Stacking fine jewellery alongside timepieces is often considered a faux pas among collectors, as it can cause cause heirloom watches to become scratched and to lose their polish. However there is another school of thought, which similar to the late Jane Birkin with her overstuffed namesake Hermès bags, that argues that luxury items should be lived in and matching jewellery can be a beautiful style signature.
In celebrity circles, matching your jewellery to your watch is nothing new. Bella Hadid is often spotted wearing her beloved gold Cartier Panthère watch nestled underneath bangles in complementary tones, whether strolling on the beach or lounging on a yacht. Faithful to her maximalist style, influencer Chiara Ferragni wears her timepieces (that range from dainty vintage Serpenti Bulgari watches to chunky Hublot numbers), stacked abundantly with equally spectacular bracelets. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Meghan Markle, just like the late Princess Diana, is a fan of Cartier Tank Française, but she prefers to pair hers with one iconic Cartier Love bracelet, as she did during her recent appearance at the Invictus games.
London-based jewellery designer Ananya Malhotra has been receiving more requests lately for “something to match my watch.” Malhotra has received many commissions to personalise her signature Chakra bracelets to compliment watch designs – she used lapis-lazuli beads to match the blue sapphires on the bezel of a client’s Rolex, and on another client added azure sapphires to mirror the dial of a Rolex Sky Dweller.
Judging from Dimepiece, the Instagram account where former Sotheby’s watch specialist Brynn Wallner chronicles the horological choices of stylish women, the trend of carefully pairing watches and bracelets together has been around for a while, but is certainly accelerating. Stacking watches and bracelets is a point of contention among Dimepiece’s followers, however. Some argue that the accessories will eventually scratch each other and potentially lose their lustre (and value). Others counter, “What’s the point in having a watch if you can’t style it as you fancy?”
Nadine Ghosn, an enthusiastic watch collector and a jeweller renowned for turning mundane objects like pens and hamburgers into elegant adornments, muses on the allure of the patina from natural wear and love. “Sometimes, I will have one subtle piece next to a watch, and sometimes I will load on a stack to change the look and feel of the watch and make it more casual and less of a stand-out show-off piece,” she explains. Ghosn will typically wear her vintage Vacheron Constantin watch or brand-new delicate Cartier Baignoire with towering stacks of her gem-studded pieces.
For designer Carolina Bucci (whose relaxed, but very precious, jewellery was a favourite of Carrie Bradshaw’s in Sex & The City), matching jewellery and watches is about the art of “sprezzatura” or harmonious clash. “I enjoy a relaxed contrast in how I style things. I don’t put too much effort into making everything match. But I also don’t want things to battle with each other,” Bucci explains.
The Florence-born jeweller prefers to pair her KISS flexible bangles with her favourite Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch in frosted yellow gold, which both share a similar texture. More of a “sprezzatura” is achieved when she layers her Carolina Bucci Colour Field bracelet, which is a fluid ribbon resembling silk, with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in black ceramic that she co-designed. She also always makes sure that there is an accessorised harmony between her two wrists.
Many of the most sought-after brands in the jewellery and watch landscape are designing pieces to be worn as a double act. Inspired by the colourful fabric swatches Monsieur Dior pinned onto sheets of paper, Dior Joaillerie’s creative director Victoire de Castellane imagined a range of matching clasp-free bangles and watches, with pastel-hued aragonite and cornelian tiger’s eye arranged as jagged slips of hard stones.
Bulgari’s signature Serpenti watch now has a friend to coil around the wrist with thanks to the recently-launched Serpenti Viper bangle, which is available in varying gold hues and available either plain or adorned with diamonds. Meanwhile at Watches & Wonders, the fair where horological novelties are presented and trends are set each year, iconic jewellery designs were given a matching timepiece. Cartier unveiled a mighty watch counterpart for its beloved Clash range, with beads in golden colours ranging from yellow to an intriguing violet hue juxtaposed with sharp-angled details, while Van Cleef & Arpels added watches to its signature dainty Alhambra and Perlée collections.
If you choose to stack, it’s better to remember Ghosn’s advice, “every scratch adds to your story,” and just enjoy wearing them.