Remarkable in itself, Dior’s decision to execute a million-dollar-plus jeweled tourbillon is made all the more puzzling by the company’s choice to base its new watch on the Christal design, which is not normally an expensive timepiece. Yet this playful contrast serves to enhance the watch’s charm. “The Dior Christal Tourbillon was a nice exercise, and one that can never be repeated because of the stones we used,” says Bunter S.A. jewelry-watch specialist Claude Sanz in explaining why the one-of-a-kind timepiece (roughly $1.3 million) he constructed surpasses those from much more exalted watchmaking brands. Bunter has worked with many of the top houses, though only a handful will openly admit its involvement; yet all of these clients recognize Sanz’s unimpeachable expertise in crafting special cases and bracelets, as well as in selecting and setting stones.
In the case of the Christal Tourbillon Rubies, however, the gems themselves make the watch unique. “I had these stones in my stock for almost twenty years,” says Sanz. “They are from a mine along the Thai-Cambodian border that has long since closed. It would be impossible to get stones in this color at this size today.” Although experts have long debated whether Thai or Burmese rubies have superior color, Sanz favors the older stones from Thailand’s eastern mountains because their sizes are unmatched for watch settings. To create the tourbillon, on whose bezel and bracelet are intermingled rubies and baguette diamonds, many of the gems had to be specially cut—a painful operation for Sanz, who watched as his prized finds diminished in weight and value.
Originally designed for settings of faceted synthetic-sapphire crystal, Christal retains its original youthfulness even when embellished with real gemstones. Its 42 mm size—bold on any woman—adds to its stylish insouciance. Produced by Concepto, a specialty-movement supplier, the tourbillon incorporates ruby-colored sapphire plates and bridges. Considering Christal’s longtime association with corundum—the mineral of which both rubies and sapphires are forms—the choice is entirely appropriate.