We don’t realise it often enough but watch bracelets are more than just “part of the furniture” in a timepiece. They actually play a much larger role in defining the watch’s overall character than we might think. Because any watch on leather strap changes dramatically when you swap it out for a metal bracelet. Then there are some watches so iconic with their bracelet (or strap) that you wouldn’t dream of wearing them on anything else. Until someone creates something so unbelievably stunning that would actually make you change your mind—more on that later.
Meanwhile, the good news is luxury maisons have realised this. In response they have begun paying more attention to the design of their watch bracelets, thinking up creative ways to offer greater variety. For some like Montblanc and Rado, it’s the rice-grain bracelet. For Zenith, it’s the ladder bracelet. And for IWC it’s the Milanese bracelet. Other houses such as Cartier and Vacheron Constantin have even taken the initiative to introduce quick change systems that are both convenient and user-friendly.
However, the ones that have truly raised the bar are those watches set on bracelets that more than perform a function. Practically works of jewellery art unto themselves, they blur the line between jewellery and timepiece. They offer a new vision of goldsmithing or gem-setting, and an extra shot of creative energy the world definitely needs more of today. Vogue Singapore curates the 10 best and most recently launched watch bracelets.
1 / 10
Coming in hot, we have the Richard Mille RM07-01 collection which is the brand’s first and most iconic ladies model. While this model has been around for some time, it is usually worn on a rubber strap, although Richard Mille has recently begun to offer creative bracelet designs such as the Open Link bracelet.
With extra-large links reminiscent of curb or figaro chains, this bracelet has the jewellery world to thank for inspiration. But no sooner had Richard Mille unveiled this bracelet design than it shocked everyone with a unique bi-material variant featuring Carbon TPT intertwined with red gold for a truly jaw-dropping effect.
2 / 10
Flexing its centuries-long jewellery making savoir-faire, Cartier has been on a roll lately. To this day we’re still reeling from the launch of last year’s drop-dead gorgeous Maillon de Cartier. And the maison has outdone itself again in 2021 with a bevy of beautifully bejewelled timepieces (along with a stellar line up of gent’s models).
While they’re all winners in our books, La Panthère stood out for the exquisite craftsmanship in its bracelet design. Completely flexible, it’s as if Cartier had taken solid gold and woven it into a silky smooth strap to be worn as a single or double tour.
3 / 10
Evoking the aesthetic sensibilities of vintage ladies timepieces, the dainty Hermès Faubourg gets a playful overhaul this year, re-emerging as the Faubourg Polka. The French maison had taken direct cues from dots and dashes to design a completely new bracelet for the watch, blending watchmaking and haute joaillerie in equal parts.
Let solid rose gold dots and oblique lines encircle the wrist, or go full-on high luxury with a creative interplay of round and baguette diamonds throughout the watch. Faubourg may be small in size, but it’s definitely big on style.
4 / 10
Knowing how Chanel never pulls any punches when it comes to design creativity, it’s only normal to expect only the most decadent pieces for the No. 5 collection of fine jewellery and timepieces.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Chanel’s famous and most iconic fragrance, the collection boldly brandishes Coco Chanel’s lucky number in all manner and form, such as this white gold timepiece that’s just dripping in diamonds. Is it a jewel or a watch? At this point, we can’t be sure anymore.
5 / 10
Probably the closest some of us can get to a real artisanal watch, Alabaster Industries offers your wrist a respite from the mainstream luxury labels. This young brand is all about identity and spirit rather than status symbol.
Handmade in the US, the watches are made in stainless steel and finished with a raw, rustic texture that is a sure sign of handcraftsmanship. Even its dials are laboured over by hand, so each one is slightly different and made in small batches only.
6 / 10
The Reverso by Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of those watches we seldom see on a bracelet. But when we do, we immediately wonder why don’t more people wear it this way. Especially when the manufacture has made such breath-taking designs as this Reverso One Duetto Jewellery.
With its unique V-shaped links studded with tiny round diamonds in alternating rows, it’s testament to the fastidious work accomplished by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Métiers Rares workshop. Gliding around the wrist, it has a second dial that echoes the design of this magnificent bracelet.
7 / 10
For the first time, Louis Vuitton’s adorable Vivienne enters its watchmaking universe and true to her character, brings a heaping dose of irreverence to the fore. Time plays hide and seek in the Vivienne Bijou Secret, a watch that blends watch and jewellery making.
In addition to the usual alligator strap options in various colours, this watch offers a stunning diamond paved bracelet crafted in four supple, mobile rows as if you’re wearing a stack of multiple tennis bracelets like the girl-boss that you are.
8 / 10
Ever the alchemist, Hublot is known—and loved—for its innovative spirit and its uncanny ability to mix disparate yet perfectly complementary materials in a timepiece. Take this Big Bang Integral as an example, which fuses solid titanium with diamonds—not a combination you’d see every day.
Carefully paved all over the case, bezel, lugs, and bracelet, you have a grand total of 594 precious colourless stones in round and baguette cuts, juxtaposed against the soft satin-finished surfaces of one of the strongest yet lightest materials known to modern watchmaking.
9 / 10
A must-have grail watch for many watch-loving ladies, the Serpenti Tubogas might be the ultimate Bulgari timepiece. The signature coiled bracelet with its gas-pipe motif hewn from a single strip of gold is undoubtedly one of the Italian luxury house’s greatest creative triumphs.
But even icons have the potential to evolve, as Bulgari presented the new Serpenti Spiga which continues to coil around the wrist but with the added sparkle of round diamonds. Bulgari achieves this with a new matelassé pattern inspired by a 1957 heritage watch which had a modular construction bracelet.
10 / 10
Completely engraved by hand, using manually controlled tools, the Piaget palace décor is one of the manufacture’s most esteemed and protected crafts.
Lending a tactile effect to the gold bracelets, and dials, of its Limelight Gala watches, this aesthetic finish began in the 1960s when Piaget’s jewellery making heritage truly took flight. Here, it joins snow-set diamonds and gradated blue sapphires for an exquisite display of métiers d’arts finesse and gem-setting know-how.