Deployant is not really known for bling watches. We are more known high end, high complication pieces, and the for the big industry players. But nonetheless, we have featured some before. Here are our pick of six of the best from our archives.
Bling watches – the art of bling – the desire for luxury
“Bling Bling,” a hit single from 1999 by New Orleans rapper B.G., celebrates the world’s fascination for luxury – gold Rolex watches, huge TV sets, expensive jewelry and extravagant yachts.
The song contributed to the popularity of the hip-hop expression “bling bling,” which has since been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Most often than not, the Editorial Team at Deployant find bling pieces to be too over the top, perhaps more suited on the wrists of footballers and rap artists. We often do not find these watches representative of are of horology which we are keen to promote. But sometimes, rarely but it happens, we come across watches which are able to straddle the world of the vulgar and the finesse of high horology with ease. Here six of our picks.
We start with the crown itself. Perhaps one of the most bling of the watches by the otherwise staid Rolex is the series dubbed “Rainbow” by collectors – mainly gemstone encrusted examples of the mighty Daytona. Our pick is the Ref. 116588TBR, also known as the Eye of the Tiger. Retail price at its released was pegged at CHF 98,300.
Like most Rolex Daytona models, this is even rarer than the proverbial hen’s teeth. Said to be produced in extremely small numbers, we heard unverified rumours that one Rolex POS gets the max of one example per annum, the secondary market prices for the Daytona Rainbows are over the roof, often trading for triple of the retail prices. The models are not listed in Rolex’s website catalog.
This 2019 release features a yellow gold case with 36 trapeze-cut diamonds replacing the usual tachymeter scale and a pave diamond dial over black lacquer. The watch measures 40 mm in diameter and 12 mm in thickness. This makes for a ‘modest’ size juxtaposed with its overt display of wealth.
Majesty. This is the word which came to mind the first time we set eyes on the JLC Hybris Artistica Master Gyrotourbillon 1. Based on the Gyrotourbillon 1, a masterpiece of a movement, created by Eric Coudray in 2004, the movement is super complex, comprising of 679-parts, 118-jewels. This is the Calibre 177. With its two mainspring barrels, the movement boasts an impressive power reserve of 8 days even in the presence of numerous energy-hungry complications. This is the first Jaeger-LeCoultre movement with a multi-axis tourbillon. The awe-inspiring mechanism had two carriages: the outer carriage rotates once every 60 seconds, while the inner carriage rotates once every 24 seconds. Within the inner carriage is the 14k gold balance wheel, balance spring, and the escapement of the Calibre 177. And have spawned several generations of Gyrotourbillons:
Over this movement, now 16 years old, JLC endowed the case and dial with a gem-set look, with the bezel, lugs and crown set with baguette diamonds. A total of 114 diamonds, weighing 6.7 carats. And with a dial made of semi-precious stones and marquetry, the artisans at Jaeger-LeCoultre were able to impart a truly gorgeous geometric design onto the dial.
The Hybris Artistica Master Gyrotourbillon I is a spectacular watch made even more spectacular. Sure, the aesthetics may not be to everyone’s taste, and yet one can’t help but admire the rare crafts involved in creating its one-of-a-kind dial. The watch movement may be 16 years old now, but it is just as relevant today as it was the day it was introduced, perhaps even more so, because now it has become one of the brand’s most iconic and collectible creations.
A strange one from Seiko, as they too are well known for their staid, sober looking designs. This Credor Fugaku is an assault to the senses like no Japanese watch ever did. It is adorned with a ring of 48 blue sapphires encrusting the bezel. It features artistic work of Japanese National Treasures for the arts of engraving and enameling. And the first ever tourbillon ever to be powering a Japanese watch.
The movement is created by hand, by a single watchmaker in his atelier in the Seiko Headquarters in Tokyo. Instead of the usual production places for mechanical watches in Morioka, or for quartz and spring drive movements in Shiojiri.
Our views on the watch is mixed, to say the very least. We wrote:
First through the showcase. The first impressions was one of moderate surprise. No, we lie. We were shocked! Then we had our hands-on session, where we spent considerable time examining, photographing the Credor Fugaku Tourbillon and even more time talking and quizzing the Seiko PR folks. And finally we came away with rather mixed feelings. On the one hand, this was a beautiful movement. Hand wound, magnificent in almost every way. The tourbillon is proudly displayed. Very elegant. But the ultra conservative nature of the Seiko company was broken by the use of graphical motifs and audacity of the sapphire encrusted bezel. We had expected a watch which was more understated. More in line with the superlative Eichis or the Grand Seikos.
The watch is a limited edition of only 8 pieces, and set to retail for 50,000,000 Japanese Yen plus tax.
A watch intended by Patek Philippe for the ladies. Perhaps a surprise that this is the only ladies intended watch in this list! But the Twenty~4 collection is the best seller in Patek’s creations.
The Twenty~4 first saw light of day in a rectangular case in steel with a matching steel bracelet adorned with two rows of brilliants on the bezel, equipped with a quartz movement. That original model, the Ref. 4910/10A was introduced in 1999, and the most recent face-lift came in the form of the Ref. 4910/1200, full hands-on review soon. The new Twenty~4 automatic Ref. 7300 was introduced in 2018, and feature a then new round case, with an automatic movement. This was the first Twenty~4 to feature an automatic movement, as the Ref. 4910 was always equipped with a quartz movement except for the (now discontinued) haute joaillerie piece.
Retailing for S$ 79,500 in rose gold case as shown or S$ 36,700 in a stainless steel case, the movement used is the well acclaimed Patek Philippe Seal, the Calibre 324 S C. We think, its an excellent option for the fairer sex.
The Hautlence is not bedecked with jewels, but it still manages to be ultra bling – due to the spikes which adorn the case – kind of Christian Loboutain like appearance. Athough the Meylans tell us that the HL2.3 Punk was inspired by the legendary Perfecto leather jacket and the titanium, black PVD coated case is decorated with 84 studs of 14 different sizes to symbolically represent the Punk ethos.
Bold and in-your-face are the immediate adjectives which come to mind on the first encounter with the Hautlence HL2.3 Punk, and the name fits the intent supremely well.
Driven by the brand’s unique calibre HL2.0, which combines the jumping hour, which is half-trailing, the retrograde minute and the power reserve indication. The HL2.3 PUNK is a unique piece which will be available in other materials.
The final entry for this list is also not gemset, though at first glance looks like the entire case is paved with small diamonds. The effect of the frosted gold finish on this next watch is a proprietary technique by Audemars Piguet and is a deep texture created by a vibrating set of needles applied on a white gold surface. AP offers several watches in their Royal Oak collection in frosted gold, but our pick is the White Gold Chronograph.
Driving the Royal Oak Frosted Gold Chronograph is the long-serving and well proven Calibre 2385, which is a F. Piguet chronograph movement with a column wheel and a vertical clutch.
The RO Chronograph Frosted Gold is limited to 200 pieces – retails at a hefty S$ 88,700. The unique aesthetics of this watch is surely not for everyone. However, let not such a notion take away from the fact that the watch is immaculately crafted. This is truly mastery of materials engineering and finissage.
So there are our picks. What do you feel about bling watches. We know we have left out many from the ranks of Hublot, Franck Muller, Bovet, and the likes, but this list is perhaps representative of only those we like. What bling watches do you like?