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SIHH 2019 - Jewelry watch roundup

SIHH 2019 Jewelry watch roundup

Jewelry watches at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie that closed its doors last week were tell-tale signs of a sparkling vintage that promises to be rich in color and carats.

The absence of Van Cleef & Arpels, a historic pillar of the salon, whose bejeweled creations have invariably been show-stopping marvels of poetry at past editions of the fair was deeply felt this year.  Nevertheless, those who participated in the annual watch industry rendez-vous displayed their savoir-faire in crafting metals and setting precious stones with a range of exquisite timepieces that, complicated or not, dazzled and delighted the fair’s visitors.

At Bovet 1822, recital under the moon and stars

Making its debut at the Salon this year was Bovet 1822, the Swiss brand best known for its sophisticated mechanisms and its artful gem-setting, engraving, and miniature painting. 

Jewelry watch roundup

Récital 23 © Bovet 1822

Bovet presented different versions of its Récital 23, a complicated timepiece encased for the first time in an oval-shaped “writing slope” case, a Bovet signature inspired by the shape of an inclined writing desk.  A jeweled model in the Recital 23 line was encased in gold and decorated with a bezel set with round or baguette-cut diamonds, with an option that was entirely paved with round diamonds.  The diamond-setting made for a sparkling frame around the poetic three-dimensional moon phase shaped like a “hemispherical dome” in the top part of the dial, while the hours and minutes were relegated to an off-center dial at 6 o'clock.  What is time when you can have the moon and the stars?

At Piaget, an Extremely Lady-like “Python”

Piaget has for some time now been exploring its archives for new creative possibilities with the iconic shapes that date back to its 1960s repertory, taking historic models and adapting them to modern tastes.  

This is a “golden year” for Piaget whose tradition of goldsmithing is perpetuated by artisans in its Plan-les-Ouates workshops.   The mastery required for Piaget to create different types of hand-carved gold bracelets was on full display this year.  Most striking perhaps was the workmanship evident in its Extremely Lady timepiece that managed to replicate the scales of an exotic creature.  A python perhaps?   Its softly textured finish, uninterrupted from bracelet onto dial but for a diamond-set bezel, brought a splendid realism to the gold metal work.

Le ballet des montres joaillières

Extremely Lady © Piaget

“Engraving both the dial and the bracelet is for us an aesthetic signature that dates back to the 1960s,” said the Maison Piaget.  “The know-how of gold is a means of expression for Piaget, but this was a type of engraving that we had never attempted before.” 

Two days of work by a master artisan were required to complete the décor of the timepiece, and to allow the Extremely Lady to take on reptilian airs and shimmer as it played with light and shadow.

At Cartier, abstractions of a Panthère

For Cartier, the Panthère has since the 1980s been more of an ever-evolving notion than an “idée fixe.”  This year, Cartier has returned to its iconic feline with renewed creativity in number of models that explore its various iterations, from figurative forms to purely abstract notions.  The new Panthère de Cartier manchette this year has borrowed from the panther only what it held in seductively liquid languor.  It is all in the feline attitude which embodies, as the Maison Cartier puts it, “a celebratory, hedonistic and ultra-feminine spirit.” 

Le ballet des montres joaillières

Manchette Panthère de Cartier © Cartier

If a jewelry watch can convey all that, then the new Panthère de Cartier manchette watch does that and more.  Its off-center dial is set off with a diamond-set bezel.  Its silky bracelet wraps around the wrist as softly as it did the gold slinky on which it was displayed in Cartier’s vitrine.  Its open-worked chain links reveal some skin, just enough to make the watch casually flirtatious, but always with elegance.

At HYT, the shape of sparkling water

In 2017, HYT had shown an H0 with a strictly streamlined design.  This year, the H0 is back with a vengeance and something more… shall we say “eternal”?   “We are attracted to brilliant objects, because man is genetically programmed to find water and goes looking for things that sparkle under the sun,” said a spokesperson for HYT.   That pseudo-scientific explanation was enough to inspire HYT’s specialists to look for diamonds in the water, foretelling a bright new chapter in the brand’s fluidic development.

Le ballet des montres joaillières

H0 Time is Precious © HYT

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 b.c., once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice as it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  And this H0 is definitely not the same watch.  Under its domed sapphire glass, the new H0 paves its dial with 1,206 snow-set diamonds weighing at about 7.4 carats, visible from above and from all sides. Time display, HYT’s signature, remains unchanged, but in the H0’s diamond version, the liquid in the cylinder will flow in rivers of red or black. It is above all a reminder that time is both precious and fluid.

At Audemars Piguet, a river of sapphires runs through it

Are those ripples on the icy waters of the Orbe as a pebble sinks in its bed? Or is it the orbital path of a far-away moon defying the gravitational pull of a fading sun? 

Heraclitus would surely approve of the Sapphire Orbe, the newest jewelry extravagance by Audemars Piguet, named after the river that runs through Le Brassus, home to the Swiss watchmaker.

Le ballet des montres joaillières

Sapphire Orbe © Audemars Piguet


Sapphire Orbe is an otherworldly object rising from a glittering river of diamonds and sapphires in graded hues of blue and orange.  In the wake of Diamond Punk, Outrage and Fury, past jewelry watch creations, it may seem like a tamer creation, but it remains an equally sculptural expression of Audemars Piguet’s gem-setting know-how.  This piece is all about color and light, and the games they play when they come together.  It took some 1,050 hours to gem-set the piece with over 12,000 stones, each individually cut and set by hand.  In its domed center, a dark blue sapphire-set globe reveals the timepiece’s 18-carat white gold dial paved with graded orange sapphires.  The “ripples” - or “orbital rings” if you will - are snow-set with diamonds and sapphires in six graded shades of blue and orange, and in different diameters ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 mm.

The Sapphire Orbe’s caliber is quartz, but in jewelry circles, it is all about allure and rarely about movement.


> Watches & Wonders


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