As one of the largest, and the world’s oldest diamond company, the London-based Backes & Strauss has an advantage as a maker of jewelry watches. It specializes in mostly bespoke high jewelry watches, along with a few collections of very limited editions using rare gems from its elite inventory. Combine the company’s jeweling capabilities with a high level watchmaking partnership – complications maker Franck Muller – and you get pieces like the Picccadilly 45 King Tourbillon. The watch is a unique piece, priced at $500,000, and is the third in a series of Bespoke tourbillons from the brand.
The lower part of the dial is cut away, both front and back, to reveal the tourbillon escapement. The bridge bears the Backes & Strauss signature arrow motif, which is inspired by the well-known hearts and arrows pattern that is visible when viewing the table of an ideal cut diamond through a special loupe. On the upper dial, hours are marked with seven tapered baguette emeralds, separated by panels of inlaid mother-of-pearl. The inner dial is set with 138 ideal cut diamonds, and the bezel and horns are set with 48 baguette diamonds custom cut to fit the contoured case. The crown is set with an ideal cut diamond.
The caseback is also decorated. The rotor is engraved with the London skyline and the rest of the back plate is set with 204 ideal cut diamonds. Ideal cut diamonds are cut and polished according to a precise mathematical formula of proportions. The formula requires cutting away more of the rough diamond, and therefore sacrificing carat size, but the result is a dazzling diamond that reflects the most possible light through the top, or table. Total diamond weight of the Piccadilly 45 King Tourbillon is 18.50 carats, 1.22 carats of which are ideal cut. The case is 18k white gold. The automatic movement was made by Franck Muller. Backes & Strauss was founded in 1789 and today is part of the Franck Muller Group, based in Genthod, Switzerland, near Geneva.
Carol Besler has written about watches and jewelry for nearly 30 years. She has featured articles in Watch Time, Robb Report, Nuvo, Hollywood Reporter and Rapaport.