Watches

Rainbow watches are on trend

The boldest and brightest new horological stars. Watchmakers have launched a wide array of rainbow inspired timepieces.

By Kim Parker

As status symbols and investment pieces, watches have traditionally been the most sober of accessories, available in sleek steel or gold (of the white, yellow, and rosy varieties) and, occasionally, a tastefully shaded ceramic. But this year, emboldened by a pandemic that has seen clients clamouring for bright, cheerful, and hopeful hues, the watch industry has significantly widened its palette.

Indeed, watchmakers and jewellers alike have launched a veritable cloudburst of rainbow-inspired timepieces, utilising everything from multi-hued gemstones to leather and lacquer to create eye-catching wrist candy that never fails to make a statement. From the super exclusive, price-on-application only, to the playful and fashion-forward, these are the best kaleidoscopic watches available right now.

Chanel

Although Madame Chanel was infamous for her love of monochromatic hues (with the odd splash of shimmering gold for good measure), her eponymous brand has taken an altogether more daring approach for this year. Its ‘Electro’ collection has been inspired by 90s club culture, reinventing many of its classic silhouettes in a riot of poppy hues. We adore the new limited-edition Première Electro, with a blackened steel case enlivened with a chain bracelet (inspired by the house’s signature handbag chains) interwoven with multicoloured leather.

Première Electro watch in steel, lacquer, onyx and leather, £5,200, Chanel

Hublot

Hublot has been creating brightly hued ceramic watches for many years but for 2021, the Swiss watchmaker has gone one step beyond with its Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Rainbow, which fuses high performance and high jewellery with riotous results. The new timepiece is embellished with 484 baguette-cut (including rubies, sapphires, amethysts, topaz and tsavorites) from its case and dial all the way to its bracelet – a feat which took 1,200 of work.

Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Rainbow, price on application, Hublot

Breitling

Inspired by the summery vibes of the South Sea, Breitling has imbued each of the three watches in its Chronomat Automatic 36 capsule collection (available in with a mint green, sandy beige, or ocean blue lacquered dial) with a veritable cocktail of gemstones around the bezel.

Chronomat Automatic South Sea 36, £6,550, Breitling

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana is a house synonymous with Italian gioia di vivere, and its ebullient new watch offering is certainly no exception. Named for the Greek goddess Iris, who dressed in dew drops which reflected light into myriad colours, the timepiece features a rose gold case, with a satin-finish or diamond-pavé dial, encircled by Crayola-coloured topaz, quartz, rhodolite, tourmaline and amythest crystals. It’s also available with nine interchangeable coloured straps – one for every possible mood.

Iris watch in rose gold and leather, price on request, Dolce & Gabbana

Audemars Piguet

As if imbuing its latest Royal Oak model with a diamond-like, frosted finish wasn’t enough, Audemars Piguet has now added a mouth-watering assortment of jujube-coloured gems to the bezel. These provide a playful contrast to the serious business of its powerful in-house Calibre 3132 movement and double ‘balance wheel’ mechanism, which can be glimpsed through the open worked dial. Think of it as savoir-faire with a wink and a smile.

Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, price on application, Audemars Piguet

Gucci

Everything about this watch screams good times: from its rainbow-tined plexiglass case (yes, that is a strip of gold glitter), to its colourful crystal-adorned strap and its luminous mother-of-pearl dial. And it prove it, it’s also water-resistant up to 30 meters. Just in case those good times really get going.

Embellished plexiglass watch, £650, Gucci at Netaporter.com

Bulgari

The Roman jeweller is renowned for its use of brightly coloured gemstones. So it makes sense that its newest high jewellery watches are festooned with a polychromatic array of jewels. Its eye-popping Serpenti Incantati model features a yellow gold 33mm case adorned with over 280 brilliant-cut diamonds across its dial, bezel and also its bracelet. Nestled around the bezel, and biting its own ‘tail’, is a symbolic snake (the traditional emblem of the house) created from tsavorites, garnets, spinels, rubies and sapphires in a graduated rainbow of hues. More is certainly more when it comes this ultra-luxurious watch.

Diamond, gold and coloured gemstone watch, price on request, Bulgari

Chopard

Chopard’s Happy Sport watch launched in 1993 and was the brand’s first to combine stainless steel (the ‘sport’ element) with sparkling diamonds. It was designed to be “a watch that I could wear all day long: at the gym, in the office or for a dinner in town”, according to

Chopard’s co-president, Caroline Scheufele. Now, its latest update contains an even sportier-looking chronograph (stopwatch), balancing it with a shimmering mother-of-pearl dial, five free-floating diamonds and a bezel studded with juicy-hued sapphires. It may not be the best fit for a workout, but it’s certain to be the talk of the town whenever you do wear it.

Ethical rose gold, diamond, coloured sapphire, and leather watch, £65,300, Chopard

Dior

Monsieur Dior was a life-long fan of nature in its myriad forms, including the tropical-coloured flora and fauna found in exotic gardens. This season, his eponymous house has taken this theme to luxurious new heights, with Grand Bal jewellery watches inspired by the dazzling plumage of birds of paradise. Each diamond-studded timepiece has a shimmering dial embellished with iridescent slivers of scarab beetle elytra (shell), and marquise-cut gemstones, arranged like fanned-out wing in flight.

Grand Bal Parure Tropicale, price on request, Dior

Rolex

Released just before the Pandemic brought the world to a standstill, Rolex’s gem-encrusted rainbow Day Date-36 is just as cheering now as it was at first sight. The white gold version, seen here, has a bezel, dial and bracelet covered with brilliant-cut pave diamonds, whilst twelve multi-coloured baguette-cut sapphires mark the hours.

White gold Day-Date 36, £102,700, Rolex

Takashi Murakami debuts a colourful cartoon watch with Hublot – see it here

See a new take on the traditional cocktail watch

See the best cartoon-inspired watches here

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