While gold, steel, and platinum are mainstay metals for watch cases, modern watchmaking has welcomed plenty of other materials in recent years. From bronze to titanium to ceramic and more, offering familiar models in new materials has been a popular approach of many brands looking to offer fresh iterations of old favorites. And it doesn’t get fresher than a crystal clear case in full sapphire—a material once reserved as the glass protecting the dial or movement. Feast your eyes on four extraordinary examples of watches with sapphire cases.
Jacob & Co. Astronomia Flawless
When you make a movement as complicated and beautiful as the manual-winding JCAM24 powering the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Flawless, why wouldn’t you place it in a fully transparent 50mm sapphire case for an unobstructed view? The already mechanically fascinating gravitational triple-axis tourbillon with four satellite arms (including a 1-carat 288-facet Jacob-Cut diamond “moon” and a magnesium-lacquered blue “earth”) is now topped with a flawless 2.88-carat diamond. Aside from manufacturing the movement, the monobloc sapphire case housing the mini solar system itself required dozens upon dozens of steps and hundreds of hours to complete—good thing it’s a unique piece.
Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One
Making its debut at SIHH 2019, the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One features Bovet’s intriguing sloped case silhouette meant to recall a writing desk, but this time crafted entirely in sapphire crystal. Not only does sapphire offer the perfect combination of being a hard material while also being lightweight, but its crystalline transparency also offers a full view of the watch from all sides. And what a view it is! The Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One packs an hour and minute hand subdial, a flying tourbillon, a three-dimensional moon phase, and a 10-day power reserve indicator.
Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski Sapphire
The partnership between the Swiss watchmaker and French artist continues with the introduction of the new Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski models. This collaborative collection showcases Richard Orlinski’s unique approach to the normally round Classic Fusion design by emphasizing sharp lines and sculptural styling. Like the Black Magic and Kind Gold versions, the Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski Sapphire sports a large 45mm case but its transparency lends an airy touch. The clarity of the watch is further accentuated with the skeletonized HUB6021 Manufacture manual-winding tourbillion movement (complete with a five-day power reserve display) revealed on both the dial side and caseback.
Richard Mille Gemset Sapphire RM 07-02
With the new gem-set RM 07-02 sapphire case models, Richard Mille—a pioneer in the sapphire case development—balances transparency, color, and sparkle in some seriously striking ladies’ timepieces. Whether in blue, green, or pink, each sapphire case of the Gemset Sapphire RM 07-02, machined from a single giant block takes, around 40 days to finish. Then there’s the added task of setting a dozen lines of diamonds in the sapphire bezel. Finally, each dial is further embellished with colored gems in a complementary hue: nephrite for the green sapphire, mother-of-pearl for the blue sapphire, and jasper for the pink sapphire, along with a white diamond set into the crown.