The idea of stacking a watch with bracelets has long been debated in the world of horology. While some may want their precious luxury watch to be a style statement in itself, others like to layer it with bracelets and bangles that complement the timepiece. The concept gained popularity when actor Jean Harlow flaunted a stack of four diamond-and-gemstone bracelets in Dinner at Eight (1933). Along with Art Deco jewels, this stacking style became all the rage.
Now, the festive season is when you’d certainly like to add a little extra glam to your looks. Therefore, GMT India guides you on how to create that perfect stack and what to avoid while accessorising watches.
How to Stack Your Watches with Bracelets
The first rule is, there are no rules! You can be minimal with just one bracelet and a watch or you can go all out layering your timepiece with a bunch of bracelets. The key is to pick and mix things that appeal to you. Curating a stack with different metals and textures, mixing coloured gemstones, and even matching your rings with the stack elements – it's all about striking the perfect balance. French actress Lou Doillon’s photoshoot for Cartier is a perfect example of minimal stacking. The dainty Cartier Baignoire is paired with a yellow gold Juste un Clou bracelet, adding just a little more jazz.
But, if you’re up for adding more, look at Bella Hadid for inspiration. She is often seen wearing a mini yellow gold Cartier Panthère, but sometimes it's hardly even visible under her layered stack of gold bangles and beaded bracelets.
There’s no limit to how many bracelets you can pair with your watch. However, it depends on the size of your wrist and your watch. Take, for instance, Lori Hirshleifer, co-owner of the family-run Hirshleifers department store in Manhasset, New York – her instagram feed is filled with swoonworthy stacks of watches paired with bracelets and even rings. In an interview with Brynn Wallner of Dimepiece, Lori states that when it comes to jewellery, her style is very maximallist in nature. She says, “I’m a more-is-more kind of person! That is no different when it comes to stacking my bracelets with my watches.”
However, if maximalism is not your cup of tea, three is a good number to begin with. Typically, your watch should be placed in the middle of two bracelets, acting as the focal point of the stack. However, there’s still plenty of room to play with. Adding colours and silhouettes is the easiest way to make your stack work. Case in point: Jessica Owens, founder of The Daily Grail, spotted pairing a JLC Rendez-Vous Classic Night & Day with three Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra bracelets. The watches and bracelets were all in different colours, yet the stack didn’t take the focus away from the watch.
Another way to create harmony is to mix chunky and dainty pieces with similar aspects. Lisa Aiken, Fashion and Lifestyle Director at Vogue, was seen pairingher Breitling Chronomat 36 with two bracelets — one was chunky and the other relatively thinner. While her watch stood out in steel, the chain-link bracelets shone in gold.
Playing with Colours and Textures
There’s quite a bit of debate on mixing metals. With stacking, piling on colours and textures can add a whole new dimension to the stack. Especially with two-tone watches, there’s more room to mix and match metal, leather, beads, and string bracelets. Art Director and Designer Georgia Benjamin often pairs her two-tone Rolex Datejust with vibrant beaded bracelets.
This method also has musician John Mayer’s stamp of approval on it. Often called a ‘tastemaker extraordinaire’ by watch collectors, Mayer chose to stack his brand new Rolex Day Date “Puzzle Dial” with a bunch of beaded bracelets.
Accessorising it Further: Watches with Accessories
When it comes to the art of stacking, specific accessories have the power to ensure a touch of charm and add that extra flair. Here are some examples:
CHARRIOL GENEVE ST TROPEZ COLLECTION
Celebrating the brand's 40th anniversary, Charriol's St-Tropez watch collection, a timeless symbol of Swiss luxury, underwent a modern transformation in May 2023. Each of this celebrated collection’s timepieces, introduced in the 1980s, is more than just a beautiful wrist accessory — it evokes a breezy mood and beach holiday spirit.
Known for its fashion-oriented, rigid, open-cable bracelet with an attached chain, the St-Tropez watch has been a symbol of style. The redesigned version maintains the collection’s essence while introducing subtle yet refreshing updates. The proportions have been resettled, the trimmings revamped — opening the dial, revising the chain, and expanding colour and size options.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS ALHAMBRA COLLECTION
In the late 1960s, French jewellery Maison Van Cleef & Arpels transformed the long-celebrated four-leaf clover into a global symbol of good luck and fortune, crafting it in gold and precious gemstones. Since then, the iconic Alhambra collection has adorned tastemakers like Françoise Hardy, Princess Grace of Monaco, and Elizabeth Taylor. It was expanded to include earrings, rings, bracelets, and petite pendants in various precious stones.
This year, a new Sweet Alhambra jewellery watch was introduced, featuring gold and ornamental stone motifs around a dial, sporting the collection's emblematic four-lobe shape. Reflecting the Maison's expertise, this iconic design involves over 15 steps, showcasing the collaboration of lapidaries, jewellers, stone-setters, and polishers.
Introduced in 1975, the Kelly watch pays homage to Robert Dumas' 1930s design for the iconic 'Kelly' bag. The trapezoid shape of the bag is elegantly reinterpreted in the padlock's clean lines in this 2022 release, available in steel or rose gold, with or without diamonds, offering versatile wear options. Whether attached to a metal bracelet for a free-dangling style or locked in place for a fixed form, this watch allows distraction-free wear. Additionally, when detached and worn on a black boxcalf or alligator clochette leather cord, it transforms into a stylish sautoir necklace.
Robert Dumas, son-in-law of Émile Hermès and the head of Hermès, introduced the bold 'Kelly' handbag in the 1930s. This modern design featured a unique trapezoid shape, triangular flaps, handle, and side straps. Dumas later reimagined the classic form, expanding the 'Kelly' line to include belts, wallets, clutch bags, and watches. This iconic silhouette gained widespread popularity, particularly among glamorous clients like Grace Kelly, who, in the 1950s, was rumoured to have used the bag to conceal early signs of pregnancy, inadvertently contributing to its name and securing its place in fashion history.
CHANEL PREMIÈRE EXTRAIT DE CAMÉLIA
Chanel's 2021 Première Extrait de Camélia watch reinvented the iconic camellia flower, a key symbol in the brand's history since the 1920s. Part of the enduring Première collection, these watches blend timeless elegance with modern flair. The octagonal case, reminiscent of Paris' Place Vendôme, pays homage to Chanel's roots and the iconic Chanel No. 5 parfum bottle.
Ref. H6361 (black dial) and Ref. H6362 (diamond pavé dial) boast meticulous craftsmanship and dimensions of 19.7 x 15.2 x 7.8mm. Crafted from 18 ct yellow gold with a titanium caseback, the watches feature black lacquer or diamond pavé dials, each adorned with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds (about 0.37 carat). Water-resistant for up to 30 metres, these timepieces come with black rubber straps and 18 ct yellow gold ardillon buckles for a touch of luxury. What’s more, the watches include 18 ct yellow gold charm sets with diamonds, providing a perfect blend of sophistication and modernity.
To Stack or not to Stack?
It all boils down to how you make your watch a part of your personal style. Add quirky watch charms or stack it with eclectic bracelets — the choice is entirely yours. There’s of course no better time than the festival of lights to experiment with something new, when it comes to flaunting your jewellery and watches.