The golden acanthus leaves, filigree, and figurines festooned on a new collection of timepieces from Dolce & Gabanna probably come as a shock to those who are accustomed to the Swiss watch industry’s more conservative lines.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana aren’t exactly known for doing things by halves so when they turned their hand to Haute Horlogerie you can bet your life that they were determined to come up with some spectacular timepieces.

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The collection of Dolce & Gabbana‘s four one-of-a-kind pieces are inspired by Guiseppe Verdi’s operas – OtelloNabuccoMacbeth and Don Carlo – using precious metals and gemstones in the style of the great Italian goldsmiths.

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The ornamentation of Alta Orologeria takes cues from Italy, including the Sicilian baroque architecture that has long inspired the brand. Although these references contrast with watchmaking north of the Alps, a closer inspection of the pieces reveals attention to detail that would warm the heart of any Swiss artisan: Every surface has been finely engraved by hand.

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The collection comes from the high-end couture clothing the brand does for a very select clientele. From that, we began making high-end jewelry several years ago. These were extraordinary pieces with a great deal of handwork. The watches, which we are bringing out this year, are an extension of that.”, says Walter Veneruz, director of the Alta Orologeria program.

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The cases are cast and then hand-carved and engraved. Such involved steps do not easily lend themselves to modern serial production, but they do allow for a high level of creative freedom. The tourbillon minute repeater in this first Alta Orologeria line has an elaborately decorated case over a hand-polished jade dial. A later version will feature a micromosaic dial inspired by the floor of Sicily’s Duomo di Monreale.

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“Mr. Gabbana loves to do unique pieces,” says Veneruz. “They’ve done research on antique techniques, not just in jewelry but in watches as well. The watches are created in that spirit. Everything must be made by hand.”

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This luxury watch, Otello, has a mechanical movement with manual winding from the early 20th century that was engraved for the occasion by Italian artisans and restored by expert Swiss watchmakers. And they all come in restored antique boxes. And at this level, well prices are strictly on the application.