These Will Be the Best Blinged-Out Watches of 2016
And now for the real fun.
Baselworld, the annual watch and jewelry trade fair in Switzerland, is coming to a close. You’ve already seen the watches that will satisfy horology geeks, as well as the technical innovations the industry will be talking about in 2016. But what about the bling? After all, your wrist is one of only so many places you can wear a piece of jewelry. Just because you want to be able to tell time, why should you have to sacrifice that prime real estate to something that lacks sparkle?
Here are six gorgeous watches that combine precious gems, stunning enamel work, and general aesthetic value. (Spoiler: Most of them are also stupendously expensive.)
Seiko Fugako Tourbillon Limited Edition Credor
This year Seiko added the first-ever tourbillon to its high-end Credor collection. To honor the gravitational power of the tiny device, the brand designed the face of the watch to mimic the famous Mt. Fuji wave paintings by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. It is hand-lacquered and carved by top Japanese craftsmen, and the platinum case features 43 sapphires. It has a 37-hour power reserve, is limited to eight pieces, and will retail for $460,000.
Harry Winston Twist Automatic
You will not be able to be ignored wearing this watch. The 50 marquis-cut diamonds are set at different heights on the dial, as are the 60 marquis-cut rubies, which give the watch face a sense of real swirling movement. That’s not even to mention the absurd 71 baguette-cut diamonds that serve as a backdrop between 7 o'clock and 12 o’clock, or the 110 rubies and 178 diamonds on the bracelet—or, oh yeah, the 161 baguette-cut diamonds circling around the case. That's 630 stones, so far, but who's counting? Anyway, the Caliber HW2008 movement is fully automatic, if you care. Price upon request.
Chopard Happy Diamonds
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Happy Diamonds collection, Chopard has debuted a new dial with its famous free-floating diamonds. (Happy diamonds are given room to breathe, you see.) The movement of the diamonds over the mother-of-pearl face just means that the watch will sparkle even more as you move through the room. The cushion-shaped 18K white gold case is inspired by the original 1976 Happy Diamonds men's watch, although here it's used in a watch for women for the first time with the line. There are more floating diamonds than ever, in different sizes, which really emphasizes the movement and sparkle of the piece. (It tells time, too, but with all that bling, who cares?). The square face retails for $54,570, while the round face goes for $49,500.
De Grisogono New Lady Retro
This year, the jewelry house de Grisogono added four bejeweled versions to their stately Retro watch line. The 44mm rectangular watches have an Art Deco feel to them, with a sapphire crystal that is subtly curved at the edges. When launched in 2015, they were relatively understated, with simple black and cream faces. But since this was de Grisogono, we knew that wasn't going to last. Later in the year, we saw models with gemstones on the dial. Now you can get the New Lady Retro with a diamond-, sapphire-, ruby-, or emerald-encrusted case.
Hermès Arceau Pocket La Promenade de Platon
The big brand theme for Hermès this year is “Nature at Full Gallop.” Accordingly, the fashion house showed several really wonderful wristwatches and pocket watches decorated with wildlife imagery. This particular pocket watch belongs to a trio (each one-of-a-kind) that were inspired by artist Annie Faivre's Hermès scarf designs. The enamelwork was painstaking: Via the Grand Feu technique, the enamel was painted on with tiny brushes and then fired more than 20 times in a kiln to make it melt perfectly onto the white gold base. On this particular watch, the layering of the enamel leaves over horse and rider is particularly striking. Since only one of these watches was made, it has already been sold. If you want it, best check EBay.
The Ondine line is new for Dior this year, but it’s a continuation of the beautiful automatic watches it has been turning out for quite some time. The rotor is on the front of the watch, and the designers at the fashion house have taken advantage of this to add beauty to the time-telling. (You’ve seen this trick in Dior's now-iconic feather watches, but it hasn’t gotten old.) Here, you can see a version studded with primarily green sapphires in what Dior calls a “snow” setting; the tiny gemstones are set completely flat into the dial, so they seem to blanket the surface like snow. The gold is exposed on part of the rotor, where it undulates like a wave. Twelve Ondines were made, using different colors of stones; depending on the gems and precious metals, they range from €120,000 to €160,000 ($134,000 to $179,000).