These gem-set watches have more than just pavé diamonds on the bezel. They feature stunning dials, bezels, cases, and even bracelets covered in diamonds and colorful gemstones. Watch brands use a variety of gem-setting techniques to enliven watch dials and bezels. Pairing different setting techniques or different gemstone cuts adds visual interest. Expert gemsetters might create decorative motifs and designs using colored gemstones. Others cut gemstones and diamonds in specific shapes and sizes in order to fully cover a watch with stones, right down to the lugs. Our selection of the most beautiful gem-set watches showcases the artistry from the world’s best watch and jewelry houses.
Gorgeous Gem-set Watches
Cartier Coussin de Cartier
This wild watch from Cartier is unlike anything I have ever seen. Instead of a hard watch case, it has a unique, flexible structure that — for lack of a better word — squishes as you press it. The inside of the geometric design is open and hides the hard case that protects the movement and dial. It’s a unique feat of engineering that only the jewelry masters at Cartier could dream up, and despite the seeming randomness of a squishy case, it’s a play on the watch’s name. Coussin means “cushion” in French. The watch case is cushion-shaped, named for the shape of a pillow, and cushions are certainly soft and inviting, changing shape with pressure. The gorgeous case is set with diamond, sapphire, tsavorite, emerald, and tourmaline to create a pretty blue-green design. It’s finished with a blue calfskin strap. Inside, it features a quartz movement.
Chanel J12 Baguette Diamond Star
The J12 Baguette Diamond Star watch is absolutely radiant. Chanel fully set its iconic J12 watch in sparkling baguette-cut diamonds (the dial features concentric circles of them). Cutting the stones in this precise shape —an extremely difficult process — minimizes the appearance of metal and avoids any gaps in the stones. In total, the watch features 905 baguette-cut diamonds weighing over 35 carats, and there’s also one brilliant-cut diamond atop the crown. While many gem-set watches feature quartz movements, Chanel uses an in-house, chronometer-certified automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve. Even the rotor is covered in diamonds.
Harry Winston Premier Winston Candy Automatic
Harry Winston highlights the beauty of the snow-setting technique in the Premier Winston Candy Automatic watch. Snow-setting is typically used with diamonds, so using color is unique. Artisans use diamonds of different sizes and place diamonds of different sizes in random patterns inspired by a dusting of freshly fallen snow. However, by using eight different colored gemstones alongside diamonds, Harry Winston creates a completely new look using the classic technique. The watch has colored gemstones and diamonds on the bezel and lugs, too. And it also features an automatic in-house movement.
Dior Grand Soir Libellule
Instead of incorporating the dragonfly into a flat dial, Dior crafted a three-dimensional dragonfly as a nod to the brooches beloved by Monsieur Dior. The dragonfly is perched atop a snow-set diamond dial. It is crafted using a variety of métiers d’art, showcasing the wide range of haute-couture skills at the maison. The body is made of different gemstones, and it has two pear-cut sapphires for its head. The wings have several layers, including two colors of feathers, painted mother-of-pearl, and gold. Time is nearly an afterthought here, but the watch has off-center hour and minute hands at 12 o’clock.
Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Jour des Fleurs
Van Cleef & Arpels frequently features nature-inspired themes in its watches. The Lady Jour des Fleurs watch combines the progression of time with the cycle of the seasons. In fact, the dial is crafted from diamonds and has cutouts in the shape of leaves. Beneath the dial, there’s also a fully gem-set disk in shades of green, yellow, and orange. As time passes, the colored disk rotates and changes the colors of the leaves. At the beginning of the day, the leaves are green, representing spring. Then toward the end of the day, they fade to yellow and orange, much like leaves naturally change colors as the seasons shift. You can also see a video of the craftsmanship here. It’s a unique creation that perfectly embodies the spirit of Van Cleef & Arpels’s Poetic Complication collection.
Piaget Altiplano Skeleton High Jewelry
This magnificent watch from Piaget showcases the beauty of mechanical movements. Piaget is a master of thin skeleton watches. In these watches, watchmakers remove as much metal as possible in order to show the mechanical beauty that’s typically hidden beneath a watch dial. By setting the movement components with diamonds and sapphires, Piaget highlights its gem-setting expertise, too. In fact, the bezel is set with a gradient of blue sapphires and diamonds. Even with the gemstones, the movement measures a mere 3mm thick.