See 7 Watches of Stunning Celestial Beauty From Baselworld 2017
Celestial themes dominated the artisanal timepieces' designs.
Who knew you could wear the music of the spheres on your wrist? That seems to be the case among the watch-collecting elite this year, as several of the most wondrous watches debuted throughout Baselworld 2017—the 100th anniversary of the preeminent international showcase for jewelry and timepieces—went beyond merely tracking terrestrial time to contemplate and celebrate space’s beauty and limitlessness. Celestial, astrological and astronomical, these watches testify to horology’s poetry.
The intergalactic journey at Baselworld 2017 starts at home with Patek Philippe’s erudite and elegant limited-edition World Time watch (model 5151/1) which presents a precise global vision of earth in cloisonné enamel within a platinum case and bracelet. The handcrafted center of the dial is designed for the first time from the perspective of the North Pole. The enamel’s depth, achieved with numerous layers, almost appears topographical because of its realistic gradations of blue, white, green, and gold. Along the dial, a gold sun punctuates the day portion of the 24-hour clock at noon and a gold moon marks the corresponding transition in a dark blue section of the circle. Fanning further outwards in the dial are the names of key global cities, written in a graceful font with “Geneva,” Patek Philippe’s native home, marked on the side of the platinum case.
While Patek Philippe honors the earth’s complexity and beauty, other horology leaders look far beyond, toward the stars and galaxy above. As luxury trend-tracker Alonso Dominguez Sanchez Teruel notes, “The universe has always been a strong guide and driving force but people are now looking to the stars more than ever—from planning space commercial travel, to uncovering new, faraway places. It is only natural that we honor it in design and craftsmanship.”
Exemplifying this observation is the Mademoiselle Privé Aubazine watch at Chanel, representing Gabrielle Chanel’s imaginative escapism into the stars and her alchemistic conversion of hardship into glory. Designed as a reference to moonlight seen through the Cistercian stained glass windows in Aubazine’s Sacré-Cœur convent orphanage, the Mademoiselle Privé Aubazine watch consists of 552 brilliant-cut diamonds in an 18k white gold case set, with gold hands and enamel representing the abbey’s metalwork. The strap is black satin and the white gold crown is set with a diamond of approximately 0.19 carats.
The House only expanded into horology in 1987, when watches became extensions of the brand’s fine jewelry aesthetics, but Chanel’s watch division has evolved a unique look and character matching its identity in all other areas of luxury. Primarily inspired by Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel’s extraordinary biography, Chanel’s watches are organically connected to its couture, pret-a-porter, accessories, cosmetics, and perfume classics. The leather and chain strap watches with diamond dials reference Chanel’s iconic quilted purses and pearl bracelet straps, paying tribute to Coco Chanel’s personal style yet poignantly drawing their aesthetic vision from the physical features of the abbey in the Cistercian monastery in the Corrèze where she spent her early adolescence.
Also connecting the watch’s wearer to light from the night sky is Graff Diamond’s Celestial watch. Its ethereal pavé diamond dial is discretely placed within clusters of seemingly scattered diamonds in a myriad of cuts. Surrounded by a halo of diamonds ascending in size, the watch’s hands are slim and black. The full bracelet and watch face comprise 29.52 carats, yet the timepiece sits delicately on the wrist, exposing the wearer’s skin. Celebrated as paragons of artistic diamond design since Laurence Graff established his eponymous London brand in the 1960s, Graff’s watches signature for both men and women is a case crafted to evoke a perfectly cut diamond and an especially refined sensibility.
Alongside the Celestial watch for women, Graff debuted its hand-painted GyroGraff Galaxy World 48mm watch, the stunning product of over 60 hours of Metiers D’Art hand-enameling with a three-dimensional moon phase indicator featuring tactile, almost photo-realistic craters and a multi-level guilloche dial. The spectacularly vivid galaxy painted on the dial shows swirling stars and beams of magenta, azure, and gold light surrounding the sharp, triangular hands which resemble the arms of ancient sun-dials.
