The Harry Winston Ocean Waterfall Automatic: a Shower of Diamonds

Richard Brown

9 July 2018

Romancing the stone: a tapestry of more than 300 baguette-cut diamonds, Harry Winston’s latest timepiece is a throwback to the brand’s Art Deco beginnings

9 July 2018 | Richard Brown

In Randle Cotgrave’s 1673 French and English Dictionary the word ‘baguette’ is described as meaning ‘little jewel’. The word in old French means stick or rod. In the same dictionary ‘bague’ means a ‘ring or jewel set with precious stone’. We can, therefore, presume that the baguette-cut diamond, seen in jewellery and religious adornment since the 16th century, took its name from a merging of these two similar words, and not from a long loaf of French bread. Dictionaries didn’t connect ‘baguette’ with any sort of flour-based food staple until the 20th century.

Another titbit of trivia: while the Art Deco movement may have reached its acme during booming, early 20th-century American industrialism, the phenomenon actually got its moniker from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925.

In its rejection of the flowing shapes and floral motifs of the Art Nouveau, and in its desire to distil design down to the most basic of geometric elements, this new, cleaner, more rigid, less embellished aesthetic-driven movement favoured the straight line over the sinuous curve. The rectangle of modern machinery over the circular whimsy of Romanticism. In fashion, Art Deco expressed itself in the form of straight-line flapper dresses; in jewellery, in the shape of the baguette-cut diamond and in one jewellery designer in particular – a man by the name of Harry Winston.

Opening his first store in New York City in 1932, Winston launched his eponymous brand as Art Deco was approaching its apex. The 36-year-old embraced this brave new world by adopting the angular shapes of contemporary art and architecture in his own daring designs. His jewellery was defined by its symmetrically-balanced geometry. The baguette-cut diamond became his go-to stone.

Eight decades later, and this year’s Ocean Waterfall Automatic 36mm is a celebration of that 14-faceted cut. In total, the 18kt white gold timepiece comprises an extraordinary 307 baguette-cut sparklers; 118 on its bezel, lugs and case sides; 165 on its dial; and a further 24 on its strap buckle.

One of the pioneers of invisible gem setting, Harry Winston believed that diamonds should be free from heavy metal settings. True to this approach, the dial of the Ocean Waterfall Automatic 36mm is an assortment of different sized gems, invisibly set, which radiate out from 12 o’clock around a retrograde small second display and an excentered hours and minutes counter.

Inside, an automatic movement by Blancpain – both brands belong to the Swatch Group, Harry Winston having being acquired by the conglomerate in 2013 – features a flat silicon balance spring and provides a 65-hour power reserve.

Yet for all of the micro mechanics, it is the timepiece’s diamonds that do the talking – those and another 43 pink sapphires.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend – one lady in particular in this case, as only a singular Ocean Waterfall Automatic 36mm is being produced.