As decadent as they sound, jewellery watches are more than a festival of gemstones on the wrist. They are also more than just expensive evening watches that you wear only once in a blue moon. Indeed, like high jewellery, jewellery watches have become quite normalised for day wear looks as long as your fashion choices lean towards the muted side, letting jewels take the spotlight.
Additionally, the best maisons have created numerous variations on the theme, designing jewellery watches that are absolute works of art in their own right. Gem-setting, enamel painting, stone-sculpting, stone marquetry, and more are fused with horological savoir-faire and rich storytelling to elevate the quintessence of these jewellery watches. Fresh from Watches & Wonders 2023, these are Vogue Singapore’s favourite novelties of the year.
Every year, Cartier brings out more surprises that bend our minds and change our perspectives on time- and jewellery pieces. This epic maison with its massive stable of icons never stays in one place, pushing boundaries over and over again, questioning everything while establishing a new definition of luxury across all of its product categories. The new Baignoire, for instance, is a perfect example of Cartier’s creative ingenuity, and of how comfortable the maison is in its own skin.
Presenting the new Baignoire on a solid gold bangle, Cartier delivers the chicest interpretation of this quiet icon yet. And it is no ordinary bangle at that. Consider its sleek, smooth rounded form which curves sensuously around the wrist, capturing the essence of the Baignoire. It’s an extension of the signature Baignoire bezel, a study of its pure lines and organic curves, an oval within an oval, a watch that is also a piece of jewellery.
Further bejewelled versions of the Baignoire and its whimsical cousin, Baignoire Allongée, were added this year as well. Cartier played with marquetry of stone and gold in the Métiers d’Arts Baignoire Allongée, offering two refreshing takes on this 1960s classic. The first features a segmented dial composed of textured white and yellow gold as well as shards and slivers of black onyx. This stylish aesthetic continues into the bezel and case, which are assembled from different materials as well, like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
Next, Cartier presented an edgy yet artful Baignoire Allongée featuring a dial made by marquetry of stone forming a mosaic pattern on the dial. Every infinitesimally small fragment—black onyx, mother-of-pearl, turquoise–was cut by hand and pieced together on a surface that is curved, rather than flat, to form this exquisite work of art. This white gold jewellery watch is also covered with diamonds, grey spinels, and blue tourmalines in pavé and reverse-set styles.
Rounding off the Baignoire novelties is the Jewelled Baignoire entirely imagined in white diamonds or a combination of coloured stones including sapphires, emeralds, chrysoprases, blue tourmalines and more diamonds.
Cartier Jewelled Tank watch
Also new for the maison are two bejewelled Cartier Tanks with exquisite rouleaux style bracelets made of gold and sculpted black onyx. They join the Cartier Clash Unlimited series in portraying high gemstone artistry which is a deep-seated part of the maison’s savoir-faire.
Panthère de Cartier
New Panthère de Cartier renditions for the year includes this chunky bracelet piece where the big cat appears to be feasting on the jewellery watch case like it’s just a big ol’ bar of chocolate. The angled links of its gold bracelet evokes the musculature of the panther albeit in an abstract way.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Precious Colours
Each year Jaeger-LeCoultre grows its collection of Métiers Rares timepiece by extending the possibilities of traditional métiers d’arts. Its craftsmen and women seek to challenge themselves time and again while expressing high artistry through different inspirational themes. This year, in line with the Golden Ratio philosophy which guides the manufacture in every aspect of the Revero, Jaeger-LeCoultre presented two Reverso One pieces that combine grand feu enamel with stone marquetry as well as gem-setting.
Drawing from the Art Deco style, the artisans played with straight line and geometric shapes, decorating the back of the swivel case with beautiful pastel shades of blue and green. The enamel colours are joined by strips of brilliant cut diamonds inset on the case, perfectly flush with the enamel layers. This motif continues into the flanks which envelope an elegant mother-of-pearl dial.
Piaget cuff watch
Cuff watches are a Piaget specialty that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. Having made them in numbers, and with great flair, during the 70s, Piaget’s immense creativity and goldsmithing know-how comes through in these timepieces, along with the distinct sense of joie de vivre stemming from the glamour and wilful hedonism of Piaget Society.
Many of the maison’s most recognisable icons came from this era, including finishing and decorating techniques such as the Palace décor which has come to adorn many of its current creations both from the watch and the jewellery segment. This year’s cuff watches are also finessed with the Palace décor, such as this stunning example with a turquoise dial and set with gradient blue sapphires.
If creativity was the overarching mission at Watches & Wonders 2023, then Chanel definitely understood the assignment. This year the maison got its inspiration from the world of science fiction, outer space, and time travel to present the Chanel Interstellar capsule collection. Just like last year’s Electro series, the full spectrum of Chanel timepiece classics were dressed in a common theme.
