The floral watch trend from Watches & Wonders

At Watches & Wonders watchmakers from Chopard and Van Cleef & Arpels to Rolex, were inspired by the garden and floral design in 2022. Whether they were ornate high jewellery pieces to sporty numbers, nature was the overriding theme

by Kim Parker

Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada may have been damning with her comment, “florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” But this year, after a global pandemic which saw their latest launches presented digitally for two years, watchmakers have embraced the great outdoors and created floral watches which resonate with joy and colour.

Enamelled pocket watches with delicate floral motifs have a history stretching back to the 1600s, when wealthy nobles adorned their precious timepieces with bouquets of blooms created from gemstones, enamel and gold engraving. Today, the tradition continues with haute watchmakers displaying the very best of their couture craftsmanship in dials resplendent with enamelled buds and gemstone-encrusted petals.

For its latest floral watches, launched this month at the Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva, the French house of Van Cleef & Arpels took inspiration from the Swedish botanist, Carl Von Linnaeus. Linnaeus, who created the formalised system for naming organisms which we still use today, evoked a hypothetical garden in his 1751 book, Philosophia Botanica. In it, he imagined planting a host of blossoming plants that opened and closed their petals according to the time of day. With its two new Lady Arpels Heures Florales watches, Van Cleef & Arpels reimagines this garden within a three-dimensional watch dial, embellished with tiny flowers made up of articulated petals. As each hour passes, the flowers ‘bloom’ to show the passage of time, exposing their gleaming diamond hearts to the watch wearer. The number of flowers with open corollas indicates the hour, whilst minutes can be read on a display on the side of the 38mm watch case.

Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watch in rose gold, diamonds, gemstones and mother-of-pearl, by Van Cleef & Arpels

Chanel often pays homage to its founder’s favourite flower, the camellia, within its timepieces. This year, the house has released a collection of secret watches which evoke the cuffs of a classic Chanel jacket, recreated in gold and fabric. Beneath the button on each cuff lies a tiny watch dial set with 142 brilliant-cut diamonds. Gabrielle Chanel’s beloved camellia features on a burgundy velvet secret watch, engraved on a rock crystal cabochon ‘button’ that conceals the gleaming diamond watch face beneath.

Mademoiselle Privé Bouton watch, by Chanel
Mademoiselle Privé Bouton watch, by Chanel

Over at Rolex, blossoms flourish out in the open. The brand’s classic Oyster Datejust 31 watches have been reimagined for summer with dials carpeted in floral motifs, inspired by wild meadows. Each flower stands apart from its neighbours thanks to a variety of different metallic finishes (either Sunday, matt or grained) and bears a diminutive diamond twinkling in its centre. Unlike real blooms, though, these flowers will be able to withstand any sudden downpour – Rolex’s signature Oyster case is guaranteed to be waterproof to a depth of 100m.

Complicated watches are also being bolstered with an array of blooms. Chopard‘s exclusive new Imperiale Flying Tourbillon boasts a 36mm white gold case set with diamonds, and a deep blue adventurine dial ’embroidered’ with a marquetry mother-of-pearl lotus. In the centre of the flower lies the watch’s visible calibre, which gives the timepiece a power reserve of 65 hours. The collection is limited to just eight pieces, so anyone keen to pick this particular timepiece should move fast.

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