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What’s the difference between aftermarket diamond or factory set? Discover the influence of celebrity culture on the watch market, as we divulge into some of the best icy watches out there. 

“Frost yourself” utters Matthew McConaughey in his discernible honey tones in the seminal 2003 rom-com, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The ostensible line, marketing the use of diamond jewellery has made headway in the watch world, given the influx of icing, and not of the sugary kind. Not to be confused with Ice Watches, the rainbow-colored plastic watches that brought fashion accessories and timekeeping into a new partnership back in 2007, today, icing parlance today means to decorate a watch in diamonds. 

After hours of acquainting myself with endless Reddit threads and forums, the icing debate seems to be the marmite topic in watchmaking: is it crass to the brands identity, or is it an expression of a watches spectacle? Whether you’re for or against, or even on the fence, it comes down to two things: the aftermarket or the factory. 

Head to Urban Dictionary where anything can mean everything – and obviously we’ve all searched our name at some point – and you’ll find the term bust down, “when you buy a rolley or an expensive watch and add more diamonds to it after purchase,” reads the definition. Bust down, iced out, custom; it’s much of a muchness, referencing the aftermarket modifications to a watches features, be it bracelet, or bezel. Inserting stones by filing or shaving portions of the watch away, the ‘purity’ of the watch is compromised from its original form, affecting the resale value. 

If that is why you’ve purchased your vessel of time, then steer clear of the aftermarket, and opt for factory-set diamonds instead, placed in by the brand as part of the watches original aesthetic, and oftentimes at a higher karat. That said, a watch is an extension of our personality, so do what works for you. If diamonds are your best friend, no one’s stopping you. If financial investment is your even closer friend, stick to the factory. For partisans of heritage, you may as well be getting a spray can and squirting it all over the Girl with the Pearl Earring. But maybe she wanted some hoops? 

Whether you die by the sword of convention, or you hold the torch for polarity, discover some of the best iced-out, glittering, need-to-wear-shades-to-hide-the-glare watches that we’re obsessing over.  

If we were Drake and owned this watch, we wouldn’t stop talking about it either. Paying homage to his iced-out emerald green Patek, the second owned by the founder of Off-White and legendary Virgil Abloh, the  bejeweled Patek Philippe Nautilus was designed and customized by Virgil Abloh himself.  Drake and Abloh’s Nautilus 5726 is completely covered in emeralds, with a moon phase complication and annual calendar. We’re green with envy.

It’s the watch of CR7 himself, while the rest of the world was screaming at Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United, we were too busy screaming at his Franck Muller watch. Holding back in neither names nor diamonds, the Franck Muller Tourbillon, 42mm, 18 carat white gold is fully set with baguette diamonds. Crafted with ‘serti mysterieux’ in French, translating ‘Mystery Set’ – a method of setting gemstones with no visible mounting, also called ‘invisible setting’. What’s not so invisible is the price, weighing in at 2 milli.

There was us thinking we delivered the goods to friends and family for Christmas just gone. Who remembers when Queen Bey gifted Jay-Z a $5 million Big Bang from Hublot encrusted with 1,282 diamonds for his 43rd birthday?  The blinged-up Big Bang was put on display at BaselWorld (RIP) and was believed to be the most expensive timepiece on display at this year’s show. Oh to be Blue Ivy.

This one’s for the factory fans. She’s tried cooking, singing, acting, dancing. The whole nine yards. But lest we forget when Paris Hilton gifted the world with her own watch line, offering an 18K White Gold Diamond Mystery Watch. Say no more. 

It’s high time we dedicated a section of TNH to DJ Khaled’s watch collection alone given the impressive number of high-quality and extremely rare timepieces the musician owns. But there’s no aftermarket in sight for his Patek Philippe Nautilus boasting 1,343 diamonds, not fit for those who like the TV volume on an even number. Priced at $453,600 USD (shrieks), the model is a hit amongst Drake, Kylie Jenner, J Balvin and Paul Pogba.

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.