Luxury watch prices have escalated into the same stratosphere as important works of art. And why not? While the value of a major artwork is based largely on provenance, artist and hype, the value of a jeweled watch can have all of that plus an intrinsic value that no paint-and-canvas piece ever will.
Gemstones and precious metals are commodities in their own right, and if you factor in hours of gem-cutting and -setting, gold fabrication, and assembly by a master watchmaker, why shouldn’t a luxury watch out-price a Picasso?
Take the Jacob & Co. Billionaire Timeless Treasure. It contains nearly 217 carats of fancy-yellow diamonds that started out as 880 carats of rough. That gives you an idea of how important the cut aspect was: The creators sacrificed carat weight in the interest of not only achieving perfect 57-facet Asscher cuts, but forming precise shapes in a specific design.
By the numbers
216.89 carats of diamonds in total
425 Asscher-cut, fancy-yellow and fancy-intense-yellow diamonds
880 carats of yellow rough that went into producing the final stones
25 highly skilled individuals involved in crafting the watch
$20 million price tag
The diamonds are all fancy yellow or fancy-intense yellow, and perfectly color-matched — a criterion that spurred a three-and-a-half-year treasure hunt that must have threatened to deplete the world’s high-color yellow diamonds. The flange features 76 tsavorites, and the openwork bridges boast another 57 yellow baguette diamonds.
“At the beginning, the teams were excited but fearful in the face of so many challenges,” says Jacob & Co. CEO Benjamin Arabov. It all seemed impossible: “One, to lay our hands on so many gems of so rare a color and so large. Two, to have all gems meet our demands at the rough, pre-cut stage. Three, to maintain color consistency after cutting. And four, to cut every gem to fit into its designated place…. The result exceeded our expectations. It’s a work of art.”
Image: Jacob & Co. Billionaire Timeless Treasure. (Jacob & Co.)