Fine jewellery expert Francois Graff on combining flawless gems and watchmaking mechanics at Baselworld
The CEO of royal jewellers Graff talks to Baselworld ahead of the international watch fair
As the annual Baselworld watch fair approaches, the list of incredible exhibitors and most innovative minds within haute horology premiering at the event grows ever longer - and more exciting. Among them is jewellers Graff, which has developed a luxury watch division that pairs its fine gem expertise with the finest Swiss engineering.
Now spearheaded by CEO Francois Graff – whose father Laurence Graff OBE founded the company in 1960 and rose to fame as London's King of Diamonds -– the watch division will be launching timepieces for men and ladies at the Swiss watch fair. It's an exciting blend of fine jewellery and watchmaking from the house, which is synonymous with fine yellow diamonds. In 2014 they launched a $55m 'Hallucination' quartz watch encrusted with multicoloured diamonds.
Here, Graff spoke to Baselworld about their plans for exhibiting, preparing for Baselworld, and what it's like being counted among the industry's finest minds…
Baselworld: Which important premiere will we experience at Baselworld 2018?
Francoise Graff: This year we have a number of exciting launches to unveil at Baselworld, including two important métiers d'art offerings, for ladies and men. The Graff Floral is a ladies' automatic timepiece that features a kinetic floral dial, combining imaginative aesthetics with complex watchmaking. For men, we have created a series of unique MasterGraff watches inspired by Japanese art and culture, showcasing some of the world's most intricate artisanal craftsmanship. In addition to these timepieces, we will also have several unique jewellery watches on display, which are the result of a close collaboration between our London jewellery atelier and Graff Luxury Watches in Switzerland.
How do you recognise quality?
We operate at the pinnacle of the luxury jewellery industry. Our diamond and gemstone experience, coupled with our access to the rarest and most exquisite stones through our vertically integrated network, means we are surrounded by the world's very best quality diamonds and manufacture every day. Perfection is our benchmark; it's what our clients expect, and only perfection will suffice. >>
What would you like to experience at Baselworld 2018?
Baselworld brings together the finest luxury brands of the very highest calibre, and gives us the opportunity to develop the expansion of our business on a global level. We always hope to make strong sales from both new and existing partners, contributing to our sustained trajectory of growth.
How do you prepare for Baselworld 2018?
Much preparation goes into our attendance at Baselworld, beginning in our design studio and at Graff Luxury Watches in Switzerland, where the initial concepts are developed for the pieces that we will present. A lengthy collaborative process then ensues, ensuring that the timepieces we unveil are a pure distillation of our brand - they must epitomise horological ingenuity, impeccable diamond setting and creative flair. We remain a family business, and each member of the Graff team applies their knowledge, skill and passion to ensure that we present the world's most fabulous jewels and watches.
Is there anyone in particular whom you would like to meet at Baselworld or in your life? What would you ask him or her?
One of the most enjoyable elements of Baselworld is its ability to bring together the industry's finest minds - you never know who you might bump into while exploring the stands of other prominent brands. This creates a fascinating melting pot of ideas, opinions and innovation - a truly inspiring environment.
Interview courtesy of Baselworld