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SIHH 2017 – high jewellery - Exceptional pieces are now the exception

SIHH 2017 – high jewellery Exceptional pieces are now the exception

In the current zeitgeist, it’s all about imagination, not ostentation or size. High jewellery watches are seeking refuge in favoured themes: slimness, lightness and uniqueness.

Jewellery watches: are they jewellery, or watches? For the last five years this question has been easy to answer: both! The perfect fusion between the art of the watchmaker and that of the jeweller has given rise to a golden age. And, although that golden age is not losing any of its lustre, its style is definitely changing. The jewellery business is in fine fettle, which is what has enabled Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, two watchmakers with a powerful jewellery culture, both of which had booths at the SIHH, to distance themselves somewhat from the current problems of the watch industry. Cartier has toned down the usual blizzard of breathtaking pieces that typically adorned its booth at the SIHH. Van Cleef was always more parsimonious with its launches, but not with its ability to make a statement – quite the opposite, in fact. Other brands that had previously gone all out for creative and sumptuously bejewelled watches appear to be in retreat. There remain a few stunning creations, but they are thin on the ground.mées.

Parmigiani Fleurier has bezels set with baguette diamonds, paired with minute repeaters and enamelled dials. There are also a few ornamental pieces by Piaget, including the new Altiplano tourbillon. With its diamond-set bezel and flinqué enamel dial, there is no obviously masculine option for this complicated timepiece, which was expected to be targeted at men. But Piaget has not made the watch a statement of opulence.

Exceptional pieces are now the exception

Van Cleef & Arpels, which has always been a jeweller to the core, introduced a number of typically imaginative, charming and impeccably executed pieces. The Ruban Secret Diamants stands apart for its integral setting that sets the tone for the whole piece. You won’t find any 14-carat diamonds on this secret watch, or a hidden giant ruby; just a lustrous knot that moves aside to reveal the time.

Exceptional pieces are now the exception

Although Cartier brought only half the number of pieces to the SIHH that we saw in 2016, it nevertheless managed to present the biggest, most visually stunning and varied selection of jewellery watches of the event, with a total of twenty high jewellery one-off pieces. Where before we might have found mysterious tourbillons in whimsical settings, we’re now seeing more quartz movements. And while all of last year’s haute horlogerie watches were offered in fully-set versions, this year you have to look quite hard to find the diamond variant of the La Rotonde Répétition Minutes Double Tourbillon Mystérieux.

But, although the horological aspect of these watches may have diminished in importance, their creativity and charm remain intact. Giant gemstones are there not for ostentation but to tell a story. The Montre Flamant is a perfect example: the 78-carat rose quartz that dominates this watch is there simply to flood the area with pink, not to inflate the bill. And the star collection of 2017, the Panthère, offers a wild and colourful experience, with cuff watches set with aquamarines and heliodores – no sapphires or rubies to be seen. But, if precious gems are your thing, you need look no further than the Trait d’Eclat, a dazzling streak of ruby red outlined with baguette-cut diamonds, which is truly sublime.

Exceptional pieces are now the exception

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Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of...

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One of the more recent success stories of the Swiss watchmaking industry, Parmigiani Fleurier emerged from the close relationship between watchmaker Michel Parmigiani and the Sandoz Family Foundation.

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One hundred and forty years’ worth of uninterrupted history have allowed Piaget to forge its unique jewellery and watchmaking expertise. The Brand is a genuine Fine Watchmaking manufacture that...

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Each of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations is imbued with jewelry and watchmaking excellence, drawing inspiration from whether nature, couture or the imagination. Its creations evoke a timeless world of...

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