Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

It wasn't until I needed to go ring shopping did I really learn to appreciate diamonds. As a guy, I just always assumed diamonds were for women. Sure some men have diamond rings and earrings - but that hardly represents the norm, at least here in the United States. Diamonds are a sure-fire sign of wealth, but they also represent the most basic and arguably unsophisticated form of luxury features - being really shiny. Though it does help their cause that diamonds are inherently rare. What I do however love, are watches. So what happens when you combine these two things?

The "full pave" (or totally diamond covered) watch in the United States is often a simple code for "I have too much money, and perhaps not as much taste." While jealousy might have something to do with those thoughts, it is true that simply covering something normal with diamonds is a less than difficult (albeit expensive) way of adding luxury. That would be ignoring a lot of the really nice diamond covered watches out there. Easy to make fun of and perhaps taboo to wear - the diamond covered luxury watch remains an extremely powerful force that is hard to resist if you can afford one. It is like buying a private island: it might be just too excessive to ever actually justify, but secretly you want one and all the stigma that comes with it. This is akin to walking around with a crown.

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Recently I got to test my feelings on the all (or mostly) diamond covered watch. I was in no better place to do it... Hong Kong. They don't joke about Asia being the premier place for watch consumption. I challenged myself to not spot something watch-related for a full minute while driving around the city. It never happened. From ads to shops, the city is literally watch-crazed. Being there makes you truly believe that high-end watch brands are taking over the world.

While there, I was lucky enough to be part of the 2012 Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair. And yes, clocks are actually part of the fair. A unique area of the fair was a hall of luxury, sponsored by local high-end watch retailer chain Prince Jewelers. Prince set up a series of extremely decadent fully diamond-studded timepieces from brands such as Blancpain, Breguet, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Franck Muller, and more. These aren't the watches you see in brand ads, nor the ones they show people like me at the big shows like Baselworld and SIHH. These fully diamond covered creations are either exclusive to special markets, or sometimes even one-of-a-kind luxuries.

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Some totally diamond covered watches are head-to-toe lined with diamonds. The case is usually in 18k white gold while diamonds of different sizes and cuts are used to cover the case, bracelet, and dial. On watches like this you are sometimes lucky to see the hands as they can blend in with all the shine. The best types of these pieces use a variety of stones to retain the shape of the watch or offer unique patterns.

Use of small round-cut stones can lead to a lot of sparkle, but can also create a blurry effect as details become hard to see. For example, look at the center of the Breguet Reine de Naples watch. It uses all round-cut stones and looks like a super shiny diamond soup. Use of square or rectangular-cut baguette diamonds is often a better choice when wanting to retain or create shapes. Most of these watches are professionally done and designed coming from the world's most respected brands. They certainly don't mess around when creating such full pave timepieces. Even the Franck Muller watch with its closely set stones uses baguette cut pieces upon close inspection.

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

One drawback of baguette diamonds are price and shine. They don't refract as much light as round-cut stones which means that they don't sparkle as much. Plus, since they are usually bigger, they cost a lot more. That doesn't mean they don't shine at all, and high luster is not always what you want. Especially when you want to appreciate the details of a design. Take the beautiful Blancpain tourbillon watch. The case and bracelet use all baguette stones. The dial places the stones in a pattern almost like floor marquetry. You could never do that with round-cut stones. That was probably my second favorite piece of the lot.

For me, the most impressive all diamond-covered watch of this series was from Jaeger-LeCoultre. It is funny because a watch like that is almost totally against their marketing in the Western world. They promote ideas like "are you ready to own a real watch," and stress their mechanical ingenuity and power as a serious in-house mechanical watch maker. Then you have this unbelievably ostentatious diamond-covered watch that is designed about as nice as you could hope. The piece is a modified version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tourbillon Dual Time. The watch has the retrograde date hand removed, and the 24 hour dial for the second timezone has the indicators more or less removed. Stripped of some function, but the dial does looks tre, tre sexy no?

