With Father’s Day around the corner, we went out on a limb (pardon the pun) to find timepieces that are somewhat different from all the others. Just like we brought “lace and fabric” watches to the forefront for Mother’s Day (here), we now bring you a close up look at some wonderful luxury watches with wooden details – perfect for Father’s Day. In fact this may well be the most comprehensive look at luxury timepieces that incorporate a wood bezel, a wood dial or a marquetry style dial.
Adding wood to watches is no easy feat when it comes to the luxury category, and if you want something truly unusual, this is the way to go. It should be noted that none of the watches we present herein use wood from new or living trees for their designs. Most turn to amboyna wood, burl wood, elm and certain sequoias, or other exotic woods that come from trees already downed.
Additionally, working the wood to fit the luxury watch dials and bezels is no easy feat. In many instances, the brand seeks the expertise of woodworking specialists who know how to cut it in super thing sheets for dials, to properly shape it for bezels, and to properly treat it for long-lasting durability.
Some brands also work in marquetry for their dials – often cutting hundreds of tiny pieces of wood and then assembling them onto a single dial to form a particular scene or likeness. While working any wood piece into a watch is time consuming, the marquetry work is particularly meticulous, and completing a single dial can take more than 100 hours of master craftsmanship. Generally, marquetry dials are made using many types of wood whose colors contrast to form the scenes and shadows. In fact, some of these marquetry dials use as many as 30 different species of wood in a single dial.
In the case of brands using wood to emulate the look of a ship’s deck, teak is most often the wood of choice – and it ranges in hues from pale taupe to honey and even camel color. These dials are often made in plank formation –much like the finest ship’s flooring.
When it comes to utilizing wood in watches, the history is fairly short. In fact, back in the 1970’s certain brands, including Cartier, turned to wood in a solid format for dials. (One can even still find an occasional rare Cartier Tank watch with wood dial or bezel (circa early ‘70’s) if one searches hard enough.) In the 1980’s, several more affordable brands, including Daniel Mink and Tissot, unveiled wood dials –but these were more fashion-oriented.
For the luxury watch market, wood took a backseat to gemstones and other precious materials for several reasons, including the fact that it was difficult to ensure the longevity of the wood. In the past decade, however, as technology gives way to pressure treating, heat treating and other processes to ensure longer wear and tear of the wood, the substance has gained renewed attention. Certain brands, including Hermes and Cartier have even turned to woods sibling, straw, to make stunning marquetry dials. Here we bring you a slide show some of the most beautiful wood and marquetry dials that have hit the market in the past few years – from 8 different luxury brands.