Somewhere over the rainbow, watchmakers want to add colour to your life
In a year that’s proving not much lighter than the last, these rainbow-hued timepieces are just what we need to brighten up our days.
Whether or not you think them captivating or childishly garish, rainbow-hued watches aren’t going anywhere for reasons we’ve mentioned before: They’re relatively uncommon, difficult to make, and they cost a pretty penny – all qualities luxury goods aspire to have. But in a year that’s proving not much lighter than the last, these unapologetically vibrant wrist candies are just what we need to brighten up our days.
BREITLING CHRONOMAT AUTOMATIC 36 SOUTH SEA CAPSULE COLLECTION
Breitling has the reputation of being among the burliest of watch brands, but it actually has a history of making a handful of women’s timepieces since the 1940s.
That handful is quickly snowballing into a truckload, seeing as the new ladies’ Chronomat 32 and 36 released last year had seven and 10 versions respectively.
Joining the offerings this year is the limited-time South Sea Capsule Collection. There are three versions in steel, with a lacquered dial in beige, midnight blue or mint green, with matching alligator straps.
Each one channels tropical energy with its warm, sparkly gem-set bezel, subtle golden hands and diamond-set hour markers. They are powered by the COSC-certified Calibre 10, with a 42-hour power reserve.
Some of you may have hung up your party hats long before the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the aesthetic of 80s electro needs to be retired.
This year, Chanel leans hard into the music genre’s culture by injecting electronic funk into four of its collections: J12, Boyfriend, Code Coco and Premiere.
The most extravagant of these lie in the J12 range, flaunting bezels and hour markers set with baguette-cut sapphires paired with bracelets and cases made of trendy materials like ceramic and sapphire crystal.
The high jewellery showpiece, the J12 Electro Star, adds a twist on the rainbow theme by setting the coloured sapphires in the winding rotor and the bracelet links’ sides. If you find rainbows a styling nightmare, the J12 Electro Box spreads the colours out with 12 watches, each one set with 46 sapphires of a single colour.
FRANCK MULLER VANGUARD SKELETON SAPPHIRE COLOUR DREAMS
There are so many variations of Franck Muller’s Vanguard watch – a sporty take on the brand’s famous Cintree Curvex tonneau-shaped watch case – that there is almost certainly a Vanguard to suit every mood. Even a zany one.
The Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire, which first showed up in 2017 with a sapphire case and icy white movement and strap, is back this year in full colour.
This Colour Dreams edition reveals the skeletonised movement in an explosion of shades, and the colours even extend to the crown and the text on the case. Given the plasticky look of sapphire crystal, this watch runs the risk of looking like a toy, but a plaything this is not. The manual-winding FM 1740-VS is an in-house calibre that offers a hefty seven-day power reserve.
HUBLOT BIG BANG MP-11 POWER RESERVE 14 DAYS 3D CARBON RAINBOW
Hublot’s Big Bang MP-11, with its seven barrels, two-week power reserve and powerful bulging case is a pretty serious watch. And it has been appropriately fitted in the past with pretty serious materials like 3D Carbon, sapphire crystal, high-tech ceramic and scratch-resistant gold. This year, it comes in a much cheerier mood.
No stranger to unlikely material combinations, the 45mm carbon fibre case has been bedazzled with 48 stones comprising rubies, amethysts, blue topazes, green tsavorites, and sapphires in hues of pink, blue, yellow and orange. The HUB9011 is an in-house automatic movement, and has a water resistance of 30m.
PIAGET LIMELIGHT GALA PRECIOUS RAINBOW
While some watchmakers need only set their watch bezels with precious stones to add a flash of glamour, Piaget prefers to do things the hard but breathtaking way. This version of its iconic Limelight Gala watch uses the brand’s signature Palace decoration. These fine lines are hand-engraved so each dial took two hours just to decorate, with another eight hours spent on the bracelet, which was also assembled by hand.
The 32mm rose gold case is then crafted using the serti descendu technique, also known as cut-down setting, that involves carving out special grooves in the gold so that the gems set in them will sparkle not just from the top, but from the sides as well. Gem-setters then had the added challenge of having to find coloured sapphires and green tsavorites in progressive sizes for the Limelight Gala’s distinctive bezel shape.
ROGER DUBUIS EXCALIBUR GLOW ME UP
Roger Dubuis’ rainbow is one you can only see in the dark. Once the lights are out, the 60 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and parts of the movement light up like a little disco.
Achieving this effect involves filling the stone-setting grooves with coloured Super-Luminova, while a second, patented process enables the lume to be applied on the angles of the movement and the star-shaped bridge.
In the day, it looks like a diamond-set, pink gold version of the brand’s new Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon. Though the overall design is highly reminiscent of past Excalibur watches with flying tourbillons, this year’s series features a new movement (the RD512SQ), a thinner profile and a slightly more streamlined design. The Glow Me Up is limited to eight pieces.
ZENITH DEFY 21 FELIPE PANTONE
Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone has no connection to the famous colour matching system, but he does have a strong affinity for the use of bright shades.
His collaboration with Zenith last year saw the watchmaker’s main building facade clad in Pantone’s vivid artwork, and the partnership returns this year with the artist’s first watch project.
Zenith’s Defy range already has a series of brightly coloured novelties this year in gem-set green, blue, purple and orange, but Pantone’s take is far less conventional.
The multi-coloured bridges, hands and indices is the result of a special surface treatment using PVD and silicon particles, and required months of trial and error to find the solution that would give off this particular rainbow hue.
Other elements that make this Defy special include lightning-shaped hands; moire-effect stripes on the movement and sub-dial; a grid pattern on the black ceramic bezel; and the characters “F”, “P”, “#” and “1” (representing Felipe Pantone and Zenith’s El Primero movement) engraved on the corners of the case.
Limited to 100 pieces, each watch comes with a book-like presentation box bearing an original miniaturised painting by Pantone and a signed certificate, and an additional rubber strap with a rainbow insert. Available exclusively at Zenith boutiques and online shop.