It comes as no surprise that Graff Diamonds, traditionally a high jewelry company, recently added high watchmaking to its oeuvre, since the production values are the same: high craftsmanship, design flair, attention to detail and technical expertise.
“The design inspiration for all Graff watches came from the DNA of the Graff Diamonds brand: the diamond,” says Michel Pitteloud, CEO of Graff Luxury Watches. Pitteloud previously held executive positions at Corum and the watchmaking divisions of Bulgari and Harry Winston. “The facets of a single diamond have inspired the shape and design of Graff watches, and diamonds are present in the crown of every watch. In many cases there are also diamonds on the case, dial, buckle and even the rotor.”
Graff Diamonds was founded in 1960 by Laurence Graff, who began his career as a jeweler in London, where he opened his first workshop-based store in 1962. From the beginning, Graff was involved in every stage of the jewelry making process – from the sourcing of each rough stone through to the cutting, polishing and final setting of each diamond. Today, Graff's procurement and polishing division, SAFDICO (South African Diamond Corporation,) cuts and polishes its own diamonds. Over the years, the brand has become famous for buying and selling some of the world’s most important diamonds, including the 47.39-carat Star of Bombay; the 70-carat, fancy blue Idol’s Eye; the 102.79-carat, D-Flawless Graff Constellation and the 160-carat Flame.
“Laurence Graff had been considering the idea of creating luxury watches for some time,” says Pitteloud. “He came to me in 2008, with a challenge to produce a complete collection of watches in four categories: Technical, Dress, Sport and Jewelled (a Bespoke collection has since been added). A distinctly faceted bezel and lugs became the signature look, and the first models were launched at Baselworld in 2009.”
“Graff Luxury Watches take their inspiration from the facets of a perfectly cut diamond, hence the diamond mosaic setting,” says Pitteloud. To distinguish them from other diamond watches, Graff developed an exclusive “mosaic” gemsetting technique. “It took over a year to develop this distinctive mosaic setting, a highly sculptural technique consisting of a row of hexagonal diamonds surrounded by two triangular cut diamonds. Each diamond is selected by Graff gemologists.”
Graff movements are made by two firms: Geneva movement maker MHC; and Technotime, located in Les Brenets in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland’s famous watchmaking district. The latest introduction is the MasterGraff Tourbillon collection. The classic MasterGraff tourbillon movements were made by Technotime and Concepto, one manual and one automatic. The company has collaborated with MHC for more unique, high horology pieces, such as the Gyrograph tourbillon and the Minute Repeater Tourbillon.
“We work with carefully selected partners to ensure that our watches are on the same equally luxurious and fine level as Graff Diamond’s jewelry,” says Pitteloud. “The specifications relate to Laurence Graff ’s request to always feature the highest technical expertise in Graff movements and complications.” To date there are three calibers designed exclusively for Graff. In 2010, Graff launched its first in-house designed movement, known as Graff Calibre 1 which can be found in the GraffStar Grand Date. Graff Calibre 2 was unveiled at Basel 2011 in the ScubaGraff diving watch. Graff Calibre 3 is encased in the GraffStar Slim watch, and the most recent in-house designed movement is the Graff Calibre 4 in MasterGraff 43mm Ultra Flat Tourbillon.
Like any good jeweler who does custom designs, Graff offers its watch clientele a Bespoke collection. “It offers the ultimate in horological luxury,” says Pitteloud. “Upon request, Graff ’s master craftsmen will create a uniquely personal watch, customized to its owner’s preferred diamond, gemstone, dial and engraving specification – a harmonious combination of iconic design, passion and individual style.”Graff Watches are sold at Graff boutiques. For information, visit www.graffdiamonds.com.
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