Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Sign of the times

Despite factory closures and show cancellations, top Swiss watch brands have managed to produce a digital debut of their 2020 offerings. Here’s a look at some of this year’s trends.

By Roberta Naas

Many watch brands were forced to shutter their manufacturing facilities during the height of COVID-19, and those that resumed operations afterward did so with reduced staff to maintain social distancing. However, companies that had spent years in the research and development stages were nonetheless able to unveil new watches as early as April — albeit in virtual format. Due to the cancellation of the two large Swiss watch shows — Watches & Wonders Geneva and Baselworld — the brands premiered their offerings digitally, either on their own or via platforms that the organizers of Watches & Wonders Geneva created.

Some brands opted to unveil fewer new pieces at this point, while others put off their introductions altogether until later in the year. This was partially in deference to the economic and health plights of so many people around the world, but also because some watchmakers simply could not complete production due to the closure of their facilities and those of their component and parts suppliers.

Still, some fully integrated operations had prepared months in advance for the would-be shows, and their choice to present their wares digitally made them no less alluring. In fact, it served as a sort of teaser, whetting the appetites of those anxious to get a closer look.

In the diamond category, luxury timepiece brands are scaling new heights. Here, we take a look at four of the top trends in the diamond watch market for 2020.


Easily one of the more important trends in haute horlogerie is a great respect for and love of nature. Watch brands are adept at emulating birds, butterflies and wildlife in artistic dials and cases that capture hearts and imaginations. From Bulgari’s all-diamond Serpenti Seduttori (with snake-head-shaped case) to Cartier’s panther in gold, diamonds and even bamboo, nature comes to life on the wrist. Graff is a master of bringing flowers to the forefront, especially with its magnificent Peony collection of diamond-encrusted secret watches. An absolute highlight of the nature-inspired concept this year comes from Chopard. Part of its Red Carpet collection, this particular watch features a case in the likeness of an owl, using ethically sourced 18-karat white gold. The owl’s face, beak and wings sparkle with diamond brilliants, and the eyebrows with invisibly set trapeze-cut diamonds. The eyes offer bold color thanks to trapeze-cut, multicolored sapphires.

High complications

A definite direction in diamond watchmaking is highly complex timepieces for women. Demand is on the rise for complicated women’s watches that have features and functions such as calendars, moon-phase indications and even tourbillons (escapements that compensate for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity). Of course, luxury watch brands are also eager to add sparkle. Vacheron Constantin has adorned its newest Traditionelle Tourbillon Jewelry with diamonds from bracelet to case, lugs and dials, using myriad sizes and cuts for added allure. Jacob & Co. takes a different tack: Its three-dimensional, space-age Astronomia watches have diamonds not only on the case and lugs, but also as a backdrop for the tiny rotating solar system on the wrist. The planets and sun are made of specially cut diamonds and gemstones as well.


When the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the world became enthralled with geometric and Art Deco design motifs. Today, this trend continues with some modern twists. Here again, master jeweler and watchmaker Cartier pulls out all the stops with its new Pasha model. Now boasting a cult-like following, the Pasha was originally introduced to the world in 1985. The round watch featured a square inner center dial in a play on shapes. With the new series, Cartier has turned to a skeletonized movement and bedecked the watch case and inner dials with hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds.

Another design playing off conventional watch shapes is Hublot’s new Big Bang Sang Bleu II, which uses sharp angles, triangles and diamond-shaped figures to bring the case and movement elements to life. The brand has adorned the case with diamond brilliants in various sizes, alternating with the metal.

Diamonds and color

Long revered as the optimum stone for watchmaking, diamonds are a favorite among the finest brands. However, artisans are now recognizing the vast beauty and depth that intermingling colored gemstones in a timepiece can achieve. This year, brands such as Piaget, Graff, Bulgari and Cartier are turning to pastel-hued and vivid precious stones, as well as slabs of semi-precious stones such as malachite and lapis lazuli, to accent their watches. The colorful, fashion-forward Maillon de Cartier watch, for instance, features multicolored stones including diamonds and tsavorites, and lacquer in hues of blue, turquoise and onyx. On the classically elegant side, a highlight for 2020 is the Piaget Limelight Gala Precious Sapphire Gradient, wherein diamonds and gradients of blue sapphires harmoniously hug the case and extend around the gold bracelet.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2020. To subscribe click here.

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