The Jewels of Summer

First things first: Congrats, Nik Wallenda. Last night, I was on a flight from JFK to LAX, glued to my computer screen waiting for the 34-year-old high-wire performer to walk across the Grand Canyon when my battery conked out. So I didn’t hear the good news until I landed. Phew!

I wrote about the seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas in one of my post-JCK blog posts because I attended a dinner sponsored by the Swiss watch brand JeanRichard in Vegas and Nik and his lovely wife, Erendira, were the guests of honor.

While I can’t claim that my week was as stressful as Nik’s, it sure felt like a circus act. I arrived in New York City last Tuesday morning, fresh off a sleepless red-eye flight (why do I keep taking them?!). After a quick pit stop at home in Brooklyn, I headed to my first appointment at 11 a.m. at The Chatwal New York, an Art Deco gem of a hotel in midtown. The jeweler Robert Procop, best known as Angelina Jolie’s personal jeweler, was showing a brand new selection of haute joaillerie. Despite my post–red-eye fog, I was gobsmacked.

Procop showed a number of collections—one was inspired by “what women wear out to dinner in Paris”—all united by a spectacular use of color. Red and pink sapphires, aquamarines, rubellites, emeralds—the Beverly Hills, Calif.–based jeweler even had a ring set with a vivid orange sapphire from the Umba region of Tanzania that looked juicy enough to eat.

A blue topaz and diamond bracelet from the Parisian collection by Beverly Hills, Calif.–based Robert Procop

On Thursday, I slipped away from the office in the afternoon to meet Stephen Forsey, one half of the watchmaking team behind the ultra–high-end Swiss brand Greubel Forsey, during his brief visit to New York City. It was one of those rushed appointments squeezed into two busy schedules at the last minute, but I’m thrilled we could make it happen. Forsey had brought the latest of the brand’s limited edition timepieces and one in particular caught my attention.

Known as Art Piece 1, the model features the work of British micro-sculptor Willard Wigan. The London-based artist, whose teeny-tiny sculptures of masterpieces such as The Last Supper can fit in the eye of a needle, crafted a three-masted ship for Greubel Forsey’s first artistic collaboration. Visible through a 23x magnifying glass positioned in the crown of the timepiece, the ship seems to hover there, like an apparition.

A close-up shot of the three-masted ship sculpted by Willard Wigan for Greubel Forsey’s Art Piece 1, visible through a special 23x magnifying glass positioned in the crown

“We’ve been working with Willard for five years—it took two years just to find a solution for the optics,” Forsey says. “The whole way we brought it in to channel the light, using complicated prisms to be able to do a microscope.… We have a physicist on our team.”

Forsey says he and his partner, Robert Greubel, have big plans for the daring collaboration with Wigan, including a range of bespoke timepieces featuring subjects close to their clients’ hearts. If this doesn’t represent the most innovative effort to push the boundaries of luxury watchmaking, I don’t know what does.

Boundary pushing seemed to be the theme last week, or so I learned on Thursday night when I attended the glamorous party celebrating Glashütte Original’s new Pavonina watch collection for women. Staged in the Waterfall Mansion, a multistory home on East 80thStreet in Manhattan with a 23-foot wall of cascading water, the event heralded an important new direction for the German brand, which unveiled the ladies’ line in Baselworld. Named after the Latin word for peacock, the quartz collection features a unique cushion-shape case rendered in numerous styles, from unembellished stainless steel to diamond-studded rose gold.

“Three years ago, we thought about the long term and asked ourselves, what is the future of the brand?” says Dieter Pachner, Glashütte’s vice president of sales. “Why are we not taking more of an interest in ladies watches? We decided to find an iconic product for women.”

On that note, I couldn’t agree more.

Happy summer, everyone!

The star of the Pavonina collection, this diamond-studded 18k rose gold timepiece, was displayed in the “Diva Room” of the Waterfall Mansion, an Upper Eastside home on the market for a reported $31 million.