It’s not every day we see new gemsetting techniques in luxury watches, but this latest from Patek Philippe is certainly worthy of note, with its new Flamme setting technique for diamonds. The venue for this new technique is the Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R, the diamond-set version of the ladies’ watch introduced in 2013 with the Caliber 240. The classic Calatrava, with its rounded officer’s style case and signature straight lugs with screwed strap bars, is a simple, classic design, serving as a canvas for the striking light show created by the Flamme-set diamonds.
The most popular ring setting for diamonds is the Tiffany-style prong, and the most prized cut is the ideal-cut round brilliant. There is a very good reason for these two preferences: light return. What gives diamonds their brilliance is the maximum reflection of light reflecting off a diamond’s inner facets and out through the table (top). This is best achieved with a perfectly symmetrical round brilliant cut, consisting of 52 facets that are mathematically calculated to reflect as much light as possible through the top and sides of the diamond. In order to reflect the most light, the diamond must first absorb the most light possible. The Tiffany prong setting holds the diamond in claws high above the shank, so that the base or pavilion is exposed, allowing light to enter and then reflect upwards through the table – the result is called “light return.”
The problem with setting diamonds into watches is that they are set into the metal, restricting light from entering the pavilion. This is partly compensated for by the watch industry’s convention of using Top Wesselton diamonds, a term that signifies the highest color grade possible, but also tends to encompass high clarity and cut values. Essentially, it means top diamonds. Top Wesseltons go a long way to making up for the decrease in light return caused by the covered pavilion, but it was only a matter of time before some enterprising and determined watch company, with in-house gemologists and a top-notch setting department, devised a method of putting diamonds into watches in a way that exposes the pavilions to light. Not surprisingly, it is Patek Philippe who has cracked the code.
The trick to the company’s new Flamme setting – a term Patek Philippe has registered for the watch industry – is to expose part of the pavilion of each diamond. On the bezel, the gemsetter sets two rows of diamonds into the metal as usual, but then takes a sharp burin and splits the gold between each diamond, exposing part of the pavilion and allowing light to pass through. Not only does the technique release more brilliance, but the grooves created by the burin form a lace-like engraving pattern around the diamonds that adds even more sparkle. Altogether, 142 diamonds totaling 1.08 carats are Flamme-set into the bezel of the Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R watch in two staggered rows, arranged in descending order of size.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R has a silvery grained dial with Breguet-style Arabic numerals, round minute markers and Poire Stuart hour and minute hands, all in applied 18k rose gold. It is fitted with a hand-stitched polished purple alligator strap with large square scales and a prong buckle (the best option for a ladies’ watch, since it fits more snugly than a deployant clasp). It contains the brand’s perfect ladies’ caliber, the automatic Caliber 240. It is ultra-thin (2.53mm, with a case thickness of 7.37mm) because of its micro-rotor, which is fully recessed into the plate and made of 22k gold. The Caliber 240 has Patek’s patented Spiromax balance spring, made of silinvar, as well as its Gyromax balance wheel, ensuring an accuracy rating of -3 to +2 seconds per day. The 36.75mm case is 18k rose gold, and it is water resistant to 30 meters. The watch is designed and finished in accordance with the rigorous standards of the Patek Philippe Seal. It is priced at $39,690. patek.com