Watches: Graff MasterGraff Ultra Flat Icon Skeleton (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 22, 2014

Throughout its 50 year history, Graff has handled the world’s most fabulous and treasured gemstones. From the “Star of Bombay” in 1974 to the “Graff Sweathearts” in 2011, the company diamond timeline includes some of the most mythical stones including my personal favourites: the "Hope of Africa" (1992), the "Empress Rose" (2001), the "Wittelsbacch-Graff" (2009) and the "Graff Pink" (2010).

Although the brand’s reputation in the High Jewellery segment in undisputed, many doubted it would be able to make a name for itself in the very different world of Haute Horology. However, with distinctive designs and an uncompromising approach to watchmaking, Graff has gradually managed to present timepieces that live up to its jewellery standards.

I have recently discussed one of the latest additions to the brand’s portfolio on Watch Agora: the MasterGraff Grand Date Dual Time TourbillonWatches: Graff MasterGraff Grand Date Dual Time Tourbillon (+live pics) collection unveiled at Baselworld this year and featuring a second time zone, a large date and a flying tourbillon in the same timepiece.

For many observers, it is probably with the MasterGraff Ultra Flat Tourbillon presented in 2013 that the brand earned its watchmaking status. As it should be, what makes this timepiece so special is the Graff 4 calibre it houses. One year in development, this remarkable hand-wound movement combines two of the most sought-after complications: an extreme thinness and the presence of a flying tourbillon.

Incorporating a complex minute ball bearing system that enables the tourbillon to operate under its extreme thinness of just 3.5 mm, this stunning feat of engineering deserves its spot in the horological hall of fame. Even incorporated into the brand’s 43 mm facetted case, the watch still boasts an impressive thinness of 7.05 mm!

Available in different case materials and dial selections last year, this exceptional timepiece was even presented in a full pavé version in Basel this year. But far from this (beautiful) bling version, it is in a much more “horological form” that this high-end timepiece made an impression at the fair this past March.

Indeed, the brand introduced two skeletonised versions named the MasterGraff Ultra Flat Icon Skeleton. Both models feature Graff’s signature facetted 43 mm case crafted in titanium that received either a black DLC or a Chocolate DLC coating. In both cases, the lugs, crowns and sword-shaped hands are made of rose gold and bring a nice warm and contrasting colour note.

Each watch features an openwork ceramic dial (black or chocolate depending on the model) hollowed out to form the Graff Icon pattern. This extremely contemporary structure provides enough transparency for us to admire the inner workings of this amazing timepiece. The Black DLC Titanium and Rose Gold is mounted on a black alligator strap and the Chocolate DLC Titanium and Rose Gold rendition is paired with a chocolate brown alligator strap. Both models showcase a rose gold pin buckle to match the crown and lugs.

These watches are beautifully designed and reveal a younger and edgier side of Graff. The choice of titanium as the main material for the case is absolutely relevant as its lightness somehow enhances the effect of the skeleton dial. Although in its raw form it would have felt odd on a Graff watch, the black or chocolate DLC coating bring out the refinement such a timepiece deserves. Similarly, the rose gold touches are scattered enough not to ruin the contemporary look or distract from the dial and movement behind, but they remain nonetheless important enough to strengthen the luxurious feel of the watch while bringing some light to the ensemble.

Although I would be equally delighted to wear both renditions, the Chocolate DLC Titanium and Rose Gold is by far my first choice. The combination of chocolate brown and rose gold is absolutely sumptuous and there is still something unusual about a chocolate DLC coating. If the brand keeps up the good work and continues to unveil such stunning timepieces, maybe one day they will be able to add a “timepiece timeline” in a “Famous Watches” section of their web site!