Luxury brands have outdone each other with sophisticated gem- and diamond-encrusted timepieces, from Bulgari’s sleek Serpenti to Piaget’s Limelight Gala and Rolex’s new Day-Date 36
Gems continue to be a source of inspiration for watchmakers this year. From blinding, full-pave dials to rainbow gems-set bezels, we take a look at the sparkling timepieces that have caught our eye.
The Rendez-Vous is a contemporary design that has quickly become one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s flagship ladies’ watches. It’s the perfect counterpart to the brand’s iconic Reverso, with its round case and playful interpretation of a round dial. With or without a moonphase, or in some cases a tourbillon, there are plenty of details on the dial to admire.
This year, the watchmaker transformed the elegant and understated silhouette by adding sparkle to the design. Instead of a single line of diamonds around the bezel, the watch now comes in a new version with a second row of larger diamonds surrounding the case. Solitaire-setting techniques used in jewellery-making allow more light to penetrate the diamonds, and the result is the Rendez-Vous Night & Day Jewellery, which sparkles with 186 diamonds weighing a total of 3.52 cts.
Taking a page from its history books, Piaget opted to transform several of its flagships this year, including the Limelight Gala and Possessions, all presented with more diamonds than before. The watchmaker, however, marries the sparkle of diamonds with the shine of gold to create stunning timepieces. The Extremely Lady and Limelight Gala are interpretations that feature supple gold bracelets. The gold straps are hand engraved to give off a slightly muted glint that complements the high shine of the bezel.
A name synonymous with understated design and sophisticated luxury, Hermès has never been a brand to go over the top with diamonds. This year, the house has created yet another woman’s piece that nods to its equestrian heritage: the Galop d’Hermès, which takes on the shape of a stirrup and comes in a range of precious metals and colourful leather straps. A gentle sprinkle of diamonds rests around the bezel, or in some references, covering the dial.
4. Audemars Piguet
It’s not all Royal Oak and Code 11.59 at Audemars Piguet this year. The watchmaker unveiled a one-of-a-kind timepiece so out of this world that it would fit nicely on the wrist of a heroine on a journey to save the universe. The Haute Joaillerie Sapphire Orbe sports a dial that is set on an orb that can be turned over and hidden within the spacecraft-like bracelet. It is set with 2,794 orange sapphires, 3,240 blue sapphires and 6,069 brilliant-cut diamonds, making for a total of 66.1 cts of sparkle – one of the most ambitious bejewelled undertakings seen this year.
Leave it to Cartier to find beauty in the mundane. The Baignoire Allongée Celadon from the Cartier Libre collection, with its shapely oval case, is said to be inspired by a bathtub. To this Cartier has applied its brilliant eye for colour. One version has emeralds and Paraiba tourmalines set against 572-brilliant cut diamonds on the case; another boasts white diamonds, black spinels and yellow sapphires on a yellow-gold case. Each reference is presented in a limited edition of 50 pieces.
In a surprising departure from its intricate movements and classic designs, Parmigiani brought the rainbow to its signature round case to create the Tonda 1950 Rainbow. Sapphires, rubies, tsavorites and amethysts weighing a total of 3.73 cts come together to create a dazzling colour wheel around the bezel of the 39mm rose-gold piece.
Fitted with a new movement that gives the timepiece 70 hours of power reserve, Rolex’s new Day-Date 36 comes in references in yellow gold, white gold and Everose gold. The most eye-catching is the white-gold reference with its full-pave dial and bezel. What makes the piece interesting is the use of coloured gems; Rolex first made the rainbow gem-set bezel popular with a Daytona that sported the gemset, and numerous watchmakers followed suit. With everyone else making their version of the rainbow bezel watch, Rolex put a fresh spin on the approach by taking the coloured gems to the dial, using 11 baguette-cut stones, each in a different colour, as hour markers. The result is the same colourful design but with a more subdued effect.
8. Patek Philippe
The house has added an all-new reference to the Twenty~4 collection, unveiling a round silhouette created exclusively for ladies. The watchmaker brings a dramatic touch of sparkle to the design, with a full-paved rendition of the timepiece in pink gold. The self-winding watch offers simple timekeeping functions across a dial that has Arabic numerals as hour markers. The case, dial, crown and bracelet get their sparkle from 3,238 diamonds that weigh a total of 17.21 cts.
Dials with dancing diamonds rank among some of Chopard’s strongest icons over the years, and the Happy Diamonds range continues to be evergreen, while continuing to add fresh new interpretations. The jeweller has opted to bring its signature moving diamonds to an oval watch this year in its latest interpretation of the Happy Sport range. The Happy Sport Oval is presented in two interpretations, stainless steel, and stainless steel with rose gold. Each is available with or without diamonds set around the bezel.
Once again bringing maximum shine to delicate designs this year is Graff, which launched the Peony collection of secret watches that double as jewellery and timekeepers. The floral design is set with diamonds in numerous cuts, for shine at every angle. More discreet is the reference paired with a satin strap, which provides just the right dose of daily sparkle.
The Serpenti collection has made a significant comeback at Bulgari in recent years. The Tubogas bracelet, in particular, blurs the lines between timepiece and jewellery. The Serpenti’s dial is shaped like the head of a snake that slithers away from the winding Tubogas body, and in its place is a steel bracelet with a clasp that’s more in tune with the common understanding of a bracelet watch. We are especially in love with the high-shine reference featuring a full pave bracelet and diamond-studded dial accented with blue hour markers, hands and a sapphire on the crown.