Time Warp: When Watches Become Wearable Jewels

Stylishly provocative celebrities have been leading the charge on a new trend that requires them to wear watches anywhere but the wrist. Now, this bold red-carpet look is filtering down, with jewellery designers crafting watches that are designed to be worn as necklaces, rings, belts, and more. Rachael Taylor explains more about this emerging timekeeping obsession…

When Taylor Swift stepped onto the red carpet at this year’s Grammy Awards wearing a Lorraine Schwartz black diamond choker fitted with a vintage Concord watch dial, she solidified a trend that has been brewing for months: the watch necklace.

Taylor Swift wearing a Lorraine Schwartz watch choker necklace made of a triple-strand chain of black diamonds

Swift’s horological provocation was not the first such style statement we have seen. Last summer, Rihanna wore a Jacob & Co Brilliant Flying Tourbillon watch, set with more than 30 carats of diamonds, as a choker to the Louis Vuitton SS24 show in Paris. The watch, which is worth $670,000, was customised for the star with an extra-long calfskin strap after she came to the brand with her idea. 

American YouTuber Emma Chamberlain followed suit a few months later at the Miu Miu SS24 show. The watch she strapped around her neck was less flashy than the Jacob & Co or Lorraine Schwartz diamond designs, but the choice was inspired. It was a Cartier Baignoire dial; the sleek oval-faced dress watch that went viral after its release at Watches and Wonders 2023. Chamberlain used it to accessorise a demure Miu Miu outfit of Prince of Wales-style check jacket, buttoned-up check shirt, and tortoise-shell glasses. With her hair in two long plats, this was geek at its chicest.

Emma Chamberlain wearing a gold Cartier Baignoire watch as a choker

“Blurring the lines between watches and jewellery is a great way to open up this product category to a whole new demographic of people who may not be used to wearing watches,” says Eddie Goziker, president of luxury watch retailer Wrist Aficionado. “Men’s watches have always had a heavy historical emphasis on utility, but these days they are undeniably used more commonly as fashion statements, and as a way for enthusiasts to bond. With women’s watches, jewellery-like designs can lower the barrier to entry by making pieces easier to integrate into outfits, whether it’s subtly or as a statement.”

Model wearing Cartier La Panthère de Cartier watch in gold, black lacquer, tsavorite and diamond, Cartier Tank Française watch in gold, Cartier Tank Américaine watch in rose gold and diamond and the Cartier Santos Dumont Micro-Rotor watch in steel

Julia Fox wearing an outfit entirely made out of vintage watches at NYFW

Swift, Rihanna, and Chamberlain were certainly hoping to make a statement. As was actress and provocateur Julia Fox when she attended a New York Fashion Week event, hosted by jewellery brand Pandora, in September wearing an open-backed mini skirt and bandeau top adorned with more than 25 vintage watches. 

Goziker, however, believes that this trend could filter down to the masses. And the signs are already there that he’s right. While Fox’s outfit is not likely to be repeated any time soon, the concept of the watch necklace is already bedding in at some major maisons. Victoire de Castellane created long necklaces with hardstone-dial watch pendants as part of the Gem Dior collection. She describes the designs as “not figurative”, adding that “the spirit of this collection is modern… organised disruption”. 

Dior Joaillerie Gem Dior Medallion necklaces in gold, pink gold, aragonite, carnelian, malachite and diamond

At this year’s Watches and Wonders show in Geneva, Chanel presented many watch jewels as part of its Couture O’Clock collection. Secret watches were hidden within precious pendants on long chains, disguised as couturier tools including dressmakers’ models, thimbles, and safety pins. 

Set of Chanel Couture O'Clock high jewellery watches

Chanel also took inspiration from its handbag straps to create a leather and gold design fitted with a watch-dial charm that could be worn both as a belt and a necklace. Tiffany & Co. struck on a similar idea within its HardWear collection, which includes a watch that can be fitted to a long gold chain that can be worn as a wraparound bracelet, a necklace or a belt. 

Piaget blurred the line between jewel and timepiece with three new haute horlogerie creations released at Watches and Wonders this year, which were inspired by its 1969 Swinging Sautoir designs. Watch cases were incorporated into elaborate jewellery necklaces of gold and turquoise, with the dials removable so that they could also be worn on the wrist as traditional dress watches. 


Vacheron Constantin delivered a similar idea with its transformable Grand Lady Kala creation that allowed a diamond-set dial to be transferred between a pearl tassel necklace and a diamond-set watch strap. Both could be worn without the dial, replaced instead by a fully diamond-set lozenge to take its place. 

Dina Kamal, a jeweller known for her minimalist sleek designs, recently took on a special commission to design a jewel around a Patek Philippe watch. It had belonged to her client’s father, and she wanted to honour his memory, but do so in her own style. “I wanted it to feel like a ceremonial medal,” says Kamal, who placed the watch case at the centre of a multi-layered gold disc pendant covered in diamonds and strung on a handcrafted chain. “The discs reflect the idea of labyrinth and time.” Kamal points out that the watch itself has remained fully in fact, and can be safely removed at any time. Therefore, the value of the Patek Philippe timepiece is not compromised. 

Dina Kamal Heirloom Patek Philippe Watch restructured in beige gold set with 3,920 diamonds

This idea of designing new creations around luxury watches is one that a number of jewellers have embraced of late. Patcharavipa created a collection of cocktails rings with vintage Rolex dials in place of a central gem, while Jade Trau has launched a capsule of six refurbished 1970s Rolex Cellini watches embellished with diamonds and fresh case shapes. 

“A watch at this stage is just a form of jewellery as most of us don’t look at our watches to tell the time,” says Trau. “I think nowadays the crossover between jewellery and watches lies amongst their synergy. Both are an accessory used to adorn ourselves, to make us look beautiful and enhance our personal sense of style. The watches that celebrities are wearing as chokers are just beautiful pieces of jewellery, with watch complications in the centre.”

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