Colored Stones / Industry / Watches

Watches With Faces of Stone


In the 1960s and ’70s, the Swiss jeweler and watchmaker Piaget made a name for itself as a creator of exceptionally groovy wristwatches featuring dials decorated with opaque gemstones.

Fitted with thinly sliced discs of turquoise, lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, malachite, and opal, the timepieces kicked off a trend that has made a comeback in recent years, as watchmakers, including Piaget, embrace the retro look anew. This time around, however, they’re using materials—from Verde Alpi marble to petrified wood—that have never been used on wristwatch dials.

In the case of the Bulgari model highlighted below, that stands to reason. The watch was made expressly for the 2023 Only Watch, an auction of unique timepieces that raises money for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic degenerative muscle disease. The biannual auction’s 10th edition is scheduled to take place on Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. local time at the Palexpo exhibition hall in Geneva.

Along with Bulgari’s watch, we present a few other winning gem-set timekeepers.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Marble Tourbillon Only Watch

Clad in a thin layer of Verde Alpi, a luxurious green marble quarried in the Aosta Valley of Italy, the Octo Finissimo Marble Tourbillon by Bulgari stands out as one of this year’s most talked-about Only Watch submissions. And it’s not just the DLC-treated titanium case and bracelet that bear thin layers of marble. The dial is set with a marble wafer measuring just 0.6 mm in thickness with a perfectly cut subdial to make way for the tourbillon. Beauty and brains in equal measure!

Bulgari 2023 Octo Finissimo marble
Octo Finissimo Marble Tourbillon Only Watch in 40 mm DLC-treated titanium case and bracelet with Verde Alpi marble, estimate 150,000–250,000 Swiss francs (about $173,220–$288,650); Bulgari for Only Watch

Piaget Terrae Watch

Introduced earlier this month as part of Piaget’s ambitious Metaphoria high jewelry collection, the Terrae watch offers a bejeweled take on the brand’s cushion-shape Black Tie model, famously worn—and beloved—by Andy Warhol. Featuring a petrified wood dial offset by a bezel and markers made of baguette-cut emeralds, the one-of-a-kind piece is a winning example of how an unusual color combo—in this case, tones of brown and green—can make a wristwatch utterly unforgettable.

Piaget Terrae watch
Terrae watch in 18k yellow gold with emeralds and fossilized wood dial on brown alligator leather strap, price on request; Piaget

Rolex Day-Date 36 mm

With its bevy of colorful new Day-Date 36 models bearing gemstone faces and diamond-set bezels, Rolex sees the hard stone trend and raises it to the next level. Encased in the brand’s proprietary Everose gold (paired with green aventurine), 18k yellow gold (carnelian), or 18k white gold (turquoise), the stylish timepiece is a testament to the enduring appeal of stone dials, now groovier than ever.

Rolex Day-Date aventurine
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 in 36 mm 18k Everose gold case with green aventurine dial and diamonds, price on request; Rolex
Rolex Day-Date turquoise
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 in 36 mm 18k white gold case with turquoise dial and diamonds, price on request; Rolex

Top: Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 in 36 mm 18k yellow gold case with carnelian and diamonds, $58,700; Rolex

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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