When it comes to the chicest, most impressive of timepieces, those are reserved for diamond watches. Diamond-encrusted straps and dials are currently making a comeback, adorning the wrists of London’s style set. These new dressier models are a hybrid of classic or sporty designs – often updated – with a scattering of the finest jewels, making them the chicest accessory to take you effortlessly from day to night.
Delicately adorned with a sprinkling of diamonds, the timepieces bring a laid-back luxury to watchmaking, and signal a sleek new mood in the horology world. What’s more, scaled-down versions of iconic models such as Cartier Tanks, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reversos and Chanel Premières (all hardly oversized to begin with) have a distinctly vintage appeal, harking back to an era when even a 36mm timepiece was deemed ‘large’.
“The demand for a beautifully designed, elegant diamond-set timepiece that fits with today’s hectic lifestyle has never been stronger,” says Mark Toulson, head of watch buying at the Watches of Switzerland Group, who puts the trend down to a matter of ease and convenience. “Many such diamond watches find their roots in the late 90s… [but] whatever their pedigree, they are as at home in a business setting as they are at a cocktail party.”
With new mini-sized movements and beautifully streamlined designs adorned with glittering gemstones, these glamorous timewatches punch far above their weight in terms of style and substance, proving that you can have a serious watch – but with sparkle. Here, we select ten of the best diamond watches.
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36
Spurred on by the success of its colourful enamel dials from previous seasons, Rolex has introduced hard stone dials to its Day-Date collection. To complement the warmth of its 18k yellow-gold case and bracelet, this watch boasts a dial cut from carnelian, decorated with gold and diamond-set hour markers and a diamond bezel.
Aquanaut Luce 5269/200R
Thanks to its softly rounded edges and ever so discreetly tucked-in crown, this 38.8mm diamond watch still feels light and elegant to wear. Although the bezel is embellished with 48 flawless diamonds, its dual time-zone function, water resistance to 60m and robust integrated composite strap means this rose-gold piece travels brilliantly, too.
Tudor Royal in stainless steel 28mm
The sporty-looking Royal makes a perfect everyday timepiece. Its hardy stainless-steel case (we’re talking 100m water resistance) and integrated bracelet are coolly contrasted with the gleaming mother-of-pearl dial, Roman numerals, diamond hour markers and diamond bezel of a much dressier watch, so you really get the best of both worlds.
Reverso One Duetto Jewellery
Combining Jaeger-LeCoultre’s finest watchmaking and diamond-setting techniques, the Duetto is a truly haute interpretation of its Reverso model. There are 335 diamonds on the Art Deco-inspired case, with 384 more set into the five-link bracelet. Its swivelling case houses back-to-back dials (one light, one dark), going from day to night in seconds.
Première Hyper Lucky Star
Part of Chanel’s Interstellar watch collection, revealed at Watches & Wonders 2023, this slender white-gold timepiece harks back to Chanel’s love of star motifs, with a shooting star charm set with six brilliant-cut diamonds attached to the bezel. Its dial and bracelet are adorned with glittering diamonds, too, so it twinkles on your wrist.
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Overseas Self Winding 35mm
Launched in Iceland, this sporty yet super refined-looking timepiece benefits from a frosting of diamonds around its bezel. A self-winding model, this diamond watch has a high-precision calibre, 40-hour power reserve and its matching pink-gold bracelet can easily be swapped out for a white leather strap (as shown), or rubber, however the mood takes you.
Mini Dolce Vita
Measuring just 21.5mm by 29mm, this bijou but beautiful diamond watch is an excellent all-day companion. Its rectangular steel case is elegantly complemented by the circular design of the dial, its redesigned bracelet is super comfortable to wear and its bezel is framed with 38 white diamonds for a hint of eye-catching sparkle (that’s still far from blingy).
Happy Sport 33mm
Conceived in 1993, the Happy Sport’s chic-meets-sporty vibe is definitely back in demand, as championed by brand ambassador (and ultimate 90s style crush) Julia Roberts. Its ethical rose-gold case houses five free-floating diamonds which skim the dial with the slightest gesture, giving this sleek timepiece an idiosyncratic appeal.
La D My Dior in Steel and Diamonds
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Dior’s La D de Dior watch has been reinvented with a ‘cannage’ motif – graphic lines representing the cane Napoleon III chairs present at Christian Dior’s inaugural fashion show in 1947. The silver-plated steel bracelet is engraved to resemble a silk ribbon, as another nod to the designer’s craft.
Originally launched in 1989, the Tank Américaine retains its early 90s good looks (the rectangular case and curvaceous edges), but its latest iteration benefits from a new, smaller movement, allowing for a more streamlined aesthetic. The rose-gold diamond watch, looks right at home amongst a contemporary wrist stack.