New timepieces are constantly being released and unveiled to the general public. But, it’s not every day that a completely new technique is introduced into the art of horology. After decades of approaching diamond-setting in the same fashion, without much innovation. Patek Philippe had an insight which now introduces a totally new approach to this craft.
Back in March, at Baselworld 2016 we saw many new releases by Patek Philippe like the “Patek Philippe World Time (Ref#: 5930G)” and this ladies timepiece, the “Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R”. At first glance it is clearly an elegant watch, with the diamond studded bezel, as seen before. But, as we zoom in we notice how the diamonds seem to pop out, with an extra bling. Something about it seems distinct in a subtle, but very visible way, which once detected seems to shine even brighter.
Watches are always trying to bring along innovations to grab the public’s attention. Be it through the use of new or unusual materials. Or, distinct ways of presenting time on the dial. And though they have succeeded, there’s just so much that can be done, till it seems like repeating gimmicks. Brands even resort to creating new vocabulary, coining new terms for their materials, like Rolex with its “Everose” instead of “rose gold”; or Hublot with their sapphire case, or a leather dial. But, this time around we are in the presence of a true breakthrough in gem-setting innovation and a new term: “Flamme”.
For the longest time the most popular form of diamond-setting was the Tiffany-style prong, while the most coveted cut was the ideal-cut round brilliant. And this combination was held in great regard due to its “light return” factor. Because what makes diamonds truly shine and sparkle is linked to light reflecting off of diamonds inner facets and coming out through its top, for us to see.
Achieving this maximum reflection is best obtained by setting perfectly symmetrical round brilliant cut diamonds that consist of 52 facets mathematically calculated to reflect the most amount of light possible through the top and sides of the diamond. So, the more light a diamond receives, the more light it will reflect. The Tiffany technique achieved this by placing the diamond in claws high above the shank, which left the base exposed to allow more light to enter and then be reflected upwards and out its top.
For years that was the most effective form of gem-setting, but since the diamonds were set into the metal, a certain amount of light was always prevented from entering the diamonds base. Brands would traditionally try to acquire “Top Wesselton diamonds” known in the horology industry for having the highest color grade possible. But, Patek Philippe has finally found a work-a-round that yields better results.
The new patented technique labeled ”Flamme setting” by Patek Philippe, differs from other approaches by exposing the base of each set diamond partly to light. In order to achieve this the gem-setter has to set two rows of diamonds into the metal as usual, but afterwards the craftsmen will use a sharp chisel to split the gold between each diamond. This approach exposes part of the base and allows a lot more light to pass through it. And besides this technique channeling more brilliance, the notches left behind by the burin chisel forms an engraving pattern around each diamond that adds an extra bling factor.
The round ultra-thin 34mm case is made of 18k rose gold and has a transparent caseback which allows to see the inner workings of the movement. But, the real eye candy is the Flamme-set bezel encrusted with 142 diamonds totaling 1.08 carats, set in two staggered rows and arranged in descending order of size. It complements the timepiece very luxuriously and adds a remarkable sparkle.
The silvery grained dial exhibits time via gold applied Breguet styled Arabic numerals and a ring of gold applied round minute index markers, circling the bezel. Pointing out current time are “Poire Stuart” hour and minute hands, made of polished 18k rose gold. Other than these elements the dial is very clean, except for including “Patek Philippe” and “Geneve” inscribed, slightly under the 12 o’clock position.
Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R
This “Patek Philippe Calatrava 7200/200R” (Ref#: 7200/200R-001) is powered by an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement, caliber 240, with 27 jewels, 161 parts and 21,600vph. It features a Gyromax® balance wheel and a Spiromax® balance spring. Power reserve on this timepiece can last up to 48 hours and water-resistance can reach up to 30m (98 feet). Mounted to the watch is a shiny royal purple Alligator strap, with square scales, hand-stitched and secured by a prong buckle set with 26 diamonds.
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