TAG Heuer, a famous Swiss luxury watch company, introduced an exclusive watch set with lab-grown diamonds at the Geneva’s Watches and Wonders trade show last month. TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma Tourbillon Nanograph is a concept piece, which is not supposed to be a commercial model, but rather it should test the limits of applying man-made stones for watchmaking.
According to the CEO Frédéric Arnault, the goal is to do something that’s never would have been possible with mined gems. “Inside there's the carbon hairspring, and outside you have lab-grown diamonds set on the case in a way that natural diamonds simply could never be”. The stones are cut into shapes that match the bevels of the case and thus can be set perfectly onto them.
But lab-created gems were used not only for the case. The dial is sprayed with man-made “diamond powder”, the indices are made of lab gems, and the crown is basically a single diamond which was grown and cut into the required shape. “Once we understood that we needed to use the shapes that only lab-grown diamonds could produce, it unlocked creativity to do something entirely new,” says Arnault.
“When it comes to new ideas, watchmaking as a whole can be stale… but innovation marches on. There truly is nothing out there quite like this. I wouldn't be surprised if this watch marks the beginning of TAG Heuer's dominance in the implementation of lab-grown diamonds in horological applications” writes HODINKEE editor Cole Pennington in his article about the piece.
Overall, there are 10 carats of lab-grown diamonds used for Carrera Plasma. According to Arnault, there are less than a dozen of these watches that will be made, said to become available this month. The price of a piece is expected to be near 500,000 Swiss francs (around 535,000 USD). This example proves that there is a way to create exclusive, high-end jewelry with lab-grown stones. Man-made diamonds, when they are used as a fresh and gorgeous material, allow for unique statement pieces which don’t have to cheapen the status of a wearer or just be fashion jewelry.