Famed New York jeweler Harry Winston – known as one of the most prestigious Fifth Avenue houses since the 1930s and, of course, for their association with the Hope Diamond – has released the Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly Watch collection featuring a new twist on plumasserie. Plumasserie traditionally refers to the art of selecting, preparing and using bird feathers for decoration – in this instance, you guessed it, watch dials!
If you are looking for something unique, the new Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection watch could be just the right shade. This new Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection is a particularly notable departure from the brand’s previous Premier Feather Collection which used real peacock and pheasant plumes, but with only quartz movements. This time around, we see automatic movements ticking away inside, giving the updated collection the opportunity to be of interest to a whole new set of female watch consumers.
So what’s the twist on “plumasserie?” Instead of using feathers, as many other watch companies like Dior and Corum have begun integrating into their dial designs, Harry Winston’s new Premier Precious Butterfly collection watches will feature one-of-a-kind dials, colored only by using the delicate iridescent powder harvested from butterfly wings – arguably much more romantic than the modern “unobtainium” materials brands have been developing for their men’s watches. Remarkably, they managed to collect enough of the colored powder from butterfly wings to shade an entire watch dial, and because of the micro-variation, you will never have two pieces exactly alike. This is a technique, I’m told, three years in the making.
In terms of the final result, the colors are quite stunning, especially that of the shade of green on the Emerald piece. Furthermore, looking at the design of the dial, the craftsmanship recreating the wing design on metal in what is essentially a mix between marquetry and cloisonné technique with much finer, albeit almost microscopic material is impressive.
The new Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection comes housing an automatic mechanical movement (the HW2008) that notably incorporates a flat silicon balance spring beating at 4Hz. The fact that Harry Winston clearly took the time to integrate a thoughtful quality automatic movement instead of an easy quartz one is something I really like for a number of reasons.
First, not only did they include it, but they also made sure to feature it with a sapphire caseback, rhodium plating, and circular Côtes de Genève finishing, as it is purposely designed to be looked at. Second, in a watch like this where the artistry and the complexity of the dial would clearly take center stage, the movement inside becomes something more personal. While many people would notice the intricacies of the dial work, it is the woman wearing it that is really enjoying the automatic movement underneath whether anyone sees it or not. This design approach evokes a focus on the modern “Harry Winston woman” and why she really wears beautiful things.
Third, the incorporation of an automatic movement with an upgraded balance spring is something that I feel also shows the brand’s dedication to time precision as a real jeweler-watchmaker, not just a jeweler who happens to make a few fancy watches. Harry Winston – hugely successful as a celebrity favorite for their spectacular one-of-a-kind diamond creations and, only later, equally-as-elegant women’s and men’s watches – could have easily continued to make simple quartz diamond-encrusted jewelry-watches and always found customers.
Even though plume and flight-inspired watches have been on the scene in a major way since about 2013, they have become more and more evolved in their interpretations. The most well-known are, of course, Dior and their Grand Bal Plume, which ingeniously designed the feathered element into the rotor component to enhance beauty in motion; Cartier‘s Marquetry Parrot, which imagined a feathered design but crafted instead from individually fashioned flower petal pieces; and Graff‘s iconic butterfly watch, showcasing 1,641 diamonds combined with 108 multi-colored sapphires in a kaleidoscope of moving colors. Each piece highlights a different new design technique.
In the Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection, the case is made from either 18K white gold or rose gold with 2.32ct across 57 brilliant-cut white diamonds in a frame pattern adorning the bezel. The matching buckle is also set with diamonds, tonal 18K gold, and a dramatic black satin strap.
My only thought is that with a 36mm dial, it might be a little big for the traditional cocktail watch, but I’m interested to see how it lies on the wrist. It could go either way on a case by case basis, with the larger dial design featuring more as a beautiful bracelet, or perhaps just a stunning casual costume-occasion watch.
Bottom line: for all the hopeless romantics who have secretly dreamed of giving their wife/girlfriend/passionate-unrequited-love-interest a flock of trained butterflies delivering a diamond (you know who you are), this is a great alternative. Additionally, though, if you just wanted a gift with a little whimsy and charm this is actually also an interesting choice with a sentiment just romantic enough that cannot be missed on the receiving end. And finally, for women who are looking for a beautifully designed conversation piece with a story, and a true automatic movement to add to their collection, the new Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection is well worth considering.
Having seen many unique dials, marquetry techniques and craftsmanship in women’s pieces, what I personally love is the idea that, for a price, you can essentially get a little “pixie dust” in your watch.
The Harry Winston Premier Precious Butterfly collection watches come in four variations: The “Chrysiridia Madagascariensis” – 18K white gold butterfly marquetry motif in Emerald on black silk tech strap, (PRNAHM36WW004) price: $42,500. “Chrysiridia Madagascariensis” – 18K white gold on burgundy tech satin strap (PRNAHM36WW005) price: $42,500. “Adelpha Lara” – 18K rose gold on brown tech satin strap (PRNAHM36RR008) price: $41,500. “Agrias Claudina Lugens” – 18K rose gold on champagne-toned beige tech satin strap (PRNAHM36RR007) price: $41,500. harrywinston.com