Baselworld 2018: Jewelled watches with artful embellishments

Whilst Baselworld is simultaneously a luxury watch and jewellery exhibition, it has always placed more focus on horology because of the history of the fair. The exhibition was founded in Basel, and has been held there for a century due to the country's reputation for being home to the world’s foremost timepiece experts.

Having visited the famous exhibition this year, I have decided to place more emphasis on jewellery watches; since so many models with beautiful gemstone, pearl and enamel embellishments were showcased this year. In my previous article I explored my favourite jewellery watches from luxury brands, now let us look at some more masterpieces of horological art from more traditional watchmakers and fine jewellery houses. 

Jaquet Droz

Jaquet Droz is one of the most prestigious watchmakers amongst the hundreds at Baselworld, and the brand always releases several showpieces to celebrate the exhibition. This year, my attention was particularly caught by one of Jaquet Droz’s latest jewelled timepieces; the renowned brand revisited the design of its original model - the ‘Lady 8’ - transforming it into a more delicate version, the ‘Lady 8 Petite’. The three 18K rose gold versions of the model offer a jewellery bracelet rather than a traditional leather strap, with the links individually set with diamonds and either jade or – in the case of my favourite model - Akoya pearls. The mother of pearl dial perfectly complements and reflects the luminous sheen of the pearls affixed to the bracelet of the watch, recalling 1950’s vintage style cocktail watches, and creating a look of timeless elegance.


Another Swiss luxury watch brand that is listed among the most well-known watchmakers in the world are Corum. This year they introduced new jewelled models of their popular Golden Bridge design in white and pink gold as the 'Corum Golden Bridge Round 39mm'. As a jewellery writer, I was particularly drawn to the timepiece featuring an opulent 'lacework' of diamonds set within the brand’s famous linear movement. The combination of brilliance of the marquise cut stones and the openwork setting gave the impression of light emanating from the movement itself. All in all, it is a perfect marriage between embellishment of a classic diamond cocktail watch, and the mechanical prowess of an expert watch company.


I was pleasantly surprised to discover a Swiss brand – Giberg - which was founded by a jeweller who had previously worked for a selection of the most famous jewellery houses in the world. They presented the ‘Olora’ watch, which represented a tribute to the celebrated dancer Anna Pavlova, and her defining role as dying swan in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘Swan Lake.’ The watch was decorated with 134 brilliant cut diamonds totalling 0.91 carats and 11 sapphires indicating the hour indexes. The case was framed with swans, while the Flying Tourbillon mechanism seemed to dance behind the heart of the watch. This piece was an ultra-limited single item watch, available as an individual customised edition.


Stenzhorn are known for their mosaic set jewellery, where the gemstones are cut and set together so intricately that - though a piece may maintain flexibility - the settings themselves remain invisible, highlighting only the beauty of the gemstones. When exploring their stand at Baselworld, I did not expect to fall for a timepiece! But there it was on display – their fully set ruby watch. The entire bracelet, dial and bezel was embellished with 45 carats of vivid pink Burmese rubies using Stenzhorn’s signature princess cut. This method of setting gems ensures a seamless surface and maximum sparkle, with minimum interference of the design.

While the world of fine watchmaking is one that I feel I am just becoming familiar with, Baselworld 2018 certainly whet my appetite for learning more about horology - particularly those brands which create jewelled timepieces - and enthral so many fans across the world.

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