Jewellery Pre-Selected Watches: Round Table Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014
by Ian Skellern
From now until the end of this month, we will bring you round table discussions on the pre-selected wristwatches in each category of the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
This will give you the chance to listen to well-known tastemakers and journalists in the world of horology talking about their favorites in each category and the watches’ chances. And please don’t hesitate to let us know if you agree or not: taste is subjective.
Note: each contributor is responsible for his or her own opinion, and it may not reflect the stance of Quill & Pad.
Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr may not participate in these round tables as she is one of the judges for the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and must retain neutrality. In today’s edition you will read the following participants:
IS Ian Skellern, co-founder of Quill & Pad
JM Joshua Munchow, resident “nerdwriter” for Quill & Pad
GG GaryG, resident collector for Quill & Pad
It should be noted that our panel members did not discuss their final choices with each other beforehand and chose their predicted winning watches individually, thereby emulating official jury circumstances.
According to the GPHG’s rules, these are watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of the art of jewelry and gemsetting, which is also distinguished by the choice of stones.
GG: Finally – a category that I know something about! Kidding aside, this is a tough one for me, although thankfully my wife and I do have a wonderful jeweler who has taught me a thing or two over the years about stones and setting.
What the jury will need to think about is how to choose among sheer visual impact, jewel-setting technique, and the appeal, if any, of Chopard’s commitment to sustainability and fair trade. What they won’t need to think about is stone quality, as none of the entries is touting the presence of perfectly colorless diamonds or the lack of heat-treated colored stones. Finally, if it matters at all in this category, there is only one watch with a mechanical movement, and that’s the Hermès Arceau Temari.
IS: Well the first thing I have to make clear regarding my comments is that they should be completely ignored as my knowledge of jewelry and gem-setting is nowhere near up to the level required to make serious judgments about any of the timepieces in this category.
My first assumption (no doubt wrong) is that, as these are all gem-set watches by highly respectable brands known for art, craft and glitter, the quality of the gem-setting is comparably excellent. So that leaves the aesthetics to be judged based on photos only.
To be honest, none of these jewelry-timepiece hybrids appeal to me at all on a personal level. However, I do think that seeing them in the “metal” might be likely to change that.
JM: I, too, want to preface my opinions by saying that I do not know how to differentiate good settings versus bad settings, or top-notch jewels versus third-rate rocks, so anything I say will be from a watchmaker’s perspective with a touch of designer’s eye thrown in. With that out of the way, I have to say that this is an easy category for me to choose.
GG: I see the choice here coming down to the fully-jeweled Graff Luxury Watches Multi-Colored Butterfly, which beats out the Chanel Lion Mosaique, Bulgari Diva High Jewellery Emeralds, and Harry Winston Ultimate Emerald Signature in my opinion for lavish, jeweled opulence and visual appeal; the sustainable Chopard Green Carpet Collection Watch; and the snow-set Hermès Arceau Temari with its mechanical movement.
IS: My first reaction to seeing the Harry Winston Ultimate Emerald Signature was, “Where’s the emerald?” However, after a little research I discovered that the name refers to the large emerald-cut diamond in the center of the hinged cover. I do hope that hinge is strong!
JM: The piece I would recommend as a runner-up for its style and wearability is the Chopard Green Carpet Collection Watch. It feels like this is literally ice on your wrist that happens to be in the shape of a timepiece. It also is a part of the new direction of sustainable development at Chopard with efforts to create an eco-friendly, ethical, and responsible product that joins efforts with the Alliance for Responsible Mining and its Fairmined gold, the Responsible Jewellery Council, and Eco-Age, which hopes to play a central role in promoting ethics in the luxury world. I applaud their efforts, not to mention that this is a sharp timepiece.
IS: First a Harry Winston Emerald watch without an emerald and now the Chopard Green Carpet Watch without any green. These brands must be expecting potential clients to pay more attention to the texts than the titles! (laughs)
On the plus side, the Chopard Green Carpet is environmentally and ethically sound with both the gold and diamonds carefully sourced. And while I know that this watch isn’t likely to be worn under a cuff, it looks a bit strange to me to see the watch unnecessarily sitting so high – though I am well aware that many reading this will be thinking that there is nothing “unnecessary” about an 11 mm tower of fine diamonds!
MC: I love watches that reference popular culture. And the Bulgari does this, first with the name – The Diva – and then with the over-the top-opulence and the beauty that that name implies. It is a watch that is all about excess and, again, that fits with the notion of a diva and la “Dolce Vita” that we associate with Italian films of the 1960s and Bulgari.
Also I am entranced by the way this watch with the combination of diamonds and emeralds seems to swirl. At the same time, the shape reminds me of a flower. There is a lot going on there. For all these reasons this watch gets my vote for the winner in this category.