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Brands like Piaget and Franck Muller are no strangers to diamonds and excessive luxury. For some people excessive luxury is bad, but for the people buying these watches it is good. These consumers desire excessive luxury. They feel like they deserve it. You simply don't purchase an all diamond-covered watch if you wish to appear humble. That just isn't the point. These watches are about loud wealth in places where that is OK. It used to be places like the Middle East, and as of the last few years has moved to China and other parts of Asia. This is compounded by the natural social acceptance of displays of status and wealth. Whereas these same displays are often chastised in parts of the Western world.

These is a difference between watches with diamonds, and watches with mostly diamonds. Each of these pictured watches are mostly diamond-covered to the degree that they are "diamond watches." Mere "diamond decorated" watches might have a few around the bezel, or diamond hour markers. Those can't compete in these leagues. Part of the problem with a diamond covered watch is that you often can't wear them alone. I mean you can, but diamond-covered watches need some other diamond-covered things on your person while wearing them. I suggest a diamond-covered tie. Or if you are more casual that day, diamond socks. They aren't that comfortable oddly enough, but they look great when people get a peek under your trousers.

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

Full Pave: A Collection Of Diamond-Studded Swiss Watches Watch Style

It takes a real man to appreciate a men's watch covered in diamonds. If you are lacking in appreciation for the be-dazzled then simply show the piece to a woman. I don't mean to stereotype, but I have yet to meet a women who doesn't have some special warm spot for expensive shiny things. It does beg the psychological question of why we are attracted to shiny things. It is almost innate isn't it?

I am man enough to admit that I ponder traveling through life wearing watches that are totally "iced out." I don't even know why I think about it. Am I so shallow as to truly want people to feel I am that rich? Or is it perhaps my desire to cause shock and awe in others? Probably the latter. The watch industry likes to use the term "boldness" to refer to products which stand out. Fully pave diamond covered watches are perhaps the most bold timepieces available on the market. If you are a bold loving man (that sounds like the tag line for some extremely unhealthy fast-food product) then perhaps diamonds are right for you. Just expect prices for each of these lovely wrist treats to be in the several hundreds of thousands, if not over a million dollar price ranges. What? Ultra exclusivity doesn't come cheap.

What do you think?
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  • frankwhite

    I don’t know about anybody else but I’m curious about this ring you were shopping for

    • MarkCarson

      It’s a Christmas present (make that Hanukkah) for John Biggs, ha ha. Actually I know but it’s not my place to say.

  • MarkCarson

    More on topic (but barely) – where are the diamond encrusted 300m diver watches? You know, the shark bait models. Or what about the black diamond tactical watches.
    So Ariel, did you actually see people in Hong Kong walking around wearing diamond covered watches? Or do they only wear them at billionaire parties?

  • frankwhite

    I’m pretty sure Ariel knows that all John wants for Christmas/Hanukkah is more clocks:)

    • MarkCarson

      frankwhite Only clocks that need a good home (and synchronize with the factory).

  • Henry Miller

    This is much moe than bling. This is the real thing.

  • Borys Bozzor Pawliw

    I have spoken to 4 people over the years who wear these types of watches: not amazing mechanical complications, but heavily jewel encrusted watches. Prices ranged from EUR 430,000 to USD 1.6 million (that later was a quote I heard, but I am sure that the owner would have negotiated a discount). 1 woman had a hedge fund manager husband and she herself came from an old money background. It’s just another piece of jewellery to her, like a necklace. Two other owners worked in bond trading and commodities: one bought his because he wanted a bit of fun, something a little crazy, the other actually bought his because of  a very successful trade in diamonds and platinum and he wanted something to commemorate the success and to show off to the people who got screwed on the other end of the deal…and when your year end bonus is over $5 million in a bad year and maybe 5 times that in a good year, what else are you going to buy if you have the yacht, the numerous properties but you are not especially fond of flying? The final owner was an interesting guy: average background but made a fortune in IT. He actually showed it to me in the box, would not put it on – he actually felt too embarrassed to wear it! He normally wore a Seiko, but he drove a Gallardo, a Gemballa Porsche, Ferrari Testarossa (yes, the old one, he fell in love with it as a kid watching Miami Vice!). He would alternatively wear Costco bought clothes or Versaces stuff, didn’t really care. A strange collection of people in my experience!!!

