W atches are more than an essential object for timekeeping – especially at a time when we are hardly without smartphones and other new tech devices that ensure there’s no escaping the old saying “time is of the essence”. Less about keeping track of time, wristwatches have increasingly taken on the role as a quintessential accessory to have, like a statement necklace or trendy earrings. No longer relegated as a “boy’s club” activity, the luxury watch industry is witnessing a boom in women collectors and a rise in awareness of haute horologie.
Elegant and artistic, jewellery watches are part of this movement, seamlessly converging the dazzle and bling of jewellery with the grace and sophistication of fine wristwatches.
Taking a closer look at the current online auction Important Watches II (until 10 October, Hong Kong) we think these jewellery watches are most certainly collection-worthy.
One of the oldest watch brands still in existence, Breguet was founded in Paris in 1755 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, who pioneered many of the components that are central to watchmaking today. Breguet’s exquisite artistry earned him a number of royal clients, including Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. This 18k white gold and diamond-set wristwatch with baguette-cut diamond-set petals on a mobile setting weighs approximately 35.96 carats and retailed for a staggering price of about HKD $5.3 million – wearing it no doubt will make you feel like a royal.
Revered for its exceptionally refined watches, Piaget was founded in 1874 by Georges Edouard, and actually spent its first 70 years behind the scenes crafting movements for a number of prestigious brands, only registering its brand name in 1943. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Piaget ushered in boldly stylish watches that repositioned timepieces as a fashionable accessory, particularly evident in Piaget’s mid-century women’s watches, among which included the first semiprecious stone dials and sculptural yellow gold bracelets worn by the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.
BVLGARI is in the classical Latin alphabet is derived from the founder’s surname, Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris (in Italian: Sotirio Bulgari). Bulgari opened his first antiquarian and silversmith business soon after moving to Rome in 1881. While the early high jewellery creations of the 1920s incorporated platinum and diamonds with geometric and stylised Art Deco designs, the 1940s saw the Bulgari style begin to emerge, including the sinuous coils of the iconic Serpenti creations. The first known examples of Bulgari timepieces date back to this period, quickly gaining momentum and success in the field of luxury watches. At the same time, Bulgari grew to extraordinary international fame when celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Burton and others wore the brand.
Owning a Waltham wristwatch would be like owning a piece of horology history. A brand that dates back to 1850, known as the Waltham Watch Company, the company produced about 40 million clocks, watches, speedometers, compasses, time delay fuses and other such precision instruments in the US between its founding year and 1957. Since then, the company has gone through a number of name and ownership changes, while still keeping watching-making at its core. It is now one of the most popular watch brands in Japan.
Born and raised in La Chaux de Fonds, home to the workshops of everyone from Rolex to Girard-Perregaux, Franck Muller enrolled in watchmaking school at just 15 years of age, and spent his early career restoring watches for Patek Philippe, specialising in rare and antique models. It was during this time he began designing and assembling his own creations, including the very first tourbillon to be visible on the dial. After building a steady demand for his one-off designs among international collectors, Muller launched his eponymous brand in 1991. Sporting a green alligator strap and 18k white gold and diamond-set buckle, the Quatre Saisons, Reference SC 42 QTR SAI D 3R CD VERT is a real highlight piece for its pavé-set multi gem dial featuring all the colours of the rainbow.
No doubt synonymous with the world’s most dazzling gems, from the Hope Diamond to the sparkles adorning Hollywood’s elite on every major red carpet, Harry Winston’s reputation for excellence has extended to timepieces since 1989. In the same year the brand debuted their first watches, the brand also released the world’s first double-retrograde perpetual calendar created by notable watchmakers Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Roger Dubuis. With a tradition of working with some of the industry’s most esteemed independent watchmakers, a Harry Winston jewellery watch definitely boasts the best of both worlds.
Chanel really needs little to no introduction. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel revolutionised the way women dressed in the 20th century; in 1910 opening Chanel Modes, a hat boutique whose streamlined shapes caught the eyes of Parisian actresses, and in 1918, opened her first couture house. Chanel’s first collaboration with Ernest Beaux resulted in the 1921 release of Chanel No.5, the first time a dressmaker had created a perfume. After World War II, in the 1950s, Chanel made a comeback with a menswear-inspired, collarless tweed suit, two-tone pumps and the iconic quilted leather 2.55 bag, which graced the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Liz Taylor and Jeanne Moreau. Among the many revitalisations that took place when the late Karl Lagerfeld carried on the torch as the brand’s artistic director upon Coco Chanel’s passing in 1971 was men’s and women’s watches.