By Maria Doulton in London
One of the most impressive line-ups of women's watches at Baselword this year came from Dior. The house presented stunning watch after stunning watch, building on a solid base of models that now extends from practical, everyday designs to exciting evening watches using materials that show a couturier's sensitivity to nuance and surprise.
But there was one model that stood out as the most 'Dior' of them all. The Dior VIII Grand Bal Fil de Soie embodies the philosophy of the craftsmanship of the seamstresses and cutters working in the maison's ateliers at Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
Like all Grand Bal models, the working rotor of the automatic watch movement is on the front of the dial. Previously, the rotor - or oscillating weight - has been adorned with a trellis of diamonds, feathers, folds of mother of pearl and elements reminiscent of a Dior gown. But this year, the rotor is stitched with the material that quite literally holds together an haute couture creation: silk thread. For Christian Dior, silk was "the queen of all materials, the loveliest, the most feminine, the most enchanting, with all the qualities Nature gives to things we cannot make ourselves".
The beauty of the humble thread is taken from its behind-the-scenes duties and brought into the limelight on the dial of the new Dior VIII Grand Bal Fil de Soie. 1.5m of silk thread is woven into an intricate web on an old-fashioned lace bobbin by an aged lace-maker in Puy, France.
The result is pretty, delicate and unique. But this is not just a pretty final flourish. The rotor has to be fully functional, so the lace-maker had to develop new techniques to ensure the thread was perfectly balanced and weighted to the rigorous tolerances of watchmaking.
The Dior VIII Grand Bal Fil de Soie is available in green or pink silk models, the thread contrasted against a dial of Vietnamese black mother of pearl. The watch is powered by an automatic movement wound via the rotor on the dial and surrounded by a pink gold bezel. Only 88 of each version will be produced.
Read more about Dior Grand Bal watches