  • Ulysses31

    I thought only the tasteless nouveau-riche wore these types of watches – you know, the Jersey Shore/Hip Hop crowd, who couldn’t give a shit about the depth of the watch industry as a whole.  Some of the pieces look decent, like the Muller with exposed workings but as a whole these look just like the cheap watches you’d find in an accessory store, which is exactly the impression these guys don’t want to make.  I’m not surprised you found that most women have a soft spot for shiny things.  So do cats, but I haven’t yet seen an editorial on this site written by one.  In other words, an obsession with glitter doesn’t mean you have refined good taste or even two IQ points to rub together.  As jewellery – something static and not needing to be practical, this is forgivable.  However, these are finely crafted watches – what’s on the inside, underneath all the whorish makeup actually matters.  Men like shiny things too but there’s a point when it is just too much.

  • vmarks

    I’ve never really been attracted to these full-pave diamond watches. I prefer subtlety. A single diamond. A small series of diamonds used as functional accents.
    But let me ask this: with the huge proliferation of diamonds in rings, watches, and other jewelry, how can they said to be really rare?
    You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don’t wanna know about it, believe me.Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon… with nail polish. These f**king amateurs…
    Read ‘toe’ as ‘diamond’. And it’s true. I can walk into any indoors shopping mall in America and walk out with a diamond. Where is the rarity? Where is the scarcity?
    Remember: Aluminum used to be scarce, rare, and expensive. Now we throw it away as often as we recycle it.

    • MarkCarson

      vmarks I love the quote from “The Big Lebowski”. I watched it again just the other week. John Goodman was a riot in that scene. BTW – the toe came from a character (very briefly on screen) played by Aimee Mann who was the singer in the group ‘Till Tuesday”.

  • I guess congratulations are in order….? I have to admit I have never been one for jewelry, and or being someone to draw too much attention to myself, but there is something deep inside me that wants a true jewelry timepiece. I’m thinking more like a platinum, or a rose gold with a few tiny diamonds for an extra kick. Possibly if I was going to Russia to hang out with some oligarch buddies would I consider something as downright ostentatious as full-on a iced timepiece. Some of them are quite fetching.

    • Yup. And they are strangely mesmerizing aren’t they?


    Thank you for providing such an outrageous collection in one well-written and insightful blog post.  I love just looking at all of them next to each other – it is the bright-and-shiny-sparkly appeal that gets me, but if someone gave me one of these, I’d have to say I would be petrified to wear it without having it insured to the hilt!

  • aBlogtoRead

    @OAL100 yea, these were fun to discuss.

  • Kris C

    Well, mark this post down – we looked a pile of brands showing off watches sprayed down with diamonds and not a single Hublot, Harry Winston, Ulysse Nardin, etc was shown. Which is funny, because if I had both the money to buy and desire to own a watch rolled in diamonds, it would be a Royal Blue or Black Caviar I guess.
    I just don’t/can’t see these as men’s watches, so my favourite shown is the lady’s Brequet (5128). Very classy actually.
    And, lol @ putting stuff like this on display at a convention wrapped in saran.

  • zuwi

    Damn, you need an armed posse with AK 47s to guard you while you are wearing these watches. And definitely need to put on your Kevlar vest and drive around in an armoured car or bullet proof vehicle.

  • PriyadarshanGajbhiye

    I’ve seen people wearing such watches in real life in Abu Dhabi and they were in fact beautiful. Not beautiful like how a Greuble Forsey is maybe, but it is an art form nonetheless,and a very precise one. As watch lovers, we can all appreciate precision,painstaking attention to detail and extreme selection criteria for the stones. I saw a Graff Tourbillon full pave and a Breitling Super Avenger cutom paved by a third party jeweller.

    In response to people wondering why sports watches are often converted to jewelled masterpieces, it is because sports pieces offer the BOLD look and large size which may be attractive to people who’re looking to get a striking diamond watch. And the ‘outrageous’ factor, a sports object made into pure luxury, is another factor.

  • electrominds

    The Breguet blue diamond watch is an art piece.