It took three-and-a-half years to put together this US$ 20 million watch. Complete with 425 Asscher-cut, Fancy Yellow and Fancy Intense Yellow diamonds, the Billionaire Timeless Treasure — just unveiled at the Geneva Watch Week — carves for itself a special place in the history of high jewellery watchmaking and leaves its mark as one of the most expensive timepieces ever crafted.
When the first Jacob & Co. Billionaire watch was launched in 2015, it took the watchmaking world by storm. Several years had gone into its making — to find, sort, cut and prep its 239 emerald-cut white diamonds. Pulling off an enterprise of such grand proportions, pairing it with the signature, filigree and skeleton tourbillon movement, and pricing it at a whopping USD 18 million earned the Billionaire staggering global attention, prompting Jacob & Co. to craft an entire Billionaire collection. The stunning models that followed included the Billionaire II that included 424 diamonds totalling 161 ct and the unique Billionaire Ashoka Smaller, a limited edition of 18 pieces, set with 480 Ashoka-cut diamonds.
While the earlier Billionaire models were all crafted from the choicest white diamonds, the Billionaire Timeless Treasure uses yellow diamonds. A 10,000 to 1 occurrence, yellow diamonds are also infinitely more expensive. Especially because of the size the Jacob & Co. Billionaire watch requires. To reach the final 216.89 carats, Jacob & Co. started with 880 carats of rough diamonds, some of them reaching 2.50 ct. Ten staff members were involved in searching, sorting and cutting the gems. At the head of this meticulous crafting process was Seraina Wicht, head of the brand’s gemology watch production. She said, “With white diamonds, we receive lots with dozens or hundreds of gems. For Billionaire Timeless Treasure, we were receiving stones one by one, two by two, three at the most. We spent several weeks without receiving a single one that was worthy of the piece — this happened several times.”
Every single yellow diamond of the Billionaire Timeless Treasure has a designated place, a specific part to play, a specific cut and a specific function. The larger ones are meant for the case, which comprises 46 of them, amounting to 55.15 ct. The first rows of the 159 ct-bracelet also make use of hefty gems, with their individual sizes diminishing in perfect increments as they near the clasp. However, the gems are not placed according to their original size, only colour is crucial. The complex lattice design was created and set in place, encasing the movement, by fifteen staff members. It has been crafted with extreme precision, link by link, prong by prong and created in a way that allows each individual gem to sit snugly. To incorporate a pop of colour into the timepiece, the brand used one of its favourite gems — one that has now become a signature of the brand's highest-end creations — tsavorite. Seventy-six of them have been selected for the Billionaire Timeless Treasure, both emerald-cut and kite-cut.
The tsavorites surround Caliber: JCAM39, the skeleton tourbillon movement that Jacob & Co. uses in all its Billionaires. It’s so thin, it may go unnoticed at first glance. It offers a power reserve of 72 hours. As is typical of all Billionaires, this Jacob & Co. Billionaire watch also combines high jewellery with the ideals of high watchmaking, evidenced by the 57 baguette-cut yellow diamonds that enhance the skeleton movement. Each gem has been invisibly set on a bridge thinner than 0.2 mm. The hour and minute hands have green tips that perfectly complement the yellow gold plating. The case dimensions are 52.2 x 43.5 mm and the water resistance is 30 metres. The case includes 46 Asscher-cut yellow diamonds and the crown is set with one rose-cut yellow diamond. CEO Benjamin Arabov said of the Billionaire Timeless Treasure, “We’ve combined our expertise in high jewellery with our skills in high watchmaking and used our drive to achieve what has never been done before. So we've created a unique piece that outshines every other high jewellery timepiece in opulence, exclusivity and diamond quality.” We can’t help but agree.