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By Kristen Shirley | January 16 2020
Few timepieces are as breathtakingly beautiful as high-jewelry watches. Secret watches hide tiny dials underneath sensational stones, and some watchmakers decorate classic shapes and automatic movements with gem-set designs.
The Serpenti has been a jewelry and timepiece icon since its debut in the 1960s and, this year, Bulgari introduced the first version with a beaded bracelet. Interwoven strands of emerald and sapphire beads, held in place with diamond bands, snake around the wrist. Two diamond-encrusted snake heads top the bracelet, each set with contrasting sapphires and emeralds. To tell the time, raise the emerald-set head to reveal a snow-set diamond dial.
Price on request, 18K white gold with 43.66 carats sapphire, 41.82 carats emerald and 14.5 carats diamond, by appointment, contact Anita Paredes, +1 800 285 4274, bulgari.com
The famed cat’s eye ellipse takes on a new art deco look in this high-jewelry timepiece, which mixes a radiating design of invisibly set baguette-cut diamonds and blue sapphires with shimmering snow-set diamonds. The contrast between the linear and seemingly random patterns is especially beautiful and shows the house’s gem-setting expertise. Stunning blue sapphires encircle the dial, and the lugs are set with more gemstones. An in-house movement powers the watch.
Price on request, 18k white gold with 4.87 carats blue sapphire and 4.3 carats diamond, Wempe jewelers in new york, +1 212 397 9000, Girard-perregaux.com
Harry Winston perfectly marries its jewelry expertise and its watchmaking in the Premier collection, where it pairs fabulous gems with mechanical movements. Here, opal, diamond and blue sapphire form a hypnotic whirlpool motif that almost appears to be moving. The optical illusion is enhanced by a rotating star at the center of the dial, which shows the automatic movement is running. The case is invisibly set with more diamonds, and the crown is topped with a blue sapphire.
Price on request, 18K white gold with 9.89 carats diamond, .92 carat sapphire and opal, Harry Winston in New York, +1 800 988 4110, harrywinston.com
This sensational secret watch showcases over 40 carats of incredible emeralds. Graff is known for its work with the highest-quality stones, and each emerald was selected for its vivid and perfectly matched hue. We love the mix of custom cuts, including oval, round and baguette, which are accented by rows of diamonds. Press the top emerald and the dial cover seamlessly slides up to unveil the baguette-diamond-set dial.
Price on request, 18K white gold with 42.32 carats emerald and 27.99 carats diamond, Graff in New York, +1 212 421 3605, graff.com
Each Van Cleef & Arpels piece tells a story, but some are more subtle than others. This secret watch honors two lovers from Greek mythology, Philémon and Baucis, who were transformed into intertwining oak and linden trees upon their death so they would never be separated. Two leaf motifs form the bracelet, representing their beautiful story. They meet at the top of the watch where two diamond-set circles support the hidden dial and a Mystery Set emerald dome.
Price on request, 18K white, yellow and rose gold with 20.71 carats diamond, 7.18 carats sapphire and 7 carats emerald, Van Cleef & Arpels in New York, +1 877 826 2533, vancleefarpels.com