Jewellery watches have had a stellar year in 2013 with more exciting models than I have ever seen before. This is because watchmakers are experimenting with techniques beyond the usual and daring to mix it up. Paillonné, cloisonné and grand feu enamels, along with miniature painting, diamonds, engraving and marquetry and a big dollop of imagination, are combined in ways we have never seen before. And in the case of Chanel, even some needlework.
So we see amazingly complex works of art such as DeLaneau's enamel miniature paintings or Cartier's Fabuleux Frogs. This watch, with its many layers of decoration, features a dial painted with the scene of a serene fish pond, atop which are carved stone and enamelled lily pads and flowers complete with a diamond-set frog. Chaumet's 'Attrape-moi…' watch spins a web of mother of pearl, gold and diamonds around which rotate a spider and bee, and Stephen Webster brings his eerie Batmoths to a watch dial.
Brands like Chaumet, Graff, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier bring the animal world to life in the small confines of a watch dial. Patek Philippe, de GRISOGONO, Backes & Strauss, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Chopard, meanwhile, make an art of embellishing cases and bracelets with some seriously valuable gems. Piaget swings to the vibe of the 1960s with a slinky gold cuff watch made using a chainmaking technique so long out of vogue. And Harry Winston takes inspiration from Mrs Winston in a glamorously wide diamond cuff watch.
The prize for the cutest jewellery watch of 2013 has to go to Cartier for the Fabuleux Baguette Panthère, which features a diamond-pelted panther cub clinging to the bracelet and dial, her emerald eyes gazing out and tail curled in delight. Then again, I have become very fond of DeLaneau's Frog watch and Chaumet's delightful night time-in-the-garden scene, complete with a little ladybird. The truth is, I've been spoilt for choice this year. And guess what? It won't get easier next year. Expect many more exciting jewellery watches in 2014 as it looks like we are on a roll.