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Never very far apart, the worlds of fine jewelry and watches fuse unapologetically with spectacular results

With most people’s perception of jeweled watches being literally that – watches with jewels on them – the extension of the genre into a true merging of the métiers of fine jewelry and timekeeping has proven a boon to creative endeavor.

Technical expertise and savoir-faire have combined as Swiss watch manufacturers are increasingly collaborating with the apogee of French, Italian and American jewelers. The result is unabashedly luxurious, especially in an economic downturn. It is, ironically enough, also somewhat economically minded, as the category features elaborate, often quite showy jewelry – cuffs and bracelets twinkling with precious stones – that also tells the time.

In an era when time is everywhere – from computers to cell phones, home appliances to highways – buying a luxurious jeweled watch is only a pretext to actually knowing the time. The watch as jewelry is far more about the jewelry than about the watch, even if the latter is made with exceptional precision and the same loving, skilled care that the jewels are afforded.

We have gathered together a selection of the most exceptional jewelry watches for your perusing pleasure.


Reminding us that love is usually the motivating factor behind the gifting of jewelry, Piaget’s Limelight Love Letter lives up to its name. A white gold casing in the form of an envelope is traced with the word ‘love’ in pave diamonds, ingeniously opening to reveal a watch face, and reminding us that time is perhaps the most precious and elusive gift of them all. A black satin bracelet sets it off at the height of simplicity. As a counterpoint the Limelight secret watch is 1950s-meets-Baroque in its iced extravagance. That is if you look at it as a watch; as a cuff it carries the weight of carats and craftsmanship with spectacular, blinding finesse.

Using its signature panther and such mythological creatures as the chimera in a starring role, Cartier has built diamonds up in relief in these fantastical forms, submerging the watches themselves in sprawling fauna. The two diamond pavé panthers mottled with sapphires and emeralds that chase each other around a rigid jeweled bracelet juggle a watch face between them. The sense of movement rears its head again as two baby snakes, studded with oval and pear-shape diamonds, slither sensually around a neat watch face framed in emerald-cut white diamonds.

Van Cleef & Arpel’s Art Deco past is recalled in a platinum and diamond frame swirling with an arabesque on one side, punctuated with sugarloaf emeralds in the middle and harboring a cloudy enameled watch on the other side. While not entirely hidden, the sense of symmetry and the elaborate use of stones makes the watch an almost imperceptible addition. It’s appearance in cuff form, with the addition of baguette diamonds, is jewelry pure and simple – the watch factor is almost immaterial. Likewise, pave diamond, or colored gem-sprinkled rose petals or leaves slide back to reveal a small, classic watch face behind, like a touch of technology hidden in the wild.

Van Cleef’s Secret Zenko watch bears a far closer resemblance to a standard watch. However, it’s chinoiserie diamond, rubellite, and enamel face lacks the basic components that make it a watch. Those are craftily concealed in a slide-out drawer with water-like guilloché face, meaning when it’s closed the watch has a purely aesthetic existence.

Chanel has focused on the iconic house flower – the camellia – as the leitmotif of its watch-as-jeweler endeavors. Though normally seen in silk or tweed, the camellia has been a strong presence already in the fine jewelry sector, and here it’s an airy, light cuff of flower and foliage in diamonds with a small watch set in the center of the petals. Its corresponding cousin is a far weightier and serious proposition. In white diamonds accented with black, the solid whorl of petals peels back from a large diamond-accented center to reveal the concealed face beneath.

Buccellati’s dedication to ornate, intricate decoration is translated in the house’s nonetheless simple style into the Eliochron watch, a mass of gold heavily peppered with brilliant and marquise diamonds from the watch face all along the bracelet, turning a watch into a sparkling Byzantine cuff.

Harry Winston’s gem skill transfers perfectly into the watch arena, a sector that the American company has developed strong recognition in. The small but well-developed and individual collection veers from the turban-like Duchesse with its lines of baguettes, to the flexible band that is the Signature 7, and the 46-carat Marquesa dripping with diamond floral swags and a watch face in the form of a rather generous briolette. This is the nearest a watch gets to shamelessly being jewelry – it ticks all the boxes when it comes to what a wearer of classic jewelry wants, and it tells the time to boot. What more could a woman need?

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