By Rebecca Doulton
As pearl week on The Jewellery Editor draws to a close, we take a look at how the trend for mother-of-pearl watch dials has crossed over into the realm of men’s watches.
IWC launched its Portofino Midsize models last year, a collection designed to appeal to both men and women thanks to their 37mm case size, which is neither too large for a woman nor too small for a man. The Portofino Midsize Automatic Moon Phase watches are positively dreamy and capture the texture of billowing white clouds with their white mother-of-pearl watch faces, or a stormier sky with a moody black mother-of-pearl dial. The twinkling diamonds on the bezel and indices complete the scenery.
Graff is synonymous not just with diamonds but also spectacularly ornate watches for both men and women. The MasterGraff Ultra-Flat men’s models in large 43mm rose gold cases feature a flying tourbillon at six o’clock, and either white or chocolate mother-of-pearl watch faces, with a central depression for additional volume. Above the spectacle of the tourbillon, the top quality mother-of-pearl has been engraved and punctuated at 12 o’clock with a triangular emerald marker in the case of the white nacre, and diamonds in the case of the brown dial. The MasterGraff Ultra-Flat achieves the impossible in combining a tourbillon with an ultra-thin movement measuring just 3.5mm thick. When viewed in profile, the imposing rose gold faceted case measures just 6.95mm.
The iconic Cosmograph Daytona from Rolex watches, designed as a high-precision timing tool for drivers in endurance races, has been given a luxurious upgrade with a spectacular Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial, diamond indices and yellow mother-of-pearl sub-dials. This particular model, housed in a 40mm yellow gold case with matching bracelet, shows how an instrument not only equipped with Rolex automatic calibre 4130 providing readings with an accuracy of up to 1/8th of a second, but also blessed with COSC-chronometry certification and boasting an impressive water-resistance to 100 metres, can be a functional timepiece yet superlatively elegant at the same time.
Jaquet Droz has inlaid an elliptical-shaped slice of mother-of-pearl on its lovely Twelve Cities Aventurine timepiece. The lustrous pearly disc features two windows - one for the jumping hours at the top, and another larger window at the bottom for the name of a city. This new Jaquet Droz watch, presented in a 39mm stainless steel case, is an exquisitely subtle travel companion displaying the names of 12 cities and their corresponding time zones. All you have to do is select the city by pushing the button at 2 o’clock and the jumping hour will adjust automatically. The intense blue aventurine stone on the dial seems to twinkle with tiny stars creating a dramatic background for the lovely mother-of-pearl centre.
One of the more classical offerings from Audemars Piguet is the Tradition collection, marked by the distinctive cushion-shaped cases inspired by an Audemars pocket watch from the 1920s. With minute repeaters, tourbillons and chronographs packed in the grand complication models, the Extra-Thin Tradition mother-of-pearl watch comes in a 41mm pink gold case with a beautiful diamond-set dial and an elegant lean profile. The rounded square bezel is set with 40 brilliant-cut diamonds framing the classically styled dial, complete with its pink gold numerals and hands. The ultra-thin movement keeps the case thickness at a lean 7.97mm. As they say, you can never be too rich or too thin, as this luxurious and svelte Audemars Piguet watch so eloquently testifies.