Setting diamonds and gemstones in wristwatches is a century-old art that transformed women’s timepieces from utilitarian to objects of desire. But it was the Art Deco era, the late 1920s and 30s that influenced the style of modern bejeweled watches, with timepieces from the period set with diamonds, onyx, sapphires, and rubies. Today, the tradition of the bejeweled watch continues—but with new designs and setting techniques. “When you blend the finest watchmaking skill with the beauty of exquisite stones the result is a treasure,” says FawazGruosi, founder and creator of de Grisogono.
Contemporary timepieces offer a range of different gemstone cuts and settings that run the gamut from full pavé (totally gem covered) to en tremblant, where stones are positioned to move gently with the wearer. Stone cuts used in timepieces today include the baguette (long, rectangular shape), in which gems are arranged one next to the other with no metal showing (usually used for bezels), and the round brilliant-cut, where gems are set into prongs. Some brands use fancy-cut shapes to achieve floral or nature motifs. The beauty of these watches lies not only in the extraordinary colors yielded by the stones that enhance them, but also in the painstaking handcraftsmanship that goes into their production.
FROM LEFT: 1. Franck Muller’s ruby-encrusted Mystery watch ($120,000) has a mystery hand to indicate hours and 221 total diamonds.
2. De Grisogono’s Sugar watch ($199,400), crafted in 18k pink gold, has a total of nearly 11 carats of emeralds.
3. The 18k white-gold Chopard Diamond Watch (price upon request) has a total of 15.74 carats in diamonds.