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Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 - High jewellery Timepieces shine Brightest at Watches & Wonders

Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 High jewellery Timepieces shine Brightest at Watches & Wonders

Diamonds, sapphires, tsavorites and ceramics baguettes. Monochromatic, animalistic or pictorial. These above-the-cut pieces cleave retinas and melt hearts

They were back, luminous, sparkling and jaw-dropping. Watchmaking had shied away from high jewellery timepieces, mostly due to the specific constraints of these past two year's overwhelmingly digital presentation format. Too niche, too expensive, not available for all these tedious Zoom sessions, they'd gone under the radar for a while. But as the physical, 2022 edition of  Watches & Wonders unfolded, they reappeared. They still are untouchable, literally and figuratively. Tucked away behind thick panels of glass, they're so rare they hardly ever see the light of day, of which there is none inside the exhibition halls anyway. 

High jewellery timepieces shine brightest at Watches & Wonders

Van Cleef & Arpels Marguerite Secrète - Montre Pâquerette © David Chokron / Worldtempus

They've always had to work their magic from afar as their price and availability preclude any contact with a hand, even gloved, much less a wrist. Sometimes, they've even been sold even though they're still showcased. In that specific and not unusual case, they don't belong any more in the public realm and become actually forbidden pleasures.

High jewellery timepieces shine brightest at Watches & Wonders

Chopard Happy Sport Métiers d'Art - Piaget Limelight Gala High Jewellery © David Chokron / Worldtempus

And Oh what a pleasure that is ! It's not so much the cohorts of gemstones that make them captivating. Three digits carat weights, polychromatic baguettes, copious amounts of time spent on gem-setting are a factual expression of creativity.

High jewellery timepieces shine brightest at Watches & Wonders

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier Eclats de Panthère - Masse Mystérieuse © David Chokron / Worldtempus

Design is the name of that game, as is inventiveness. The true nature of gemstones is to be the letters with which words are formed. They become the sentences of a story that becomes a watch. This is an exercise in artistic expression where the techniques of lapidaries and gem-setters share space with other more rare ones, within the scope of artistic handcrafts : gold sculptures, marquetries of several types, cutting mother-of-pearl or opals...

La montre joaillière, star de Watches & Wonders

Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon 38 Eclipse © David Chokron / Worldtempus

High jewellery timepieces shine brightest at Watches & Wonders

Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Cage Necklace - Hermès Kelly © David Chokron / Worldtempus

Above all else, these timepieces are about colour. White light all over for the monochromatic diamond pieces, full spectrum on the sapphire case ones (absolutely! Watchmaking sapphire is a gem, even though it's lab-made), they come to life to imitate it in animal and floral motifs. Literal or stylised interpretations, powered by a quartz, mechanical or grand complication movement, these pieces are another part of the watchmaking soul...obviously the most precious one.

High jewellery timepieces shine brightest at Watches & Wonders

Patek Philippe ref. 5374/300P-001 - Rolex Yacht-Master 40 ref.126679 SABR © David Chokron / Worldtempus

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