Speak with a watch purist and he’ll tell you why he often dislikes diamond watches: to bling-bling, unnecessary aesthetics, overpriced, and sometimes just a cover for cheaply made fashion watches.
The general rule of finding a nice diamond watch is a balance. The size, color and the way the stones integrate the watch will matter the most
If you’re wearing a diamond watch, you’ll surely draw some eyes. So be sure the watch you’ll be choosing will be representative of your image and will transmit the message you intend.
1 – Diamond provenance
- I’m sure you’ve probably seen the movie Blood Diamond. If you haven’t, then you know what to rent on VoD this evening.
Like on the movie, blood or conflict diamonds are a reality. Dictators and military juntas still force people to work in horrible conditions, deep inside mines with no ventilation or even security.
- Buying a blood diamond or a derived product may seem tempting: the quality may be the same and it will most likely be cheaper, but you’ll wear that watch for the rest of our life, and one day maybe your sons will too. Do you really want to think about the people who died or suffered to collect the diamonds in it? For me, it would just ruin the feeling.
- To avoid buying blood diamonds, be sure to ask for the provenance certificate from the watchmaker. Avoid diamonds from countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Republic of the Congo.
- If you’re unsure of a blood diamond location, use google. These locations, as well as proxy countries, can be easily found.
2 – How to choose diamonds
- Choosing a diamond it’s not an easy task. Luckily you’re not buying a diamond by itself, but a watch with diamonds, so part of the task has already been done by the watchmaker.
- Take some time to read the watchmaker diamond choosing policies.
- To make things short, there are essentially 4 things to look for in a diamond. Experts call them the 4 C’s:
- The history of diamond cuts can be traced back to the late middle age. Before that, diamonds were used in their natural octahedral form, and diamonds with stranger forms were simply discarded.
- Art on its own, cutting diamonds is a very complex task. There are dozens of different cuts (round, princess, oval, marquise, pear which can be divided essentially into brilliant cuts, step cuts, and mixed cuts.
- The clarity of a diamond is measured using different scales. One of these scales is the clarity grading one. Here are the different possible values, from the highest value to the lowest one:
- Diamonds on a watch will be small, but you’ll still want them to be as clear as possible, so ask your watchmaker which kind of diamond clarity they employ and whenever possible, opt for clearer ones.
- The term carat comes from the carob seeds and it is used to describe one unit of mass. During the Roman empire, a pure gold coin would weigh the same as 24 carob seeds. That’s why 24-carat gold is said to be 100% pure, 12 carat contains only 50% of golf, mixed with other metals.
- Diamonds are also measured in carats. For smaller diamonds (like the ones used in watchmaking) they each carat is usually divided into 100 points, for better accuracy.
- If all the other measures are equivalent, then opt for higher carat diamonds, as they’ll be worth more.
- Color grade determination is done by comparing the stones side by side.
- A colorless diamond will be more valued when compared to one with tonnes of yellow.
- Depending on the style of the watch you are looking for, a more yellowish tone may suit the watch well.
- If that’s not the case, always try to ask the watchmaker which color grades do they use.
2 – Style
- Knowing the 4 C’s of a diamond becomes handy when we’ll be discussing the diamond watch style. Depending on the type of diamond (carats, color, clarity, and cut) it may be inserted in the watch differently.
- Let’s discuss the most common diamond setting types used in watchmaking:
- This setting is inspired from the old paved European streets.
- The word Pave is the literal translation for paved in French.
- Diamonds, often using a round cut, are set up across the surface in regular intervals, building a coat of diamonds.
- Each diamond is held by metal wiring and grains that are invisible to the naked eye.
- This layout is used to cover larger areas.
- It’s commonly used not only in watchmaking but also in engagement rings.
- Like the pave grain, it uses round cut diamonds, but their setup is done in rows.
- Tiny metal grains hold the diamonds perfectly aligned.
- Unlike the pave grain, it does not give the idea of street pavement, and it is usually found with one row only applications.
- The random setting is one the most visual settings. A honeycomb structure I created in the metal, and then different size diamonds are set randomly, leaving very little metal visible to the eye.
