Yes, we’re talking men’s watches with diamonds. No, don’t click away from this post just yet. I am aware that this is a bit of a tricky subject, since most men don’t like to wear diamonds. However, a lot of men who love watches do have respect for the work that goes into diamonds — the cutting, polishing, setting, et cetera.
Ever since I visited the Bunter factory just outside Geneva, a company that specializes in cutting and setting diamonds for watches from Cartier, Patek Philippe, Hublot and others, my interest in diamonds and diamond-setting has increased. I was actually the first journalist who got to see that company’s entire process from A to Z. It was an amazing experience, and taught me that even some of the biggest names oin watchmaking, such as Cartier and Patek Philippe, entrust the work on their diamond-set master pieces to outside experts. I still wouldn’t normally be inclined to wear a watch with diamonds myself, but when I thought about the few that I would, I came up with the following list.
1.Rolex Day-Date Ref. 118238
The Rolex Day-Date on President bracelet with diamond hour markets is, perhaps, a rather safe choice, but it is certainly a watch that does look good with diamonds, and those who notice won’t ask questions. This classic 36-mm timepiece only comes in gold or platinum, and the diamonds have been perfectly set. Whether you are a drug kingpin (hopefully not) or an internet entrepreneur, this watch will fit your style.
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402B ‘Jumbo’
I love the Royal Oak “Jumbo” and, although I firmly believe that an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak should be in stainless steel (especially the ‘Jumbo’ or ‘Extra-Thin’ editions), I’ll make an exception for this white-gold model from 1980, with diamond hour markers on the dial. Despite the diamonds and the white-gold case and bracelet, the watch is about as thin as the traditional Royal Oak “Jumbo,” thanks to its use of the beautiful, extra-thin, self-winding Caliber 2121.
3. Patek Philippe Nautilus 5713
In the same category as the Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’, this white-gold Nautilus ref.5713 would also be a fine choice if you’re going for a little “bling.” The Royal Oak has a bit more of a masculine look due to the sharp edges and corners in the case design, but a man could pull off this Patek Philippe Nautilus as well. I would rather see the diamonds on the hour markers than a diamond-studded bezel, which would make it look a bit more toned down. However, the ‘integrated’ design of the Nautilus makes this design work. Some Nautilus watches from the past had diamond hour markers, but these were on the smaller Reference 3800 models.
4. Panerai Luminor
In my opinion, for a men’s watch to look right with diamonds, the watch itself needs to be distinctively masculine. Perhaps the Nautilus above is a bit of an exception, but I will make up for that with this Panerai Luminor with diamond-set hour markers. Both the Arabic numerals as well as the stick markers are diamond-studded. This one is a rare edition from 2002; only 100 were made. No, diamonds on a military-style watch do not really make any sense, but neither does a tourbillon movement in a divers’ watch. Who seems to care, anyway?
5. Rolex Submariner ‘Serti’
Another Rolex made the list. The Rolex Submariner in gold/steel (also referred to by collectors as the “Clown”) is available in this “Serti” version. “Serti” is from the French word sertissage, which means “setting stones.” Available with several dial colors and precious stones, the Submariner “Serti” is a watch for which you can easily swap the dial for a normal “Clown” dial when you’ve had your fill of wearing diamonds. After all, there are plenty of these watches and parts for them on the market. If you make friends with a watchmaker, you can even periodically switch dials to suit your needs. As with the Panerai, it really doesn’t make sense to put diamonds on a divers’ watch, but it is more about style than practicality when we’re talking about diamond watches. After all, how many Submariner watches, with or without diamonds, will ever see water, other than in a shower or bath?