GEMS OF TIME
The paradox of the jewelled watch
Dazzlingly colourful fine jewellery timepieces for women caught our eye at Salon QP’s special exhibition Gems of Time. We spoke to the exhibition curator Caragh McKay, who holds passionate yet lucid and frank views on this lesser-known exclusive segment of the watch industry. | by Serge Maillard & Jeta B
ems of Time, an exhibition devoted to high jewellery watches, took place at SalonQP in London in November 2015. It approached an exclusive segment of timepieces under the theme of ‘The Art of Colour’ – highlighting unique creations in precious, vibrant hues. We met with Caragh McKay, Telegraph Time editor and curator of the exhibition, which also featured illustrations by the fashion illustrator Nuno Da Costa.
50 | EXHIBITION | WOMEN’S WATCHES & JEWELS
Illustration by Nuno Da Costa
Why did you launch the Gems of Time exhibition? I had the idea when I visited Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus. They produce unique jewellery timepieces once a year. I found their products extremely avant-garde. People think that jewellery watches are tiny cocktail ornaments but actually they are sculptures, works of art. I wanted to bring them into the spotlight. Brands put a lot of effort into the design of these timepieces but as they are not meant for mass production, there is no real structure to promote this segment of the watchmaking industry. At the same time, this exclusivity allows the designers of jewellery timepieces to work in great freedom, hence their audacity. I wanted to tell this story as an exhibition.
This is your second year at SalonQP… Yes, last year we revealed for the first time what is paradoxically a little-known facet of the world’s best-known high jewellery houses – the jewelled watch. This second edition gave us an opportunity to build on that, revealing further intricacies of the collaboration between the jeweller, setter and watchmaker. Together, they create jewels rooted in a craft tradition but make them modern by taking creative risks with artisanal techniques. Last year, the goal was to introduce jewellery watches as pieces of art. This year, I wanted to focus on colours. We started with rough emeralds: I wanted Gemfields to be part of the exhibition because their stones are very natural, in contrast with the ‘show-off’ cliché that surrounds jewellery watches. We also unveil the different possible cuts of the emerald, from baguette to cushion cut. Then we jump to the striking Montre Extraordinaire La Rose in white gold by Jaeger-LeCoultre! If you look closely, on the dial it has five beautiful sapphires: these little colours make a difference. It is a unique piece, a proper high jewellery timepiece, a sculpture. On the