Graff, the watchmaking Grail of the diamond king
The family brand is inevitably associated with the most beautiful diamonds in the world. In 2016, Graff has reminded us once again with its great complications why it also has an enviable watchmaking reputation too.
The main characteristic of diamonds is that they are multifaceted. Founded by Laurence Graff in 1960, the English brand which is easily identifiable by its signature green color, confirms that it is just as multifaceted as these precious stones.
Uniqueness-loving women and men, 2016 highlights
There’s no doubt about it: diamonds' true and first nature is feminine as they have always been and will always be a girl's best friend. Besides, the brand introduced the Graff Princess Butterfly at Baselworld 2016; a sort of a quintessential piece halfway between a watch and a piece of jewelry. Exclusively made for women, in white or pink diamonds and pink or violet sapphires, the timepiece is the new element in the development of a collection entirely dedicated to the poetry of the Lepidoptera. The 2016 piece was a mysterious watch that came with a satin strap. By pressing one of the diamonds, the butterfly wings part seamlessly to reveal a mother-of-pearl dial.
It's a poetic sculptural ballet during which the proud nobility of diamonds questions the passing of time in the most mundane yet brilliant way. It's quite the enchantment.
Men have not been left out, though. Indeed, in 2009, the international brand that has around fifty stores all over the world made a serious breakthrough in horology excellence with a rather masculine inclination. Graff is slowly but surely making a place for itself in this circle reserved for Manufactures, in-house calibers, complications such as the tourbillon, or skeletonizing skills. In March 2016, it surprised all and sundry with a Perpetual Calendar, one of the greatest watchmaking complications. The piece displays calendar information that will only need setting once every 120 years. It is a micro technical achievement, synonym of functionality,which is the very definition of a complication.
The brand has also added in 2016 a world premiere in the GyroGraff collection. It is driven by an in-house hand-wound caliber that displays hours, minutes, moon phases (via an inclined globe that makes a complete spin every 29 and a half days) and it features an exceptional 72-hour power reserve. All this is surrounded by the moving magic of a two-axis tourbillon affixed halfway between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock, with the winding stem at 2 o'clock. It is water resistant to 3 ATM and it has a 48-mm case, which leaves no doubt that it is a masculine piece.Yet, its diamond-set pink gold middle could lead anyone to believe otherwise. However, to keep things interesting, it is also available in a white gold version completely set in diamonds, even on the sides.
Laurence Graff, the "king of diamonds"
Laurence Graff, who owes his nickname to his passion for diamonds, has offices in London, New York and Geneva. He sells his creations within his own network of around 50 stores. Graff has created a watch collection of twenty something references and produced thousands of watches throughout the world, including in Geneva, Gstaad and Zurich, and a recently-opened store on the Place Vendôme, Paris.
It's highly symbolic! The brand's values – quality, outstanding skills and style – encompass much more than just the gemstones. Indeed, while Graff's lifetime fascination for diamonds has been his driving force, he has kept the brand's expansion within his family. His son François is today the CEO and some of the other members of his family hold key positions too.
The brand's supplier, the South African Diamond Corporation (Safdico), a wholesaler based in Johannesburg, has also joined the group. It is one of the leading diamond producers in South Africa and has one of the biggest cutting and polishing factories in Johannesburg. Among the thousands of carats that are cut and polished there, only the best are sent to Graff. Graff diamonds are also worked in workshops in New York and Antwerp, and more recently Safdico opened a new job-creating center of excellence at the heart of the Diamond Technology Park.
Sponsored by the Graff Diamonds Foundation, the FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time) Foundation finances the education, health and well-being of orphans and abandoned children in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2008.
They also finance a center in Lesotho, and another one that opened in Botswana in 2011. The Foundation also provides for the children of South African vineyards. In 2014, the FACET foundation sponsored an innovative program of mobile centers, which help populations of over a thousand children and adults in the same region.