In spite of a global downturn in spending on the high end of watchmaking, brands such as Cartier, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille are still betting that fantastic, jewelled watches will thrill collectors into shelling out for special occasions. A tour of the 2017 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) in January revealed a vast collection of inventive, gorgeous and extremely expensive watches in which diamonds and other precious stones took centre stage. Here are some of our favourites.
Cartier Panthère Royale
As much as I loved the Cartier Panthère with the black spots, this one is much more blinged-out. In white gold with diamonds across every centimetre, this filigreed watch was one of the most beautiful ones at SIHH.
Vacheron Constantin Copernicus Celestial Spheres
This hand-detailed Grand Feu enamel dial is only one reason this watch is so beautiful. The allure also comes from the movement, which was designed in honour of Nicolas Copernicus and his theory that the moon revolves around earth, which in turn revolves around the sun. You tell the time by the small gold indicators around the edge of the dial.
H Moser & Cie. Venturer Smoky Sapphire
Don’t like diamonds just around the bezel? The normally understated brand H Moser is experimenting with diamonds on the face of its Venturer watch. Here, you’ve got 313 brilliant-cut diamonds on the 18-carat white- gold case and 375 brilliant-cut sapphire stones on the face.
Audemars Piguet Diamond Outrage Sapphire
This was my favourite jewelled watch at the show. A one-of-a-kind spiked cuff in 18-carat white gold, set entirely with 11,043 brilliant-cut blue sapphires, this watch is almost too ridiculous to be real. The watch itself is hidden on the inside of the cuff so the jewelled spikes can take centre stage.
Piaget Sublime Radiance Cuff
A quartz movement takes centre stage in this diamond-drenched bracelet from Piaget, which has a long tradition of such cuffs. But the real standout detail is the delicate rose- gold lacework stringing it all together.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina in White Gold
This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre has a new movement that includes a reminder chime, so you can set a time (here, it’s the little star by 8 o’clock.) But the real stars here are the diamonds around the bezel—and the new purple face.