In full colour: Dior’s Gem Dior watch
A vibrant timepiece by Dior’s Victoire de Castellane pays tribute to precious stones and Monsieur Dior
Victoire de Castellane’s palette is precious. When sketching small treasures at her Paris atelier, the artistic director of Dior Joaillerie paints with rare gems. “For me, colour in jewellery is very important and I adore using all the stones,” de Castellane tells me when I ask to describe her latest offering. “For this collection, I used malachite, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl and carnelian. There is some pink opal and tiger’s eye.”
Unveiled this spring, the French tastemaker’s new Gem Dior creations count 11 pieces of jewellery (among them a pink gold and diamond ring and a yellow gold bracelet finessed with lapis lazuli, malachite and seafoam green chrysoprase) and seven exquisite wristwatches. In name, de Castellane’s latest work nods to her landmark Gem Dior high jewellery collection debuted two years ago, a body of work that she has since summed up as “abstract-organic” and “not figurative” in style.
With Gem Dior, de Castellane celebrates the noblesse of her materials; here, chance and the non-ordered appeal – in the designer’s words, it’s an “organised disruption”. When it came to first naming her designs, the word “gem” was chosen in euphonious homage to the French ‘J’aime’, for “I love”. And there is much to be enamoured with here.
Taking its design cues from nature and Parisian haute couture – at Dior, both have been passion points since the house's founding in 1947 – a new Gem Dior watch artfully clashes lapis-lazuli, tiger’s eye, turquoise, carnelian and blush pink mother-of-pearl, all set in asymmetrical yellow gold links which make up a fully articulated bracelet.
When first drafting the unusual, collage-like bracelet, de Castellane recalled images of Monsieur Dior pinning fabric swatches to paper, in preparation of his fittings. Sans clasp, the timepiece has been engineered to be worn as one would an open cuff. In shape, an octagonal case owes to the natural shape of mineral formations and frames a cut of textured deep-green malachite with a yellow gold bezel dazzling with diamonds and a turquoise insert. De Castellane may well be watchmaking’s brightest colourist.