Kate Hudson wears the Isadora Diamond in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
It would be easier to list the diamonds that Harry Winston hasn’t seen come and go through its doors since it opened in 1932.
There’s the Hope Diamond – 45.52cts of fancy dark grey-ish blue stone; the Portuguese – a 127.01ct octagonal cut that was part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels; the yellow 80ct Isadora Diamond first worn by Whoopi Goldberg at the 74th Academy awards and then by Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (see above); and the delicately sized Vargas Diamond, which was 726.6cts and discovered in Brazil in 1938.
This is just a small fraction of the list. No wonder Marilyn Monroe asked Harry Winston to tell her all about it, when detailing why “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
It wasn’t until 1989, under the auspices of Harry Winston’s son Ronald – a chemical engineer and a watch collector – that the brand launched its first-ever watch collection.
The Harry Winston Premier collection
Prior to this, the stores had carried examples of rare timepieces from other brands – with jewellery watches for women and men’s timepieces with unique mechanical functions.
The first collection was, somewhat originally, called the Premier. Its case design featured three arches, echoing the façade of the Harry Winston Salon on Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Interestingly, Harry Winston watches are the only Swiss made watches to have dials bearing the moniker “New York”. The watches have always been Swiss made – doubly so now the brand is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swatch Group, an acquisition that happened in 2013 – but the ideas and designs come from its New York studio.
Originally the movements were supplied by Girard-Perregaux or Frederic Piguet but Harry Winston eventually decided to build its own production facility, soliciting the help of watch industry legend F.P Journe to do so.
What really put Harry Winston on the horological map was the announcement of its Opus series in 2001, an initiative that was devised by one Maximillian Busser, who would go on to found the bonkers world of MB&F.
The first Opus, the Opus 1 created by F.P Journe
The idea of these unique creations is to give one watchmaker free reign to create a truly innovative timepiece. Unsurprisingly, F.P Journe kickstarted things with his chronometers, one of which had a movement with two adjacent balance wheels that synched with each other via resonance. Vianney Halter’s Opus 3 was the most sophisticated mechanical watch with a digital strap, while Urwerk’s Felix Baumgartner (not to be confused with the crazy Austrian thrillseeker) took things into sci-fi territories with his creation and Greubel Forsey’s contribution looked a lot like a Greubel Forsey.
It is not just in the Opus watches that Harry Winston experiments. Timepieces such as the Avenue Dual Time present the wearer with new ways of reading timezones, while it has also got its own proprietary metal, Zalium, which is a zirconium-based alloy that originated in the aerospace industry.
Its women’s watches have also come along way since they were first introduced in their jewel-encrusted, mostly quartz guise.
Harry Winston Premiere watches with butterfly and pheasant dials (l-r)
Some now have automatic movements and others have dials that boast decorations such as butterfly wings and pheasant feathers. As well as finding a space for those all-important diamonds; the very rocks on which Harry Winston built his name all those years ago.