Beauregard Lili Candy: A Lollipop Spiral Of Precious Goodness
After months of anticipation, when Alexandre Beauregard finally showed me his wonderful new Lili Candy model at one of the few fairs in 2021 he described it as “a spiral of goodness.” And I could immediately see why.
Beauregard’s Lili Candy is the latest creation by the Montreal-based boutique brand specializing in hand-worked rare stones and it is a triumph of the art of lapidary. Lili Candy’s case takes its circular, crown-less shape from the Lili Bouton model that followed the rectangular Lili we might remember from the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (the crown of the quartz watch is on the back so that it doesn’t disturb the design).
Beauregard’s Lili Candy was officially introduced at Dubai Watch Week 2021. Instead of the beautiful hand-carved and hand-set petals that we have come to know and love in Beauregard’s horologically inclined creations, the Lili Candy’s most prominent feature is the “spiral” of stones comprising white opal, carnelian, Fanta opal, yellow opal, chrysoprase, topaz, amethyst, and mother-of-pearl, all fashioned to resemble an old-fashioned lollipop.
Beauregard Lili Candy: manufacturing the complicated spiral
Despite its looks, this watch is not as “simple” as it might look from the outside: the spiral is the key here.
“The very challenging part on this on the Candy watch, other than having all the components sourced before we put it together, is to get the round shape, which we do on the lathes. The thing is that all of these stones react differently and have different degrees of hardness,” Beauregard explained. “So the lathe is going at like .02 miles an hour, and we work only with diamond-tipped tools. We make our own tools, and it takes a lot of time. And you cannot just leave the stones on there and let it work by itself, you need to be on it all the time.”
This is even harder than Beauregard makes it sound. These semiprecious stones making up the “lollipop” – various types of opal, carnelian, chrysoprase, topaz, amethyst, and even mother-of-pearl in unseen locations – all have different degrees of hardness on the Mohs scale, which is the scale used by jewelers and scientists to determine how hard a stone is, a very important consideration when cutting and working gemstones, especially of the semiprecious variety. Diamond is at the top of the scale (10) as the hardest – which is why lapidaries and stone cutters use diamond-tipped tools to cut other stones – while talc is the softest (1).
Topazes and quartzes come in between 7 and 8, while opals range between 5 and 6.5. So it’s easy to see that lots of care, attention, and thought must go into both cutting these semiprecious gems and putting them together to form one whole in the way that Beauregard has done.
“You see the white opal?” Alex Beauregard asked me as we studied the Lili Candy’s spiral. “At the smallest, it’s less than a millimeter thick. It’s just so fragile and difficult to work to get the perfect curvature.”
And, interestingly, most of the clear stones have mother-of-pearl underneath them so that when the light hits, the mother-of-pearl reflects upwards and the color comes out the right way. “The yellow opal I think it’s the most spectacular: you see the play of light because of the mother-of-pearl underneath it,” Beauregard added.
After first cutting the semiprecious gemstones to the approximate shape needed, they are cemented together using a special adhesive for the watch and jewelry industry and then very, very carefully cut as a whole to the exact shape needed to complete the precise spiral.
“It’s very challenging to make,” agreed Beauregard, “and it’s very different from what I’ve been doing in the past, which are all separate components. This one is like a little jigsaw puzzle. In the Dahlia and Lili collections, and now the Lili Bouton, we have many components that are individual, so if one breaks then you just replace it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s still manageable.”
But the Lili Candy’s spiral is one piece made of many. “So if you break it, you have like one week of work that goes into repairing it,” Beauregard continued. “So it was super delicate doing this one.”
Once the hardest part is finally over – getting the spiral perfect – the whole “donut” is tension set onto the dial using a gold ring.
Beauregard Lili Candy: availability
“I think life is about moments,” Beauregard mused as we kept talking about his upwardly mobile career in the watch industry. And as good as things have gotten for him, like for all independent creators working through the pandemic, there is one issue that has become increasingly difficult: availability. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have caused a run on hard-to-get, handmade watches, and this situation has also begun to touch Beauregard’s production. Almost all of his timepieces are made to order, which means that they are unique pieces reflecting his clients desires for specific gemstones.
But the difficulty in manufacturing the spiral for the Lili Candy made Beauregard realize that he needed to make a small series of them, so there will be ten pieces in the first production run.
And all told, he will probably end up with around 30-40 pieces made this year for the whole collection, which also includes the rectangular Lili, the round Lili Bouton, and the complicated Dahlia tourbillon watch – though he says he is only going to be able to make about six of that amazing and sophisticated timepiece. And at the end 2021, Beauregard’s order books was already almost full for 2022.
It’s a labor of love for Beauregard, and one hopes that his clientele appreciates that. At the moment, his order book seems to confirm that they do.
For more information, please visit beauregard.ch/en/collection/lili-candy.
Quick Facts Beauregard Lili Candy
Case: 33 x 9.5 mm, pink gold, white gold, or platinum set with 116 VVS DEF brilliant-cut diamonds
Dial: hand-carved and hand-set spiral comprising white opal, carnelian, Fanta opal, yellow opal, chrysoprase, topaz, amethyst, and mother-of-pearl
Movement: ETA E01.701 quartz
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 10 pieces in the first production
Price: CHF 26,500 (pink gold), CHF 29,000 (white gold)
Remark: interchangeable satin strap and clasp