Which Watches Do Jewelry Designers Wear?
When you design jewelry for a living, how do you choose your wristwatch? Does the design take priority? Does your watch match your jewelry aesthetics?
We asked six female jewelry designers to share what makes them tick. (Their comments have been edited and condensed.)
Ms. Bucci is a fourth-generation jeweler from Florence, Italy, and the chief executive and creative director at the London-based brand that bears her name. It is known for her signature hammered gold creations and colorful bead pieces.
For me, the word “watch” means Audemars Piguet. After many frustrating years of trying to find a signature-style timepiece, I spotted “the one” around a woman’s wrist while casually strolling in Manhattan in 2011: a 36-millimeter Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet in yellow gold.
On a subsequent visit to one of the brand’s boutiques, I was disappointed to learn that the model I sought had been discontinued. Eventually, my husband, James, managed to source a similar piece from 1982 through a secondhand dealer in London. It was the perfect gift for my 35th birthday.
My first Audemars Piguet paved the way for a series of collaborations with the brand to reimagine the Royal Oak — the first one in 2016 and a second in 2018. For the third collaboration, which debuted on the 1st of June, I swapped my signature shimmering Florentine finish of the previous editions’ case and bracelets for black ceramic. The new 34-millimeter Royal Oak Selfwinding in black ceramic also features a dial with a multicolored mirror effect.
I am not a watch-movement connoisseur, but I’ve been hunting for a watch featuring the Valjoux VZ SS mechanism for some time, and I found it in a leather-strap Audemars Piguet from 1952. What I like about this watch is that it’s super-simple on the outside and super-powerful inside. The magic is in the movement.
A high-jewelry designer, Ms. Feng is the founder and creative director at Feng J, based in Shanghai. She specializes in pastel-colored pieces inspired by nature.
Among my most treasured pieces is a vintage golden Patek Philippe watch sourced by my husband at an auction in Hong Kong as a birthday gift about 10 years ago, before I began my designing career. I love its classy gold-weave bracelet, and I consider it an essential piece to have, whether you look at it as a watch or a jewel.
I have always been fascinated by Gerald Genta as he is considered the Picasso of watchmaking, and more recently, I developed a keen interest in his work. Eventually, I fell under a spell and began coveting the Genta-designed Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet. Climbing up the never-ending wait list while being confined in China because of Covid restrictions seemed an impossible feat. But very recently — unexpectedly and serendipitously — my wish has come true and I now have the watch.
Ms. Ghosn, who was born in the United States and is of Brazilian and Lebanese descent, is the founder of Nadine Ghosn Jewelry in London. She is known for her quirky hamburger ring.
I think watches, like jewelry, can remind you of a person. My grandfather always used to wear an ultrathin Vacheron Constantin Patrimony watch — a family heirloom passed down to me. I updated it with a crocodile strap to make it more feminine, and it is a constant reminder of my grandfather’s laughter and joie de vivre. I love this watch for its elegance, meaningfulness and technicality. It’s simple yet powerful.
As a jewelry designer, I love perusing vintage stores and fairs, which often showcase watches, too. In one of those browsing sprees, I fell in love with a sophisticated golden ladies’ watch with an anthracite dial impressed with two logos, Patek and Tiffany. It looks more like a jewelry piece than anything else and makes for a solid stacker.
I have an Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch mostly because I love the idea of collaboration across industries and brands. I can’t remember the last time I lined up for something, but I wasn’t the only one wanting to get that number around my wrist. It is a fun piece that is easy to wear and can be customized by straps. I love mixing high and low together.
Lily Gabriella Elia
The chief executive and creative director at Lily Gabriella Fine Jewelry was born in Brazil, raised in Monaco and now calls London home. Her line revisits design classics, adding a streak of flamboyance.
A recent addition to my collection of watches is a Panthère de Cartier triple loop engraved with “I love you to the moon,” gifted to me by my mother on my last birthday. It’s very ‘me’ because it is a contemporary take on a timeless classic, and I also love how it wraps around the wrist multiple times, making it more casual.
I actually have a thing for watches coiling around the wrist. And as you would expect, I own a must-have wraparound watch, Bulgari Serpenti Spiga. It was love at first sight. I have always had a fascination with serpents and how they are associated with good fortune, fierceness and creative drive in many cultures. A snake is often the muse for my jewelry.
Otherwise, I am delighted that temperatures are beginning to rise, as I can’t wait to don my “summer go-to-watch”: the De Grisogono Tondo hot pink sapphire bezel, fiberglass case and red shagreen strap.
This native New Yorker is the chief executive and creative director at the fine jewelry brand that bears her name, and is known for its playful but elegant flip rings.
I love collecting watches, especially rare ones. In one of my hunts for rare timepieces at an antique fair, I purchased a 1960s Tiffany & Company black leather and yellow gold cuff watch. I couldn’t resist — it’s a watch I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen again anywhere.
I have another Tiffany timepiece, a 1920s Tiffany & Company ladies’ platinum and diamond evening watch, which I was offered as an engagement gift. I wore it to my wedding in 1991, but I now wear it with my vintage Levi’s and a white T-shirt. I love that it has stood the test of time against trends.
Among my most treasured pieces is a 1970s Rolex GMT-Master with a red and blue dial. It is a memory of my late husband, Jim, who was given it as a teenager by his father during a flight to Colorado. Jim kept asking his dad what time it was, and at the fifth time, his father handed him the watch saying, “This is for you, and you will never have to ask me the time again.”
Ms. Sarr, who was born in France, is the founder, chief executive and creative director of Almasika Jewelry, based in Chicago. She counts Michelle Obama among her fans.
All my watches are filled with sentimental value. I’m very close to my family, so my Ceinture de Cartier vintage watch my brothers offered me for my birthday means a lot to me. I see it as a future heirloom piece, but until then, it’s my well-worn and well-loved staple watch that I regularly wear as it stacks well with my Almasika pieces.
My Panerai Radiomir, Number 60 out of 80 watches, with its back engraved with the Abu Dhabi skyline, enshrines fond memories of a family holiday in the Emirates. I got it shortly after I arrived in Abu Dhabi on a holiday and I alternate it with my everyday Ceinture de Cartier watch.
But whenever I wish to make a bold statement, I go for my Hublot Berluti Classic Fusion featuring a strap of Berluti’s emblematic Venezia leather. I have been a longtime fan of Berluti craftsmanship, and I put my name on the wait list a few months before the release.