A play on optical illusion can also be found in the one-of-a-kind Dior Grand Soir Kaleidiorscope. The pattern on the dial is reminiscent of kaleidoscopic mirrors as the name suggests, but also of origami and marquetry. The noticeable exploit here is how the ateliers have feminized the theme by incorporating semi-precious gems in a soft colour palette (powdery pink, pale lime, lilac and denim blue). The motif mixes angles (e.g. triangular cut) and curves along a central axis. The mother-of-pearl dial is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, purple and blue sapphires, polished chrysoprase and gold, while the ensemble is lifted by a burst of electric green from tsavorite garnets on the surrounding case. It is a surprisingly uplifting composition that can be at time more casual with a denim strap or dressy with a satin version, the definition of cool luxury.
The rare technique applied to the Harry Winston’s Premier Precious Weaving Automatic 36mm dials is also anchored in the Land of the rising sun. Hybrid between the Japanese method of Raden (the application of mother-of-pearl onto lacquered surfaces) and that of weaving, the chosen technique requires a miniature handloom to create a supple tapestry by weaving silk thread with extra-fine slivers of mother-of-pearl. The Premier Precious Weaving Automatic 36mm comes with four distinct weaved motifs: a Chrysanthemum flower, an abstract kaleidoscopic pattern and scales of Koi fish in two colour ways. Each time both the iridescence and shimmer of the fabric offer endless optical permutations so much so that the dials seem to have a life of their own.
When it comes to pièce-de-resistance, the Bulgari Serpenti Incantati Skeleton Tourbillon is at the top of the list. Contrary to all the above-mentioned watches where the dial was the focus of artful attention, here the interest resides in a new interpretation. From a long line of Serpenti watch creations, Incantati is a break from tradition as the snake no longer coils around one’s wrist, but rather wraps itself around the case of the watch in a protective embrace.
In the featured design, the reptile becomes custodian of the skeleton-worked Manufacture tourbillon movement at the centre. The mainplate and bridges are crafted in white gold, the flanks are straight-grained, and the rims and skinks are all chamfered and polished. The marriage of technology (the exposed complications) and high jewellery (the bejewelled case with 228 brilliant-cut diamonds and one sapphire) could not be more apparent in this architectural piece.
It is quite difficult to choose which one of the Fabergé Lady Libertine I or II watches, Dalliance collection, is the most covetable. At the core of both is the mesmerising verdant power of emeralds, and more precisely emeralds sourced in Zambia at the Kagem mine owned by Gemfields, world leaders of ethical and sustainably mined emeralds, and incidentally parent owner of Fabergé. In Lady Libertine I, Zambian topography is celebrated in all its ruggedness and vivid beauty through a snow setting of polished and rough emeralds, with ‘fine gold filigree outlining the banks of the rivers’.
However much Lady Libertine I is a bold organic representation, Lady Libertine II is a relatively demure and geometrical affair. The dial is snow-set with brilliant-cut white diamonds and at its centre sits a rosette-style dome with hand-sculpted strands of satin-finished emerald. On top is a cabochon emerald nestled in a loose star motif, itself in diamond and white gold. In both cases, the unconventional treatment of emerald is what captured our hearts.