Women who love lace, leather and diamonds have a new luxury watch option from a brand with roots dating back nearly 400 years. Recently Robert & Fils 1630, currently headed by 11th-generation watchmaker Gilles Robert, unveiled a new timepiece that deftly blends past and present — with a modern twist. The new 100-percent Swiss-made Lace-leather La Dentelle watches really have to be touched and seen on the wrist for true appreciation of their elegance, savvy chicness and watchmaking prowess.
Before I explain about the watches, their design and their vintage movements, let me first introduce you to the man behind them: Gilles Robert. A man with a wonderfully charming demeanor, Robert is a watchmaker and avid watch designer. When I first met him — maybe back int he 1980’s — he was designing timepieces for a host of different important brands, as well as creating his own Gilles Robert watch (one of which I am proud to own). He was also keeping his family watch brand, Robert & Fils, based in Geneva up to date. Since I have known him for a fairly long time, I was very excited to see him in the “Incubator” section of this year’s Baselworld. I was even happier to see the new collection.
This newest La Dentelle collection was six years in the making, including research and development on the wide leather lace strap, and a patent filed on the design. More than 30 artisans were involved in the making of the straps — more about them in a minute.
For this newest line, which is entered into the women’s category of this year’s Grand Prix de Horlogerie (GPHG), he has turned to the vintage “Robert” manual-wind movements from the 1960s and 1970s — each entirely restored. They are housed in either an 18-karat pink or white gold case elongated tonneau-shaped case that is then delicately set with diamonds. The design of the case recalls the style of the finest women’s watches from the 1930 and 1940s. While the watch cases are a bit smaller than I typically like, their setting makes them at once edgy and enchanting.
In bold contrast to the elegant case — and yet still recalling the past — the watch is placed on a stunning open-worked leather strap that is created to resemble lace. The leather lace is incredibly soft, supple and comfortable on the wrist. I feel like you could wear this watch to a chic evening party as well as to an afternoon ride on the motorcycle. It goes from day to night to weekend with both sass and class. Making the design even more alluring are the intermittently placed bars of gold set with diamonds that wrap magnificently around the leather lace.
Turn the watch over and the leather lace forms two separate straps, closed with a gold pin buckle set with diamonds and finished with the ‘R” for Robert & Fils 1630 (and for the Robert movements). Of course, if I had the dollars to purchase this stunning and unique watch — a blend of yesteryear and modernity — I would tell everyone the R on the buckle is my initial (which it is).
Trust me, this is a watch that once you see it , touch it, feel it — you won’t be able to get it out of your mind. Sadly, because of the rarity of the movements, just 20 pieces will be made: Ten will consist of watches in pink gold set with 123 diamonds, and 10 in white gold set with 187 diamonds. The pink gold version retails for 33,00 CHF, while the white gold version sells for 35,000 CHF.
Robert & Fils La Dentelle Technical Specs:
MOVEMENT: Mechanical manual-winding, 1960s-1970s “Robert” mechanical manual-winding calibre, entirely restored and decorated in 2019. FUNCTIONSHours and minutes.
CASE: 18K pink gold or white gold, 37 x 21mm, respectively set with 76 and 140 brilliant-cut diamonds, crown topped with a cabochon-cut diamond. Sapphire crystal and caseback with anti-reflective treatment.DIALWhite with central décor and Roman numerals, blued steel hands.
STRAP: Hand-made. Black leather, adorned with six 18K gold strands set with 30 brilliant- cut diamonds. Double pin buckle set with 16 brilliant-cut diamonds. Strap also available in vegan leather.
PRICE IN SWISS FRANCS Rose goldwith 123 diamonds CHF 35,000.– White gold with 187 diamonds CHF 37,000.–