How much was the last toothbrush you bought? Probably not enough to be worth remembering. That sort of casual indifference to your toiletries is a kind of luxury for those without any luxuries at all. More specifically, for those without a $US4000 toothbrush staring them in the teeth every morning.
What is it?
The Reinast Luxury Toothbrush. A toothbrush worth roughly the equivalent of six and a half new iPhones. Or a little over 1000 normal toothbrushes. Or two (admittedly low-end) mail-order brides. In other words, a mouth-stick that costs you $US4320.
Four grand in the form of a toothbrush doesn't just float down from the ether on a bed of jewels and fluoride. Something this expensive better have the R&D to back it up. The Reinast Luxury Toothbrush has four years' worth. That's a grand a year, for those keeping track at home.
Back in 2009, Chief Technology Officer Dr Djorde Djokovic and the rest of the Reinast team set out to accomplish two distinct goals. As Djokovic explained to us over the phone:
"We wanted to create something that was unique in design and beauty — something that didn't already exist. And judging from our clients' feedback, we certainly think we've accomplished that.
"Plus, we wanted to create something lasting out of what would otherwise be a throwaway product. Toothbrushes get thrown out all the time; we wanted to make something that was both enduring and luxurious. In addition to being functional, obviously. These are the goals we had in mind."
And while Reinast can't disclose any of the names in its high-profile list of clientele, Djokovic did mention that at least one Middle Eastern sultan orders the toothbrushes by the dozens to hand out as gifts. So while it's certainly not our market, a market does indeed exist. One that counts 2 Chainz among its members. Naturally.
But building something worthy of 2 Chainz' molars comes with its fair share of speed bumps. Namely, what the hell to make the toothbrush of a literal lifetime out of.
"When we started, we wanted to integrate wood into the product," Djokovic explained, "but this turned out to be technically almost impossible since the product is not totally symmetric. We had the best wood carvers and specialists involved — and they gave up. So we decided streamline it into a sleek, uniform product made from solid titanium."
An early, wood-integrated prototype courtesy of Reinast.
Early technical drawings courtesy of Reinast.
And stubborn though that shape may be, it looks the way it does for a (vaguely ironic) reason: Reinast's designers wanted to emulate a stick.
Specifically, they were working from the base concept of a miswak branch, which provided ancient Egyptians with one of the earliest forms of tooth hygiene.
Traditional miswak sticks with softened bristles.
From there, though, much of the final shape came from far more subjective sources. Control groups were given various prototypes to hold in the form of "haptic feedback tests." Whichever felt nicest in the hand would win that particular round. After multiple rounds, the lucky winner you see above was the stick left standing.
And after holding this entire-used-car's-worth of a toothbrush for ourselves, we can indeed confirm that — yes, sure, it feels nice. Then again, so does heroin.
This really is an object of remarkable beauty. As I write these very words, I have the toothbrush sitting directly in front of me — partially because it makes me feel powerful, yes, but it's also just lovely to look at. It's not at all difficult to see why, if you happen to be one of the select humans with capable means, you would lust after it.
When actually using the Reinast Luxury Toothbrush for its intended purpose instead of as a display piece, you're supposed to deploy the matching, accompanying bumper around the head to keep your dirty maw from ruining its metallic glory. The bumpers, along with the heads, have about a two-month lifespan before you'll need to replace them.
But truth be told, the bumpers are a bit of an eyesore, and it's hard to imagine anyone actively replacing and removing the bit of clear plastic every time they brush their teeth. Of course, if you do have the desire and the money to burn, perhaps you have employees to do the undignified bumper-placing for you. Either way, we were more interested in going without.
And even though we did change out the heads in between rounds, the toothbrush's dentist-supervised antibacterial coating made everyone a lot more comfortable doing this:
It's important to note that, while many of us complained about the metallic sensation, the plastic bumper does render that a non-issue. And the wildly extensive packaging does come with several included. The toothbrush even comes with both soft and medium bristles, which in all honesty, feel like any soft- or medium-bristled toothbrush you might find in the drugstore. But hey, options!
When it does come time for new bumpers (and after the third and final year of free service) you're going to have to opt in to one of Reinast's more long-term bumper/head replacement plans: 5 years for $US400, 7 years for $US800, or 11 years for $US1,600. Theoretically, this toothbrush will cost you double its worth over your lifetime.
Just for some perspective, this is how many normal toothbrushes you could buy for just the initial cost of the Reinast Luxury Toothbrush alone:
Art by Jim Cooke
In other words, about three lifetimes' worth. If we're being generous.
Remember — this toothbrush is not for you! As Djokovic's put it:
"The type of client we have in mind and are currently selling to are those with an incredibly high net-worth. People who have their own yachts, people who have their own private jets — it's for people who can spend this amount of money on a product they deem beautiful. And one that doesn't exist on the market elsewhere."
Which is partly why what you see above is just the baseline. With the help of Greek jewelry designer Theodoros Savopoulos, Reinast custom built a diamond-embedded version of the toothbrush for a Middle Eastern sultanate. The company wasn't able to disclose images of the final product, but you get the idea:
Oil on canvas mockup of a customised toothbrush, ornamented with diamonds and other precious stones, courtesy of Reinast.
What the hell
Other than the vague sensation of metal and enjoying the feel of grasping an item of obscene opulence, this might as well have been any other toothbrush.
That said, as much as we may guffaw at the price tag and the countless other, more practical purchases we could make with that sort of money, realistically, this isn't all that dissimilar from an art collector putting down hundreds of thousands of dollars for a rare piece. Or a wine connoisseur paying thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine. And hey, at least the Reinast comes with a lifetime guarantee.
On the other hand? Holy shit that's an expensive toothbrush.