By Rebecca Doulton
It's a Stone Age for watch dials as some of the most exclusive brands dig up the Earth's most precious stones to embellish their mechanical watches. Piaget made a name for itself in the 1970s for its audacious coupling of stone dials in high jewellery watches, and this year Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to give its Master Calendar watch a dial made from a chunk of meteorite rock, and graced the dial of its Rendez-Vous Celestial watch with a lovely orange aventurine dial to mimic the fire of the Sun.
Louis Moinet is one of those brands that tends to fly under the radar because of its niche products, but once you discover the magical universe of Louis Moinet watches, there is no turning back. Fascinated with meteorites, dinosaur bones and exotic materials, Louis Moinet specialises in highly complicated timepieces made in select, limited editions with the most extraordinary dials ever seen. Take this unique Australian opal dial watch from the Treasures of the World collection. The stone was expertly sourced and worked by Daniel Haas, something of a celebrity in the semi-precious stone world. It might seem easy to plonk a bit of rock on a dial, but the reality is that the stones have to be whittled down to wafer thinness and can easily crack. Offset with a tourbillon, an open-worked mainspring and 56 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and lugs, this impressive 47mm men's watch is presented in a white gold case.
With its new Métiers d'Art facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Cartier watches is on a mission to perpetuate rare artistic crafts in danger of extinction. The beneficiaries of this effort are Cartier's high-end watches including this Tortue XL watch with a mosaic panther in the centre. The tiny coloured mosaic stones are arranged to recreate the head of the panther, while his spots and nose are in onyx mosaic. Locked in his rose gold cage, the panther luxuriates in the light of the brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel and crown.
A perfect candidate for best men's watches, Jaquet Droz has been a firm proponent of stone dials over the years and embellishes three of its models with a beautiful gold-speckled Sunstone dial. Sunstone gets its romantic name from its spangled and glittery inclusions, although its proper name is aventurine feldspar. The petite Heure Minute, Grande Seconde with a mother-of-pearl subdial and Lady 8 models are all beneficiaries of this lovely, glittering stone framed by a rose gold case.