IS: I like to see a jewelry watch sparkle and I like bright colors, but the Bulgari is too far out on the ostentatious scale for my tastes, Michael. The Diva High Jewellery Emeralds may be perfect for those wanting to make a statement, but it shouts too loudly for me. And I’m not sure that those blued-steel hands in the center complement the bright green emeralds.
MG: I expect the Graff Multi-Colored Butterfly to win. The reason for this is not only the exquisite use of diamonds, but more so the use of color: color adds another dimension to a jewelry watch that is often disregarded. Most jewelry watches focus on colorless diamonds alone, yet with its Butterfly watch Graff also takes us into the world of high-quality sapphires and their beautiful, deep hues. It is the contrast of these sapphires with the diamonds that makes the diamonds look more “colorless,” and the sapphires more colorful; they amplify each other.
IS: I can’t help myself in liking the brightly-colored butterflies on this timepiece, and it is probably because this is the most watch-like piece here that I like it the best.
On a non-jewelry note entirely, I do like how Graff has managed to sneak links to its Facebook and Twitter accounts beside the watch photo on the GPHG website. A tip of the hat to Graff’s social media team!
MC: Graff is a brand that produces watches with an in-your-face quality. This watch is also opulent, but it is not stylized like the Bulgari watch. Here, the stones represent something real: butterflies. But butterflies are soft and diamonds are hard, very hard.
Because the butterflies are done in different colors and set on a white diamond background, they seem to move. That is an effect that is hard to do. I also like the fact that the butterfly is a traditional symbol of the soul and of death and rebirth in western culture. Watches can have that kind of depth of meaning, and I think this watch does. We shouldn’t hesitate to talk about watches in this way.
This is my favorite watch in the category but I don’t think it will win because we live in an age that prefers the stylized and the abstract, not the representational. So, I think the Bulgari Diva will win.
MG: Jewelry watches are in my opinion still highly underestimated. Most people are so blinded by the glitter and glamour of these watches that they overlook the incredible craftsmanship needed to create them.
I’m personally especially fond of snow-setting. Here colorless, brilliant-cut diamonds of various sizes are set seemingly at random to create the impression of freshly fallen snow crystals. A stunning setting that you can find on the case of the Hermès Arceau Temari. Once again, it is also color that gives this watch an extra dimension: the onyx provides a big contrast to the diamonds, in color as well as in texture, and that makes this watch exciting.
GG: At the end of the day, I think that the snow-setting, as a pure achievement of the jeweler’s art, trumps the rest. And with its ticking mechanical movement in support, the Hermès Arceau Temari will carry the day.
JM: There is only one single watch among the pre-selected in this category with a mechanical movement, and that isn’t even the reason I choose it for my winner. The Hermès Arceau Temari watch is stunningly beautiful, incredibly complex in its settings, and is actually a watch I could see women I know wearing. Heck, even I would wear it!
GG: I showed the pre-selected watches to my wife after predicting the jury’s choice, and she picked out the Graff and Hermès as the two she would love to have, Joshua. Great minds think alike, I suppose! In this case, my personal choice aligns with my jury prediction: with my own hard-earned cash, it would be the Hermès.
JM: The dial is absolutely gorgeous and does not feel gauche or forced. Oh, and it is entirely readable as a watch since the dial isn’t the size of a pea like many other sparkly creations in this category.
Also, the backstory on the design from Japanese Temari (balls of silk scraps) is very interesting and provides depth of character to the piece. Combining hard stone marquetry and gemstone setting into one watch makes for a dazzling timepiece in my opinion.
IS: I have nothing but the highest respect for everything Hermès does, and the brand’s reputation is second to none. However, that said, Gary and Joshua, in a jewelry watch I want to see either sparkle or color. While I have no doubt that the Arceau Temari scintillates with the best of them, I can only make an opinion based on the photos . . . and the photos do not do the watch justice.
I am sure that the GPHG jury will have another opinion as it will have to opportunity to handle the watch personally.
The results are in, with the panel ending in a tie! The colorful quartz Graff Luxury Watches Multi-Colored Butterfly garnered two votes, as did the mechanical Hermès Arceau Temari. Left with one vote is the Bulgari Diva High Jewellery Emeralds.
Ian Skellern: Graff Luxury Watches Multi-Colored Butterfly
Joshua Munchow: Hermès Arceau Temari
GaryG: Hermès Arceau Temari
Martin Green: Graff Luxury Watches Multi-Colored Butterfly
Michael Clerizo: Bulgari Diva High Jewellery Emeralds
For more information on the pre-selected Jewellery watches:
You can partake in the fun as well by checking out the competition and voting for your favorite in the Public Prize category. If you vote, you will be in the running for a Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 XXL Petite Seconde model worth more than 10,000 Swiss francs. Note: you only have one vote in total, not one vote per category, so choose wisely!
Click here to vote ww.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2014/PRE.
For more information on this year’s GPHG, please read New Jury And Categories At The 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
To read other GPHG round table discussions, please click: