Showcasing unparalleled gem-setting expertise and sheer artistry, it’s no wonder that the jewellery watches launched at this year’s Watches & Wonders are all limited editions. These timepieces are not your run-of-the-mill bejewelled creations; instead, the precious stones serve to spin a tale of dreams and fantasies, spanning from the deepest trenches of the ocean to the furthest of galaxies.
Coussin de Cartier
Nobody does shaped watches like Cartier does. While the brand delivered in spades at this year’s fair (the Masse Mystérieuse! The Cartier Libre! The Privé Tank Chinoise!), we have a soft spot – pun intended – for the Coussin de Cartier. The collection is a modern interpretation of the cushion-inspired watch from the Cartier archives, and features a plethora of bejewelled versions for 2022.
What caught our attention, however, is the squishy version. Yes, squishy, like a cushion. The timepiece comes cushioned with a malleable outer case that’s flexible to the touch. The secret lies in a mesh-like golden construction, an accolade to the ingenuity of Cartier’s craftsmen. There are two limited edition versions available, one with diamonds and one with emeralds, tourmalines, tsavorites and sapphires.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé
The Mademoiselle Privé collection by Chanel has long been a canvas for artistic crafts. Two years ago, it expanded its portfolio with the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton pieces, which straddle the line between watch and jewellery. Inspired by founder Gabrielle Chanel’s fascination for the humble button, the new additions to the collection this year are more decadent than ever and deliver unbridled creativity and sublime craftsmanship.
Some of our favourites include the Golden Pearl motif suite, which comprises a sautoir, ring and cuff bracelet that each hide a secret watch. At the centre of each jewel is a golden pearl, flanked by a gilded braid, diamonds and onyx, that opens to reveal the watch. Then, there’s the Coromandel piece unique long necklace that pays tribute to its founder with a cameo of Gabrielle Chanel’s face on one side, and an engraved watch dial on the other.
Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Heures Florales
Lovers meeting on a bridge, butterflies fluttering their wings, ballerinas performing a dance: Van Cleef & Arpels’ Poetic Complications never disappoint, and this year is no exception. The Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Heures Florales houses a three-dimensional dial featuring a cornucopia of hand-painted flowers that blossom to reveal a white or yellow diamond pistil. There are two versions available: the Heures Florales is a garden of blue and green blooms, set against a mother-of-pearl background and ensconced within a white gold case. The Heures Florales Cerisier in rose gold enchants with its spring-like tones of pinks and reds, surrounded by butterflies and pink sapphires.
How does one tell the time, you might ask? Just count the number of flowers that blossom every hour in a random pattern, while the minute retrograde display can be found on the case band.
Vacheron Constantin Les Royaumes Aquatiques Tourbillon jewellery – Sea Horse
As in the grand tradition of yore, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers department continues to produce one-of-a-kind masterpieces that boast a range of technical and artistic savoir-faire techniques. Borne from this department is the Les Royaumes Aquatiques trilogy of watches that pay tribute to the wonders of the sea. The watches are as much as technical wonder as they are an artistic feat.
The Sea Horse brings together four distinct craftmanship techniques, namely guilloche, enamelling, engraving and gem-setting. The guilloched and engraved dial is overlayed with a sea horse crafted in cloisonne enamel (cloisonne means that the enamel is set within a thin 24K gold wire, which is slimmer than a piece of paper). The colours of the enamel are fired up multiple times; the procedure is so complex that a simple mistake would require the enameller to re-do the entire process. A cabochon sapphire studs the eye of the sea horse, while the bezel is embedded with blue sapphires of varying hues.
The nautical timepiece is equipped with an ultra-thin self-winding calibre 2160, which also features a tourbillon that takes pride of place at 6 o’clock.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez Vous Dazzling Star
Wish upon a shooting star, or so the adage goes. Well, be prepared to have all your wishes come true with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez Vous Dazzling Star. This celestial timepiece emulates the starry sky with a three-layered aventurine dial. The magic happens at random, as the shooting star makes its appearance four to six times in an hour, seemingly unprompted. Should the wearer wish to summon the star, all she has to do is wind the crown.
The timepiece is equipped with the newly developed automatic calibre 734 that offers 70 hours of autonomy. Offered in pink gold, the 36mm watch dazzles with a lavish smattering of diamonds on the lugs, the dial, and the two concentric rings that form the bezel. The outer circle alone is set with 36 griffe-set diamonds, a traditional jewellery technique introduced in the Rendez-Vous collection in 2019. For maximum impact, opt for the fully bejewelled version with a diamond-studded bracelet.