One of the most ambitious projects in the history of Graff Watches, the GyroGraff Endangered Species collection offers a series of five piece unique watches (four for Baselworld 2019) all feature dials set with precious stones and gold, hand-finished using a technique pioneered by Graff and called diamond-marquetry.
The five dials depict either an elephant, a tiger, a panda, a gorilla or a rhino (all five are listed by the World Wildlife Fund as being under threat). The animals are created from a combination of polished metal parts and precious stones, each of which is unique in size, weight and cut. These are individually set into the dial by hand to create the form of each animal.
The process starts with artistic drawings of the dials, with openings for the GyroGraff’s signature double-axis tourbillon and spherical moon phase complications, and with space for a power reserve indicator at 1 o’clock. Skilled craftsmen and highly experienced engineers then work together to create detailed technical drawings that break the dials down into the individual components that will come together to create the final form.
The number of individual dial components depends on the design – the gorilla has the most at 139, the elephant has 135, the tiger 127, and the panda 112.
The dials feature between three and six larger mounts depending on the piece, eachof them unique. Each gold mount then holds a number of white or black gold ‘plaquettes’, or small plates. Each plaquette carries a number that can only be seen under a microscope and that corresponds to the gold part or stone created specifically for it.
The first layer applied to the dial is a background made of sparkling midnight blue aventurine. The animal form is then built up, piece-by-piece, using the mounts, the plaquettes and the decorative elements: diamonds, pieces made of polished rhodium-plated white gold or matte or micro-blasted black gold, and, only in the case of the tiger, cognac sapphires. Some of the pieces are tiny. For example, the polished gold cabochon that becomes the elephant’s eye is a mere 0.9mm in diameter.
The five watches share the same high-end, hand-wound calibre. The GyroGraff’s trio of complications is a watchmaking first, carrying a dizzying double-axis tourbillon, a spherical moon phase and a power reserve indicator.
The three-dimensional white-gold moon phase complication at 10 o’clock is an artistic tour de force in its own right. It is hand-engraved, creating a true-to-life map of the lunar surface’s craters. The black cover representing the shadow of the Earth advances twice a day and completes a full rotation over a period of 29.5 days, poetically relaying the phase of the moon.
The watch has a 65-hour power reserve indicated at 1 o’clock alongside Graff’s diamond-set icon at 12 o’clock.
Each of the five Endangered Species models has a 48mm white-gold case. The case is decorated with invisible mosaic-set baguette-cut diamonds, and each watch comes on a black alligator strap with a diamond-set deployment clasp buckle.
Hours, minutes, double-axis tourbillon, three-dimensional moon phase, power reserve indicator
Power Reserve 65 hours
Métiers d’art techniques
Diameter: 48mm, Depth: 17.25mm
Material: White gold
Water Resistant: 3 ATM
Alligator strap with deployment clasp buckle