Inside The Diamond-Studded World of Watches & Wonders
A look at some of the best new timepieces, straight from Switzerland.By Tanya Dukes |
If there’s a must-see destination in serious watchmaking, it’s Watches & Wonders. Held annually in Geneva, participating watch brands arrive ready to show off their latest creations—often the product of years of R&D—to crowds of press, retailers, and seriously knowledgable amateurs. The elite exhibition features thousands of new releases, from straightforward options in stainless steel models to one-of-a-kind masterworks made from precious metals fully set with gems, plus everything in between. And diamonds were a focal point of many of the most-wanted creations for their ability to enhance the allure of watches of every description, but a few new releases stand out as the ones to, ahem, watch (and get on wait lists for) right now.
Carats and Complications
For far too long, there was a division between the world of lofty, mechanical watches—the kind with movements that sometimes require hundreds of hours to make—and the realm of heavily jeweled ones; usually, the latter didn’t have the same sort of sophisticated inner workings. But watch manufacturers realized there’s no reason someone can’t appreciate the finer points of a complicated watch movement and a generous helping of diamonds. And why not lavish an exceptional work of technical finesse with maximum diamond adornment to draw attention to its unique features, from chimes that ring on the hour to chronographs with split-second precision? Some of the show’s most jaw-dropping releases combined the best of both worlds, the peak of technical sophistication and high-carat impact. They’re guaranteed to draw admiration from watch enthusiasts, jewelry lovers, and those who love both equally.
Masterpiece Collection Spring Drive eight-day jewelry watch with a platinum case featuring 5.62 carats of diamonds and 1.25 carats of blue sapphires. $260,000, grandseikoboutique.us
Square Bang Unico high jewelry self-winding chronograph with 18-karat 42mm King Gold case and black alligator strap. $400,000, hubolt.com.
Grandmaster Chime Haute Joaillerie with 291 baguette-cut diamonds and 118 baguette-cut emeralds with patented alarm and date repeater mechanisms. Price available upon request, patek.com.
Cartier Tank Normale skeleton watch with a platinum case set with diamonds. $105,000 (subject to change), cartier.com.
Your Daily Diamonds
By now (hopefully), we all realize that diamonds don’t need to be reserved for formal occasions. If anything, their gleam brings an extra special element to even the most run-of-the-mill activities. Isn’t walking the dog or grocery shopping a little nicer with a precious diamond accessory? And a natural diamond’s outsize strength means it can withstand all-the-time wear. Maybe that’s why they are turning up increasingly as accents in the kind of streamlined watches that can be the default choice for every day. And with perfectly mid-sized proportions, these watches look right on wrists of any size. No one has to go without a watch with a flash of diamond-studded excitement.
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 with carnelian dial fashioned in 18-karat yellow gold. $58,700, rolex.com.
Overseas Self-Winding with 35mm steel case set with 90 diamonds. Price upon request, vacheron-constantin.com.
Black Bay 36 in stainless steel with diamonds on a light champagne dial. $4,675, tudorwatch.com.
Baume & Mercier
Hampton collection watch with a polished stainless steel case set with 28 diamonds. $3,250, baume-et-mercier.com.
Time for Jewelry
Once upon a time, it was considered impolite to be seen checking one’s watch while in society. (And some still adhere to that view.) Regardless of your perspective, it is sometimes necessary to keep an eye on the time. How else is it possible to party hop according to schedule or avoid overstaying one’s welcome? Thankfully, this edition of Watches & Wonders offered a full complement of options that make a covert time check easy and chic as can be. A jewel with a concealed watch dial looks like pure, diamond-studded adornment with no purpose beyond bedazzlement. While a bracelet is the most common jewel featuring a hidden watch, there are other options, like long, waist-skimming necklaces from Piaget, that never reveal their extra feature to the casual observer.
La Panthère de Cartier watch in 18-karat white gold, diamonds, emeralds, and onyx. $209,000, cartier.com
Reverso One Precious Colors watch with white mother-of-pearl dial, enameled frame, and diamond-set gadroons and lugs. Price Upon Request, jaeger-lecoultre.com.
Palace Decor dial sautoir in 18-karat rose gold with engraved dial and brilliant-cut diamonds. $193,000, piaget.com.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Ludo secret watch featuring mother-of-pearl and diamonds set in 18-karat rose gold. Price upon request, vancleefarpels.com
Médor mini joaillerie watch in rose gold set with 72 diamonds. Price upon request, hermes.com
Flights of Fancy
Every year, the money-is-no-object watch collectors who crave original design mark their calendars to follow the news coming out of Watches & Wonders. The weeklong event is a chance to binge on the trends that will set the style agenda for the coming year. Limited edition timepieces combining mechanical and artistic wizardry are some of the most anticipated debuts. Marquee watchmaking names leaned into artisanal techniques—miniature painting, enameling, intricate goldsmithing —and playful references to their archives and heritage to inject a note of whimsy into mechanical masterpieces. Of course, diamonds are indispensable to the designs of these standout creations, whether they are set end-to-end on both case and bracelet or serve as a strategically placed punctuation that amplifies a watch’s beauty and brilliance.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Lady Féerie watch featuring pink sapphires, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl set in 18-karat rose gold. Price upon request, vancleefarpels.com.
Mademoiselle J12 Cosmic watch with ceramic and 18-karat white gold case, ceramic bracelet, and 46 baguette-cut and 11 brilliant-cut diamonds. Price upon request, chanel.com.
Arceau Hermès Story with a rose gold case and bezel, set with 82 diamonds featuring a dial with miniature painting on agate, mood marquetry, engraving, and hand-painted gold appliqués with a Chantilly-white alligator strap. $88,200, hermes.com.
Imperiale Day/Night with an 18-karat rose gold case, diamonds, and blue sapphires on a pearlescent alligator leather strap. $90,700, chopard.com.