First created in the 1920s so that women could tell time discreetly at social engagements, secret watches today are revered as precious dramatisations of time encompassing watch- and jewellery-making savoir faire.
Representing life and prosperity, ears of wheat are undoubtedly one of the maison’s most emblematic motifs. They take pride of place again on this new L’Épi de Blé de Chaumet secret watch that houses an automatic movement. Carved in relief on a pivoting cover, the wheat appears to come to life, as if gracefully dancing in a gentle breeze. Brushed yellow gold leaves complement the diamond-set polished gold of the wheat ears beautifully, lending contrast and depth to the motif. Encircled by a diamond-set yellow gold bezel and visible through the openwork cover is an aventurine dial that mimics twinkling stars in the night sky. A black satin strap accentuated with a pavé diamond buckle adds an elegant finishing touch.
The extraordinary Celestial Sky platinum secret watch is one of four creations in Magnifica, a new collection of high jewellery timepieces by Bvlgari Watches. Accompanied by a matching necklace, this showpiece celebrates Rome as the jeweller’s beloved muse. Echoing the Eternal City sky’s signature hues is an impressive six-carat oval-shaped vibrant blue Sri Lankan sapphire, which conceals a pavé diamond dial under it. Punctuating curved lines and lending bold volumes that evoke Baroque motifs are fancy-shaped sapphires, round diamonds and cabochon tourmalines.
A flourish of emeralds and diamonds elegantly extends around the wrist in this elaborate composition on the Graff Emerald and Diamond Secret Watch. The entire timepiece is blanketed with an impressive array of oval and custom-cut stones in graduating sizes – 42.32 carats of emeralds and diamonds totalling 27.99 carats, to be exact. Incredible expertise – jointly demonstrated by the house’s designers, master craftsmen, technology department and Graff Luxury Watches in Switzerland – was required to enable a sensational spray of stones to open and reveal a petite kite-shape diamond dial below. The final result: a mechanism concealed under an oval emerald was specially created for the task.
Inspired by Mr Winston’s preference for the sophisticated octogonal step cut, the Emerald Signature by Harry Winston is a secret watch that reveals a mother-of-pearl dial when the top part of its case is gently pivoted to the left. Set in white gold, the timepiece is built like a pyramid with seven octagonal tiers set with 302 brilliant-cut diamonds and crowned with a dazzling emerald-cut diamond. Another highlight of the exquisite piece is its versatile design, which allows it to be worn as a brooch or pendant. Also available in a Dark Blue Sapphire and Light Blue Sapphire version, all three models are equipped with a precision Swiss quartz movement and come with a white gold chain set with 12 brilliant-cut diamonds, as well as a silk fabric bracelet.
A majestic 83.35-carat cabochon rutilated quartz is the unexpected yet commanding feature on the Soreli secret watch from Cartier’s Magnitude high jewellery collection. Showcasing geometric lines and shapes reminiscent of the Art Deco era, the dynamic composition of kite-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds set in white gold provides a stunning contrast to the stone’s imposing shape, striking inclusions and intense sun-drenched radiance. Located discreetly under an arrow-like motif on the bracelet just below the central gem is a quartz movement timepiece with a square dial.
To mark its centenary, Gucci upped its horological game with its first high watchmaking collection that included a new in-house-developed calibre and high jewellery timepieces. True to the Italian house’s unapologetically bold style, the latter included ostentatious designs like this Gucci Lion Head creation in yellow gold. With diamonds for its eyes and mouth, the beast’s head pivots to reveal a malachite dial framed by a textured yellow gold bezel. A leather strap in rich verdant green tops off the flamboyant quartz movement timepiece.
The La D de Dior Précieuse à Secret Rose Dior is fully adorned with 1,646 diamonds totalling 12.15 carats, from the bracelet to the swivelling floral-shaped cap. Stealing the spotlight on this dazzling piece is an extremely realistic diamond encrusted rose, Monsieur Dior’s favourite flower. With gently unfurling petals as if freshly picked, this secret watch with a Swiss quartz movement is as precious as they get. Akin to being dipped in a vat filled with dazzling stars, the middle case, dial, crown and bracelet are all subtly paved with snow-set diamonds.
Van Cleef & Arpels
It took artisans over 1,600 hours to craft this mesmerising motif on the Galaxie Secrète High Jewellery watch from the maison’s Sous les Étoiles, Heavenly Dreams collection. Dynamic movement and perspective are recreated with the use of colours and a design that evoke spiral galaxies. Concealed at the heart of this white gold jewel is a diamond-set dial that emerges from one side of the hypnotic spiral, where rows of diamonds alternate with blue, pink and mauve sapphires. Exquisite coloured gemstones twinkle like stars in the night, thanks to the bracelet’s openwork structure. An oval Madagascan sapphire of 8.05 carats commands attention on this otherworldly treasure, with its intense blue illuminated by baguette diamonds, each specially recut to fit its final position.
Highlighting the gem-setting skills of the maison’s atelier des Métiers Rares, the Reverso One Cordonnet Jewellery pink gold watch transforms the simple cord bracelet into a supple gold and diamond braid, and combines it with a diamond-set Duetto case. The front dial comprises many details: fine golden Arabic numerals are applied to a white mother-of-pearl base, while a geometric cut-out revealing pavé diamonds in the centre is framed by diamond-set brackets. Not quite the usual secret watch in the traditional sense, there still is an element of surprise here. A second dial on the reverse side reveals diamond-set gold sunbeams radiating from its centre to form the hour markers on a contrasting onyx background. The intricate timepiece with 1,104 diamonds is equipped with the manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 844 with a 38-hour power reserve.
The camellia, Gabrielle Chanel’s beloved bloom, is the subject of the Isole della Laguna chapter within the Chanel Escale à Venise high jewellery collection. Synonymous with the French maison the flower takes on a monochromatic look on the Camélia Baroque secret watch. Set in white gold, the timepiece is graced with a bejewelled camellia that swivels aside to allow the wearer to tell the time from a diamond-set dial. Featuring a 1.51-carat brilliant-cut diamond in its centre, the flower is further enhanced with black lacquer tracing its petal edges. The articulated bracelet motif recalls the maison’s unmistakable matelassé quilt pattern.
Art Direction: Aaron Lee
This story first appeared on the October issue of Prestige Singapore.