Fabulous Feathered Watches
by roberta naas
Having creating feathered wristwatches since the early ’90s, Piaget is attracting new audiences this spring with its use of feathers as elaborate bracelet accents. “It has always been in Piaget’s DNA to be daring and different,” says Piaget CEO Philippe Leopold-Metzger, who says that feather bracelet watches underscore the brand’s attention to detail, elegance, and haute couture.
Harry Winston and Dior also recently unveiled masterpieces that use a variety of different feathers as marquetry dials and decorative rotors. To create its feather dials, Harry Winston turned to artisan Nelly Saunier, one of the few feather artists in the world who still practices the technique to create its decorative inlays. Saunier meticulously selects the most superb feathers, obtained from a variety of birds, and carefully positions portions of them on the tiny watch dials.
In the creation of Dior Timepieces’ Inverse caliber—wherein the oscillating weight of the watch is on the dial instead of on the reverse side—the brand needed beautiful decorative ornaments that were also light enough to enable the weight to oscillate accordingly for precision of timekeeping. The feather offered not only the perfect weight solution, but also the perfect image in keeping with Christian Dior’s love of sensual and elegant beauty.
These splendid examples of time and art are rare, often with less than 100 watches made, each defining sophisticated elegance and avant-garde individualism.
FROM TOP: This Harry Winston’s Premier Feathers watch ($65,600) features a marquetry dial created using the colorful and evocative Lady Amherst peacock feather. The feathers are sourced with a respect for the environment, and only the most beautiful are selected. In some cases the feathers are cut to size or shape and positioned on the surface of the dial, under a loupe to ensure the most accurate possible placement. Each dial takes approximately seven hours to make and each is unique.
From Piaget, this elegant and sophisticated Miss Protocole timepiece (price on request) is crafted in 18k white gold and set with a total of 706 brilliant-cut diamonds. The elaborate and enticing strap is made of several dozens of black feathers.
This Dior VIII Grand Bal Plume watch ($36,300) is a 38mm automatic movement timepiece with a “Dior Inverse” caliber that features a functional white-gold oscillating weight on the dial, decorated with white feathers. The weight and bezel are set with diamonds, a black mother-of-pearl dial from Vietnam, and a black ceramic case and bracelet. A mere 88 pieces will be made.
photography by antfarm