By Rebecca Doulton
Nature is always a bountiful source of inspiration for watchmakers and jewellers, and flowers and insects are becoming more and more frequent in the world of horology. As reviewed recently, animating the dials of some of the most sophisticated ladies' watches is proving to be a recurrent theme, such as the red-winged butterfly automaton from Jaquet Droz watches.
Following the success of the award-winning, high jewellery butterfly extravaganza of 2014 from Graff watches, butterflies have flown back into Graff's universe, winging their way around the dial of these ladies' watches. Graff 's new 38mm Disco Butterfly features sparkling pavé dials adorned with six butterflies. The wings of the butterflies in mid-flight are set with marquise and pear-shaped sapphires, rubies, emeralds or diamonds to contrast with the pavé background. The minute the watch is on, the butterflies start to dance, magically rotating around the dial in time with your wrist - a perfect companion for a night out on the dance floor. This year's dancing butterflies are presented on blue, green and red crocodile straps or a more elegant black satin strap.
The Premier Precious Butterfly timepiece from Harry Winston traps the ephemeral beauty of a butterfly's wing. However, instead of using the real wing of a butterfly, as it did with the Midnight Feathers men's watches, artisans created the dial with the microscopic iridescent powder found on a butterfly's wings. A painstaking task, which took three years to perfect, the final effect is astonishing and the dial glows like an emerald gemstone. These new Harry Winston watches in 36mm white gold with 57 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel were created using the powder harvested from the Chrysiridia Madagascariensis sunset moth, and set delicately grain by grain, so no two watches can ever be the same. Presented on a black satin strap, there are a further 17 brilliant-cut diamonds on the buckle.
DeLaneau watches has forged an impeccable reputation for crafting extravagant high jewellery ladies' watches and for its impressive miniature enamel paintings. Now devoted exclusively to creating bespoke pieces in collaboration with the client, the sky is the limit in terms of design and choice of coloured gemstones. A recent commission includes this unique Dôme Tourbillon Butterfly Le Flambé with a miniature Grand Feu enamelled dial, housed in a white gold case, set with 7.73 carats of baguette-cut blue sapphires, amethysts and rubellites, and 4.92 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. That's what I call flying in style.
Jaquet Droz watches is a master at painting scenes on tiny canvases and The Butterfly Journey, a limited collection of just eight pieces, evokes the delicate, ephemeral nature of butterflies. On each dial of the eight ladies' watches, the artist has captured the butterfly in different positions as it flutters over pale pink peonies. The champlevé enamelled wings of the butterfly and the realistic rendering of its sculpted body are frozen for eternity in the 43mm white gold case, illuminated by the 264 diamonds set on the bezel and lugs.