Diamonds are forever, and so are a few select watches. And a handful of watches somehow become even more striking when adorned with these precious stones – even when designed for men.
Richard Mille has made a name for itself with its extensive utilization of high-tech materials like ultra light and strong carbon composites that helps its watches perform in extreme environments, like on Rafael Nadal’s wrist while the champ is on his way to a Grand Slam. But Richard Mille also specializes in high complications in the most precious of traditional materials, and that is where the bling comes into the picture.
Unsurprisingly, the brand carefully curates which models get the diamond treatment, typically pairing gemstones with precious metals. Our pick is the intensely bedazzling Richard Mille RM 26-01 that blends gem-setting and a tourbillon calibre made by complications specialist Renaud & Papi. The case is in the iconic Richard Mille tonneau form that that curves ever so elegantly for truly outstanding comfort on the wrist.
Not only are the bezel, case sides and crown set with diamonds, and so is the relief panda that sits over the skeletonized movement. The panda is set with white and black diamonds for the ultimate representation of the beloved, bamboo crunching bear. And the watch is precious inside and out: the watch case is crafted from 18k white gold, and so is the panda, while the base plate of the movement is crafted from black onyx.
Audemars Piguet just launched an updated version of its Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin, available in three versions including one in stainless steel with a purple dial, another in pink gold with a blue dial, and the one that’s a perfect fit here: a platinum version with baguette-cut, graduated blue sapphire crystals covering the bezel. That’s 32 gemstones that add up to 3.65 carats.
While the beautifully finished tourbillon, exposed via the large cut-out of the dial at 6 o’clock, normally steals the show on a watch like this, in this instance it is almost overshadowed by the 32 sapphires and the “Tapisserie Evolutive” guilloche on the degradé dial that’s a rich blue in the centre and darkens towards the bezel. A next-gen take on the iconic tapisserie motif of the Royal Oak, Tapisserie Evolutive still retains the chequerboard pattern of the original, but is arranged in a sunburst pattern that’s centred on the heart of the tourbillon at six o’clock.
While the dial is new, the watch proportions are classic, elegant Royal Oak: 41mm wide and 9mm high, with a see-through case back to show off the neatly decorated, hand-wound, cal. 2924 that offers 70 hours of power reserve, or a whole weekend.
Hublot’s mantra is the “Art of Fusion”, originating from its pioneering use of rubber straps on gold watches, a drastic idea in the 1980s. They have become one of the most successful brands of our time by cannily combining traditional watchmaking with ultra-modern technical and aesthetic ideas.
The latest result of its fusion philosophy comes in the shape of the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Croco High Jewellery – a mix of the mechanical beauty of a tourbillon with the signature Big Bang watch case as well as the bold idea a crocodile grain on the case and dial created with massive baguette-cut diamonds.
The dial alone features 102 baguette-cut diamonds totalling 4.3 carats, while the 45mm case is set with another 234 baguette-cut diamonds, adding another 7.6 carats to the tally. Every surface of the watch has been covered as far as possible, even the two buttons for the “One Click” quick release mechanism for the strap are set with large diamonds. To say this stunner is just another Hublot is a massive understatement.
Rolex captured many headlines with its Baselworld 2018 release of the new Daytona Rainbow, which instantly became one of the hottest watches of the year. The new Rainbow matches its breathtakingly beautiful rainbow sapphire-set bezel with a case and bracelet crafted from the brand’s proprietary, fade-resistant rose gold alloy, Everose.
Everose and the rainbow gemstones complement each other perfectly: the warm, refined, deep glow of Everose case enhances the vibrant sparkle of the bezel, accentuated by the almost modest diamonds set on each of the lugs and crown guards.
But what really sets this apart from the first generation Rainbow is the dial, which has baguette-cut hour markers that match the colour of the gemstones on the bezel, with all the colours of the Rainbow across the 11 hour markers on the dial.
To finish off the list, we tune it down a bit with something more formal: the Patek Philippe ref. 5170P, the latest addition to the brand’s long history of platinum case men’s watches with diamond indices, perhaps the ultimate in black tie timekeeping.
Introduced a year ago, the 5170P made its debuted with a graduated metallic blue dial set with large, baguette-cut diamond hour markers that light up the smoky dial. While many chronographs in Patek Philippe’s past had the addition of a diamond-set bezel, the ref. 5170P takes a more restrained approach, making it a tremendous understatement for those in the know. Matched with the in-house CH 29-535 PS, the ref. 5170P has everything it takes to go down in history as one of the all-time greats among Patek Philippe chronographs.