The Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris (see our separate coverage by David Chokron) also made waves across the Channel in London. For the first time, the famous London department store Harrods held its own Biennale des Antiquaires exhibition to coincide with the Paris event.
Backes & Strauss took advantage of this event to present a unique piece developed specifically for this occasion. The “Harrods Princess” model is the first timepiece to use emeralds from Gemfields’ own mine in Zambia. The stones are used as baguette hour markers on the mother-of-pearl dial, along with 144 ideal-cut diamonds. A further 68 emeralds are used in the handcrafted links of the bracelet, together with 68 diamonds, for a total weight of 23.5 carats (of which the bracelet alone accounts for 18.6 carats).
“Coloured stones have had a chequered history,” Backes & Strauss CEO Vartkess Knadjian told Worldtempus, which is why it was important for the brand to find a partner for its coloured gemstones that is as discerning as Backes & Strauss (the company uses only the finest natural, conflict-free diamonds). Gemfields fits this role perfectly, as the leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones.
But the unique Harrods Princess timepiece is just one of a series of new timepieces to be launched by the brand before the end of the year. As Mr Knadjian revealed to Worldtempus on a visit to the Backes & Strauss headquarters, it will be followed by a new collection to be named after the last major emperor in the Mauryan dynasty of India that will feature a proprietary diamond cut and will be launched at the WPHH Japan at the end of this month.
Another undoubtedly masculine new launch will see a timepiece inspired by George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840). Widely considered as the original “dandy”, Beau Brummell is credited with establishing the modern men’s suit, worn with a necktie, as fashion. This new timepiece will, quite fittingly, be accompanied by a bespoke Savile Row suit.
Even before we discover these new watches on the wrist, the variety and the cuts of the precious stones seen in the collections that have already been presented this year, as well as the innovative stone-setting found on the Royal Colours collection launched earlier this year, illustrate the unparalleled expertise of Backes & Strauss in precious stones.
“It is not just a question of sourcing the stones, but also about not being afraid of the stones,” explains Mr Knadjian, who admits to being “100% hands-on in the vision of what I want to do. You can have experts but not with the same level of expertise as we have – we know how far to push the boundaries.”
According to Vartkess Knadjian, Backes & Strauss is also set to add new bespoke complications to its considerable expertise in jewellery watches. “We want to be talking to discerning clients who are looking for something special… People who love watches to whom we can offer the opportunity to buy a watch with diamonds on it that will allow them to see diamonds in a different light,” he explains.