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The Butterfly Effect

Fashion News
This Princess Butterfly secret watch features 9.29 carats of round brilliant and baguette-cut blue sapphires and 5.61 carats of round brilliant white diamonds, set on 18-karat white gold, by Graff

By Laurie Brookins

Colorful, graceful and steeped in symbolism: The butterfly has enjoyed muse status for centuries, inspiring everyone from Vincent Van Gogh and Louis Comfort Tiffany to Salvador Dali and Damien Hirst.

Graff likewise has been enticed by the allure of the butterfly, often employing it to highlight watches and jewelry alike throughout its 56-year history. Typically they have accomplished this by forming a quartet of pear- and marquis-shaped diamonds or gemstones into perfectly symmetrical butterfly shapes that surround a watch dial or dance on a necklace or pair of earrings. But at the Baselworld 2016 watch fair that concluded on Thursday in Switzerland, Graff has put the butterfly on steroids—and given it a secret.

Dubbed the Princess Butterfly, this high-jewelry watch is as dazzling as it is technically artful. The oversized wings are pavéd in round white or yellow diamonds or sapphires in varying sizes, then edged in baguettes—on the blue sapphire piece in particular, the difference in the way light refracts through a baguette vs a round stone results in a really beautiful tonal effect. The “body” of the butterfly consists of round brilliant diamonds that wend their way down the center. Gently press the wings just above the body, and they part to reveal a 17mm watch, surrounded by white-diamond baguettes and featuring a mother-of-pearl dial.

It’s easy to take such beauty for granted, until you think about the savoir-faire needed to create the Princess Butterfly. Graff artisans worked with 3D technology to achieve the ideal curvature of the sculpted wings, while the spring mechanism was considered with equal care, so the wings might glide apart gracefully to reveal the watch dial beneath. Eleven variations of the Princess Butterfly are available, with the starting price at $135,000. Most styles are placed on a satin strap in black, white or a coordinating color; this being Graff, of course, there is also a “pièce de résistance,” a white-diamond butterfly on an airy bracelet crafted of four interwoven bands of white diamonds in baguettes or round brilliants. They call to mind the most delicate tree branches—and would a diamond butterfly alight anywhere else?

 

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