Last year, Chanel was responsible for making cuffs inspired by the 1960s and 70s one of the hottest trends of the year, with bold and sexy leather cuffs, gladiator straps and gloves that paired XXL accessories with the dainty and diminutive J12 XS watch. Hermès, with its Faubourg Manchette Joaillerie, also offered a small-format women’s watch set off by a broad leather strap tooled according to the company’s saddlemaking heritage, in a rather fetching shade of green.
As the new year dawned, Geneva watch week gave us the opportunity to confirm that cuff bracelets are still holding their own among this year’s novelties and that, far from being merely an accessory, they are part and parcel of the charm of the watches themselves, to the point of becoming inseparable, even indispensable.
Can you conceive of HYT’s Skull Axl Rose without its blue-topstitched black leather cuff, to match the black DLC titanium case with blue PVD Damascus steel skull? The iconoclastic spirit of the Guns’n Roses singer, rock legend Axl Rose, informs the dark timepiece he had specially created for him; he chose the clous de Paris motif that flanks the central skull at 3 and 9 o’clock. The 51 mm diameter of this muscular, macho watch needs a black leather cuff. Axl Rose has generously agreed to share his passion – his watch is available in a limited edition of 25.
Hublot has chosen to adorn its lady clients’ wrists in rabbit fur. Never shy of exploring new materials, Hublot has adopted Orylag, a French trademark named after a breed of rabbits whose silky soft pelt makes an exceptional fur highly prized by the grand couture houses. Importantly, these animals are not slaughtered solely for their fur: their flesh is favoured by some of the finest chefs, and they are kept in conditions that meet the highest ethical standards. The Big Bang One Click Cuddly Click is the name of a women’s Big Bang 39 mm in brushed steel, with a bezel set with 42 diamonds, and an automatic movement with date function, mounted on a choice of three bracelets that can be swapped around easily thanks to the patented One Click system. The silky Orylag fur is worked by artisan furriers, and offers graduated colours in base tones of grey, turquoise and fuchsia.
In the high jewellery category, two cuff creations stand out from the crowd. The first is the Panthère Astrale by Cartier. The time is read off a dial decorated with a black lacquer motif, under a huge rectangular yellow heliodore weighing 27.14 carats. The rest of the white gold cuff plays up the contrast between black and white by means of 27 onyx, 931 brilliant-cut diamonds and a single 0.29 carat baguette-cut diamond with, to either side of the heliodore, the iconic Cartier Watches Expensive Replica panther paved with precious gems in a geometric motif.
The equally bejewelled and sculptural Diamond Outrage watch by Audemars Piguet revisits the cuff shape, adding diamond-studded spikes like icicles. This one-off piece is offered in either diamonds or blue sapphires. The white gold framework of the bracelet is hidden under almost 10,000 snow-set brilliant-cut diamonds of different sizes (or more than 11,000 sapphires, in the blue version). The diamond version also features three spikes invisibly set with baguette-cut diamonds. The watch is hidden under the flattest section of this glacial bracelet. The octagonal white gold case, paved with diamonds or sapphires, conceals the quartz calibre 2701 that drives the hour and minute functions.
Entire books are written about Cartier as well as about the Cartier Tank watch itself, and the basic story that Louis Cartier based the Tank design on the shape of WWI tanks found on the Western Front is most likely familiar to many readers. Cartier made clocks, pocket watches, and women’s wristwatches before wristwatches for men started to catch on – and if guys did start to wear wristwatches, Cartier played a major role in their broader adoption and the Cartier Tank was an important part of the transition out of pocket into wrist.The initial wristwatch for men is sometimes said to be the Cartier Santos from 1904, made by Louis Cartier – at least, this started to help enhance men’s wristwatches. It was surely among the earliest watches designed as a wristwatch, instead of a pocket watch accommodated with straps for the wrist, or “strap watch.” In 1916, The New York Times admitted that wristwatches were more than a passing fad, and WWI saw soldiers starting to strap watches for their wrists for practical reasons.Louis Cartier (1875–1942) designed quite a few watches which are nonetheless part of Cartier’s lineup today, including the Santos, Tank, and Tortue. At that time Louis perhaps thought that the future of wristwatches supposed non-round instances. This would also help differentiate them from the round pocket watches that had just been adapted to your wrist. The first Cartier Tank watch was made in 1917 and the story goes that those first models were given to General John Pershing of the American Expeditionary Force and his officers. Back in 1919, a total of six Tank watches were created, but an icon had been established, and new variations have followed regularly since – you can view more about early Tanks and other ancient Cartier men’s watches.