Creating a high jewellery timepiece for men isn’t just about how many diamonds can be packed onto a dial (although the fantastic sparkle certainly helps). Rather, it’s about setting stones with purpose, telling a story and enhancing a watch’s unique horological features with light. When searching for perfect men’s timepieces for the winter season, I focus on creations that demand a second look and challenge the diamond-set bezel status quo.
The “Sparkling Blast” high jewellery timepiece by Ulysse Nardin is an open-work mini-masterpiece featuring an automatic tourbillon movement embellished with a mosaic of diamonds. The placement of each stone is designed to mimic the randomness of shards of broken glass, but this non-uniformity is cleverly contrasted with the sharp geometry of the dial. A rectangle of baguette-cut diamonds, baguette-cut diamond hour markers and the brand’s recognisable “X” shape add depth to the dial design without overpowering the intricate details of the skeletonised tourbillon movement. To put the handiwork of Ulysse Nardin in perspective, this watch contains 211 diamonds with 85 distinct cuts, totalling 13 carats. They’ve even thought about festive party dressing too, with white rubber and blue and white alligator leather straps available to suit his personal style.
The Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue Collection feels like it pushes the boundaries of design for men and yet its roots can be traced back to 1874 and Piaget’s founder, Georges Edouard Piaget. The ultra-thin movement housed in this small series of jewelled watches was Georges’ speciality and it formed the technical foundations of his eponymous brand when it launched in 1943. With modern advances, some elements of the Altiplano 670P flying tourbillon movement measure no more than the thickness of a human hair! In this context, it is remarkable that such a mechanism can be enhanced with so many diamonds in such intricate designs. For example, the Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue Limited Edition 18 has 276 baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds set in swirls across its dial, bezel, lugs and buckle with a total weight of 3.41 carats.
The Mystery Tourbillion is, first and foremost, a feat of horological engineering that moves the wearer to tell time in a whole new way. Two back-to-back triple-axis tourbillons provide the core movement, with the first completing a full revolution in 60 seconds and the second and third axes making a full revolution in two minutes. Layered ‘mystery discs’ rotate around the twin triple-axis to tell the time, with ruby gemstone indicators and sapphire indices highlighting the hour and minutes. The case of the timepiece is invisibly set with baguette-cut hexagonal diamonds and the dial is ‘layered’ with diamonds to create a three-dimensional effect. This incredible piece of artistry, which spent more than a year in development, has a total diamond weight of 33.65 carats, in addition to rubies, sapphires and 18k white gold. Further editions of this unique creation are set with ruby and tsavorite garnet hour markers, and, in the case of The Mystery Tourbillon Ruby, more than 40 carats of hexagonal-cut rubies.
The Hublot Stunning Depth Haute Joaillerie Collection includes a triple bill of diamond-set timepieces, each with its own manufacture movement and stylish exterior. The first, the Big Bang Unico High Jewellery watch with a flyback chronograph movement, shines with 334 invisible-set baguette-cut diamonds totalling 12.5 carats. Next there’s the Sprit of Big Bang High Jewellery timepiece, with 346 baguette-cut diamonds surrounding the HUB4700 Swiss Chronograph movement and, finally, the Classic Fusion High Jewellery watch is set with 427 baguette-, rectangular- and trapeze-cut diamonds and contains a self-winding manufacture movement. An interesting feature of all three watches is the strap, which uses alligator leather sewn onto natural rubber for comfort and traditional elegance. All are crafted in 18ct white gold for a lovely luminous finishing touch.
Launched earlier this year, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Superbia is as much about the finesse of its mechanical interior as the gemstones set on its exterior. Imagine for a second receiving instructions to cut around 600 diamonds and sapphires into triangle and tetrahedron shapes, followed by guidance to individually hand-set each of these stones into a palladium and white gold watch case, ensuring the setting is almost entirely invisible. This process took around 900 hours for the Excalibur Superbia, which highlights just how patient master craftspeople must be! The watch itself contains two flying tourbillons in a manufacture skeleton calibre, crafted entirely in titanium. The brand refers to this piece as a “hyperwatch” meaning it goes beyond the description of luxury into a whole new category of design, creativity and expense.
High jewellery watches for men are a status symbol like no other. By pushing mechanical expertise, gem-setting and innovation to ultimate heights, brands like the ones shown here attract the one percent of the one percent, who have a collection of unique timepieces that can’t be outdone.