit-and-finish of one versus the other – it’s my understanding anyways that the Xtend’s were made of Chinese-made parts, and simply assembled in France, and that the MaxiJet’s are simply the same parts basically (except for some branding differences), from the same factories in China, and now just made in China at the source. However, some people do really look for the Made in France Xtend’s, differentiated by the “Made in France” logo on the bottom of the lighter, the small fuel window on the base, the “Xtend” logo painted on the edge opposite of the trigger button, and a plain shiny chrome trigger (as opposed to the newer MaxiJet having the “S.T. Dupont” logo stamped on it).
Anywho, I love this little lighter. I snagged it from an online auction listing from a retailer in Spain that was closing out some discontinued new-old-stock stuff – I think I got it for around $120 USD shipped, as well as the leather case/cover from another seller for about another $30.
The matte brown finish, layered with a matte black Maori tribal-tattoo pattern in the style of a sea turtle has some great beauty and meaning behind it for me. I’ve always been fascinated with the history, art and architecture of ancient peoples and indigenous tribes.
The Maori people are a Polynesian indigenous people in New Zealand and the Cook Islands with quite a wonderful history behind them, not unlike the Taino indians of Cuba, or the Aztec peoples of ancient Mexico. The influence of their histories and ties to nature definitely impacts on their folk art, noticable in the art of modern Pacific-rim countries and around the Caribbean and South America. While some may call it tourist-kitsch, my wife and I have always enjoyed the brightness and boldness of most of these art forms.
As such, the sea turtle in Maori / Polynesian culture is one of great esteem. The turtle represents one of the most important and popular elements, as it’s representative of harmony, family, wellness, and long life – but also in it’s symbolism as “the navigator” (yup – got right to me with my work in civvie SAR and in policing). The turtle is also highly regarded as a representative of that which will bring these peoples to their final resting place after death, as the turtle moves freely between land and sea, between this world and the next.
Even, at it’s heart, even without this connotation to me in my work and personal life, it’s still a wonderfully functional piece with amazing quality construction and finishing. It’s been flawless in it’s performance to me over about the past few months – though I have about a dozen various lighters (yes, I’m definitely a “gear whore”, LOL), this one is in my top three rotation between my Vector/KGM Tri-Pump table lighter and an Iroda red-and-black travel torch. If you can find one – let me know and I’ll buy it too! LOL. But, definitely worth a snag if you can find one, or any of the other unique art-piece editions that S.T. Dupont did of these earlier Xtend single-torch lighters.