By Barbara Palumbo for Wynn Magazine
Originally Published in 2020
IF 2020 HAS PROVEN TO BE ANYTHING, IT WOULD HAVE TO BE CONSISTENT. What started as a year with incredible promise turned quickly into another dimension filled almost daily with surprises of the doom-and-gloom variety.
Thankfully—largely due to creative minds forced into isolation—the year has still managed to produce its fair share of beauty in the form of art, fashion, music, and groundbreaking design. And while some sectors of the luxury market had fewer new collections and big releases than usual, the high-end Swiss watchmaking industry took a slightly different approach by continuing to give the world more of what it desperately needed: colorful rainbows and proverbial pots of gold.
The demand is so great for gem-set rainbows, some watchmakers are struggling to keep up.
"Since many of these watches require such meticulous gem matching, they're especially rare," says Michael Ryan, Vice President, Watches of Switzerland at Wynn Las Vegas. "Their rarity increases demand and their perceived value. I have lists of clients who are searching out some of these pieces. Half of them don't make it to the showroom floor because we sell them first."
For those sunny-day seekers researching rainbow and bold gold watches, here are several recent releases that could turn even the darkest of days just a little brighter.
THE MAILLON DE CARTIER
If there is one watch brand that pays as much attention to its outer design as it does its movements and complications, it would unquestionably be Cartier. The brand is known the world over for its high jewelry collections, as much as it is for its iconic timepieces, many of which were worn over the years by the likes of Michelle Obama, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
This year’s release of the new gold Maillon de Cartier timepiece offered a twist—literally—on the typically geometric watches Cartier often produces. The watch’s thick, curved links seem to flow diagonally into the case itself, allowing the watch to double as a stylish piece of bold gold jewelry, while still offering the wearer the ability to know how much time is left in the day to have a little fun.
THE ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL DAY-DATE 36
While rainbow colors have been adorning watch dials for years, the trend of using a spectrum of multicolored gemstones or enamels to liven up a watch’s bezel or beautify its markers kicked into gear in 2018 when Rolex released its Rainbow Daytona in its signature “Everose” gold edition. "The Rainbow Daytona is the watch that started the rainbow craze, in 2012," Ryan says. "The process of matching the sapphires into a perfect spectrum is painstaking, and once Rolex created the demand, it actually discontinued the watch. Now I have people calling all the time looking for it."
But the iconic watch brand is producing new and colorful watches to the praise of those desiring a feel-good timepiece, and the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 is no exception. Boasting a meticulously set full diamond dial encased in 18K white gold, this version of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 shows off its colorful side with 10 rainbow-hued baguette-cut sapphires at its hour markers. The watch’s attributes include hour, minute, and seconds hands, as well as day and date functions in separate apertures, and an impressive 70-hour power reserve.
THE CHANEL PREMIÈRE
Chanel is the gift that keeps on giving. If you ever wondered if the brand is going to trip up and release something subpar, you needn’t worry, because Chanel hits it out of the park every time in every way within every genre, including in its watch line.
The Première watch by Chanel is the ultimate feel-good fashion timepiece. This version’s dial is made in an octagonal black lacquer with faceted edges and is surrounded by a halo of natural round brilliant-cut diamonds set in 18K yellow gold. The crown of the watch is accented with a single cabochon onyx gemstone to complement the dial, and the open chain-like feel of the accompanying gold bracelet gives it a delicious, in-demand edginess.
THE BREITLING SUPEROCEAN HERITAGE ’57 LIMITED EDITION
One of the most positive effects of seeing a rainbow appear in the sky after a storm is that everyone—no matter their gender—is immediately filled with a sense of happiness. Rainbows are gender neutral, and thankfully rainbow-colored watches are being contemplated, designed, and created with this same concept in mind.
The introduction of the Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition “Rainbow” this past April caused quite a frenzy in the watch enthusiast community, as it was the first time the brand had been as daring and as playful with color. Limited to 250 pieces and only available at Breitling boutiques, this edition of Superocean Heritage ’57 was created with a 42mm stainless steel case and features a bidirectional rotating bezel with an ultrahard black ceramic bezel ring. The watch’s black dial serves as a backdrop to its most striking characteristic: the splashes of vibrant color marking the hours at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The hour markers and the hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova in an orderly graduation of yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, red, and orange, for those who like a continued feeling of joy once the lights go down.
THE HUBLOT SPIRIT OF BIG BANG RAINBOW 39MM
The words “subtlety” and “Hublot” have never gone exactly hand-in-hand. The brand is known for its dauntlessness and for producing timepieces that are big, brave, and occasionally even a bit intrepid, which to their collectors is part of their appeal. Hublot’s brand partnerships have varied from top-notch athletic ambassadors like Olympian Usain Bolt and Masters golf champion Patrick Reed to collaborations with world-renowned music groups such as Depeche Mode.
"When Hublot jumped on the rainbow bandwagon, it just caught on like wildﬁre." – Michael Ryan, VP, Watches of Switzerland at Wynn Las Vegas
So the brand is big on making a powerful impact, and it did so again with the introduction of the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow.
"When Hublot jumped on the rainbow bandwagon, it just caught on like wildﬁre," Ryan says. "Sometimes watch companies will think these watches are just for a Las Vegas crowd, but they're popular everywhere. People who want them don't care what they cost. They see the watch, it's different, and they want to have it."
With a case crafted in the brand’s own 18K “King” gold and embellished with 164 rainbow-colored gemstones to match the 431 colored gems set into the watch’s dial and the 62 colored baguette gemstones on its bezel, Hublot took rainbow-themed watches to a place so far above and beyond the norm that one would think they landed in Oz.
THE CHOPARD IMPERIALE JOAILLERIE RAINBOW
Chopard set itself apart from the pack years ago when it started to produce some of its jewelry and timepieces using responsibly sourced materials, ethically mined gems, and fairly mined gold. The brand was a leader in a movement to shine a light on how the luxury sector could step up with regard to responsibility for the planet and its people, all while still creating moment-making timepieces and jaw-dropping jewels.
The 36mm Chopard Imperiale Joaillerie Rainbow timepiece is set with baguette-cut sapphires in traditional rainbow shades. The gemstones are set speciﬁcally so that their colors blend together in a subtle and elegant rainbow-like gradient, which frames its diamond-accented mother-of-pearl dial. The Chopard Imperiale Joaillerie Rainbow is available with either a white or gray alligator leather strap.
THE RICHARD MILLE RM 07-01 AUTOMATIC
There is no rule that states that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow needs to be one speciﬁc color. In fact, there are a plethora of colors from which to choose, particularly as it pertains to the gold used in creating ﬁne timepieces. Richard Mille’s red gold RM 07-01 Automatic diamond watch would still be a major treasure to ﬁnd at the end of any rainbow. This highly mechanical timepiece boasts an in-house-designed automatic skeletonized movement—the caliber CRMA2—with baseplate and bridges machined from grade 5 titanium. And if that information is not enough to evoke a sense of joy in your life, consider that this timepiece was created with a power reserve of nearly 50 hours, which is a rare attribute for a diamond-set watch produced specifically for women.