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Set Watches - Baguette Out of Town

Set Watches Baguette Out of Town

Are you kidding? Men's watches with gemstones ? Although they're not always appreciated, male jewelry timepieces are all the rage. You just need to look past your prejudice

When you're a fan of traditional watchmaking and mechanics. When you'd rather wear steel or titanium that warm-toned gold. When you'd sooner go unnoticed, or noticed by a certain knowledgeable crowd. In all these cases, you'd easily tend to look down on bejeweled watches for men. To deem them loud, feminine, or even both. It's simply just not so. High end watchmaking with gems is a style in and of itself, even if it doesn't have an enviable status in all countries. It's in fact highly sought after, and the one segment that's completely untouched by the current (welcome and mild) drop in secondary market prices. Some even offer the highest mark-ups, both in percentage and sheer value. But not just any gem-set watch for men. They have to have baguette-cut gems.

Why the baguette cut ? Because it requires larger, purer and cleaner roughs than the round, brilliant cut. It's mostly a matter of geometry though. It's paradoxically easier to fill a circle with rectangles than with circles. In watchmaking, this means it's easier to saturate a bezel with baguettes than brilliants. The difference in carat weight is between 30 and 50 %, depending on how tight the setting is done. This is not an end, rather a means to access a more intense, more dense, more dazzling brilliance.

Baguette Out of Town

Yacht Master 40 ref.126679 SABR © Rolex

This result also rests on a small white lie. Baguette-cut gems destined to end up on a bezel are actually re-cut into a slightly trapezoid shape. When their shorter sides are placed side by side, they form the beginning of a circle. This added complexity ends up significantly raising these gems' cost.

Baguette Out of Town

Excalibur Glow Me Up © Roger Dubuis

Infallibly, diamond gets the lion's share of this deal, as it always does. On the other hand, sapphire is experiencing an actual golden age, which started when jewelry began making use of its extended palette some fifteen years ago. That's when the yellow, green, pink, purple and the entire rainbow tones started popping on the radar. Which eventually resulted in a boom in rainbow bezels. These past few months, there's been a surge in full tsavorite settings, which have come after several attempts at making full Paraiba tourmaline bezels, which is easier said than done as this gem is rare and hard to pair.

Baguette Out of Town

Nautilus 5711/1300A-001 © Patek Philippe

Surely, one can never underestimate the importance and difficulty of gathering a lot of gemstones homogeneous in color. Colored stones are expensive also because it takes a very large number of them to sort through before finding the right number that show the exact same hue. Finding the exact same orange tone 60 times in a mountain of sapphires is like sifting sand...

Baguette Out of Town

Altiplano Tourbillon © Piaget

The setting itself is another essential point, as it often is the case in jewelery watchmaking. Not just the way space is filled with gems, but actual technique. The way the gems are laid out, their respective heights, their alignment in all three dimensions are subtle quality points that require thorough checking out. One setting technique reigns supreme in this arena : invisible setting. Traditional setting requires making a whole in metal to accommodate the gem's culet, and to fold back matter over the top of the table to create claws that hold it in place.

Invisible setting demands that each gem be re-cut with a mid-height groove along its length. The metal inside the bezel is also cut, into a T-shaped rail. The gem is pushed against the rail, which fits into the groove, and stay there. The table, which is the flat top surface, and the crown, the slanted surface just underneath, are the only ones the eye ends up seeing. The metal underneath, which is of course generally gold, has vanished from sight, hidden somewhere with the culet. The main question remains this : can a man wear a gem-set watch ? Western Europe is the only area of the planet to overwhelmingly take exception. The rest of the world accepts, welcomes, asks for more gemstones on a hairy wrist, and considers them a marker of taste, wealth and exclusivity.

Baguette Out of Town

Octo Roma Tourbillon © Bulgari

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