History Lesson: Diamond watches

April 16, 2008


I often show pictures of celebrities wearing the latest trends to give you an idea of what’s soon to be the next best thing, but sometimes the history behind a trend is where you’ll find the really juicy story. This week Portero is highlighting women’s diamond bezel watches, and while many people think that the look was invented relatively recently–say, by ‘blinged’ out rappers or sports stars, the history of the look is far more illustrious. 

To really tell the story accurately, we’ll have to go back to the late 15th Century, when the idea of portable time was born. The first pocket watch was created in Nürnburg, Germany, and had one hand that pointed toward the approximate time. Around the same time, Leonardo da Vinci sketched a clock mechanism that would later be used in watches. 
The next big impact on watchmaking would actually be religion. When the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther took over in Geneva, the city had no watchmaking industry to speak of–only a jewelry history. But in 1541, Geneva became the center of the Reformation, causing many watchmakers to move to the center of the action. Unfortunately, leaders banned most artistic endeavors, including theater, dancing, and wearing elaborate clothing and jewelry. Luckily for the watchmakers, timepieces were considered practical, and therefore allowable. Soon, out-of-work jewelers and watchmakers were collaborating, initiating Geneva’s luxury watch supremacy. 
The first jewels to be used in watches were actually rubies–and they were part of the movement, not the design. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that jeweled wristwatches became fashionable, following other adornments like enamel designs or pocket watches shaped like animals or religious symbols. Today, most of the vintage watches found dotted with diamonds were made during the Art Deco era of the early 20th century. 
Diamond bezels are definitely a big part of today’s marketplace, and they can be dressed up or down for day or night. Many styles are in fact versatile enough to be worn to work or to a cocktail party. Click right here to see Portero’s special selection of women’s diamond bezel watches. 
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