Running the gamut of styles, there were high jewellery women’s watches to seduce every palate in 2015. From cute to crazy, extravagant to elegant, and neo-punk to cocktail classic, the trend for secret watches was conspicuous, allowing women to double their pleasure by masquerading a useful timepiece in a not-so-secret gemstone setting.
As the inventor of the snow-set diamond technique in 2002, Jaeger-LeCoultre watches display their upper hand in this feminine and graceful model known as La Rose Extraordinaire. Recreating the marvel of sparkling sun on freshly fallen snow, the 1,420 snow-set diamonds scintillate on the delicate petals. And, just like natural snowflakes, the beauty of this technique ensures that no two watches can ever be the same since the disposition of the different-sized gemstones depends on the gemsetter’s creativity.
This cute hedgehog was one of Chopard’s entries as a new participant of Paris Couture Week. As part of the Animal World collection, the Hedgehog High Jewellery secret watch protects the diamond dial with an armour of moonstone quills. By opening the spiky cover, a delightful baby hedgehog with diamonds and blue sapphire eyes tells the time.
Secret watches are a speciality at this Maison and in 2015 we were treated to some wondrous Cartier watches. Hiding behind a mesmerising 51.13 carat opal was the Aten secret watch. This unique cuff bracelet is shaped like a kokoshnik, the traditional Russian headdress that Cartier interpreted in gemstone tiaras in the 1990s. The Aten timepiece is set with brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds and features an ingenious sliding door to reveal the hidden dial.
Empress Joséphine was a dominant style icon during her reign and many of her jewels were created by the official court jeweller Nitot, aka Chaumet. This diminutive Éclat Floral Joséphine watch features a plump pear-shaped diamond perched just above midnight, offset with a diamond bezel, dial and bracelet. This divine cocktail hour diamond watch is an ideal chaperone to see you through the wee hours.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Once the haunt of divas Maria Callas and Wallis Simpson, Van Cleef & Arpels has always known how to enchant and dazzle with its high jewellery creations. One of the most memorable ladies’ watches of 2015 was the Carpe Koï secret watch, a magnificent orange carp set with 8,000 coloured gemstones swimming in a spray of diamonds and tourmalines. The coiled carp sits beautifully on the wrist and, to consult the time, it opens its mouth to reveal a secret dial set with diamonds, garnets and sapphires.
When it comes to Breguet watches, seeing is believing, and to get a feel for what the Be Crazy timepiece looks like in the flesh, take a look at Maria Doulton’s video of the most amazing diamond watches in the world. Decadently opulent and set with more than 1,000 baguette-cut mobile diamonds, the articulated petals of this Crazy flower shimmer and shake with your every move, while the time is discretely revealed in the egg-shaped dial, also set with baguette-cut diamonds.
Gabrielle Chanel left a rich legacy of motifs that still permeate the creations of Chanel today. The exquisite Plume Secret watch - which alludes to the French designer’s fascination with feathers as symbols of independence and freedom - is snow-set with diamonds and pink sapphires, and a delicate feather veiling the time on the dial. By pressing one of the sapphires on these wondrous watches for women, the feather moves to one side to reveal the bright pink sapphire dial.
However, when it comes to spikes, nothing can compare to the Audemars Piguet Punk Diamond watch. The recipient of the GPHG Awards High Jewellery Watch Prize, this radical proposal is composed of a series of 56 pyramid-shaped studs decked out in a full diamond jacket of 8,148 snow-set diamonds. The raw energy of the early 1970s punk movement was the motor behind this audacious “Rebel Yell”.
Like a ripe pomegranate bursting with seeds, this colourful de GRISOGONO Grappoli watch is the result of expert gem-setters and stonecutters patiently cutting and setting each and every one of the dazzling 1,000 plus rubies by hand. The luscious Ruby Grappoli S06 model scintillates with random-set rubies, which vary in size to create a ruby red masterpiece that moves in time with its owner, thanks to the halo of briolette-cut rubies attached to the bezel.
In the midst of its 260th anniversary celebrations, Vacheron Constantin wrote a new chapter in watchmaking history when it presented the most complicated pocket watch on Earth with a total of 57 complications. On a lighter note, women were regaled with a high jewellery trilogy called Heures Créatives, which included this Heure Discrète white gold model emulating the shape of a fan with a secret watch nestled under its diamond flapper dress. Coquette, flirtatious and eminently feminine, the Heure Discrète would not have looked amiss on Daisy Buchanan’s wrist in The Great Gatsby.