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Set Point

  • James D. Malcolmson

Many women can relate to being sometimes underestimated merely because they are attractive. The same can be said of their watches, particularly when jeweled. Their flashy, high-fashion qualities often obscure the technical skill involved in creating them. In fact, the case makers and setters of ladies’ time-pieces are as talented—and as uniquely Swiss in their approach—as the watchmakers who command respect from complicated-watch collectors. To follow are two examples that may help set the record straight.

Although better known recently for its bold, large-scale men’s watches, Carl F. Bucherer regularly produces pieces that remind us of the company’s status as a top-flight Swiss jeweler. The Alacria Fancy Diva in blue sapphires is an object lesson in color matching and precision setting. The delicate light color that is exhibited in all stones is the result of a sorting and collection process that has grown increasingly laborious as the best material has become harder to find. The baguette sapphires must be specially cut and then set into a channel. In Switzerland, the quality of the setting is judged by how well the top surfaces of the stones conform to the shape of the case. The smooth curves of Alacria are faired piece by piece and, in accordance with tradition, completely by the setter’s eye.

Girard-Perregaux’s Cat’s Eye Jewelry is in a different league in terms of diamonds—some 150 emerald-cut diamonds totaling more than 14.5 carats adorn the case. It also showcases a unique variety of tapered stonecutting. To realize an eccentric pattern on the dial centered on the small seconds hand, each of the 102 stones on the dial had to be individually calculated and cut—nearly 5,000 individual facets. Since the stones make up the majority of the watch’s exterior, the case, including the posts on which the stones are set, must be designed with negative space, to accommodate the jewels. The pleasingly familiar shape of Cat’s Eye is the final proof that all these unforgiving tasks have been performed perfectly.   

Carl F. Bucherer, 800.395.4306, www.carl-f-bucherer.com; Girard-Perregaux, 877.846.3447, www.girard-perregaux.com

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