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Take 600 Gems, and Cut Them Into Triangles

WENGEN, Switzerland — The Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis calls the Excalibur Superbia, its latest design, “the epitome of extravagance” — but then the one-of-a-kind timepiece has 600 triangular-cut diamonds and blue sapphires set invisibly on a curved surface, and a double flying tourbillon movement.

“Superbia tells the story of our brand in an easy way — we always go beyond,” said Nicola Andreatta, the house’s chief executive.

In Latin, he said, superbia means pride, and the watch “represents our pride and our desire to reinvent the rules.” The listed price: $858,000.

Introduced last month at the new fair Watches & Wonders Shanghai, the opulent white-gold timepiece now is on display in the Chinese resort city of Sanya, on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea, while the brand courts five men from China, Italy and the United States who have expressed interest in the piece.

Mr. Andreatta said the watch was not designed for the Chinese market: It actually was a collaboration with the Japanese interior design artist Kaz Shirane, inspired by the mirrored observation deck he created for the Tokyo Tower in 2018 for the landmark’s 60th anniversary.

The deck’s interior, an art installation, reflects visitors’ images and the Tokyo skyline. “This mirrored space is designed to serve as a receiver and amplifier of the user’s will,” Mr. Shirane wrote in an email. “The space literally reflects the mind of the visitor.”

Talks between the brand and Mr. Shirane started early last year. “Design and aesthetics always come first,” Mr. Andreatta said. “We adapt our technique to the design and then we find way to manufacture it.”

But the process proved to be both difficult and costly. The invisible setting took months to perfect and the amount of the gemstones lost during the cutting process was close to 15 percent rather than the typical 3 percent. “We played with the cut to create triangles throughout the watch, inside and outside,” Mr. Andreatta said. “It’s crazy work. When you go into this triangular shape, the stones become very weak. They touch each other. If you make a little mistake, in the hundredths of millimeters, they break.”

Gregory Bruttin, the house’s product strategy director, said the watch “had one designer, but it took 20 people on the team to achieve the piece.”

Now, Mr. Bruttin said, he hopes that the company will produce one or two variations of Excalibur Superbia each year, allowing clients to tweak the design according to their preferences.

And the brand’s collaboration with Mr. Shirane is continuing. “We keep inventing the unexpected,” Mr. Andreatta said. “We don’t know what comes next.”

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