Jacob & Co unveiled one of the world's most expensive timepieces, fittingly called the Billionaire Timeless Treasure, in Geneva on Monday. The watch is priced at $20 million, making it a statement piece in more ways than one.
The company spent three and a half years scouring the globe for high-quality yellow diamonds to incorporate into the timepiece. The first of Jacob & Co's Billionaire watches to be crafted from coloured stones, it required gems of absolute colour uniformity, quality and brightness.
Rough yellow diamonds weighing 880 carats were painstakingly reshaped into an Asscher cut, which is a clip-cornered square with wide steps, a high crown and near-perfect symmetry. The end result is 425 gems weighing more than 216 carats, laid out in a seamless mosaic.
The Fancy Yellow and Fancy Intense Yellow hue of the diamonds is offset by green tsavorites, while the Billionaire skeleton tourbillon movement is adorned with a further 57 yellow baguette-cut diamonds.
A yellow gold structure serves as the lattice upon which the rare gems are set. Yellow diamonds are much rarer than their white counterparts, which presented the first challenge for the Jacob & Co team.
“With white diamonds, we receive lots with dozens or hundreds of gems,” says Seraina Wicht, head of gemology watch production at Jacob & Co. “For Billionaire Timeless Treasure, we were receiving stones one by one, two by two, three at the most. It happened several times that we spent several weeks without receiving a single one that was worthy of the piece.”
The level of complexity of the stone-cutting process, along with the quantity and size of the gems, made this an endeavour of “Olympus-like proportions”.
“It all seemed impossible,” Wicht continues. "One, to lay our hands on so many gems of so rare a colour and so large. Two, to have all gems meet our demands at the rough, pre-cut stage. Three, to maintain colour consistency after cutting. And four, to cut every single one of them so they would fit into their designated place, their little bed of yellow gold."
Jacob & Co’s Billionaire design was first unveiled in 2015 as a unique piece. Initially undertaken as a bespoke project, the first Billionaire had 239 emerald-cut diamonds, an extraordinarily thin skeleton tourbillon movement and a price tag of $18 million.
Billionaire II set the bar even higher, with 424 diamonds weighing 161 carats, while Billionaire III consisted of 714 white baguette-cut diamonds and was produced in a limited edition of 18 pieces. Billionaire III Diamonds and Rubies saw the brand add a splash of colour to the design, with 134 rubies set on the movement and crown.
And now, the Billionaire Timeless Treasure is serving as further evidence of Jacob & Co’s audacity when it comes to watchmaking. “We browsed the entire world for three and a half years in search of an unprecedented number of perfect gems,” says Jacob & Co’s chief executive, Benjamin Arabov.
“We gathered them here, in our Geneva headquarters, where each one was scrutinised at rough stage, at cut stage, before and after setting. The incredible work done by our gem setters happened entirely here, in Geneva. We've combined our expertise in high jewellery with our skills in high watchmaking and used our drive to achieve what has never been done before. So we've created a unique piece that outshines every other high jewellery timepiece in opulence, exclusivity and diamond quality.”