Six years ago Dior first unveiled an unusual mechanical timepiece whose rotor had been shifted from the back of the movement, on to the dial side. Since then, the distinctive Dior VIII Grand Bal watch has risen to immense worldwide popularity, cementing itself as a modern-day icon of the maison. These watches are a sub collection of the Dior VIII collection that is named after its superstitious founder Christian Dior’s launch date of his couture line, October 8, 1946, as well as the 8th arrondissement in Paris where his original boutique still conducts business today.
Who would have imagined that an oscillating weight, the practical component that drives energy to the heart of the movement, when pushed to the fore, would be a brilliant canvas for showcasing a delightful variety of decorative techniques? Meant to swivel gracefully like the elaborate ball gowns designed by Monsieur Dior, these rotors have been set with diamonds of different cuts, precious stones, fabric, feathers and even beetle shells over the last six years.
At Baselworld 2017, Dior unveiled a capsule collection of 10 one-off creations, with each representing a different constellation. Available with diamond-set bezels, the Dior Grand Bal Pièce Unique Galaxie collection features models in yellow gold (the Dorado, Andromeda and Columba), pink gold (the Monoceros, Phœnix and Grus) and white gold (the Draco, Cygnus and Pavo). These are a testament to the brand’s mastery over marquetry with Australian white opal, gem-setting and a deluge of diamond-cutting styles.
Other additions to Dior’s Grand Bal line include the Dior VIII Grand Ball Plissé Ruban and the Dior VIII Grand Bal Plume. The former interprets the Dior Grand Bal’s iconic pleated-fan rotor in yellow gold, white gold, diamonds and a band of silky ribbon. Like a precious petticoat, it swivels around a pink and gold pleated dial according to the wearer’s movements. Offered in a classic 36mm case and driven by Dior’s exclusive and Swiss-made Inversé 11 ½ calibre, it is housed in a polished stainless steel that comes embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds and Dior VIII’s signature yellow gold bezel ring. This watch is limited to 188 pieces worldwide.
The latter, another memorable debutante at Baselworld 2017, is offered in a 36mm diamond-set stainless steel case. Offered with a malachite or aventurine dial, the Dior Inversé 11½” calibre’s visible rotor is adorned with 25 white feathers and accentuated by round-cut tsavorite garnets (matched with the malachite dial) or pink sapphires (aventurine dial) with Dior-patented round-cut diamonds. Its shiny alligator strap is further fastened by a steel prong buckle set with round-cut diamonds. A translucent sapphire crystal caseback with golden metallization and shaded effect lends a sneak peek at the Swiss-made movement.
Finally, a 2017 Chinese New Year Limited Edition of the Dior VIII Grand Bal Plume was also unveiled, which showcases a golden sun-brushed dial shaded with translucent red lacquer. Secured to the wrist by a red alligator strap with a steel prong buckle with brilliant-cut diamonds, this 88-piece limited -edition’s white feathered yellow gold rotor is also set with Dior-patented round-cut diamonds, in emphatic celebration of the Year of the Rooster, and the 70th anniversary of Dior’s Haute Couture of course.