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Biennale des Antiquaires: high jewellery watches gleam with precious stones in singular creations that mark the passing hours

Timepieces enter the kingdom of high jewellery in this opulent selection of jewellery watches to be unveiled at the Biennale des Antiquaires 2014.

30 July 2014

By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid

If you can conjure the scene in Dr Zhivago when Lara and Yuri approach the frozen palace of Varykino, you start to get a feel for the icy beauty of Boucheron's Splendeurs de Russie collection. Inspired by the magnificent frozen landscapes of Russia, this glacial collection will be unveiled at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris this September.

The Romanov family was a regular client of Maison Boucheron, and a grandiose feeling of empire pervades the collection, which includes some extraordinary high jewellery watches. The Cristal de Lune watch has literally frozen time in a rock crystal dome that glistens with a pearly Moon and diamond-encrusted peacock. The opulent bracelet and removable tassel -which doubles up as a pendant - cascade with round and baguette-cut diamonds set in white gold. 

Equally evocative of the wintry landscapes and the grandiose ballrooms of Imperial Russia is the Reflet Pompon watch. The iconic Reflet case created by Boucheron in 1947, with its rectangular profile softened with smooth, rounded edges, has been covered with a blanket of icy diamonds. The delicate snow setting on the dial is framed by baguette and round-cut diamonds on the bezel. The bracelet, formed by three strands of diamonds, dangles with a whimsical diamond pompon, a recurring motif in Boucheron's collections. 

Recently previewed in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Café Society high jewellery collection from Chanel celebrates the Parisian café society of the early 1900s. Rebelling against convention and Puritanism, they paved the way for an aesthetic that valued talent over birthright. A leading member of the club, Gabrielle Chanel challenged conventional jewellery norms, pairing diamonds with men's flannel trousers. Dramatically placed on the stage, the 14 sets of high jewellery celebrate the glamorous days and nights of this trend-setting group.

Like the champagne that flowed during the parties of these artists, the Bubbles high jewellery watch features a wide cuff of circles juxtaposed with onyx geometric shapes.  Onyx beads are also used in the swirling patterns of the Midnight watch, scintillating with brilliant-cut diamonds. Juxtaposing fancy-cut diamonds with brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds lends the Symphony watch a vibrant tempo to match the jazzy mood of the age. And capturing the azure hue of their Mediterranean summers, the aquamarine beads on the Cruise secret watch are contrasted with black spinels and diamonds.

The Extremely Piaget collection revisits the golden 1970s with a selection of gemstone dials. A fabulous cuff watch featuring an off-centre natural lapis lazuli dial is caught up in a cobweb of hammered white gold. Meanwhile, the Secret watch, hidden by an enormous hand-engraved sapphire, sits on the wrist in a lacey cuff studded with 601 brilliant-cut diamonds and a natural blue opal dial set into an oval-shaped bracelet snow-set with 1,699 diamonds. 

To read more stories on the Biennale de Paris this September, please click here.

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