Dior Grand Soir Botanic: Gardening With Gemstones
by Martin Green
Flowers are a recurring theme in ladies’ watches, but few brands have had such a passionate love affair with colorful blooms as Dior. It was Christian Dior himself who stated that, “After women, flowers are the most divine creations.”
This passion for flowers was installed in Dior from an early age in his parents’ garden in Granville, France. As soon as he had a place of his own, with room for a garden, Dior set out to create his personal version of Eden. French writer Françoise Giroud, who visited the place, described it by saying that, “You walk on flowers.”
Dior: haute couture meets haute horlogerie
It is not surprising that this love for flowers was also a source of inspiration and a recurring theme in the fashion collections that Christian Dior created. Over the years they have become part of the “DNA” of the company, and this has carried over to its watch collections.
Dior’s watch collection follows its fashion collections: the brand offers “ready to wear” such as the Dior VIII and the Chiffre Rouge with more “haute couture” models found in the Grand Soir collection. Created in 2010, this is the place where Dior’s designers’ imaginations runs free, combined with a very high level of craftsmanship to turn the designs into reality.
Grand Soir is the place where Dior flexes its horological muscles – not so much with complications, but rather more with tantalizing visual creations.
Gardening with gemstones
With the Grand Soir Botanic, Dior has taken this concept to a whole new level, creating a miniature garden on the dial of the watch. This collection consists of eight watches, each unique yet sharing the same case.
Crafted in white gold, the Grand Soir Botanic models are 36 mm in diameter and feature a snow setting of brilliant-cut diamonds in different sizes. This gem setting technique, which mimics freshly fallen snow, was developed and first introduced by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2002.
And as stunning as the scintillating diamonds on the case are, the real stars here are the miniature gardens that Dior has created on the dial.
I always find it interesting to see that watches with complex gem settings like the Grand Soir Botanic are admired, but rarely get the same kind of praise as watches with a mechanically complex movements.
It might be that many don’t realize the expertise and craftsmanship that goes into these watches: to create a single dial, several different crafts are required, each necessitating a master craftsman to achieve the desired result. This makes the creation process very time-consuming and that’s on top of the precious materials in use.
This probably also played a role in why Dior created only a single watch with each type of dial.
Interesting about the approach of Dior is that it did not constrain itself to creating realistic flowers, but allowed its artisans room to imagine new ones. That makes the result even more intriguing as it provides the impression that you are looking at the garden on a planet similar to earth but with entirely new vegetation.
This artistic approach also puts an even greater emphasis on the expertise of the craftspeople who made these dials. Just to give an example: gold is used extensively in the dials of the Grand Soir Botanic, but apart from the standard polished and satin-finished techniques, the gold is also engraved, lacquered, and metalized to create the desired effect.
And gold is just one material utilized in the dial: there are so many more! A wide variety of gemstones are set on the dial, creating a landscape of flowers, pebbles, or anther. Because the flowers on these dials are three dimensional, gemstones are sometimes stacked above each other, mounted on gold “stems,” or used in a pavé setting to create the background, adding yet another layer of complexity.
And not only diamonds are in use, but also a wide range of colorful and rare gemstones such as pink and yellow sapphires, tsavorite garnets, and Paraiba tourmalines – the latter being different from other tourmalines as these have a unique, vibrant, green to blue color due to traces of copper.
Even the movement relies on crystals
Some may be disappointed to find a quartz movement in a watch like this, especially given the tremendous amount of craftsmanship that Dior has poured into it.
But all things considered, it does make sense.
First of all, the movement is not what this watch is about or even pretends to be about. It is a work of art that just happens to tell time, just as many of Dior’s haute couture gowns are also works of art that you can actually wear.
None of the eight Grand Soir Botanic models is likely be worn on a daily basis, and for this a quartz movement is preferable so that it still tells the right time when called upon rather than require winding and setting the time. A quartz movement is usually also smaller and thinner than a mechanical movement, ensuring ample room for the “garden” to take root without creating a behemoth of a watch.
Using a quartz movement also allowed Dior to do away with the crown as you set the time with a little corrector at the back of the watch. This improved the overall design of the case, allowing the dial to be the main event as it should be.
I am still ambivalent in my opinion of the strap. Fitted on all eight of the watches, the strap is made from a navy blue fabric with a mesh texture. It is beautifully made, and the fabric itself looks and feels very precious, but I do not feel that it complements all the watches equally.
Perhaps that was intentional, so it doesn’t take away the attention of the observer, but it also has a bit of a Victorian feel to it (only it’s not black), which can make the strap seem out of place. Fortunately, each Grand Soir Botanic is also delivered with an extra black satin strap, which might be more ordinary, but seems more suited.
In essence, Dior utilized a marquetry of materials and crafts to create an imaginary garden, which takes the approach of haute couture to create an exquisite piece of haute horlogerie.
I am sure Christian Dior would have approved!
The Dior Grand Soir Botanic has been shortlisted by the 2017 Eve’s Watch Awards in the Best High Jewellery category.
For more information please visit https://www.dior.com/diormag/en/dior-grand-soir-botanic.
Quick Facts Dior Grand Soir Botanic
Case: 36 mm, white gold, snow-set in pavé with brilliant-cut diamonds
Dial: white gold botanically inspired dial featuring lacquer, various types and cuts of gemstones (sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies), mother-of-pearl, and other decorative techniques, each of the eight pieces is different and unique
Movement: Swiss quartz adjusted with corrector (no crown)
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: eight unique pieces
Approximate price: €220,000