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2 weeks agoupdated Sep 15, 2022

Time and Life: The Most Intricate Métiers d’Art Watches

Artisans are taking their work to new levels as brands work with marquetry and gold.

By Roberta Naas

Watchmakers have been enamored with creating Métiers d’Art watch dials for centuries. Early clocks and pocket watches often showcased jewels and miniature paintings. Now, however, artisans take this work to all-new levels as brands work with marquetry, gold, gemstones and all sorts of paintings to bring nature seemingly to life, as they become more conscious than ever of Earth’s many riches.

[See also: Elite Traveler Reveals Top Watches in the World for 2022]

Bulgari

An icon in the Bulgari collection, the Serpenti conjures images of Cleopatra or Adam and Eve. This secret Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewelry watch (pictured above) is crafted in 18-karat rose gold that wraps around the wrist several times to form the body of the serpent. The beautifully sculpted bracelet is set with 724 diamonds and turquoise inserts. Two pear-cut rubellites form the eyes of the serpent, whose head opens to reveal the diamond-adorned watch dial within.

$251,000, bulgari.com

Piaget

Piaget California Lights Cuff Métiers d’Art watch
This California Lights Cuff Métiers d’Art watch is crafted in 18-karat white gold and meticulously set with diamonds / ©Piaget

This enchanting California Lights Cuff watch is a floral masterpiece that almost defies time. It is crafted in 18-karat white gold and meticulously set with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires — whose brilliant green and blue hues complement the others tones beautifully — and black opals. The watch dial is made of a slice of opal weighing 1.14 carats and is surrounded by diamonds. In total, in addition to the dial, the watch boasts more than 30 carats of gemstones, including 269 diamonds (12.54 carats), 22 sapphires (14.25 carats), eight emeralds (4.05 carats) and seven opals (1.36 carats).

Price on request, piaget.com

Dior

Dior Grand Soir Libellule watch
The Dior Grand Soir Libellule watch pays homage to the colorful couture and jewelry that Dior loved / ©Dior

The dragonfly that adorns this Dior Grand Soir Libellule watch recalls the dragonflies that frequented the beautiful gardens of Monsieur Christian Dior. It pays homage to the colorful couture and jewelry that Dior loved. The body of the yellow gold dragonfly is set with sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and amethyst. The wings are made of mother-of-pearl in exquisite colors and feathers. The background dial is pavéd with snow-set round diamonds, and the bezel of the white gold 36mm case is also set with diamonds. Just 18 pieces will be made, but each is a unique piece due to the materials used.

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Price on request, dior.com

Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Heures Florales watch
This 18-karat white gold Métiers d’Art watch boasts a miniature painting on three-dimensional sculpted flowers / ©Van Cleef & Arpels

The newest Poetic Complication Lady Arpels Heures Florales watch combines innovative mechanics with striking artistic savoir faire. Thanks to a special retrograde mechanism, each time another hour passes, a corresponding number of flowers open up to reveal a gem-set center. This 18-karat white gold version boasts a miniature painting on three-dimensional sculpted flowers. The various corollas of 12 of the flowers open every 60 minutes for a new take on time. Exactly 166 elements are set into motion thanks to an intricate assembly that connects the watch mechanism to the petals — ensuring one of three different sequences of flower openings.

Price on request, vancleefarpels.com

[See also: Behind the Scenes: Van Cleef & Arpels]

Bovet 1888

Bovet 1888 Château de Môtiers 40 Butterfly watch
The 40mm rose gold case features round-cut diamonds adorning the bow and bezel / ©Bovet

Working on a mother-of-pearl dial, the master artisans at Bovet combine miniature painting with a special technique that includes Super-LumiNova to achieve a brilliantly hued butterfly on the face of this Château de Môtiers 40 Butterfly watch. Each wing is meticulously hand-painted with a technique that mirrors reality. Each watch is, therefore, unique. The 40mm rose gold case features round-cut diamonds adorning the bow and bezel. Part of the Fleurier collection, the watch is powered by an automatic mechanical movement. Thanks to the luminous material used in the painting, the dial glows day and night.

$56,000, bovet.com

Cartier

Ronde Louis Cartier Zebra Métiers d’Art    watch
Gold bead granulation and marquetry work is used to interpret the beloved zebra / ©Cartier

A master of artistic watches, Cartier unveils the Ronde Louis Cartier Zebra watch with an artistic dial that uses gold bead granulation and marquetry work to interpret the beloved zebra. The incredibly realistic rendition features stripes made of tiny slivers of white mother-of-pearl and black onyx. The artisans then use six different shades of yellow and rose gold beads, set within a white gold framework, to interpret the savanna-inspired giraffe motif background. Seven diamonds shimmer on the grid, while the bezel is set with colorless diamonds, sapphires, garnets, and black and white lacquer where the zebra’s coat spills from dial to bezel. Just 30 individually numbered pieces will be made.

Price on request, cartier.com

[See also: The Best New Releases from Watches and Wonders 2022]

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