Lincoln Road’s new luxury boutique, Vault

What does luxury look like? Is it back? Did it ever go away? The answer to these questions lies, perhaps surprisingly, on Lincoln Road—and not only in Herzog & de Meuron’s striking parking garage-itecture masterpiece.

No, the most prominent sign that luxury is here to stay (in South Beach, at least) can be found a block or so east, nestled between Balans and an outpost of French Connection. It arrived quietly, with little fanfare, but make no mistake: Vault is set to make some noise. Its owners—a somewhat modest bunch who prefer their brand to speak for them—like to refer to it as “the world’s first luxury boutique department store.”

Step inside today and you’ll find a range of watches from Richard Mille—timepieces made with a level of attention to detail usually seen in the aeronautics and automobile industries. (While the Vault team doesn’t like to talk numbers, Mille watches are priced anywhere from $50,000 to $625,000.)

You’ll see a showcase of Chrome Hearts eyewear— the sought-after sunglasses spotted on stars from Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria to Karl Lagerfeld and Heidi Klum. Heading toward the back of the store, near the leather chairs and flat-screen TVs, there’s a case of luxury Leica binoculars. And don’t be surprised if there’s a motorcycle sitting in the shop soon; Vault plans on stocking the handmade, six-figure Ecosse Moto Works motorcycles out of Denver.

Larry Sands, one of the forces behind Vault, founded his first upscale optical boutique in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1970. He expanded to Aspen and other jet-set locations like Santa Fe, Malibu, Miami and East Hampton with his Optical Shop of Aspen. These days, after years in the luxury milieu, he lives for innovation, and even waxes poetic about the magnetic paint beneath the cow-hide tiles lining the walls of the store. The boutique showcases the latest technology—and it exudes luxury.

According to the store’s philosophy, luxury doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Being unique can make something luxurious, as can scarcity. Also on that list: exotic materials, cutting-edge technology and extraordinary craftsmanship. For example, Chrome Hearts and Richard Mille merchandise will form the base of an ever-evolving product lineup at Vault, a selection the team will scour the world to procure.

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