- It’s important to have an estimation of the diamond count for a given surface, to know the value of the diamonds applied.
Visually, this setup gives an effect of snowflakes shining under the sunlight.
- This setting makes diamonds seem to be floating or suspended.
- There is literally no metal visible.
- All is paved with diamonds, using normally a square or baguette cut.
- Normally used around the bezel and on the sides of the watch case.
- All diamonds must be part of the “graduation”: we may have crescendos, where each diamond will be slightly bigger than the one before, giving this “growing” idea.
3 – Metals
- If you’re looking for a diamond watch for men, you are probably looking for a precious metal case and/or bracelet.
- But you may be interested in having a custom watch set up using different metals.
- Here’s a brief resume of the most used metals in watchmaking:
- If you’re looking for a gold watch you’ll have to choose between yellow gold, white gold, and rose/red/everose gold.
- Yellow Gold is the most common type. The allow uses combinations of silver and copper to create the yellow tone.
- White gold uses an alloy of pure gold, nickel, copper zinc and palladium.
- It is a common choice n watchmaking, as allows a more subtle look as opposed to yellow or rose gold.
- Lastly red gold, also known as rose or everose gold has known an increase in popularity these last years.
- Like yellow gold, pure gold is alloyed with copper and silver, but with a higher proportion of copper.
- Platinum is probably the most used metal for luxury watches.
- This metal is about 30 times rarer than gold, and its high density gives it incredible durability and resistance to scratches.
- Unlike other metals, when it is scratched, the metal only moves to the sides, and no metal is lost.
- If polished again, the initial form will be regained. With other metals every time the watch is polished, a small part of the metal will be lost.
- This alloy of iron-chromium and nickel is highly resistant to scratches and very easy to polish.
- Nickel makes it hypoallergenic. It’s the most common metal used in watchmaking.
- Titanium is a gray metal as strong as steel, but around 45 lighter.
- It is extremely durable, and it is known to have the highest strength-to-weight ratio among metals.
- Ceramic watch cases are made from zirconium oxide.
- This material is scratch resistant and it is often used for action watches, subject to shocks and impacts (not often used with diamond watches).
- This material is non-metallic and is created through a process of heating and cooling. It is also very lightweight.
- Depending on the style you’re looking for, your budget and the usage you’ll give to your watch, ensure the metal you’re choosing is the most adapted one.
4 – Movement
- Although it is easy to find diamond watches from fashion brands, always try to buy watches with movements that are well known for their reliability.
- Fashion brands usually have their watches manufactured by decent watchmakers, but it is not always the case. If you’re looking for a fashion brand watch, ask what is the movement and who makes it.
- You don’t want to finish with a nice looking diamond watch that does not work anymore.
- When you’re investing a decent amount of money in something as small as a watch (or any piece of jewelry), you’ll want to secure it.
- Depending on where you live there are some insurance companies specialized in securing timepieces.
Here are some links from which you can get a quote:
Under 10K USD
Rolex Datejust Rhodium Diamond Dial 18kt White Gold
- This automatic white gold has 10 diamonds set on the dial. It is waterproof down to 100m (330ft), it has a calendar and has a sapphire crystal glass.
- If you want a gold and diamond watch that is very subtle, this Rolex may be for you.
RADO TRUE AUTOMATIC DIAMONDS
Rado Black Watch
- This ceramic watch is also very subtle on the eye. With 4 dial incrusted diamonds it also gets away from the tradition diamond watch style.
- Rado’s movements are known to be robust, and it will be water resistant up to 5 bar pressure. It also has a sapphire glass.
- This amazing timepiece has in imposing 48mm steel and black steel case.
- The movement is the famous Breitling caliber 13.
- Diamonds are encrusted in the bezel and I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of the most sporty diamond watches out there.
More than 20k
BREITLING TRANSOCEAN UNITIME PILOT
- The TRANSOCEAN UNITIME PILOT diamond works will cost you around 40k.
- What you’ll get back is the amazing Breitling 05 movement with 56 jewels and 70 hours of power reserve.
- The 46mm wide case is made of 18k rose gold, steel, and black steel.
- This may be considered as a big face watch.