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The Fashion Memo

The best colorful statement watches

L-R: Piaget’s Posession, Vacheron Constantin’s Egérie and Cartier’s Ballon Bleu de Cartier

Buying an investment watch needn’t mean restricting yourself to precious metals and neutral straps – bold, striking designs by historic fine-watch houses prove that bright is just as beautiful, as LAURA HAWKINS discovers


In 1964, Piaget launched a range of revolutionary timepieces with colorful watch dials formed from slivers of semiprecious stone, including malachite, lapis lazuli and coral. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis favored an eye-catching bracelet style with an opal dial, dazzling its admirers further with a pavé diamond bezel. “Women love to find statement pieces at auction,” says Kate Lacey, a watch specialist at Sotheby’s, of the continued popularity today for striking prismatic watches. Styles with colorful leather straps and vivid dials dazzling with diamonds prove particularly popular.

The watches in Piaget’s Possession collection draw on the finesse of fine jewelry-making. Originally launched in the mid-’90s, the dials of its petite 29mm and 34mm styles are imagined in a range of semiprecious stones, from carnelian to turquoise, and also shimmering mother-of-pearl, circled with a rotating diamond bezel. This detail evokes the moving bands of the collection’s signature rings. Piaget favors luxurious alligator straps in midnight blue – a shade that subtly subverts more traditional black ­– which will enhance night-time tuxedo dressing or elevate daytime denim and a jersey tank. It’s a tone also advocated by fellow Swiss Jaeger-LeCoultre. Its Rendez-Vous Night & Day collection was launched in 2012, featuring a range of delicately sized, evening-alluding styles, with an alligator strap, starry diamond detail and moon-phase display. Vintage Cartier timepieces are also desirable at Sotheby’s auctions, and the French maison’s Ballon Bleu de Cartier perfectly encapsulates night-time drama. The 2006-launched style boasts a crown set with a smooth cabochon sapphire; the mysterious tone of the stone is emphasized by the accompanying dark-blue hands.

Vacheron Constantin’s chunkier Egérie timepiece – which launched earlier this year – blends haute couture precision with practicality. Its tapestry-inspired dial is formed from concentric circles with pleated details, using an intricate guilloché technique. Encouraging customization according to mood, it comes with three simple-to-swap straps, including a raspberry shade that taps into summer’s penchant for pink. Hermès also advocates a kaleidoscope of strap hues, such as crimson, Klein Blue and the French maison’s signature orange in calf leather or alligator. For added drama, invest in a style with a diamond-dusted bezel, like its delicate 17mm Nantucket Jeté de Diamants.

Unisex styles continue to provide androgynous wardrobe emphasis, particularly when imagined in sleek stainless steel. First launched in the ’30s, IWC Schaffhausen’s unisex Portugieser Chronograph is eye-catching not just for its size on a woman’s wrist, but also for its newly introduced dials in scarlet and bottle-green. When paired with an oversized white shirt with an upturned cuff, its vivid accents will ensure unanimous envy.