When Taylor Swift sang, “A diamond’s gotta shine”, she was perhaps also referring to the best bejewelled watches we’ve seen this year.
What a wonderful year it has been for high jewellery watches! Studded with precious gemstones, they sported intricate designs and marvellous craftsmanship in combination with the beauty of complications. Cartier, Bvlgari and Chopard launched some of the most stunning jewellery watches in 2022.
Here are some that particularly caught our attention.
A Trip to the Alps: Chopard Alpine Eagle 36 — Frozen
The Chopard Alpine Eagle 36 is crafted in ethical 18-carat white gold, with a 36 mm-diameter case, bezel and integrated bracelet, entirely set with diamonds. Being the first entirely gem-set watch in the Alpine Eagle collection, it takes forward the legacy of Chopard’s iconic St. Moritz model. It also takes inspiration from the grace of an eagle and the majesty of the Alps. The technical finesse is to marvel at; the product is equipped with the Chopard 09.01-C movement with automatic winding and a 42-hour power reserve.
Bejewelled with diamonds, which look like tiny snowflakes on the Alps, Eagle 36 is a piece that bears testimony to the exquisite craftsmanship of Chopard’s in-house artisans.
Since 2018, Chopard has been using responsibly sourced gold to create its watches and jewellery as part of its commitment to responsible luxury.
A (Time)piece of Heaven: Bvlgari Giardino Dell'eden Tourbillon
Giardino Dell’eden Tourbillon (103677) is quite an opulent and whimsical piece that lets Bvlgari’s charm of being able to blend fine jewellery with Swiss watchmaking show through. Inspired by the Garden of Eden, the watch recreates a fantastical scene with 6,500 stones (223 carats), ranging from Paraiba tourmalines to emeralds to pavé-set diamonds. The scene depicts two fluttering butterflies and Bvlgari’s iconic motif, the snake.
The serpent is represented by a 41-mm Serpenti skeletonised tourbillon watch beneath the flowers. Powered by a skeletonised manual-winding tourbillon movement — BVL 208 — with a power reserve of 64 hours, the tourbillon adorns the centre of the dial at 6 o'clock, surrounded by engraved bridges. This sophisticated, high-precision mechanical movement was assembled in Bvlgari’s Swiss ateliers for the first time and used in a high jewellery timepiece.
Show Your Stripes: The Cartier Crash Tigrée Métamorphosis
Reworking the already iconic Cartier Crash needed some creative audacity. Champlevé enamel is used on the bezel stripes while ground enamel powder fills the dial. The intricacies of gem-setting and enamelling have been used to create an abstract design — you can see a tiger, a crocodile or a flowing river, depending on your perspective. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder of this watch!
Set in an irregular stripe pattern across the watch, the diamonds total 1.64 carats, sprinkled with bits of blue sapphire and green enamel, revealing yellow gold metal at the bottom of the case. The gradients in the colour have been perfected by using several enamelling processes and then they have been fired in a kiln at 700°C-750°C to melt the powder and set it. The Cartier Crash Tigrée Metamorphosis is a limited edition with only 50 watches.
Starry Night: Piaget Limelight Gala Aventurine
This year, Piaget went a step further with its iconic Limelight Gala design on the Aventurine model. The Limelight Gala Aventurine features the self-winding 501P1 manufacture movement with a power reserve of 40 hours, beating at 4Hz. The Aventurine glass dial is made with the help of a glass-making technique that supposedly dates back to 17th century Venice — copper oxide is added to lend the glass a glittering appearance, imitating a star-studded midnight sky.
The watch's signature cambered lugs and the frame are set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing about 1.64 carats. The white gold, Milanese mesh strap can be considered a work of art in itself. It is made by taking 366 individual gold threads, shaping them into spirals and weaving them into a fabric strap of gold. The piece is effortlessly elegant and definitely one of the best from Piaget this year.
Winter Wonderland: MB&F x Emmanuel Tarpin Legacy Machine Flying T ‘Ice’ & ‘Blizzard’
MB&F has collaborated with French jewellery designer Emmanuel Tarpin for the FlyingT collection. Tarpin takes inspiration from Nature and works with innovative materials and colourful gemstones. The two models, Ice and Blizzard, are made of 18K white gold while the cases are studded with diamonds, along with blue matte lapis lazuli dial plates. The two crowns at the centre of the tourbillon are made from rare turquoise Paraiba stones, in keeping with its glacial theme.
The Ice model was inspired by Tarpin’s trip to Lake Baikal in Southern Siberia. The lake remains totally frozen in winters. It features asymmetrical diamond-set stalagmites that encroach on the sapphire crystal dome and the movement.
The Blizzard model draws inspiration from the Alps and Tarpin’s memories of being caught in blizzards. It is powered by the MB&F Flying T movement, sporting three-dimensional vertical architecture, automatic winding, developed in-house with a blue balance wheel. The 280-component engine has a power reserve of four days (100 hours), which is among the highest within MB&F. Truly a winter wonderland on the wrist!