Jewellery watches are among the most exacting and creative horological wonders. Here are eight of the most striking pieces of 2022
What separates a timepiece set with diamonds from an extraordinary jewellery watch? It is truly difficult to say, but you will know it when you see it — and certainly when you wear it, if you are fortunate enough. Such watches tend to be rare — many are unique creations — and are designed to wow. Often they might not even look very much like watches, and are sometimes so playfully audacious that they do not even feature gemstones. Of course, watches of the latter sort will not appeal to traditionalists, just as fantastically lavish objets may be a tad too ‘purple’ for contemporary tastes. While you cast a critical eye on this selection, remember to save a place on your scorecard for how any one of these might feel on the wrist.
While the Cartier Coussin Innovation looks like just another gem-set watch, this is a clever illusion. It feels like nothing else in the world.
Cartier challenges the hard reality of precious metals and gemstones with this soft-to-the-touch Coussin Innovation watch. The watchmakers have employed material science and 3D printing to deliver a white gold mesh that allows the case to have the feel of a cushion; Coussin watches are inspired by the shape of cushions.
Who needs to pry gemstones from the earth when there are technical solutions that require the same level of fastidiousness and skill as traditional gemsetting? With the carbon fibre composite MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis Rainbow, Hublot has created the world’s first wristwatch with coloured carbon fibre inserts. The idea is a wink and a nod to the traditional watchmaking rainbow setting technique.
EACH OF THE LITTLE DOTS OF COLOUR IN THE HUBLOT MP-09 CASE ARE THE RESULT OF INDIVIDUAL INSERTS, BUT THE CASE FEELS SMOOTH TO THE TOUCH.
The pure beauty of a fine timepiece is sometimes threatened by the mundane presence of hands, which the Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi neatly circumvents by dint of being a secret watch. The tiny manual winding movement works quietly behind a pavé dial in the head of the snake, allowing what is one of the world’s most supple bracelets to properly shine instead.
It takes a lot for any watch to preen on the wrist like a peacock but Chopard gets the job done, both literally and figuratively, with the Animal World Peacock. Forming the entire bezel and spilling over onto the dial, the peacock is a miniature titanium sculpture that features a staggering 2,230 gems of various types. It is a unique piece, which likely speaks to the challenge of working with titanium in this form.
AS A BONUS FOR PURISTS, THE CHOPARD ANIMAL WORLD PEACOCK WATCH USES A SELF-WINDING MOVEMENT.
The Gucci G-Timeless Planetarium features a unique set-up for its hands, allowing them stay out of the way of the gemstones.
Speaking of party tricks, the Gucci G-Timeless Planetarium watch packs a couple, including its unusual central tourbillon, which is almost concealed by the clever use of diamonds. On command, the 12 green princess-cut tsavorites acting as hour markers spin around the dial in an unexpected whirlwind of colour and light.
The Première watch began the story of watchmaking at Chanel 35 years ago, and the Chanel Hors-Série Première Chain Charms is paired with iconic motifs of the luxury maison. So as well as being a wristwatch, this one is also a series of charms, at least in one of the three versions of this special edition.
THE CHANEL PREMIÉRE WATCH SHARES THE LIMELIGHT IN THIS EXECUTION WITH FIVE OTHER ICONS FROM THE LUXURY MAISON.
High jewellery is often marked by a sense of playfulness and extraordinary creativity, to which Piaget adds multi-functionality with the Solstice Extravagant Touch. The white gold Solstice sports a pair of amazing metiers d’art feathers that can actually be separated from the watch and worn as earrings. The fact that the feathers are real, like the gems, is the ultimate party trick.
While other watchmakers satisfy themselves with mere colourful dials and straps, Audemars Piguet put its gemsetting partners at Salanitro to work on delivering some serious fun instead with the Royal Oak Selfwinding Rainbow in two sizes, 41mm and 37mm. The rainbow gemsetting style is something of a watchmaking tradition, which Audemars Piguet also has a bit of sport with by offering 10 versions of each model, instead of combining all colours on one watch.