It may not have been the most expensive watch presented at Baselworld this year (that was Graff’s “The Fascination” at a cool 40 million dollars) but the Billionaire watch generated just as much interest with its hefty 18 million-dollar price tag. And while The Fascination gets by with “only” 152.96 carats of diamonds, the Billionaire is resplendent with 260 carats of the finest quality Breitling replica UK stones.
The question of what makes this watch so special therefore seems ridiculous. And yet to fully appreciate the magnificence of this timepiece, you need to go right down to the minutest detail. WorldTempus asked Jacob Arabo himself to explain just why the Billionaire watch is worthy of its name.
“It has been a two-year project and we had to be able to cut and match every single stone so that each one matches its twin sister or twin brother, not just quality wise but also in terms of shape and depth and the polish on the stone,” he explains. “So you have to take certain losses into account in order to achieve this uniformity. That’s one challenge. Then you have to graduate it perfectly, with the first row starting at 3 carats each, then the next one at 2.5, then 2 and so on, all the way down to 0.5 carats on the clasp. Everything has to match.”
The stone setting on this colossal 58mm x 47.5mm timepiece is worthy of special mention. Each stone is set into an inverted pyramid of 18-carat white gold beads to ensure an invisible setting that is all the more impressive when you view the watch from different angles and see that all the junctions between the stones – even on the outer edges – are perfectly seamless. One of the crowning elements of the watch is the crown itself, which is a solid 2-carat diamond set into a prong, so that you actually grasp a solid diamond every time you wind the watch.
As Jacob Arabo reminds us, “we must not forget that it is a watch, too, not just a piece of jewellery.” As much attention has been lavished on the manually-wound tourbillon movement as on the choice and setting of the diamonds. “We designed the skeleton tourbillon movement together with Concepto,” he explains. “The finishes on every bridge of the movement took three weeks. Each one is finished separately by hand.” The finishes on this exclusive JCAM09 tourbillon calibre include hand bevelled edges and drawn flanks against a sand-blasted base, all clearly visible thanks to a skeleton design that arranges the movement components in a vertical line, seemingly suspended between nine arms that extend to the perimeter of the main plate, where they are completed with an individual diamond hour marker.
The Billionaire watch was presented together with Flavio Briatore, who owns the Billionaire Couture brand and is a personal friend of Jacob Arabo. “Billionaire was an inspiration for this watch,” admits Mr Arabo. “From the first day when the idea came to my mind, I knew I was going to name it this way. My friend Flavio was delighted to be part of it and to give this amazing watch the name of Billionaire. Before Baselworld, he only saw drawings. Until he saw it in real life he did not fully grasp how beautiful it was. He came to Basel and when he walked into my office his jaw dropped.”
As befits a watch for a billionaire, there will only be one piece made, although the name is likely to live on in the replica Breitling Super Ocean watches collection. “I don’t think it will be just one watch,” says Mr Arabo. “The first one is of course a unique piece but I think that the concept could have a long life. But each watch will be a unique piece in its own right.”