s it a simple question of logic – horology being the result of observation of the heavens – that the animals of the zodiac and those metronomes of cosmic time, the constellations, should take pride of place in it? Is it because the peasant watchmakers of Switzerland, immersed in nature, indulged their passion for timepieces with one eye on the cattle?
Or is it – as for Marie-Antoinette – solely a matter of decoration:
birds, flowers and sheep composing idyllic and colourful landscapes
that the enamellists loved – and still love – to reproduce?
Is it because of the Emperor of China, with his great fondness
for mechanical birds?
Or because one day, a carpenter in the Black Forest invented
the cuckoo clock?
It is no doubt for all these reasons at once. And it cannot be
denied that animals are still inspiring watchmakers of every
ilk. Even today, the act is decorative more than anything, and
animals of every shape and form account for the vast majority
of art and craft production (a privilege animals share
Animals even constitute a central symbol for certain brands. One brand stands out in particular in this respect: Cartier, which has made the Panther its icon, ubiquitously present or suggested. Cartier is not alone, but the brand has produced variants of its animal in every possible genre – painting, enamel, engraving, wood marquetry, stone micro-mosaic and Etruscan granulation, to cite just some examples, right through to actual items of jewellery. And Bulgari is busy doing the same with its famous Serpenti.
SERPENTI MISTERIOSI HIGH JEWELLERY - Bulgari
Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery is a one-of-a-kind, white gold, quartz-driven, “secret” bangle-watch introducing for the first time a doubleheaded snake design that celebrates the dangerously beautiful part of the serpent - the Maison’s trademark symbol. The first head presents a gemstone flower made of a central round faceted emerald of over 2 carats encircled by nine marquise-cut diamonds culminating in a jaw opening to reveal the dial.
THE ANIMAL WORLD TIMEPIECE COLLECTION - Chopard
The Animal World timepiece collection has been created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Chopard. These timepieces feature various designs of animals on the dial including a polar bear on an ice floe, a monkey swinging through lush jungle branches, a penguin amidst his companions, etc. Presented in 18-karat gold, these unique animal-themed models feature diamondset bezels, specially decorated mother-of-pearl dial backgrounds that function as “habitat” for the various creatures, and the famous mobile diamonds. A combination of black and white diamonds has been used to dress the penguin.
DIVA’S DREAM - Bulgari
Bulgari Diva’s Dream draws its inspiration from the fan-shaped mosaics of the Caracalla thermal baths, which also portray peacocks. The dial reveals the splendour of the bird against a delicate motherof- pearl background, beneath diamond stars. It displays the peacock, delicately hand-painted with meticulous partitions in blue shades echoing the dial.
THE LADY COMPLIQUÉE PEACOCK BLACK - Fabergé
The Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black offers a new and spectacular time display, which won the prestigious 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG)– in the ’Ladies’ High-Mech’ category. With a retrograde time display at its time-telling centre, there are fanned blades that spread the peacock’s feathers gradually over the course of an hour, indicating the minutes on a scale and the hours via a rotating ring, with the four moving blades flying back to their original position with the passing of an hour.
No other animal figure is more emblematic of a jewellery brand than Cartier’s panther. The iconic cat pounced its way into the French Maison’s designs in the early 20th century, at a time when animal skins were all the rage. As the rest of the fashionable world followed suit in incorporating panther skins into their work, designers at Cartier found the panther skin ripe with inspiration, its modish print re-imagined in onyx and diamond. The first panther pattern appeared on a wristwatch in 1914, with its second appearance seen just a year later on a pendant watch. Today, the panther remains one of Cartier’s favourite designs.
White gold, one 39.28-karat cushion-shaped faceted bluish green aquamarine, sapphires, emerald eyes, onyx, brilliant-cut diamonds, mechanical movement with manual winding, calibre 101.
Case: 18-karat white gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds - Dimensions: 36 mm - Dial: satin finish - Hands: sword-shaped hands in rhodium-finished steel - Strap: grey alligator skin - Buckle: folding buckle in 18-karat white gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds - Crystal and case back: sapphire - Waterresistance: 3 bar ( 30 metres). Quartz movement.
Ronde Louis Cartier XL flamed gold watch
Case: 18-karat white gold, bezel set with baguettecut diamonds - Dimensions: 42 mm - Crown: beaded crown set with a diamond - Dial: flamed gold - Hands: apple-shaped hands in rhodium-finished steel - Strap: black alligator skin - Buckle: folding buckle in 18-karat white gold set with baguette-cut diamonds - Crystal and case back: sapphire - Case thickness: 7.24 mm - Water-resistance: 3 bar ( 30 metres) - Numbered limited series of 30 pieces. Calibre 430 MC Manufacture mechanical movement with manual winding.
