Aside from tourbillons and calibers, watches can wow in different ways. Gem-set designs truly hold their own as remarkable jewellery pieces.
A watch is often appreciated or valued for its practical purpose – that is to tell time, among other functions offered by complications, but it seems a new trend has emerged.
Feast your eyes on the dazzling array of this year’s haute joaillerie offerings.
Yes, watches have indeed served as reliable timekeepers, but in the heart of the modern age, they are so much more than that. No longer mere instruments for measuring hours and minutes, these new creations can be considered as objets d’art.
From Cartier to Bulgari, Chopard and Breguet, 2023 novelties in this category either come adorned with rare gemstones or have their cases fashioned from precious metals. Some even sport dials that have been transformed into miniature canvases for artistic expression.
Each watch tells a unique story, as well as being a testament to the dedication of those who craft them – and to the discerning taste of those who wear them.
Whether it is a matter of beauty over function, or a marriage of both, jewellery watches prove that timekeeping is an artform.
Jewellery As Art
There is no arguing about how Bulgari is gaining prominence in the watch industry thanks to its innovative technology and the successful incorporation of high jewellery into timepieces.
Two notable creations, the Octo Roma Mediterranea and Cameo Imperiale, illustrates this point perfectly.
The Cameo Imperiale pays homage to Bulgari’s Italian heritage. It has a hinged cover displaying a carving of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor.
As for the name, it actually refers to an ancient method of carving – be it on a gem, piece of jewellery, or some other vessel. Bulgari collaborated with skilled artists from Torre Del Greco, near Naples, to produce the watches.
Caesar is adorned with a diamond laurel wreath, a lapis lazuli toga, and diamond spaulders, framed by a diamond-set meander motif. The platinum case is covered in baguette-cut diamonds, while the hinged cover is framed by a diamond bezel.
The Octo Roma Mediterranea is just as captivating. Its case draws inspiration from Roman architecture and is adorned with precious stones.
The hinged cover features a white gold octopus guarding diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and Paraiba tourmalines. Opening the cover reveals an octagonal bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds.
The rose gold case is set with baguette-cut diamonds, and the rose gold crown features a titanium insert. The blue alligator strap is additionally equipped with a folding buckle set with baguette-cut diamonds.
The Cartier Baignoire watch is an iconic and timeless timepiece known for its unique oval case. This distinctive design was first introduced in 1912 and has since become a symbol of elegance and luxury.
The word “baignoire” is French for “bathtub”, evident in the sleek and elongated shape. It is certainly unconventional, as well as avant-garde and sophisticated.
Cartier recently introduced 11 new variations of the Baignoire, including five in the Mini size and six in the Small size.
The Mini models have been adjusted to serve as bangles, with options in yellow gold and fully set versions on patent leather straps. On the other hand, the larger Small model features a curved crystal and Roman numerals framed in precious metals.
While the collection offers accessible options in solid yellow gold with leather straps or a matching gold bracelet, anyone who seeks more opulence can opt for the yellow and rose gold versions with a single row of 42 brilliant-cut diamonds, as well as white gold models with 227 diamonds on white gold bracelets.
The most extravagant version boasts a bracelet adorned with an additional 798 diamonds, sporting a total carat weight of approximately 6.4 carats, making it one of the most luxurious “bathtub” watches ever seen.
Fit For A Queen
Breguet’s renowned timepieces have captivated numerous famous women throughout history. The Reine De Naples watch, originally created in 1812 for Queen Caroline Murat, still holds timeless allure over 200 years later.
In homage to all its admirers, a new model has been released. Created in the colour of light rose, it exudes a distinct feminine charm.
The watch boasts an 18 karat rose gold case with a sapphire crystal case back. Additionally, the bezel, dial flange and crown can be seen glittering with 118 diamonds.
More so, the dial is a product of meticulous craftsmanship, featuring a light rose grand feu enamel with a deep glow. It is said that the process involves a complex process of mixing silica and oxides to produce a diverse palette of colours, each with a different melting point.
The enamel is meticulously applied to the dial and heated multiple times until the desired colour is achieved.
The watch’s design also includes an off-centred chapter ring with Arabic numerals and a striking pear-cut diamond at 6 o’clock. The numerals, minute circle, and Breguet logo are enhanced with gold plating.
To add an extra touch of luxury, the watch features a calfskin strap and buckle set with 28 diamonds.
Aura Of Splendour
Chopard’s latest jewellery watch is part of the Caroline’s Dreams collection. It highlights the extraordinary personality of the brand’s artistic director, Caroline Scheufele.
“Through her creative genius and knowledge of precious stones, she infuses each of the maison’s haute joaillerie creations with a unique aura of splendour,” reads the description.
And true enough, crafted in ethical white gold and entirely set in pear-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds, this unique Caroline’s Dreams watch celebrates the charm and fragile beauty of emeralds.
What more, the emerald is one of the gems most beloved by Scheufele, who is said to have recognised the “regenerative power of nature in the purity of its green hues”.
To magnify this rarest of precious stones, Chopard’s master jewellers have even carefully composed a virtuoso arrangement – one that impressively blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.
It shows without a doubt that when there is a harmonious marriage of function and beauty, timekeeping will become a work of art.