The name de Grisogono may be more evocative of the flashy, ultra-expensive jewelry you'd expect to see on yachts in Porto Cervo, beaches in Gstaad, nightclubs in Moscow or ski slopes in St. Moritz, but you needn't be particularly rich, famous or both to own some of de Grisogono's best work—its wristwatches.
This year's launch of the de Grisogono Instrumento Novantatre model collection exemplifies the breed. Starting at $10,900, they are bold yet polished men's wristwatches that combine an updated Art Deco design with the functional quality of an annual calendar. Even though prior to 2000 de Grisogono had never made watches, it is already realizing some sterling success by incorporating the style and chic of the glittery lifestyle of the company's founder, Fawaz Gruosi, but in a more sophisticated, urbane way than in his other work. The creator of de Grisogono had made his name during the 1990s as a jeweler, particularly with the promotion of black diamonds. Since turning to watchmaking, the Italian-raised jet-setter has produced only a few thousand each year, but hopes to reach about 10,000 pieces by 2011.
The addition of the complication of an annual calendar sets the Novantatre apart from de Grisogono's earlier efforts. The self- winding ETA movement clocks the month as well as the date and adjusts automatically for the varying numbers of days in a month. (You no longer need to reset the date after a month of only 30 days). The subdial at 12 o'clock counts the date and the one at 8 o'clock registers the month. A third dial (at 5 o'clock) is a second hand.
Gruosi likes to use Italian names for his watches. Hence Novantatre, or 93 in Italian, denotes the watch's large numerals "9" and "3" standing out in the big dark face. The square-shaped case has the iconic shape of a Hermès belt buckle or Dunhill cufflink. The watch measures 47.2 by 40 mm and comes in stainless steel and various golds, including rose and brown. A skeleton back reveals the movement and the oscillating weight. Both are blackened through a special de Grisogono process. Alligator and galuchat straps are available. And, yes, you can specially order jewel adornments.