19 May 2024


By In General, Hype Market, Piaget

Stone dial watches, a staple in watchmaking during the 70s and 80s, recently gained a resurge in interest among collectors and enthusiasts. The first brand to introduce stone dials, and undoubtedly the most successful in that period, was Piaget in 1963. After their launch, they quickly became increasingly popular, they were worn from celebrities (such as First Lady Jackie Kennedy, artist Andy Warhol and actress Liz Taylor), and models featuring precious dials made of colorful stones were soon presented by all the most important brands, which created a new interpretation for dress watches. 

Jacqueline «Jackie» Kennedy and her Piaget – Photo courtesy of Mark Shaw / AP
The rise of stone dial watches

As previously mentioned, Piaget was the first manufacturer to create stone dial watches. It is unsurprising that they also offer the largest variety of stone dial watches, featuring a wide range of designs and stunning materials, from malachite and onyx to light-catching opals.
Leveraging its expertise in jewelry, Piaget crafted wonderful examples of gold and silver bracelets and dials adorned with other precious stones, generally diamonds, producing some amazing statement pieces. Unfairly underestimated by collectors for quite some time, they are now gaining recognition for their rarity and uniqueness. Typically time-only pieces with relatively small case sizes by modern standards, their dimensions make them suitable for both men and women.

However, the introduction of stone dials watches had also a big impact from a technical point of view. Stones are not only quite pricey, but, more importantly, they are extremely delicate. For this reason, dials were crafted by using a thin layer of the chosen stone – usually around one millimeter – and, to preserve its integrity, thee cases had to be lightweight and not overly large. So, ultra-thin movements were needed, and Piaget was already a master at creating them.

Piaget from Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy – Photo courtesy of The Telegraph
Piaget at Geneva auctions

Last weekend, the Watchype Magazine team had the opportunity to attend the spring auctions in Geneva and touch some of these stunning pieces, witnessing the remarkable hype surrounding stone dial watches, particularly Piagets from the 70s and early 80s.

Antiquorum, in particular, presented two impressive stone dial watches from Piaget, lots n. 430 and 431.  Lot 430, an 18k white gold and manual winding lady’s diamond wristwatch from early 80s, featured a light catching stunning opal dial and an integrated white gold bracelet on a 9P movement. Photos can’t give justice to the several pink and purple shades of the dials and to the smoothness of the bracelet, a true piece of jewelry watchmaking. Despite an expected hammer price range between 3.000 and 5.000 CHF, the watch was finally sold at 19.375 CHF. The higher price was definitely not a surprise, considering the enthusiast comments the watch had received during viewing days.

Antiquorum auction – Lot 430 – Piaget ref. 9342 A 68 – Photo courtesy of Anqtiquorum

Equally interesting was Antiquorum’s lot 431, a white & yellow gold and manual winding lady’s diamond wristwatch with malachite dial with an integrated 14k yellow gold intertwined bracelet. Malachite is usually a very interesting stone, and this Piaget is not an exception. The contrast between the dark green of the dial and the white diamonds surrounding the case is definitely eye catching and the bracelet is simply stunning, yet surprisingly comfortable. 

Antiquorum Lot 431 – Piaget with malachite dial and diamond bezel – Photo courtesy of Antiquorum

Despite an expected price ranging from 1.500 to 2.500 CHF, the watch was sold for nothing less than 9.375 CHF, further evidence of the market’s growing interest.

Watchype considerations

Modern Piaget has also embraced its heritage, incorporating it into contemporary designs. Indeed, in 2017, Piaget released a limited run of Altiplanos with stone dials to celebrate the ultra-thin model’s 60th anniversary. Stone dials have become so popular again that it wouldn’t be surprising to see other important brands launching new pieces jumping on this trend.
On the other hand, the enduring fascination with vintage watches continues to captivate collectors and enthusiasts. These timepieces are cherished for their uniqueness and craftsmanship, exemplifying the beautiful union of jewelry and watchmaking.

Written by Aurora Patti

Born in 1997, working in corporate but with a neverending love for the world of watchmaking.