July 2011 Archives

I know it has been done before, but that doesn't make Mark Laita's ""Serpentine":http://":http://www.marklaita.com/serpentine.html, a book of 122 photos of snakes any less impressive



Earlier this month Boucheron presented their newest collection, Dolce Riviera, at their main Paris boutique, in the Place Vendome.  The collection is intended to reflect the sweetness of the French Riviera, and each of the families is named for one of the famous beaches on the Mediterranean coast: Isola Bella, Capriccioli, Beau Rivage, Paraggi and Aiguebelle. As with so many of the Haut Joaillerie collections, there's always a theme and it usually has only a tangential connection to the actual design

Bracelet from the Capriccioli family, set with cabuchoned emeralds as well as faceted sapphires and diamonds. The bracelet centers on a large cabuchoned sapphireAiguebelle ring, centered on a large (black?) opal and surrounded with blue and purple sapphires and emeralds.
A ring from the Isola Bella collection, several colors of sapphires set into yellow gold. This one is very reminiscent of the colors in several of the Cirque du Soliel necklaces they released in late 2009One of a strange pair of seemingly renaissance-inspired earrings named Paraggi. It is cultured pearls, turquoise and coral (don't try to bring those outside the EU!) set in 18k Rose gold

By far my favorite pieces from the collection are these two unstructured necklaces.

First is the Isola Bella necklace from which the right side can be detached to make a shorter necklace and a matching bracelet. The press release doesn't give materials, but I would guess that at least the pink stones, and possibly the green as well, are tourmaline and the yellows are sapphires to match the ring (above) in the same familyMy favorite piece is the Beau Rivage necklace. Centering on a emerald cabochon, it is 18k white gold set with blue sapphire beads and faceted diamonds. Like the Isola Bella piece and most of the other necklaces, this one is convertable, with the set emerald removable to wear as a broach


This is just a sample of the collection, each of the families has a bracelet, necklace, ring, pair of earrings and some add in a watch. There are plenty more pictures over at The Jewelry Editor, as well as a short video from the opening party in Paris.


Duke Riley's U-Line

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Created as part of the MTA's Arts for Transit project, Duke Riley's U-Line depicts that extra NYC subway line we keep hearing about. (click for a really, REALLY big version)



Chanel has tried to cram a great deal of symobolism and story into their current jewelry collection. It is called "Contrasts" but has as a secondarytheme Orpheus in the Underworld, and I've not been able to figure out quite how the two are connected. On the other hand, some of the pieces are quite lovely, and are using some stones rarely seen in jewelry these days, including moonstone and rock crystal. The Jewelry Editor has a little video of her visit to the announcement party in Paris last week.

North Star Broach: white gold set with a 2ct brilliant cut central diamond1.5ct of pear-shaped, 4.5 ct of baguette and 399 tiny brilliant cut diamonds. Most of the large flat areas are set with moonstone, there's 43ct spread across the 6 stones and 10 white opals for the ends of the petals. 7 Pearls round out the piece.Perle de Risée ring: The press release lists diamonds, black and gray spinel and moonstone for this piece along with pearls, but I can't actually identify most of those stones. It's always possible the caption ended up with the wrong picture
Crystal Rain Bracelet: Rock Crystal and diamonds. Both this piece and the matching necklace use Rock Crystl, a material that pretty much disappeared from jewelry by the beginning of the 20th century to represent water. Not my taste, but an interesting choiceCrystal Rain necklace
Perle de Rosée earrings. I believe this is the picture that should go with the caption from the Perle de Risée ring, diamonds, black and gray spinel and moonstone for this piece along with pearls. In any case these earrings and the matching necklace (I'm still tracking down a picture for that) are my favorite pieces of the collection.Autumn Sun cuff bracelet in white and yelloe 18kt gold. The main stones are white and yellow diamonds of 3ct each.


Breguet's contribution to the Only Watch 2011 auction is a variant on their Reveil Musical, a music-box in a wristwatch on impressive complexity.  This one has, to quote the press release, a "rotating hand-guilloche dial featuring a child's hand stretched out towards that of an adult appearing on the flange." This is quote possibly the creepiest classical watch dial I've seen in a while, though the doppler-shifting Monaco-arms behind the child is kinda cool.  To top it off, the song played by the music box is "A castle in the sky".  Now the only song I can find by this exact name is by Marty Robbins and it is a treacly Country-Western love ballad, so I am afraid this is a mis-translation from the French of something, but I don't know what. 

In any case, have some pictures from TimeZone



I do like the music notes that are used to decorate the case band, though at 48mm in diameter it's a bit on the massive side.  If you want the entire spec on the movement, here is it:

mechanical self-winding movement, numbered and bearing the Breguet signature. 55 hour power reserve. Cal. 0900. 17 1/3 lines. 59 jewels. Silicon escape-wheel and lever. Breguet balance with adjusting screws. Breguet balance spring. Frequency 4Hz. Adjusted to 6 positions.


Since there's basically no design theme to the watches made especially for the Only Watch auctions (previously mentioned), except possibly the color red, Vacheron Constantin decided to go with a MC Escher design.  Not quite what I would have chosen, but they executed it meticulously, with a gold dial engraved, enameled and set with an actually tasteful field of diamonds!


Some closeup shots of the dial. The majority of the birds are done in champleve enamel, with guilloche (engine work) for the un-enameled ones. The one diamond set bird has about 40 diamonds with a total weight of .08ct (yes, those are some TINY stones).


(pictures from the FIHH )


TimeZone has a nice article on the history of Tutima and their new minute-repeater movement, apparently the first minute-repeater wristwatch from Germany.

