Precious ornamental stone dials are true testaments of a maison’s savoir faire. Here are our favourites.
Featuring a simultaneous display of moon phases in both northern and southern hemispheres, the Hermès Arceau L’Heure de La Lune is an invitation to enter another dimension through an offbeat expression of a classic horological complication. The whimsical 43mm model features two mobile counters, displaying the time and date, that turn weightlessly over a dial made from Black Sahara meteorite. A pair of mother-of-pearl moon discs are inlaid here as well. At 12 o’clock is a Pegasus designed by “dreamer-designer” Dimitri Rybaltchenko to symbolise Hermès’ origins, while a view of the moon from the northern hemisphere lies at 6 o’clock. Doubling up as a lunar crater of sorts is the Arceau case in white gold with its asymmetrical lugs, a 1978 design by Henri d’Origny. Driving the 30-piece limited and numbered creation is the Manufacture Hermès H1837 mechanical self-winding movement.
For a touch of luxury, the iconic Seamaster 300 is adorned with the most captivating South African malachite. Revered and used widely in the decoration of temples, palaces and churches in ancient times, it boasts a rich array of verdant tones and distinctive band markings. Cast in yellow gold, the 41mm case also features a green ceramic bezel with an Omega Ceragold diving scale. The hands are also rendered in yellow gold and filled with “vintage” Super-LumiNova. Presented on a matching green leather strap, the watch is driven by the Omega Master Chronometer Calibre 8913, certified at the industry’s highest standard by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).
The Les Pierres de Rêve de Chaumet (French for “stones of dreams”) collection is inspired by the ancient Chinese tradition of stone symbolism. It comprises 12 unique timepieces showcasing ornamental stone dials with motifs as singular as they are poetic. Once cut and polished, the precious minerals – including rhodonite, pietersite, and azurite, among others – reveal graphic representations of a fantastical nature, evoking landscapes of deserts, forests and lagoons. A perfect specimen is this chrysocolla dial, which recalls an aerial view of the azure ocean with hidden treasures beneath. Equipped with an automatic winding Swiss mechanical movement, the elegant 38mm timekeeper is further enhanced by a rhodium-plated white gold bezel set with 76 briiliant-cut diamonds.
The ultra-feminine La D de Dior Satine timepiece showcases an exquisite stone dial of luminous tiger eye, which highlights the poetic universe of Dior Fine Jewellery. Hour markers are stripped away to show off the beautiful natural state of the precious stone in all its glory, while its magnificence is highlighted by an elegant diamond-set yellow gold bezel and crown. The steel bracelet in Milanese mesh on the 25mm quartz watch is so supple and shiny that it looks like the satin ribbon it was designed to resemble.
The maison gives pride of place to one of its most emblematic skills – the masterful use of minerals – for the Grande Seconde Off-Centered Black Jade model. At the heart of the limited 88-piece edition is a dial made from black jade, an extremely hard stone that requires lengthy polishing to reveal tiny hidden silver inclusions. Almost imperceptible to the naked eye, they enrich the stone with a unique reflection that only knowledgeable collectors can distinguish from onyx. Deftly worked by hand as a mineral sheet just 1mm thick, it is paired with a case, two off-centre circles and fine hands in red gold. The intriguing 43mm timepiece is powered by the Jaquet Droz 2663A.P self-winding mechanical movement with a power reserve of 68 hours.
The Secret Cenote Cuff Watch from Piaget’s latest nature-inspired high jewellery collection, Wings of Light, echoes the cool blues and greens of tropical foliage. Stealing the spotlight is the majestic black opal that adorns the dial and various parts of the timepiece. Found in Australia, the world’s finest black opal has been cherished as an ornamental stone by Piaget for over 50 years, since it made its first appearance in the maison’s iconic watch designs of the 1960s. While asymmetry was the aesthetic of the time, it is handled with skilled uniformity here. The white gold cuff watch is set with 151 baguette-cut sapphires weighing 25.67 carats, along with baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 15.69 carats. The unique creation is equipped with a Piaget manufacture 56P quartz movement.
The first ladies’ sports watch to combine steel with loose diamonds that dance across the dial freely, Chopard’s iconic Happy Sport watch has seen over 1,000 iterations since its 1993 launch. Adding to the extensive collection is this 30mm model with a dial of rare pearly nacre – a noble material with aurora-like motifs obtained from the heart of shells. The stainless steel case and lugs, as well as the diamond- set rose gold bezel accentuate the luminosity and subtle colour nuances of the dial. The watch is equipped with the self-winding 09.01-C movement produced in Chopard’s manufacture and boasts a 42-hour power reserve.
Bringing the Roman jeweller’s touch to watchmaking, the Divas’ Dream watch with an intense blue lapis lazuli dial embodies the maison’s love of colour and use of unexpected materials. The 30mm timepiece, with a Bvlgari-personalised quartz movement, showcases one of the most emblematic motifs of the house – the Diva fan shape. A total of 90 diamonds add sparkle around the rose gold bezel and lug edges, and are set as indices on the rare semi-precious stone dial. The matching brilliant blue alligator strap adds the perfect finishing touch.
(Art direction: Aaron Lee; watch images: brands’ own)