Give Me Five! Keeping Secrets With Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Harry Winston, Chopard, and Boucheron
Very much in vogue in the 1930s, ҆40s, and ҆50s, “secret watches” kept the time confidential by hiding the watch dial behind a decorative hinged or swiveling cover.
Back in the day it was considered inappropriate for a lady to wear a timepiece with formal wear. So the secret watch, which looked just like any other dressy bracelet when closed, solved this problem. Doing double duty, the cover also served as the perfect crystal protector, keeping it clean and scratch-free.
I’m glad to see secret watches making a bit of a comeback since I find them to be seductive anachronisms that are very feminine and very functional. Following are a few examples introduced earlier this year, the vast majority of which are, as expected, quartz-driven.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Ivy Secret
The Rendez-Vous Ivy Secret is a sparkling study in fine watchmaking and haute joaillerie. Inspired by a Jaeger-LeCoultre jewelry watch from the 1960s, this white gold piece has a slightly domed cover featuring three cuts of diamond – brilliant, baguette, and marquise – that are set in a floral design depicting leaves of the plant.
The mother-of-pearl dial, decorated with engraved and hand-painted ivy leaves and edged with dainty grain-set diamonds, is in turn framed by a diamond-set bezel. Inside ticks manually wound Jaeger LeCoultre Caliber 846/1.
Audemars Piguet Diamond Punk
This timepiece is all about attitude and architecture: the former is unconventional, while the latter is a brilliant take on punk-style studs. Audemars Piguet says the design is also reminiscent of the Alpine peaks of the Le Brassus region where the watch was born at the AP manufactory, and if I squint my eyes I can see them.
The Diamond Punk is available in two white gold versions, one with 7,848 brilliant-cut diamonds on the case and the bracelet and an additional 300 diamonds on the dial.
The second version features 5,326 brilliant-cut diamonds and 56 onyx elements on its case and bracelet, also with an additional 300 brilliant-cut diamonds on its dial. The watch dial is hidden beneath a sliding cover.
Harry Winston Jeweler’s Secret
The diamond, pink sapphire, and pearl-studded Jeweler’s Secret from Harry Winston reminds me of something right out of a 1940s film, where women were always leaving in pairs to powder their noses – or, in this case, unobtrusively check the time.
Fashioned as a powder compact/pocket watch rather than a wrist-borne timepiece, a small pink pearl watch dial is hidden inside surrounded by a froth of diamonds, including four pear-cut and four marquise-cut stones. A mirror is also thoughtfully incorporated into the interior.
Boucheron Khepri à Secret
Boucheron’s white gold Khepri à Secret takes its name from the Egyptian word kheper, which means scarab. A gentle nudge on the red ruby cabochon “head” activates the push button that opens the scarab’s wings to reveal a white gold watch dial set with diamonds and rubies.
The upper wings are crafted from mother-of-pearl, while the lower wings are gem-set white gold. This watch comes on a brushed satin strap with a diamond-set pin buckle.
Chopard Animal World Hedgehog
The whimsical Hedgehog is one of Chopard’s latest additions to its Animal World collection.
Its spiky body is fashioned from moonstones of varying heights and its diamond-set head has sapphire eyes. By pressing the creature’s brown sapphire-set snout, the timepiece opens to show the 18-karat white gold watch dial paved with diamonds and moonstones, which is charmingly held in the paws of a baby hedgehog.
Van Cleef & Arpels Carpe Koï
This bold and colorful cuff watch’s yellow gold dial features princess-cut diamonds, spessartite garnets, and yellow sapphires, while the yellow and white gold bracelet is set with diamonds, yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, tourmalines, and black spinels.
Simply press the fish’s tail to unfasten the bracelet and open its mouth to read the time. Van Cleef & Arpels invested about 3,450 hours to create this incredible timepiece, which made a huge splash in 2015 at the SIHH in Geneva.