While the vintage trend continues to influence men’s watches, for women it’s still the colors and forms of nature that dominate. In this realm, the peony flower is a recurring motif. The multi-petal form appeals to designers, as does the symbolism: in many cultures, the peony represents prosperity, and its seeds were thought to be medicinal. At least three watches introduced at Baselworld this year were inspired by the peony: the Chopard L.U.C Esprit de Peony, the Graff Peony Secret Watch, and the Coronet Mudan (the Chinese word for peony), which sets a Guinness World Record for the most diamonds in a wristwatch.
Chopard L.U.C Esprit de Peony
Chopard, a longtime master of high jewellery watches, occasionally foregoes the dazzle of gems in favor of showcasing its other in-house métiers. The L.U.C Esprit de Peony is the latest in what has become an annual celebration of Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele’s favorite flower. The dial is decorated with a bouquet of peonies rendered in hand-cut, white mother-of-pearl appliques, fitted over a painted background of purple and pink hues. An 18k rose gold butterfly hovers over the flowers. The caseback is hand-engraved with peony motifs using Fleurisanne engraving, a technique of floral and scroll motifs that originated in Fleurier, where Chopard is located. The 35mm case is 18k rose gold for this eight-piece edition, equipped with the L.U.C Caliber 96.23-L.
Graff Diamond Peony Secret Watches
Some peony species take three years to grow, yet all have a very short life, blooming in the spring and lasting for at most ten days. The life of the peony may be fleeting, but a diamond is forever, as they say, and Graff’s collection of peony-themed diamond secret watches are potential heirlooms. Laurence Graff was inspired to create the Peony collection following a visit to Asia, where the bloom is regarded as “the king of flowers”. It helps to be a diamond company when creating watches like this. Each stone is custom-cut, some from the original rough, to fit the design, and invisibly set to show just the diamond and not the metal. The diamonds on the bracelet of one model are cut and arranged to create a herringbone pattern. The cases are designed as peony blooms, with the covers sliding open to reveal pavé dials. Each is one of a kind.
Coronet Jewelry, a diamond jewellery manufacturer and a division of Aaron Shum Jewelry of Hong Kong, introduced a peony-inspired watch at Baselworld whose 15,858 diamonds, totaling 50.01 carats, represent a world record for gem-setting on a watch. It was inducted into the Guinness World Records during a ceremony at Baselworld.
Jacob & Co. Astronomia 3-D Setting
The Jacob & Co. Astronomia 3-D Setting is one of three new watches introduced in the Astronomia collection. It is set with 15.44 carats of baguette diamonds and sapphires in two hues of blue. Four arms radiating from the central axis of the dial each carry an element around the periphery every 10 minutes. They are an hour and minute dial, a lacquered spherical globe, a triple-axis tourbillon escapement and a one-carat spherical diamond with a 288-facet, proprietary Jacob Cut. They rotate on their axes once every 30 seconds.
MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT
The Legacy Machine FlyingT is everything you’d expect from MB&F, with a three-dimensional dial, an asymmetric inclined hours and minutes subdial, and a bubble-like domed sapphire crystal. There are also elements of traditional watchmaking, including a high complication and fine finishing. The dial is lacquered and the gold rotor is engraved with a sun motif. The fully paved baguette diamond version is set with 294 diamonds totaling 8.2 carats – leaving no question that this is a ladies’ watch.
Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori
The Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori, one of the most talked-about watches at Baselworld, interprets the iconic serpent-head-shaped watch case, but is thinner than previous models. The fully-set pavé version in 18k white gold with blue hands and indexes is the masterpiece of the new collection, with round brilliant diamonds set into the bezel and bracelet, and snow-set diamonds paved on the case and dial.
Patek Philippe 4899/901G
The Patek Philippe 4899/901G was introduced in pink two years ago, now followed by this blue version. The dial is engraved mother-of-pearl and, like the case, crown and pin buckle, is set with diamonds and blue sapphires, with 348 diamonds and 354 blue sapphires in total. It contains the ultra-thin automatic Caliber 240 with an integrated micro-rotor, silicon-based components and a 70-hour power reserve.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
This iconic chronograph sports watch is, oddly, the model Rolex chooses to regularly decorate, particularly with gem-setting. This year’s version is one of the more interesting designs. The tachymetric scale on the bezel is replaced with 36 trapeze-cut diamonds, surrounding a black lacquer dial that is paved with diamonds in a swirling, snake-like pattern, surrounding champagne-colored chronograph counters. The case is yellow gold, which is not subtle. The 15, 30 and 45 minute numerals, and the bezel settings for the eight diamond markers are also yellow gold.