A Precious Rainbow on Your Wrist Is the Latest Flashy Trend in Watches
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- A rainbow, in many of its myriad representations, is meant to represent inclusiveness. It can symbolize a hope for humans to get along peacefully or pride in the diverse queer community.
But that’s not why watch companies are marketing an array of new rainbow-themed watches to both men and women. Rather, they’re betting that bright, flashy, colored gemstones will appeal to anyone who wants to flaunt his money on his wrist. The trend has been championed by at least five major brands including Rolex, Chopard, and Hublot, which over the past two years have released timepieces with a florid gradient of precious or semiprecious stones on the bezel.
Crissy Fetcher, senior designer at branding consulting firm Wolff Olins Ltd. and an instructor at Pratt Institute, notes that smartwatch designers were first to the rainbow trend—and for a reason. “Rainbow color palettes have become very prominent in design, especially among tech brands,” she says. “There’s an optimism associated with them, which I think people are looking for right now.” Although not organized by gradient, both Apple and Samsung Galaxy watches’ interfaces pop with all the colors of the rainbow—tantalizing, like wrist-size Wheels of Fortune.
Rolex SA helped pioneer the rainbow bezel trend on mechanical timepieces. With three versions of a rainbow Daytona watch in different types of gold, the company has racked up a waiting list for each since introducing them in 2012.
Audemars Piguet Holding SA joined Rolex this year, perhaps a sign of internal optimism at the company. Chief Executive Officer François-Henry Bennahmias says 2018 sales rose 10 percent, to 1.1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion).
Parmigiani Fleurier SA, a smaller company known for elegance and complications, presented its new Tonda 1950 Rainbow to appeal to the fashion-conscious. “There are casual, sporty, and elegant watches, but this piece is for a kind of individual looking for something different,” says Gustavo Calzadilla, U.S. general manager.
Almost all of these watches showcase the same clockwise color gradient: Red is at 12 o’clock, and the colors run around to violet at 11. Only Hublot SA’s 45-millimeter Big Bang variation runs counterclockwise. But truly, is there any one way to make a rainbow?
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked
The 18-karat frosted-gold piece features 32 baguette-cut sapphires running in color sequence around the bezel. That’s 2.24 carats of precious stones on the 37mm skeletonized wristwatch. $104,600
Parmigiani Tonda 1950
Parmigiani Fleurier set 36 baguette-cut precious and semiprecious stones on the bezel of this ultrathin (2.6mm) watch. That’s 21 sapphires in shades of blue, pink, orange, and yellow, plus three rubies, six tsavorites, and six amethysts. The carat total lands at 3.73. $72,900 with rose-gold bracelet
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Rainbow in Everose gold
Not only does the bezel present 36 baguette-cut sapphires, but the dial also sports 11 rainbow-colored sapphires as indexes. The 40mm timepiece gets an exclamation point by way of a midcase encrusted with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds. $96,900
Chopard Happy Sport
The 18-carat rose-gold Happy Sport pairs a gradient of 36 colored sapphires in the bezel with seven loose gems that float across the mother-of-pearl dial. Chopard was the front-runner on the rainbow trend, introducing this watch. $80,900
Hublot Unico Sapphire Rainbow
With more bezel space around this 45mm watch comes greater capacity for gems. Hublot adorns the 18-karat white-gold ring, itself set into a polished sapphire crystal case, with 48 baguette-cut stones including sapphires of various color as well as ruby, tsavorite, and topaz. $84,000
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