Diamond hour markers elegantly evoke stars in TAG Heuer’s striking ladies’ watches. Although founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, the brand’s contemporary spirit is expressed by the first portion of its name—standing for “Techniques d’Avant Garde.” Best known for timing the Olympics, the iconic Swiss brand is a forerunner in innovative movement technology, which can determine winners in world-changing sports events.
As an emblematically forward-thinking brand, it is a pioneer in Smart-watches with its modular Android-wear Connected series, but it also debuted its distinctly lovely new Link Lady watch, which revives an aesthetic and sensibility from the 1980s. Originating in 1987 as an immediate classic for corporate working women, the Link series offered sleeker versions of the commanding male models that were defined by their sinuous bracelets, with S-shaped links providing a smooth and secure fit. The core form remains the same, but the contemporary model has added luster with diamonds and a softer palette. Introduced as the most feminine in TAG Heuer’s collection, the dial of the new Link Lady features either a pink lacquered mother-of-pearl or a navy sun-ray finish. The steel offset ring can be satin-finished or adorned with diamonds. In the navy variation, the diamond markers summon stars arranged in a clear night sky.
The diamond hour markers in Bulgari’s new Moon Face timepieces pay similar homage to celestial light, but the strikingly distinctive Moon Phase situated in the upper portion of the watch face is its most remarkable attribute. The Moon Face’s automatic movement tracks the moon’s waxing and waning with meticulous precision. While moon phases are traditionally placed below 3 o’clock, since we look up to gaze at the moon, Bulgari’s is positioned on the mother-of-pearl dial’s upper arc. In one variation, a Burgundy alligator leather band accompanying a pink gold set with gold hands and frames for the pavé hour markers is matched by a playful gold moon traveling across a hard ruby sky on a cabochon-cut ruby dial. This extraordinary palette conjures the natural spectacle of a lunar eclipse, while being in perfect sync with fashion’s current fixation with strong pinks and commanding versions of traditionally feminine colors. Timely and timeless, the Moon Face is spirited and impressive.
Another captivating Moon Phase at Hermès distinguishes the Oxford Blue Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel Platine. The dignified men’s timepiece in platinum, handsome with a deep blue alligator strap, balances charm and supreme functionality with a lovely moon phase that visually acts as the watch’s emotional core. The date, month, dual-time, and leap-year indications are displayed on counters with the moon phase positioned at three o’clock instead of below the midline. Ultra-thin Manufacture H1950 movement enables the Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel Platine to host a perpetual calendar because the “mechanical memory” adjusts for months of varying lengths, thereby taking account of leap years. While the bespoke designed jaunty numerals add charm, the watch’s most compelling feature is a realistically depicted mother-of-pearl whole moon, which travels across an aventurine sky.
The Moon Phase is at the philosophical core of Jaquet Droz’s Grande Seconde Moon design. The 18th-century Swiss watchmaker, whose automated designs were and remain marvelous masterpieces of horological couture, was reportedly fascinated by astronomy as well as the wonders of our own world. His creatively boundless spirit lives through his brand’s fanciful and beautiful novelty watches, but also its refined and pragmatic collections for everyday wear.
The figure eight, signifying eternity and the brand’s lucky number, which appears in many Jaquet Droz creations, is especially distinguished in the sensual Lady Eight series, where whole pearls, sunstone beads, or clusters of pavé diamonds hover over the core case to be meditatively caressed. In the Grande Seconde series, inspired by a pocket watch that Jaquet Droz designed in 1784, the eight is discretely integrated into the dial where it incorporates the Moon Phase as the dominant feature visually more captivating than the roman numeral hour markers. For the Grande Seconde Moon, introduced at BaselWorld 2017, Jaquet Droz offers its signature ivory Grand Feu enamel, silvery opaline, and onyx.
This extraordinary watch features an astronomical moon phase which only requires adjustment once every 122 years and 46 days, by which point its wearer, if Dominguez Sanchez Teruel’s prediction is correct, will probably be living on planets we have yet to learn exist.
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