At first glance, one could hardly spot anything really tentative about Graff Diamonds’ first appearance at Baselworld earlier this year. The booth, 503 square meters upon a single elevated space, was designed by Graff’s Monaco-based interior design team in the likeness of a Graff Boutique. The booth was quite charming indeed, with walnut wall paneling and bronze feature showcases; however, it was the treasure within that triggered an almost dreamlike state.
The sense of unreality was probably the result of one really expensive quartz watch – the Graff Diamonds Hallucination, priced at fifty-five million dollars ($55 million), undoubtedly, the most valuable watch ever created. The incredible worth stems from 110 carats of really rare and really big colored diamonds set into a bracelet of platinum. Some of the rare diamond colors are Fancy Vivid Yellow, Fancy Intense Pink, Fancy Intense Blue, Fancy Light Pink, Fancy Light Grey Blue, Fancy Intense Blue, Fancy Green and Fancy Orange. In addition, many different cuts are used, such as heart shape, pear shape, marquise, emerald, radiant, and round. I have detailed the colors and cuts to indicate the vast array of rare diamonds included in the Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch.
Where does the timepiece aspect come into all of this? Well, if you look really closely, you can make out the tiny quartz dial, framed by pink diamonds, delicately displaying uber-accurate time. No need for a power reserve or automatic winding, this baby keeps on ticking for months on end. The Graff Diamonds Hallucination is perfect for the ladies… or one very lucky lady, whose net worth will suddenly escalate in leaps and bounds.
The idea of making this pricey piece of haute horology came from Laurence Graff, the Chairman of Graff Diamonds. After all, no one else on the lower rungs of the company ladder could even conceive of a fifty-five million dollar timepiece without a raised eyebrow or two.
Laurence Graff’s comments on the Hallucination: “The Graff Hallucination is a sculptural masterpiece, a celebration of the miracle of colored diamonds.”
Mr. Graff was born and bred in London. He started out as an apprentice to a jeweler in the Hatton Garden District. Being a mere apprentice did not last long, very soon he was creating his own jewelry pieces. By the time he was 24, he had already opened two of his own jewelry stores in London. As he traveled the globe, his clientele grew, and so did the demand for more important jewelry pieces. Astoundingly, by the age of 30, he had set up one of the biggest jewelry manufacturing business in Britain. In 1973, he became the first jeweler to receive the Queens Award to Industry and Export. He opened up his flagship store on Bond Street. Today, the company has 45 stores around the globe with corporate offices in London, New York, Geneva, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
Mr. Graff was toying with the idea of creating the Graff Diamonds Hallucination timepiece for quite some time. In Mr. Graff’s words: “For many years I have thought about creating a truly remarkable watch that illustrates our all consuming passion for diamonds. The Hallucination has made my dream a reality.”
I must say, at first glance, I was quite amazed and horrified that a single timepiece could cost so much, but after delving into the process by which a single rare colored diamond is sourced from a rough stone; cut to perfection, polished, and finally set into the piece of jewelry or timepiece, I realized each and every diamond is a story unto itself.
A simple tongue clasp secures the Graff Diamonds Hallucination around the wrist. The clasp is hidden once the bracelet is closed and can only be unfastened by placing pressure on a single diamond.
Why would Graff make such a grand piece? Graff unveiled the Hallucination to showcase the company’s authority, skill, innovation, and excellence in the diamond industry, from manufacturing to retail. After all, Laurence Graff is the controlling shareholder in the South African Diamond Corporation (SAFDICO). SAFDICO is one of the main diamond producers in South Africa, sporting the largest polishing and cutting factories based out of Johannesburg. Tens of thousands of Graff diamonds are cut and polished each year and the best of the best are used to create Graff jewelry. Among the thousands of diamonds, Mr. Graff is always looking for the rarest diamond, either in the raw or cut and polished. In his quest for the ultimate diamond, some of the most treasured gemstones have passed through his fingers. The latest of which is the famous 550 ct Letseng Star which was found, as with many other rare Graff diamonds, in the Letseng Mine in Lesotho.
“The hunt for diamonds goes on. We search on a daily basis for stones in the rough or polished. The best stones are rarer than anyone could ever imagine,” Laurence Graff said.
The Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch holds many of these rare finds in a single timepiece. Top notch designers, gemologists, and Master Craftsman spent literally thousands of hours creating this piece of horological jewelry. The diamonds are cleverly hand fitted into the invisible platinum setting to create a multicolored bracelet heaving under the weight of its valuable load.
Graff unveiled its line of luxury timepieces in 2009, and now boasts 50 models in 5 collections: Technical, Sport, Evening, Jeweled, and Bespoke. Graff is the creator of the intriguing MasterGraff Grand Date Dual Time Tourbillon which incorporates three different complications into a single timepiece: The flying tourbillon, dual time function, and grand date. Why have I mentioned this triple complication timepiece by Graff? Because I cannot fathom why Graff created a fifty-five million dollar timepiece with a quartz movement. I must admit the quartz movement seemed almost like an afterthought, whereby an exceedingly expensive bracelet quite suddenly became a watch. Perhaps Laurence Graff wanted a diminutive dial so as not to detract from the rarity of the gemstones. Perhaps certain ladies of great worth do not care for mechanical mastery, but rather the glitter of diamonds. After all, did Marilyn Monroe not say, “Diamonds are a girls best friend?” Or perhaps only a quartz movement could fit into the structure of the bracelet without unduly distressing the careful placement of 110 ct of rare colored diamonds.
In any event, I think Mr. Graff realized he went a tad over the top with the outrageous value of the Graff Diamonds Hallucination, especially to the layperson who may scrutinize every aspect of the timepiece. Thus, to quell the cries of indigent disbelief from the masses, he cushioned the blow with the title of the timepiece – the Hallucination. graffdiamonds.com