Hanging watches have something of a fashion moment – just look at the Watches and Wonders fair held in Geneva this spring, where fashion houses, including Chanel and Hermès, showcased different styles of pendant timepieces in their range of creations for the year.
With their swaying, sautoir style, these new pendant watches embrace a lingering interest in 1970s jewelry and fashion from makers like Van Cleef & Arpels and Piaget, while also nodding to pocket-watch pocket watches, one of the pillars of traditional watchmaking. .
From vintage offerings to bold new designs, we’ve rounded up the best pendants from six luxury companies to get you started.
At Watches and Wonders, Chanel introduced three pendant watches as part of its Mademoiselle Privé collection, a line that Arnaud Chastaingt, the director of Chanel’s watchmaking studio, said was about intimacy, femininity and exclusivity. Earlier designs included a cuff watch and now sautoir timepieces. “Mademoiselle Privé is an ode to creativity and to me an extraordinary area of artistic expression,” Mr Chastaingt said in an email, adding that with hanging watches he hoped to bring “guts and avant-garde” to timekeeping.
Perhaps the most beautiful of his three designs is the Cage Long Necklace (price on request), which is set with 577 brilliant-cut, 26 baguette-cut and 12 trapezoidal-cut diamonds. Shaped like two lovebirds in a gold cage dangling from a chain studded with 132 of the diamonds, it’s inspired by a birdcage that graces the Chanel apartment on Rue Cambon in Paris. (The space recreates Coco Chanel’s personal apartment and has proven to be a rich source of inspiration – the Coromandel lacquer screens influenced another pendant watch design by Mr. Chastaingt). The unique Cage Long Necklace also contains 46 cultured Akoya pearls: the birds are made of two oval pearls. At the bottom of the cage is the small, almost hidden, quartz watch.
Hermès, another French luxury house, has been exploring the shape of the pendant watch in recent years, taking the pocket watch as its starting point. “Pocket watches are dear to Hermès, they remind us of the origins of watchmaking,” said Philippe Delhotal, the creative director of Hermès Horloger, in an email. The company’s creations combine high complications with an ironic design, such as the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! from 2020 that combined a minute repeater and tourbillon with a close-up of a Tyrannosaurus face in a leather marquetry mosaic. The same timepiece makes its way into this year’s Arceau Pocket Cheval Punk, featuring a horse head and neck on the cover, with whimsical, punk-like mane, all executed through hundreds of hours of engraving, miniature enamel paintwork and champlevé enamelling.
It’s an approach to timekeeping that’s less about measuring and controlling than about playing with time, said Mr. Delhotal. The pocket watches are “designed to arouse emotions, open interludes and create spaces for spontaneity and recreation,” he wrote.
Dior’s Gem Dior collection, introduced in 2021, is an ode to the raw, organic shapes of gemstones, where asymmetrically cut stones have emphasized the characteristics of stackable rings and bracelets and as eight-facet dials. Vibrant, dazzling colors are also a feature—think lapis lazuli, malachite, carnelian, tiger’s eye, aragonite, and turquoise—as well as cool monochromatic designs of onyx and pavé diamonds. Dior has now introduced two medallion-style pendant watches, the first chain watches, for 25,000 euros or $30,500 each. One – an ultra-feminine model that combines aragonite with carnelian – is complemented by rose gold and diamonds, and is a follow-up to a matching wristwatch presented earlier this year. The second, with a malachite face, is the more striking piece, its yellow gold and diamond accents expressing Gem Dior’s vintage 70s vibe.
At Homo Faber, the recent biannual trade fair in Venice, Swiss luxury watchmaker and jeweler Piaget displayed a 1971 pendant watch that is part of his archive and not for sale. The multi-strand sautoir, in yellow gold with lapis lazuli beads and dial, wouldn’t look out of place in the Swinging Sixties either — and personified Piaget’s 21st Century Collection, a line of bold and daring watches and jewelry created in 1969. Typically set with hard stones and powered by the house’s ultra-thin mechanical hand-wound movement, vintage Piaget pendant watches like this one have grown in popularity with collectors. For example, in 2012, Piaget acquired a 1970s coral and turquoise watch for his archive at an auction in Geneva for 47,000 Swiss francs, or about $49,000 at recent exchange rates. Jean-Bernard Forot, Piaget’s head of patrimony, said a similar Piaget piece from the same era was auctioned two years later for nearly double the price.
A stunning Cartier necklace watch went up for sale last month at the Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale at Sotheby’s in Geneva. The lot – including a pair of matching earrings – sold for 352,800 Swiss francs, more than the pre-auction estimate. The jewel, produced over the past decade, has a cascade of emerald green beads and diamonds culminating in a large emerald cut with a floral design, the top of the center stone set with a small dial just hidden from view – visible only to the carrier.
Olivier Wagner, head of jewelry sales at Sotheby’s Geneva, said he had never seen a chain watch like this in his 17 years at the auction house. He noted that the design was distinct from the typical pendant watches made in the early 20th century. At the time, he said, “ladies didn’t have wristwatches, but they had to have a watch somewhere, so it was hidden in a pendant and worn in an elegant way.”
Zurich-based Ineichen Auctioneers sold two limited edition Audemars Piguet pocket watches last month – Ref. 25728 in rose gold and ref. 25729 in Platinum — as part of a special auction to mark the 50th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak wristwatch. The rose gold pocket watch sold for 60,000 Swiss francs and the platinum at 135,000 francs, both higher than their presale estimates. The timepieces were produced in 1992 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak, and were made in a limited number of 20 pieces each. The two sold last month were each engraved on the caseback as number 15 and had been purchased by one collector in 1993.
Measuring 47 millimeters and set with a classic white dial on the rose gold pocket watch, and with an openwork design on the platinum watch, the timepieces have a perpetual calendar, a complication sought after by collectors, and hang from the original. and architectural Audemars Piguet necklaces.