Depicting five iconic wild animals, an elephant, a tiger, a panda, a gorilla or a rhino – all of which are listed by the World Wildlife Fund as being under threat – the GyroGraff Endangered Species collection pioneered a new métiers d’art developed exclusively in-house. Called diamond-marquetry, the groundbreaking technique has enabled Graff to capture the nobility and power of some of the world’s most revered creatures on the dials of five GyroGraff timepieces, in an intricate mosaic of polished metal parts and precious stones.
The creative process began with artistic drawings of the dials, with openings for the GyroGraff’s signature double-axis tourbillon and spherical moon phase complications, and with space for a power reserve indicator at 1 o’clock. Skilled craftsmen and highly experienced engineers then worked together to break the dials down into their individual components – an artform in itself, given that the number ranges from 112 for the panda to a remarkable 139 separate elements for the gorilla.
Over a background of midnight blue aventurine – a shimmering backdrop for the gemstones – the animal forms began to take shape. Comprising between three and six bespoke mounts, which in turn hold a number of white or black gold plaquettes, or small plates, the different elements were applied, piece by precious piece: diamonds, parts crafted from polished rhodium-plated white gold or matte or micro-blasted black gold, and, in the case of the tiger, vibrant cognac sapphires.It was the task of the gem-setter to precisely match each piece, with absolutely no room for error.
Each diamond and sapphire – unique in size and weight – was custom cut to fit the design and some of the elements were minute. The tiniest of tweaks to the size or cut of a stone would have completely changed the look and feel of the animal.
A masterclass in gem-setting, each dial is a breathtaking work of art. Undoubtedly among the most complex ever envisaged in the world of watchmaking, the GyroGraff Endangered Species collection is a celebration of both Graff’s mastery of métiers d’art and the majesty of these magnificent beasts.