Equally associated with good and evil, life and death, and creation and destruction, myths and legends of snakes have integrated cultures, religions and philosophies all over the world. They also represent power (and sometimes deceitfulness) as they plot their way silently, ready to strike when least expected. For whatever reason, whether we like them or not, most of us are fascinated by them.
Jewelers have often used the serpent theme for their creations, but it was really in 2013 – the year of the Snake in Chinese astrology – that watchmakers too became inspired by the dual aspect of this 6th animal in the Chinese horoscope. Here are three timepieces that interpret the enigmatic personality of the Serpent in very different ways, each with a strong and unique element of surprise.
With The Graff Serpentine Secret Watch, the entire timepiece is a sparkling serpent that totally and elegantly wraps itself around your wrist, encircling it with scales of mosaics of 1,264 pear shape and brilliant-cut white diamonds for 100.58 carats. A piece of jewelry that also tells the time, this is a secret watch. The hours and minutes on a pavé dial are revealed within a facetted crystal glass when delicately sliding the 5.64 pear shape cut diamond on the serpent’s head. Quartz movement, limited to five pieces.
For Jaquet Droz, their Petite Heure Minute Relièf Snake has its own surprise waiting for us. An 18 carat red gold snake applique set with 3 diamonds, engraved, enameled, patinated and painted by hand greets us on the 18 carat red-gold dial with inlaid black onyx of this 41 mm timepiece. When we turn it around to admire the Jaquet Droz 2653 double barrel self-winding mechanical movement with a power reserve of 68 hours, we discover an 18 carat red-gold oscillating weight with black onyx and a second and bolder hand-engraved and patinated 22 carat red-gold snake applique set with 10 diamonds that seems to come out from the movement and through the caseback towards you. Eight pieces.
Our third wonder is called the De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl, representing a powerful symbol from Meso-American culture that was the core of worship and sacred rituals in pre-Columbian America. Considered to govern the cycle of time from dawn to dusk, the Quetzalcoatl looks like a snake (coatl) but with feathers (the quetzl bird had large green feathers). Sculpted in solid gold with amazing details to the feathers, coiled in the centre of a solid gold dial, the Quetzalcoatl indicates the hours with its head, and the minutes with its tail. Crafted in two separate parts, the head, tail, and coiled body of the feathered snake vary in position as time passes, providing the wearer with the fascinating view of a Quetzalcoatl in movement. With the hour indicators formed by a seeming series of temples as viewed from the sky, the illusion is complete. Powered by the mechanical hand-wound Calibre DB2005 with self-regulating twin barrel and 6-day power reserve, the De Bethune DB25 Quetzalcoatl is limited to 20 pieces.
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