It’s not only the cases, dials and calibre that make the perfect watch, but also the bracelets.
Straddling both jewellery and horology, the Serpenti bracelet watch is synonymous with Bulgari. Aside from the Tubogas design from the ’70s, which was inspired by the protective flexible coil around gas pipes, the 2014 Serpenti Spiga (Italian for wheat) featured a wraparound bracelet with a wave-like motif representing a wheat stalk. Enriching the collection this year is the diamond-set Serpenti Spiga in gold, which draws from a 1957 heritage timepiece with a square face and a modular construction for its bracelet. To form the intricate mesh-like matelassé pattern without soldering, each module of the Serpenti Spiga bracelet is inserted around an internal flexible spring that’s shaped into a coiling bracelet. The single-row watch with a white mother-of-pearl dial comprises 40 links cast from 40 different moulds, while the bracelet on the two-row variant with a black lacquered dial comprises 70 links. For red-carpet events, there’s also a white-gold version that’s fully embellished with more than 800 diamonds. Here the quartz 35mm Serpenti Spiga in rose gold with a diamond-set bezel features a two- row bracelet with 461 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 2.83 carats.
Since the ’60s, Piaget has been breathing life into its high-jewellery and watch creations with Palace Décor, a hand-engraving technique unique to the house. Over the decades, more than 100 textured, shimmery motifs have been created on its bracelets. Mostly nature- inspired, the designs have included fur, foliage, wood and leather grain. Adorned with a hypnotic arrangement of marquise-cut gems echoing a macaw’s feathers, the Radiant Plumage watch from Piaget’s Wings of Light collection is accompanied by a Palace Décor bracelet resembling a ribbon of iridescent raw silk. However, it’s the reverse side that reveals the technical virtuosity. Here, a multitude of miniature gold links have been tightly assembled before they’re painstakingly soldered one by one to create a remarkably supple bracelet.
The master engraver then works on the bracelet front, laboriously hand- carving the motifs on the surface until the joins between each link disappear. The quartz Piaget Radiant Plumage watch pictured here comes in a 27.9mm x 22.9mm white-gold case with nine yellow sapphires, five blue sapphires, three red spinels and seven Paraíba tourmalines weighing a total of 6.07 carats.
Van Cleef & Arpels
First created in 1934, the Ludo bracelet is an emblematic Van Cleef & Arpels piece that evokes a belt with a flexible mesh accented with a jewel-encrusted motif in place of a buckle. While the original creation was composed of briquette motifs, a version comprising small articulated hexagons was added the following year. The house honours this signature piece with its latest Ludo Secret watches. A hard or precious stone cabochon rotates to reveal a mother-of-pearl dial encircled by diamonds and gemstones resembling a rose. To create the impression of a delicate weave, each hexagonal motif is carefully assembled and individually adjusted by hand to achieve the bracelet’s incredible articulation. In keeping with the maison’s tradition of transformable pieces, the Ludo Secret watch can be worn in various ways. This Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo Secret quartz watch in rose gold with mother-of-pearl dial features two red corals, 90 diamonds weighing 7.43 carats and 97 rubies totalling 8.37 carats.
The deconstructed chain-link bracelet on the Maillon de Cartier gold watch is an architectural play on classic codes with a literal twist. Approaching the design as a jewel with a timepiece residing in it, Cartier’s artisans perfected the watch’s geometric aesthetic only after 35 prototypes were made. Flexible rectangular links are offset and aligned on the bias at a 32-degree angle to create a stunning visual impact, while the watch blends in seamlessly with a hexagonal case and dial. With a silvered sunray dial, black Roman numerals and blue sword hands, the watch is offered in five references, ranging from a yellow-gold model to a white-gold version bedecked with 486 diamonds. Shown here is the 16mm x 17mm Maillon de Cartier quartz watch in pink gold, with 400 brilliant-cut diamonds set in the case and bracelet.
By Allyson Klass
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