LE MARCHÉ DES MERVEILLES - Gucci
Gucci Le Marché Des Merveilles watches, with Alessandro Michele’s embroidered golden tiger or snake at its centre. Detailed with a navy and red dial and wrist strap, the strap also features the slogan L’Aveugle Par Amour and fastens with a branded buckle. Encased in stainless steel hardware, this Swiss made Le Marché Des Merveilles watch is finished with ETA quartz movement, a sapphire crystal glass face with an anti-reflective coating and a water resistant feature of up to 50 metres.
MOMENTO FENDI BUGS CUSHION
Momento Fendi Bugs Cushion features the signature white or yellow eyes set with two diamonds on a silver-white or a black dial. Once a minute, when the minutes and the seconds hands align, the iconic FENDI signature appears. The black dial of the stainless-steel version matches the black calfskin leather strap emphasising the appeal of the timepiece with the yellow eyes. Swiss Ronda quartz movement.
OCTOPUS LUME - Romain Jerome
With this 25-piece limited edition, Romain Jerome introduces a truly marine and highly crafted timepiece, the Octopus Lume, incorporating all the characteristics and aesthetical features of the animal with a meticulous care devoted to each detail. In line with its underwater inspiration, the new Octopus Lume sports an all-black stealth look to echo the darkness of the ocean. The 47mm case with all elements in black PVD-coated steel reproduces the bilateral symmetry typical of the octopus, with the two crowns at 3 and 9 o’clock. The new model is equipped with an exclusive internal unidirectional rotating sapphire bezel featuring engraved five-minute graduation and a luminescent time indicator at 12 o’clock, which is activated by the 3 o’clock crown for the elapsed time controller, while the 9 o’clock crown sets the time.
SHAKUDO COELACANTH - Blancpain
Blancpain Shakudo Coelacanth is a homage to a fascinating and endangered fish. Japanese in origin, Shakudo is an alloy principally composed of copper and gold, which acquires a dark patina between blue and black, according to variations in its composition and texture. This technique allows a rich level of detail as well as a lot of visual contrast. Mechanically, these Villeret watches are equipped with the in-house manually-wound calibre 15B.
KOI by Delaneau
Koi by Delaneau depicts three koi carp captured in swirling Grand Feu enamel on a guilloché dial. The 42mm red gold case is set with 36 baguettecut diamonds, 288 diamonds and a diamondencrusted crown. It also features an automatic movement, and a mat alligator strap with a red gold deploying buckle set with 56 diamonds. This creation totals 6.01ct diamonds. Unfortunately, at the end of August 2017, Delaneau closed its doors.
LADY ARPELS PAPILLON AUTOMATE - Van Cleef & Arpels
As the hours and minutes flow discreetly by on the right, the butterfly beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve. The frequency of the movements is also irregular, since they take place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity. The spectacle on the dial can also be triggered at the push of a button: the butterfly then beats its wings on demand. 40mm white gold case, diamonds in sertineige style setting, diamond-set bezel, diamond-set crown. Self-winding mechanical movement with a random automaton and on-demand animation module, developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels.
GOLDEN AFTERNOON “JAPANESE SPRING” - De Witt
Paying tribute to the Métiers d’Art, the De Witt Golden Afternoon “Japanese Spring” watch, with its hand-painted dial, is an ode to nature. The dots of powdered diamond, platinum, gold, pearl, lapis-lazuli, agate and other gemstones are combined with Indian ink to create the decoration. This edition is limited to 10 pieces. Mechanical self-winding movement.
CREATIVE COMPLICATION COLOMBES - Chaumet
In a starry night sky, two doves fly to the rhythm of a ballet. They hold a ring in their beaks, as a symbol of promise. Every hour, the birds meet, and join their rings together to form an 8, synonym of eternity. On a guilloché background, the sky is represented by night-blue enamel, sparkling with gold-spangled stars. Opalescent enamelled clouds cluster with delicacy. The sculpted, engraved and diamond-set doves are the stars of the show: in the centre, the first represents the hours, pointing at them with its ring; the second bird revolves around it to indicate the minutes. Self-winding calibre CP12V-XII executed in the purest tradition of Swiss watchmaking excellence and know-how. The Chaumet Creative Complication Colombes is a limited edition of 12 pieces.
MÉTIERS D’ART SAVOIRS ENLUMINÉS - Vacheron Constantin
The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés collection draws its inspiration from the Aberdeen Bestiary, a rare 12th century manuscript, preciously conserved in the library of Aberdeen University, Scotland. Marrying original watchmaking techniques and skilled artistic crafts, the Manufacture pays tribute to the art of the miniature and offers an original reading of time. The Aberdeen “Caper” creature is linked to the Earth. This night blue caprine animal with its piercing gaze symbolises exceptionally sound judgment. The Aberdeen “Vultures” are linked to the skies. These two back-to-back birds cast a knowing glance at each other, symbolising longevity. The Aberdeen “Altion” is linked to water. The seabird, which builds its nest on the seas no matter the weather, symbolises serenity.