Top plate (would be seen through the back of the case)Bottom plate (under the dial)


Happy Bastille Day

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If a bit late

(from the Flickr account of Eriko Sugi)


Graffiti Search Engine

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Evan Roth has collected about 200 images of graffiti tags from the walls and fences of Paris, and built an interactive search engine to pull out individual letters.  Worth a look


In the late 18th and early 19th century the wealthy aristocrats of Europe often collected small automatons. These were clockwork robots, decedents of the hour-striker clocks of Renaissance Europe. One of the most popular styles consisted of birds who flapped their wings and sung. They were originally mounted in cages as an attempt at realism. Styles changed and the little birds popped up everywhere, including the barrel of bejeweled gold pistols and the only matching pair by Freres Rochat recently were auctioned at Christie's


Not straying far from their recent haut joaillerie lines, Dior has released another collection, in collaboration with Victoire de Castellane, of flower-themed jewels. Entitled "Ball of Roses", it has contains 12 pieces, all with rose designs.

May Ball NecklaceRomantic Ball Ring
Venetian Ball RingSummer Ball Ring
Garden Party RingVintage Party
Blue Night RingParisian Ball Ring

Note that there are exhaustive lists of materials on Paris Joaillerie, the source of the pictures, but I didn't bother to transcribe them.


Eva Leube is an independent watchmaker who has worked for some of the top factories and independents in the world, including Ulysse Nardin and Thomas Prescher as well as a movemment specialist for Rolex. That job brought her to Australia and she ended up settling in Manly, near Sydney in 2004.  At Baselworld 2011 she release her first timepiece, named Ari for her son. The Sydney Tarts, a watch and food blog, interviewed her just recently.


She built the movement into a dramatic curve to allow the watch to fit the wrist in a manner reminiscent of the Gruen Curvex from the 1920s.


She created the entire movement and the case, everything except the dial ring and the sapphire crystal pieces.



From the British Library's Medieval Manuscript blog, the calendar page for July from their Isabella Breviary, produced in the late 1480s in Bruges (Feckin' Bruges).



Ikepod is a strange little watch company which has always been focused more on the design side of the watch industry, using reliable but not interesting movements.  They have worked in partnership with industrial designer Marc Newson (previously mentioned) for a while now, but their release of his hourglass at Baselworld 2011 gave them quite a bit of positive publicity.
Photos - 15178.jpg
Those are the basic models, the larger one times abotu one hour and costs about $30k, while the smaller model is about 1/2 the price and times 10 minutes.  Both are hand-blown from rather thick (3mm) borosilicate glass and use tiny steel balls, plated with nickel, copper, gold or something else for color, for timing.  According to promotional materials the large model contains approximately 1.3million balls. 

Their video of the production is stunning

For the 2011 Only Watch auction, they've made a unique model with red glass.  I was a bit disappointed to read that the red is a paint, rather then inherent in the glass, but that in no way detracts from the dramatic look


In live shots the clarity and intensity of the red color, probably somehow related to the flag of Monaco, is much more obvious

Only Watch Hour Glass - 25.jpg


From Feb 18th until July 4th (sorry, you've probably missed it)the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (the NYC branch of the Smithsonian Institute) has had a large exhibit of jewelry by Van Cleef and Arpels (previously mentioned) entitled Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels. As I've tried once before, this will be a review of the exhibition which I was able to attend last weekend.

First of all, the collected works are fantastic, from the coronation jewels of Princess Grace through the many pieces commissioned by the Duchess of Wales to their current works, a massive cross-section of VC&A's work was on display, probably more then in any one place before. The exhibit itself was separated into 6 areas, each with a theme, a more sensible way to organize the jewels then by date or by material. The themes were somewhat vague to cover all the pieces, but useful conceptually: Inovation, Transformation, Nature, Exoticism, Fashion and Personalities (a catch-all for pieces owned by famous customers). These tied into various associated displays, including a video of the mystery setting in the innovation room, pre-production sketches in the Transformation room and photos of celebrities in the Personalities room. The entire exhibit was labeled by number, everyone got a guide book on entering which provided all relevant information, a much better solution then what would have been an excessive number of captions for the displays.

The display of the jewels was not all that satisfactory. The pieces were mostly set as a long row on a table, which made for moderately good traffic flow, but the cases were problematic. Some were single cases with the all the pieces, but most were smaller domes with a few pieces. These, for some baffling reason, appeared to be blown glass and were rife with irregularities that distorted the view of the pieces. The guards were also very insistent that one could not lean or even place the guide on the tables, which made getting a close look an excise in careful balance. The occasional nose-print testified to failures. There were also some baffling displays, like the illusionary ones based on parabolic mirrors that caused the piece to appear to float at the table surface, but also dimmed and distorted it due to the poor condition of the mirrors. As has become common with this sort of exhibit, photography was prohibited.

I don't wish these complaints to give the impression that I didn't enjoy it a great deal, it would have been worth the trip by itself, but such small changes could have made it much more enjoyable.

ps yes it is pathetic how overrun by spammers the website is, it looks like no care was taken to secure it at all, nor has anyone from the museum bothered to look at it since it was launched.

Since 1956 Van Cleef and Arpels (mentioned a bit before) have held the distinction of "Official Supplier to the Principality" of Monaco.  For the recent wedding of Prince Albert Princess Charlene, they created a convertible tiara->necklace with the theme "Ocean", in tribute to her past as an olympic swimmer.  It's primarily diamonds, including some pear-cut stones at about 4 ct, and several shades of Sapphire.


They've even put together a brief video explaining some of the design elements


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