Animal Inspired Watch Design

In the world of Haute Horlogerie, the finest watchmakers are breathing life into their dials by using them as canvases to reinterpret majestic creatures of the animal kingdom. The art of embellishing a watch dial often referred to as métiers d’art, is an art that dates back centuries. 

Today, brands and their adept artisans are using ever-more innovative methods for ornamentation to take their products designs to a whole new level by drawing inspiration from wild animals. Take a walk on the wild side and unleash your animal instincts with our top picks of animal-inspired watches.

Cartier Panthère et Colibri

Photo: Cartier AU, AU$322,000

Imagined as a tableau vivant, the Panthères et Colibri watch is less a timepiece and more a poetic expression of Cartier’s expertise as both watchmaker and jeweller; an art that has over the years earned them the title, “King of Jewellers, Jeweller of Kings”. 

The aesthetic is exquisite and the decoration refined: the black diamond-studded background of the dial features a filigree of wild plants. A majestic panther, her coat paved with diamonds and flecked with black lacquer, takes up the black, diamond-spotted dial. She, not hours and minutes, is the true star of this 42.75-mm watch whose white gold bezel glows with the fire of diamonds. 

A press on the winding crown, and the panther cub darts from between its mother’s paws to startle a golden hummingbird. The mechanism thus activated is, in fact, that of the power reserve.

Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas Watch

Photo: Bvlgari AU, $26.000,00

Merging two of the most iconic symbols of Bvlgari’s design, the Serpenti Tubogas Ladies’ watch coils the sinuosity of the snake with the contemporary soul of tubogas. 

Evoking both the sensual curves of a woman and the fluid shape of the serpent, the timepiece is crafted with the shapely lines of this specific technique, with a flexible and tubular litheness. Radiating glamour and a truly individual style, this watch marks a distinctive chapter in the constant evolution of the Serpenti pieces.

Wrapping around the wrist with an 18ct rose gold and stainless steel bracelet strap, this stunning timepiece features a striking blue dial, an 18ct rose gold bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds and a polished steel case.

Hermés, Arceau Awoooo

Photo: Hermes, Price on request

Hermès is one of few fashion brands also capable of making Haute Horlogerie combining traditional artisanal techniques with contemporary technology. 

A shimmering example of this is the Hermès Arceau Awoooo.

For this rich and intriguing dial, the artisans at Hermès recall a wolf howling at the moon hanging in a star-studded sky. Far removed from childhood fears, fairy tales or horror films, the Hermès wolf has nothing very scary about it. In fact, with its nose raised to the moon and its fur blending in with the night sky scattered with tiny white stars, it is adorable and even inspires respect.

The wolf’s fur shines in hues of silver, grey, brown and blue — all achieved via intense and meticulous enamel work. The artist begins with a white-gold base that is enamelled white. Then, hand-paints enamel on both sides of the dial to achieve depth and dimension. Each layer of enamel is fired in the oven before the next can be applied. In the centre of the enamel miniature painting, two silvered, leaf-shaped hands display the hours and minutes.

Graff, Gyrograff Endangered Species

Photo: Gaff, Price available upon request

Graff, on a project that can be described as one of the most ambitious they’ve ever undertaken, unveiled five unique GyroGraff Endangered Species watches that celebrate five iconic wild animals, elephant, tiger, panda, gorilla and rhino, all listed under the threat of extinction by the World Wildlife Fund. 

This gorilla dial is created using a technique of diamond and metal marquetry. The artisan combines mixed cuts and shapes of polished gold and diamonds and hand-sets them individually to form the gorilla, leaving room for the 3D moon phase and the complicated GyroGraff double-axis tourbillon. 

In total, there are 139 individual parts positioned against a blue aventurine backdrop. The 48mm case is bedecked with invisibly set baguette-cut diamonds in a mosaic motif. The moon phase, a white gold sphere whose surface is hand-engraved with lunar craters, makes one complete rotation in 29.5 days to follow the moon’s phases. A power-reserve indicator completes the picture.

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