Luxury Watches

by SCMP

Luxury Watches

Traditional watchmakers turn to precious gems for sparkling timepieces

Timepieces that combine Swiss watchmaking and high jewellery are an exquisite display of originality and glamour.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 11:41am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 11:13am

The world of watchmaking, it seems, is being turned on its axis. As quickly as luxury brands traditionally rooted in jewellery are turning their attention to horology and acquiring partnerships with manufacturers to prove their worth in the industry, traditional watchmakers are demonstrating they can cast a bejewelled spell on timepieces with a cache of precious gems.

What this means for the consumer is an expertly executed array of designs that combine Swiss watchmaking and high jewellery in exquisite displays of originality.

Bulgari has a long history of dressing beautiful women in multicoloured gems and its new Diva collection of watches is a striking example of its mastery in devilishly glamorous creations.

Inspired in part by the glamorous women that have worn Bulgari jewels over the course of its history and in part a reference to its Roman origins, the collection interprets the mosaics of Roman baths in the brand’s typically flamboyant Italian style.

The four-piece set includes the Diva high jewellery watch in pink gold, adorned with coral, onyx and diamonds. Eight coral-set fans and eight onyx set fans are punctuated by rows of diamond claw settings fanning a snow-set diamond dial in a petal formation, while a succession of coral and onyx fans join the cuff to the case.

If ever there was a brand that could take bling to a new level of luxury and keep it tasteful, then Graff Diamonds surely is a contender.

The jeweller is reputed to have acquired more of the world’s rare and most valuable diamonds than any other, so it is fitting that it chose a dazzling timepiece to mark its debut appearance at Baselworld last year with the breathtaking US$55 million Hallucination.

This year’s follow-up is The Fascination, another gem-encrusted creation with a price tag of US$40 million.

The bracelet/watch is set with 152.96ct of white diamonds, with a 38.13ct, pear-shaped grade D flawless diamond central to the design.

This rare gem can be detached and fitted into a bespoke shank, giving it its own ring in which to dazzle. A diamond-set watch dial takes its place on the bracelet.

Jacob & Co has never been backward in showing off its over-the-top creations, and the Billionaire watch shouts bling before you’ve even taken in the aesthetics.

The watch is a result of Jacob & Co’s collaboration with Italian businessman Flavio Briatore and, according to the brand, sets a new record for carat weight, containing 260 in emerald-cut diamond form, with some weighing up to 3ct. The diamonds are set in an inverted pyramid style to form the case and bracelet as one single entity.

The watch features a skeletonised calibre with a tourbillon escarpment and power reserve of 72 hours.

Dripping with 1,400 brilliant-cut diamonds, Chaumet’s Joséphine Aigrette Impériale dazzles with light.

The white gold, high jewellery watch is the latest addition to its iconic Josephine series, which honours Napoleon’s impassioned first wife and takes inspiration from her apparent intense interest %in horticulture.

She is believed by many to have inspired the geometric lines of neoclassic architecture with foliage and floral motifs, which are explored in the series.

The watch is a unique piece in the latest collection and contains more than 17 carats of diamonds, from the signature pear-shaped dial to the interlaced link bracelet.

The new De Grisogono Grappoli gleams with almost 1,000 dark pink sapphires in a selection of random cuts. The snow-set dial and bezel is encased by a double row of briolette-cut gemstones, each one handset to allow them to move with the movement of the wrist that happens to show off their most dazzling light.

Bling is more usually associated with flamboyant shows of gems but Jaeger-LeCoultre’s La Montre Extraordinaire La Rose gives a subtle twist to a blanket covering of diamonds.

The watch makes use of the brand’s snow-setting technique, which it invented more than a decade ago.

Stones of different sizes are individually set in individual metal holdings that appear to dissolve together, and as each is set according to the gemsetter’s preference, no two pieces can ever be identical – just like snowflakes.

The rose-shaped watch is carpeted in more than 1,400 diamonds and five pink sapphires in a powerful understatement of bling.

Prestigious jeweller Harry Winston is no stranger o the craft of transforming diamonds into works of art as well. It demonstrates its expertise with the Premier Hypnotic Star Automatic 36mm. With a starburst dial created from 84 baguette-cut diamonds and 108 baguette-cut spinels, the watch holds a hypnotic allure. Invisible setting ensures that none of the white gold case is visible, and over 160 baguette-cut and round diamonds on the bezel ensure a seamless sparkle. The watch is powered by a mechanical automatic movement.