These beautiful jewels hide a secret underneath their gem-set covers. Each opens to reveal a petite watch dial. In secret watches, the upper part of the watch case will either open like a locket or swivel open, depending on the design, unveiling a watch dial. While many secret watches are high-jewelry pieces and cost six figures or more, some casual options are out there, including a new release from Van Cleef & Arpels. Here, we round up the best secret watches available today.
Harry Winston Ultimate Emerald Signature
Mr. Harry Winston adored emerald-cut gemstones and diamonds, which remain a signature of the house today. Harry Winston created Ultimate Emerald Signature secret watches in homage to his beloved cut. The octagonal pyramid-inspired case plays on the step cuts of an emerald-cut stone. The “steps” of diamonds and Paraíba tourmalines in different shapes rise to a magnificent 0.80-carat Paraíba tourmaline. While the case has strong geometric lines, the designers looked to another Harry Winston signature, the cluster design, to add more diamonds to the watch and break up the linear motif. Marquise diamonds surround the pyramid at different angles, which softens the look.
The upper part of the case swivels to unveil a fully gem-set dial featuring 98 Paraíba tourmalines. Paraíba tourmalines aren’t common gemstones in watchmaking, which tends to use more traditional gemstones such as ruby and sapphire, making this model feel even more like a jewel than a timepiece. Accordingly, the watch is transformable. The turquoise satin strap is removable, and the bejeweled case can be worn as a pendant necklace on a delicate chain or as a brooch. The watch features a quartz movement.
Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée Toi & Moi
Most secret watches are high-jewelry masterpieces typically reserved for special occasions. This is one reason why I love Van Cleef & Arpels’s new Perlée Toi & Moi secret watch. It features semiprecious gemstones and diamonds in a more casual, everyday design.
The watch has the shape of an open bangle, so when the dial cover is closed, it truly looks like a piece of jewelry. There’s no leather or satin strap to give away the secret. It features two cabochon gemstones surrounded by the Perlée collection’s signature gold “pearls” that give the collection its name. The secret watch has a toi et moi design: One side has a small coral and the other has a large turquoise that opens to reveal the time. Underneath, there’s a mother-of-pearl dial and a diamond-set bezel. The Perlée Toi & Moi watch comes in several models with different gemstones, including carnelian, lapis lazuli, and full diamond pavé.
Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewelry
Bulgari takes a different approach to secret watches in its iconic Serpenti collection by hiding the watch dial inside a bejeweled snake’s mouth. Press the forked tongue and its head opens to show a diamond-set dial. It’s one of the most playful and inventive secret watches we’ve seen. Inside, the watch features a tiny mechanical movement, BVL 100, which measures 12.3mm in diameter and 2.50mm thick. It’s rare for secret watches to feature mechanical movements because the watches are usually on the smaller side, and few brands produce calibers that are small enough. Right now, the Serpenti Misteriosi is limited to high-jewelry pieces, but we hope it will expand to more models soon.
Graff Diamond Secret Watch
Leave it to Graff to design one of the most exceptional secret watches out there. The Diamond Secret Watch features 44 carats of diamonds and is a true high-jewelry masterpiece. Significant diamonds in many shapes completely cover the bracelet and case, ending in a fan motif set with pear-shaped diamonds. Press an emerald-cut diamond and the cover slides up to unveil a diamond-set octagonal dial. Unlike many secret watches, it can be worn open showing the dial, due to the ingenious design. But when it’s closed, it looks like a high-jewelry diamond bracelet.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton
Chanel’s iconic tweed jackets inspire the design of the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton. The sleeve-inspired watch is finished with a beautiful button — bouton in French — that perfectly complements the design. In this watch, the button hides a secret. It opens to show the time on a diamond-set dial. This watch comes in many variations that highlight Chanel’s signature design elements, including quilted leather, tweed, lions, camelias, pearls, and even Coco Chanel’s visage.
Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 Feuille
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s iconic Calibre 101 is the smallest mechanical movement that exists, so the brand is able to create petite high-jewelry watches that still have an in-house manual movement. The 101 Feuille features a bracelet set with two rows of brilliant-cut diamonds that looks just like a diamond bangle. A gracefully shaped diamond-set leaf covers part of the dial. The leaf has a row of emerald-cut diamonds in the center flanked by graduated round diamonds. It lifts up to reveal a silvered opaline dial. In total, the watch features 171 diamonds weighing over 10 carats.
Dior La D de Dior Précieuse à Secret Galons
Dior does more than conceal the time in this secret watch, which has two completely different looks when it’s open and closed. The rotating cover has an abstract, geometric design that combines different shapes of sapphires and diamonds. It’s almost like a glamorous, gem-set scribble, but it actually has a more elegant inspiration. Victoire de Castellane, Creative Director of Dior Jewelry, looked to Dior’s history of haute couture. The “strips” of diamonds and sapphires represent strips of fabric that finish Dior’s handcrafted garments. The unusual design contrasts beautifully with the ultrafeminine flower-shaped dial. The classic-looking bracelet features sapphires in the middle surrounded by snow-set diamonds. The 21mm watch has a quartz movement.
Breguet Secret de la Reine
Breguet is the only watchmaker to use cameos in its timepieces, which makes the Secret de la Reine one of the most remarkable and unique secret watches. A beautiful hand-carved cameo flower slides open to reveal the rest of the flower, which is fully set with a total of 432 brilliant-cut diamonds, in addition to a diamond-set dial. While the diamonds on the flower are set in an organic design, emphasizing the natural floral beauty, the dial features 116 diamonds set in concentric circles and a mother-of-pearl insert at 12 o’clock with the Breguet medallion. The 31.5mm case houses an automatic movement, Calibre 568, with a platinum rotor and a 38-hour power reserve. Instead of a traditional watch strap or gem-set bracelet, Breguet uses an unusual bracelet design composed of ribbons of white gold.