The J12 family was a confluence of light and darkness, where diamonds and transparent materials such as sapphire crystal brought the former, and black ceramic, the latter. Standout creations included the J12 Hyper Cybernetic and its mind-bending ‘pixelated motif’ in diamond pavé, the yin-yang duo J12 Spatiotemporal, and J12 Diamond Tourbillon—because who could resist a diamond paved open-worked tourbillon watch?
Also getting lots of love from the maison this year is the Première collection which just got a facelift last October. In 2023, Chanel’s watchmaking creation studio clearly had a great time designing the new pieces. They include the full diamond pavé Première Hyper Lucky Star with its playful comet charm, the Première X Ray which must have been a designer’s dream—and watchmaker’s nightmare—to produce.
Alternating sapphire crystal and snow-set white gold links are exactly as insane as they sound. Finally, the utterly adorable Première Robot for an extra touch of joie de vivre.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5268/200R-010
We don’t often think of jewellery watches as suitable for sports but this brilliantly diamond-set Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce is all it took to change our minds. Cased in rose gold with the signature Aquanaut grid dial, where the motif extends into the bracelet, this reference comes in an elegant taupe coloured aesthetic.
Very chic and balancing luxury high watchmaking with a sport-chic attitude, it distinguishes itself clearly from the overly classical models of the past yet also offers the same gravitas that always comes with the name Patek Philippe. In short, this is exactly the kind of Patek Philippe watch that the younger generation wants to wear.
Hermès Slim d’Hermès Cheval de Légende
Individually, they are just tiny beads of gold or little grains of enamel. But altogether, they make up a majestic galloping horse against a white enamel dial. This exquisite timepiece takes inspiration from a scarf of the same name designed by Benoît Pierre Emery for Hermès. Yet what appears at first to be a two-dimensional artwork reveals its nuances upon closer inspection.
One by one, an artisan places 1,678 pink gold beads or blue enamel bits onto tiny cavities on the dial, which is then fired in the oven to set the pieces in place. Highly intricate and yet so dazzlingly straightforward in concept, Slim d’Hermès Cheval de Légende remains true to the collection’s devotion to simplicity, balance, and thoroughness.
Chopard Happy Sport
Few watches elicit joy as intuitively as the Chopard Happy Sport, one of the manufacture’s best-selling watches of all time. Indeed, Chopard has made numerous renditions of this contemporary chic timepiece since its introduction in the 1990s, but this year’s novelties are the only ones to be made in Lucent Steel or a combination of Lucent Steel and ethical gold. There is also a wide array of straps to choose from, including double tour variations, with and without diamond setting.
Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo Secret Watch
Of the many iconic creations at Van Cleef & Arpels, the Ludo bracelet is among the most fascinating, being a design attributed directly to Louis Arpels—Ludo was his nickname—and deeply evocative of the 1930s. Shaped like a belt, it is at once distinctive and timeless, and highly popular during its time. The brick-pattern meshwork flows seamlessly through two round discs, and the bracelet’s ultra-flexible form recalls the tactile feedback of a finely woven fabric.
Each link has been assembled by hand, individually, to deliver this level of fine articulation. To reveal the time, the wearer just needs to give the buckle a gentle squeeze and the bracelet portion above it opens up almost like a flower petal in bloom. The dial is in guilloché white mother-of-pearl and this watch comes in two versions, one set with white diamonds and the other, pink sapphires.
But the maison hasn’t stopped there. Also new for the year is a high jewellery version featuring Mystery Set emeralds on the top cover. Brilliant cut diamonds in varying sizes are set all over the two circular discs, while the bracelet is done in the signature yellow-gold hexagon meshwork style. For this piece, Van Cleef & Arpels took inspiration from a 1941 Ludo Hexagone Macaron timepiece.
Van Cleef & Arpels À Cheval
Espousing the same design ethos as the À Cheval high jewellery creations, the new À Cheval timepiece lets precious gemstones do all the talking. Crafted with minimal display of the underlying precious metal—platinum, in this case—the pieces immaculately highlight the purity of diamonds as well as the radiant glow of sapphires in either pink or blue.
The maison achieves this effect through a gem-setting technique where stones are set in staggered rows, which also creates a play of volumes and sparkle.
In these jewellery watches, only D to F-coloured stones were used, with IF to VVS clarity explaining their intense fire. Sapphires were set in a gradient of hues and sizes, moving from the most saturated berry hues at the clasp to just a blush of pink towards the case, before blending into a flurry of brilliant white diamonds.