It is remarkable how many of the key figures in the Renaissance were a dab hand at a number of disciplines. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, was feted as an artist, of course, but he wasn't too shabby when it came to engineering, science, music, geology, botany, architecture and cartography, to name a few of his skills. And Michelangelo at various times painted, sculpted, built buildings and still found time to write poetry. There aren't many modern-day examples of such polymaths (just consider Madonna's attempt to act/direct/design clothes) but certain luxury brands and jewellers seem quite adept at pushing creativity into other fields.
Fabled jewellery house Faberge is perhaps most widely known for the eggs it created for the Russian royal family. After years in the doldrums amid legal fights over its name, Faberge has re-emerged with well-received collections of high jewellery and most recently a fine collection of timepieces. The pick of the latest range is the Alexei White Gold and Twelve Numerals (above right), an elegant, understated and slim watch that features an extra-flat Frederic Piguet movement and has an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. Faberge has eschewed its jewel-encrusted history and instead focused our attention on the wonderful wave pattern on the guilloche enamel that adorns the face. The case comes in 18-carat white gold and is attached to a wonderful hand-stitched black alligator leather strap. The Faberge Alexei White Gold and Twelve Numerals is priced at HK$198,750.
It's no surprise that Van Cleef & Arpels has been pushing its timepieces hard in recent years, when one considers the brand is part of the Richemont group, which includes storied watchmakers such as Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre. That Van Cleef & Arpels has clearly learned a thing or two from its stable mates is evidenced by the Pierre Arpels watch (above right), which comes in a number of sizes and iterations. This 42mm, white-gold case is deceptively big given the rather slim width of the watch and relatively simple design on the dial, with features restricted to four oversized Roman numerals. The company has looked to fellow Richemont brand Piaget to provide the thin movement, so the insides of the watch are top class, allowing Van Cleef & Arpels to work its magic on the frame, with an exquisite single diamond set into the crown. Fully jewel-encrusted versions of the watch are available but the simplicity of this iteration works better and is infinitely cheaper, at HK$142,000.
The jeweller that has caused the biggest splash in the watch world in recent years is Harry Winston, a brand that some might argue has changed the industry, with its seminal Opus collection. Despite the headlines that Opus generates, Harry Winston's other timepieces deserve just as much attention and none more so than the Histoire de Tourbillon 3 (far left), which defies conven-tion and, some might say, is at odds with the brand's sedate jewellery collection - but in a good way. The Histoire de Tourbillon 3 is the third in a series, and includes three tourbillons, each rotating at different speeds to maintain perfect gravity-defying time. Some might question the need for three tourbillons but it certainly is remarkably complex and looks fantastic. The blocky, white-gold case measures 65mm by 46mm and houses the tourbillons as well as two extra dials in the top right corner that show hours and minutes, and a rather quirky power reserve indicator in the bottom right corner. Limited to 20 pieces, the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 3 is priced at HK$5.15 million.