Give Me Five! Rare And Unusual Ring Watches
A ring watch is a very rare sight in horology.
This delicate style of timepiece is dependent upon a masterful set of artisans as, to accommodate the dainty size needed to fit on a finger, the mechanics must be much smaller.
While ring watches might be rare, they’re not unheard of. Here we show you five – well, six – quite different ring watches, one modern from Baselworld 2015 and five historical pieces.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is such a wide and varied manufacturer that we came across several ring watches during a recent visit to the brand’s factory in Le Sentier.
Jaeger-LeCoultre ring watch with enamel
This sweet little ring watch by Jaeger-LeCoultre is from about 1900. Crafted in 18-karat yellow gold, it is decorated with Bordeaux-colored enamel and 18 diamonds that appear to be rose cut. The dial is in grand feu enamel with a red “12,” while the other numerals are blue. The crown, which is actually used to wind the petite 13.5 mm movement, is at 12 o’clock.
As an aside, it fits me just perfectly. So if anyone wanted to know its (or my) ring size, I could tell you with certainty it is 51.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 426
This Jaeger-LeCoultre secret ring watch is from 1952. Powered by JLC Caliber 426, it is housed in a square platinum case set with 24 brilliant-cut diamonds and eight brilliant-cut cornflower blue sapphires.
This pretty little ring is also powered by JLC Caliber 426, which is the smallest round Jaeger-LeCoultre movement (caliber 101, which is baguette-shaped, is smaller).
Made in 1954, the case is made of a gold that we would consider to be yellow gold today. Back in the 1950s, though, it was called pink gold.
Its dial is fully covered by an emerald-cut yellow topaz extending out past the round dial to give the appearance of a rectangular timepiece. The crown for winding and setting is on the back.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s oval ring watch
This ring watch is quite unusual in that its platinum case was crafted in a “pinched” oval – and the shape of the movement follows suit. Made in 1924 and powered by JLC Caliber 105, the unusual dial of this platinum watch showcases the minuscule balance wheel at the top.
This ring watch example makes me think that female watch connoisseurs have existed long before the modern age. The crown placed at 6 o’clock winds and sets the movement.
During the celebration of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s 200th birthday, the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physics Instruments in Dresden opened an exhibition in its section of the historic Zwinger museum called “Simple and Perfect: Saxony’s Path into the World of International Watchmaking.”
Unfortunately, the exhibition ended on June 14, 2015. But its beautiful exhibits remain etched in my mind – and in the exhibition catalogue.
This historical ring watch from 1780 was created by Johann Heinrich Seyffert, a former Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physics inspector (the term used for director) and celebrated historical German watchmaker. It constituted one of the 80 exhibits on display.
In the catalogue book Simple and Perfect: Saxony’s Path into the World of International Watchmaking written to accompany the exhibition, Sibylle Gluch, who wrote the section called “Transporting the Precise Time,” states that, “The general interest of the court in unusual timepieces must also have played a role when it came to appointing a new curator for the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon [the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physics Instruments] and the Kunstkammer [literally: “art chamber”] although Seyffert . . . owed his special status not least to his insistence on the scientific principles underlying his work, an attitude of which there is no comparable trace in any of the master watchmakers of the Dresden guild active in Seyffert’s lifetime.”
Seyffert’s timepieces were often purchased by royalty, and this ring watch is obviously one of these as it was one of the personal effects left by King Anton of Saxony. It is now on display at Dresden’s world-famous Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) museum.
Finally, we found this modern “secret” ring watch posing as a cocktail ring at Baselworld 2015: the Halo by Graff.
A quartz movement powers the timekeeping, the display of which is hidden behind a swiveling jeweled exterior dome comprising clusters of several carats’ worth of diamonds and rubies.
For more information, please visit www.graffdiamonds.com.
Case: white gold, 25 mm
Movement: Swiss quartz caliber
Functions: hours, minutes
Variations: with diamonds and sapphires, diamonds and emeralds, or diamonds only