There are many companies making diamond jewellery and plenty of firms offering watches, but Backes & Strauss is unique as its speciality is, simply, diamond watches. And these are very special diamond watches as Backes & Strauss knows a thing or two about diamonds. Founded in 1789 in London, it is the oldest diamond company in the world. In the last decade, however, Backes & Strauss has focussed on diamond watches for both men and women, with a select range of jewels to match.
Collaborating with the Swiss luxury watch firm Franck Muller to provide the high-quality mechanical movements, a Backes & Strauss watch is beautiful both outside and inside. A Backes & Strauss is conceived as a jewellery watch as opposed to a watch merely embellished with diamonds. From the very first sketch, a Backes & Strauss is born as a diamond watch, which is why the diamonds fit so well into the overall design.
The jewellery theme is carried through to the dial. The idea is that, like a diamond, it should catch the light with the use of guilloché, applied numerals and facetted and polished hands. Thanks to the curved case shape, the watches sit comfortably, if not necessarily discreetly, on the wrist. Even the diamond on the crown of each watch shows how skilfully each precious stone is used - it sits pointy-side down, allowing the larger, flat top of the diamond to catch the light to maximum effect.
The diamonds set in the watches are of the very best quality. Only 'ideal' round cut stones are used, which create a 'hearts and arrows' effect within the stone. To me and you that means top-quality diamonds cut so perfectly that almost 50% of the rough stone is lost. But the loss is justified by the increase in fire and play of light in the stone. Cutting and polishing an ideal cut diamond can take up to three times longer than normal.
True to its London origins, the house's half a dozen watch designs, each with many variants, are inspired by the designs of John Nash, an English architect who was responsible for the layout of much of Regency London - the sweeping crescents, the fluted columns and the white stucco that was in vogue during the era of the dandy. The most recent addition to the growing collection of watches is the Renaissance, which offers a slimmer profile for a daintier look for women.
The best way to appreciate a Backes & Strauss watch is to try one on. When you do, I think that, like me, you will be surprised at how easy it is to wear so many diamonds with ease. CEO of Backes & Strauss, Vartkess Knadjian, explains: "I want people to see these watches as beautiful pieces of jewellery as we are using the criteria of high jewellery in watches that are designed to carry diamonds from the start." If it is a diamond watch you are after, it makes sense to head to the master, who so expertly and beautifully brings together diamonds and watches.