In addition to being a girl’s best friend, diamonds and other gemstones are brilliant complements to luxury watches. Look no further than Rolex watches to find the most gleaming examples of the intricate art that is gemmology and gem-setting.
In order to adorn its watches with the most striking gemstones, Rolex has its own team of in-house gemmologists and gem-setters. The gemmologists are responsible for examining and selecting the gemstones received, keeping only those that meet the stringent quality criteria set by Rolex. These stones are then passed into the hands of the gem-setters, who are tasked with bringing out the best in their colour and sparkle. All stones received from the atelier go through meticulous and rigorous verification procedures, carried out according to the brand’s own quality criteria, which ensure that all the gemstones on a watch are uniform, and of the very best quality. Gem-set watches have long been a part of Rolex’s colourful history. In embellishing its watches with diamonds and gemstones, Rolex enriches them with an alternate aesthetic, while preserving its identity. The setting of the gemstones does not affect the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to magnetic fields and shocks.
The symmetry and shape of a gemstone’s facets determine the way in which light penetrates and is reflected off the pavilion— the cut directly influences a stone’s brilliance. Rolex selects only the most translucent natural gemstones. In the case of diamonds, only IF (Internally Flawless) stones—the highest category of the grading scales used in gemmology—are accepted.
The expert gemmologists at Rolex compare the diamonds against certified master stones. Only the most colourless diamonds that fall within the highest grades on the Gemological Institute of America colour scale make it onto Rolex watches.
A gem-setter’s craft is multifaceted. They work together with the designers in the Creation Division to determine the best colours and arrangements of the stones. This is a subtle exercise in finding a balance between aesthetics and technical requirements. This is followed by a consultation with the case and bracelet engineers, who study the future placement of the stones in order to prepare the precise amount of metal required to hold them in place.
The stones are set individually to achieve the perfect harmony of colours and reflections. The metal surrounding each stone is gently pushed into place around the stones to fix them securely. The fine skills of a gemsetter are showcased in their ability to find the right angle and apply the correct amount of force—a step repeated up to almost 3,000 times on certain diamond-paved dials. A final polish makes the tiny metal settings shine, intensifying the watch’s splendour.
Rolex’s gemmologists are among the most skilled in the industry. Combining a repertoire of traditional techniques with efforts to source the most dazzling stones, and guided by Rolex’s exacting requirements, it is no surprise that Rolex watches are among some of the most sought after in the world.