She is the woman of the moment.
So when Taylor Swift appeared at the Grammys on Sunday night, it’s no surprise that all eyes were on her and, in particular, a custom Lorraine Schwartz black diamond choker with an Art Deco-style Concord watch in center.
Was this a new move from tastemaker Taylor?
Well, not entirely. Another pop queen, Rihanna, did something similar last year, wearing a Brilliant Flying Tourbillon set with Jacob & Co baguette diamonds on a crocodile watch strap around her neck at a Louis Vuitton show.
But it’s real-life royalty who originally set the pace with show watches.
Taylor Swift appeared at the 66th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles wearing a custom Lorraine Schwartz black diamond choker and a Concord watch around her neck.
Diana, Princess of Wales, enjoyed playing with royal jewels. This choker has a sapphire as its centerpiece, but the diamonds come from the strap of a watch, part of the Saudi set of wedding gifts given by the Saudi royal family.
Wedding gifts received by Prince Charles and Princess Diana of the Saudi royal family on display at St. James’s Palace, London, 4 August 1981
Queen Victoria, centre, with her husband Prince Albert and their family at the opening of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851.
During her visit to the Great Exhibition, Queen Victoria was especially impressed by a Patek Philippe watch with an innovative keyless winding and adjustment system. She bought a pale blue pendant watch decorated with rose-cut diamonds in a gold flower design. It was worn with a necklace.
When watches first appeared in Italy in the late 15th century, they were actually designed as pieces of jewelry and that also served to tell the time.
A couple of centuries later, watches were even worn in hair. I have no doubt that Queen Marie Antoinette would have had several watches tangled in her enormous hairdo.
On a visit to the Great Exhibition in 1851, Queen Victoria was particularly impressed by an innovative keyless winding and adjustment system from Patek Philippe, a name still famous today.
She bought a pale blue pendant watch (to put on a necklace), it was decorated with rose-cut diamonds with a golden flower design.
Diana, Princess of Wales, prefigured Taylor and Rhianna with a watch that she wore as a choker, although in this case only parts of a watch.
Asprey took a wedding gift watch (from Saudi royalty) and transformed it into a beautiful choker that Diana wore to a state dinner in Melbourne in November 1985.
In this case it was the strap or bracelet of cabochon sapphires set in diamonds, which took center stage. They replaced the watch with a large cabochon sapphire (taken from a ring they had made for the princess), to remarkable effect.
In 1799, five years before becoming empress, Josephine commissioned a montre à tact (tactile or discreet watch) from the then most famous watchmaker in the world, Breguet, for her daughter Hortense de Beauhernais.
According to Christie’s, which last sold the watch in 2007, these watches were invented by Abraham Louis Breguet at a time when it was “unseemly to read the time in public.”
You only needed to touch the diamond dial to tell the time. This was designed to be worn at the end of a chain around the neck, but can also be kept in a pocket.
The royal blue enamel case was made by Tavernier and on one side had a white gold, diamond-set rotating arrow that would point to the correct “watch” diamond among the twelve held within a gold frame around the outside of the case .
The Empress clearly enjoyed giving watches to the women in her life. She gave her daughter-in-law, Princess Augusta of Bavaria, a pair of elegant gold bracelets from the imperial jeweler Nitot, now Chaumet; one with a clock hidden under a plaque and the other a calendar.
Both decorated with diamonds and very useful when you need to keep up with the famous and demanding Emperor of timekeeping!
On the reverse was an ‘H’ set with diamonds; in 1806 a diamond crown was added above the H, to indicate her new role as queen consort of Holland. Inside the box was a small watch.
Empress Josephine at Napoleon’s coronation. She was a fan of jeweled watches.
The components of a rare and historic 18K gold, enamel and diamond-set Hunter watch with ‘petite souscription à tact’ case, made for Josephine Bonaparte, Empress of France, and presented to her daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais.
Daughter of the Empress Josephine, Hortense de Beauharnais
The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at a gala dinner at the National Gallery in Washington DC, November 11, 1985. He wears the Vacheron et Constantin cocktail watch given to him by the late Queen Elizabeth II.
According to the Jewelery Editor website, Elizabeth I owns several jeweled watches, including one made as a “gold bangle or bracelet, richly adorned with rubies and diamonds, and having in its clasp a watch.”
David Boettcher of Vintagewatchstraps.com writes about an unusual watch belonging to the Tudor Queen: shaped like a ring, it also had a kind of alarm: “a small tip gently scratched Her Majesty’s finger as the time set.”
Her namesake Elizabeth II didn’t resort to a winding watch to remind her of her appointments, but she did love watches—diamond bracelet watches, no less.
The Vacheron Constantin 4481, given to him by the Federal Republic of Switzerland as a wedding gift, was a watch with a diamond-set bracelet.
The 1947 Vacheron et Constantin cocktail watch, which had been a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) from the Swiss Federal Council.
Etiquette still prohibited looking at the watch in public, so watches with diamond bracelets, an impressive disguise for a discreet watch, became very fashionable.
The Queen later gave it to Princess Diana for her wedding in 1981, who wore it several times, including at a film premiere in 1983.
So Taylor isn’t the first to wear a watch simply as jewelry. In any case, in fact, it is half a millennium late!