Move over, watches set with round brilliant-cut diamonds: Geometrically cut gemstones are the new bling in town. From trapezoids and tetrahedrons to trilliant cuts and bullet shapes, these angular looks are more sharp and risqué than ever, if this year’s most dazzling watch introductions are anything to go on.
Part of the cuts’ popularity is down to an Art Deco revival — which is going strong in jewelry, 100 years on — but there may be a subconscious element, too.
“Clean geometric lines and simple shapes often appeal,” said Kristian Spofforth, head of jewelry sales at Sotheby’s London. “Somewhere deep in our psyche it’s pleasing to the mind to see nice, clean simplicity. It helps settle the mind and body, rather than the chaos that’s all around us.”
A panacea for pandemic times, perhaps?
Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Blast
In August, Ulysse Nardin introduced the futuristic-looking Blast, an openwork, flying tourbillon watch with a vertically oriented movement. Blast’s inspiration was a stealth aircraft, particularly the sharp wings and serrated triangular patterns on the fuselage, which found their way into the watch’s faceted horns and case.
In Sparkling Blast, the high jewelry interpretation, 211 geometrically cut diamonds — for a total of 13 carats, and cut into 85 unique, hand-faceted shapes — were set invisibly into its angular surfaces. “We wanted to use the most of the faceted case, and to express the notion of broken mirror,” said Jean-Christophe Sabatier, the brand’s chief product officer.
Suzanne Wong, editor in chief of the watch magazine World Tempus, said the watch spoke to her aesthetically and cerebrally. “Visually, it creates a much more contemporary vibe — the light refracts differently and that asymmetric scattering catches the eye on a subconscious level,” she wrote in an email.
But, she added, the design also is a study of how watches reflect time: “Light is broken up into its component wavelengths by the faceted stones, and the oscillator at the heart of every watch fractures time into microunits — which we then parlay through the system of seconds, minutes and hours. It adds another dimension of interest.”
The watch, at $410,000, is a limited edition of six pieces; two have been sold.
Cartier [Sur]Naturel Panthère Tropicale
The only watch in Cartier’s latest high jewelry collection, titled [Sur]Naturel, this one-of-a-kind timepiece sits between vintage Cartier and an entirely new design language for the house.
The combination of coral along one side of the watch and the panther’s piebald pattern on the other are “very us, very Jeanne Toussaint,” said Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s style, image and heritage director, referring to the house’s flamboyant artistic director, who held the post from 1933 to 1970.
The coral, however, is gadrooned into long, slender lines that rise to meet two octagonal aquamarines totaling 12.71 carats, and two octagonal tourmalines of 20.58 carats — stones whose warm blue hues are in particular demand now (“There’s a need for joyfulness,” Mr. Rainero said). The price is available on request.
The watch’s dual personality — straddling past and present but also abstraction and the figurative — was not lost on Rachel Garrahan, jewelry and watch director at British Vogue, who said she loved the design’s “crazy unexpectedness.”
“If you’d described it to me beforehand, I would have said, ‘What is Cartier thinking?’” she said. “But somehow seeing it in the flesh makes all the difference. That mixture of color and materials takes it to a whole other level.”
Perspectives de Chaumet Mirage secret watch
Geometry is naturally inherent in Chaumet’s latest high jewelry collection — an 81-piece ode to architecture that draws on the form’s parallels with jewelry: construction, balance, volume and light.
The collection’s Mirage suite, featuring diamonds and sapphires, centers on the idea of transformability, a Chaumet signature effect, but also the perpetual movement found in architecture. “It’s about back and forth, of different perspectives and layers between the diamonds and sapphires,” said Jean-Marc Mansvelt, Chaumet’s chief executive.
The one-of-a-kind watch initially appears to be a bracelet of sweeping lines, set with a mix of baguette-, princess- and triangle-cut diamonds in two layers of gold. A discreet button can be used to release the watch dial, which slides out as if in a drawer, reflecting the multilayered theme. The price is available on request.
“Creating this watch would have been a very long and complex process,” said Katerina Perez, a Paris-based jewelry blogger. “A few princess-cut diamonds will have had to be recut to match the design, and the triangular diamonds precisely selected to ensure a perfect fit, facet to facet.”
The design works well for the architecture theme, Ms. Perez added. “It’s simple geometry that holds a building together, after all,” she said. “There really isn’t much you can’t not like about geometry and Art Deco jewelry, the simple lines and structured, beautiful colors.”
Harry Winston Ultimate Kaleidoscope
Harry Winston may be synonymous with jaw-dropping stones — it once owned the Hope Diamond before donating it to the Smithsonian — but it also is known for crafting ultraluxury objet d’art. There have been Art Deco-style diamond-encrusted binoculars, which included a watch face, or the New York Companion, a high jewelry clutch with a watch hidden under the clasp in a Jazz Age-style motif.
Now the house has turned its hand to a miniature kaleidoscope — but not for the first time.
This piece, which can be worn as a pendant, was inspired by several simple gold kaleidoscopes that Harry Winston made in the 1990s, and which, according to the company, was used as the starting point in a challenge to its artisans to create something extra special.
The result is a fully functioning kaleidoscope: a yellow gold canister set with a geometric spiral of colored stones — diamonds, blue and yellow sapphires, a sprinkling of Paraiba tourmalines — trimmed in white mother-of-pearl panels. It is topped with a watch face with invisibly set baguette diamonds that screws off to reveal the viewer window. And, inside, the viewer sees a mosaic of topaz and pink, blue and yellow sapphires.
Mr. Spofforth of Sotheby’s said the piece reminded him of the colorful tiled motifs found in Islamic mosques and palaces, and of the influence of travel on Art Deco jewelry. “It links back to the international, but also geometric and exotic, influences that came through in Art Deco jewelry,” he said.
A rare piece that, Mr. Spofforth said, will be a “fantasy whim” purchase for a wealthy collector, the kaleidoscope would be the pièce de résistance at a dinner party — and certainly ease any talk of the pandemic.