SIHH is not just about technical innovation but fantastic gems and métiers d’art crafts too, seen best on women’s high jewellery watches. Van Cleef and Arpels is the cream of the crop, the diamond Heure Marine secret watch bangle with two enormous sapphires is well over £2 million while the Papillon Automate with its fluttering plique à jour enamel wings is a true innovation and the Ruban Secret just plain beautiful. Audemars Piguet’s Diamond Outrage is scary, spiky and amazingly gem set while Piaget’s lacework cuff and its feather marquetry design are high craft as is Jaeger Lecoultre’s engraved, gold, diamond and mother of pearl Leaves style and in the fiery black opal and diamond second dial on JLC’s latest Reverso One Duetto. Art Deco rules in Cartier’s imperious panther amid concentric diamond circles or its diamond pavé and onyx leopard spot version of the revamped Panthère,
Inspired by the beauty of the sea, The Heure Marine piece combines the technical prowess of a secret watch with the delicacy of a feminine jewel.
Enchanting Nature comes to life as never before on the new Lady Arpels Papillon Automate watch. Equipped with a particularly sophisticated automaton module, it depicts the random fluttering of a butterfly, moving in accompaniment to the movements of the watch’s wearer. A mutual relationship comes into being, as the hors slip by agains a pastoral backdrop. The entire scene is illuminated by a wide range of traditional crafts, gathered together at Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops in Meyrin, Switzerland.
After 2015’s Diamond Punk and 2016’s Diamond Fury, Diamond Outrage is a cuff watch of rare, explosive style that marks a shift in artistic Haute Joaillerie watch design. It is presented in two unique 18-carat white gold pieces, fully set either with diamonds or with blue sapphires.
Glinting with the icy fascination of the Vallée de Joux in winter, Diamond Outrage’s structure is set with precious stones in a brilliant array of cuts. On the full diamond version, the inclusion of three baguette-set spikes shines a vibrant light on the outrageous character of this futuristic design.
Piaget unveils the Altiplano Feather Marquetry, surrounded by boxes full of feathers of every colour and every size, the feather artist works like a painter in choosing her pigments and materials. Rigorously selected for its exact shade, its density and its texture and individually chosen to create the required effects, the feather is finally washed in soapy water before being stabilised in steam and meticulously recut by hand. Each feather is then smoothed, ready to be carefully arranged in its appointed place according to cleverly alternating contrasts and geometrical patterns. Once this virtuoso feat of craftsmanship is complete, the pure lines of Altiplano, the ultra-thin mechanical icon beating in step with the hand-wound 430P movement, are arrayed in a feather marquetry composed of a mixture of duck, peacock and rooster feathers, partially covered with silver leaf.
A fine work of art perfectly framed by a white gold case set with brilliant-cut diamonds and admirably completed by the unique strap with its haute couture touch, also skilfully arrayed in feathers.
The Panthère de Cartier watch, an imposing icon of the 1980s, is looking edgier than ever. This irrefutable emblem of the decade of decadence slinks sensuously about the wrist in gleaming white gold with diamonds and black enamel in art deco style. Jewellery first, timepiece second, it is instantly recognisable as Cartier.
In the Ronde Louis Cartier XL flamed gold watch Cartier pioneers a fiery new technique in watchmaking. The Panthère Royale watch transforms platinum and diamonds into glittering lacework in a dazzling demonstration of the creativity of Cartier jewellery. In the Panthère Joueuse complication watch, Cartier makes a game of telling the time in depicting a panther playing with a ball.
By Avril Groom