Business News: Louis Vuitton Buys World’s Largest Uncut Diamond

The 1,758 carat Sewelô stone.

Just as the inaugural LVMH Watch Week closed its doors – after Hublot, Bulgari and Zenith had presented their new timepieces – Louis Vuitton has something even bigger to boast about. The Parisian luxury brand, which is the biggest component of LVMH, has just acquired a stake in the world’s largest uncut diamond, which is also the second-biggest diamond ever.

Discovered last April at the Karowe mine in Botswana, the Sewelô weighs 1,758 carats, or quite a bit larger than a tennis ball. Sewelo means “rare find” in Setswana, a language spoken in Southern Africa. It was the name chosen from some 22,000 entries that were submitted to a contest run by the mining firm that discovered the stone, Canadian outfit Lucara. Despite the moniker, the Sewelo is not unique – it is the second diamond over 1,000 carats mined by Karowe, after the 1,109 carat Lesedi de Rona found in 2015 and then sold for US$53 million to Graff, which cut it into in several smaller stones.

Currently stored on the top floor of Louis Vuitton’s jewellery store on the Place Vendome in Paris, the Sewelô is covered in carbon, and its quality is unknown, although it was described as “near gem quality”, and containing “domains of high-quality white gem”, by Lucara. According to Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke, quoted in The New York Times, the luxury house will only cut and set the stone after it has found a buyer, instead of keeping it as an object for exhibitions.

Though Louis Vuitton will be marketing and selling the resulting stones to its clients, the luxury-goods house owns only 25% of the Sewelo, according to The New Yorker. Half remains the property of Lucara, and the remaining quarter is owned by Oded Mansori, an Antwerp-based diamond dealer.

While the deal’s value was unannounced, other large, uncut stones have sold for between US$50m-60m in recent years, though those were reputedly of high quality. Despite the eye-watering value, the luxury house can well afford it; 2019 revenue at Louis Vuitton was well over €10 billion, and group revenue at LVMH was a staggering €46.8 billion, a result that helped make its controlling shareholder, Bernard Arnault, the world’s fourth richest man.

Gem-set Louis Vuitton watches. Photo – Louis Vuitton

Conquering “hard” luxury

The acquisition of the stone continues Louis Vuitton’s slow but steady progression into high jewellery, a sector dominated by traditional names like Cartier and Bulgari. Since the brand unveiled its first piece of jewellery in 2001, it has slowly but surely grown its presence, most recently with the 2018 hiring of Francesca Amfitheatrof, formerly chief designer at Tiffany & Co.

At the same time, LVMH has been widening its footprint in “hard” luxury – namely jewellery and watches – having just taken over Tiffany & Co. in November last year in a $16.2 billion deal, the biggest ever acquisition in luxury goods. With the Tiffany acquisition, LVMH now owns two of the three biggest names in jewellery, having bought Bulgari in 2011.

For more detail on the stone, check out the coverage in The New York Times and Financial Times.

Addition February 9, 2020: The Sewelo is part owned by Louis Vuitton, with the rest of it owned by miner Lucara and an diamond dealer.

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Seiko Introduces the Prospex Black Series Diver Limited Editions

"Sumo", Marinemaster and solar chronograph.

Having launched a well received trio of Black Series dive watches in 2017, Seiko has done it again, but this time applying the black livery to more upscale models, including the Prospex Marinemaster and Prospex “Sumo”.

The flagship model of the new collection, the Seiko Prospex Marinemaster Black Series (ref. SLA035J1 or SBDX033) is all black with red accents on the dial, historically a common colour combination for dive watches.

According to Seiko, the choice of red was intentional, as it is the first colour to disappear underwater, starting from a depth of about 5 m or 15 ft. As a result, the seconds hand and depth rating disappear underwater, thus “[eliminating] unnecessary information allowing for instantaneous readability.”

Limited to just 600 pieces, the Marinemaster Black Series has a steel case with a black hard coating, and the bezel insert is scratch-resistant black ceramic. It’s powered by the 8L35, an automatic movement derived from the 9S55 used in Grand Seiko models, which means it has the same architecture but without the decorative finishing found on the Grand Seiko movement.

The other two Black Series models feature a black-and-orange colour scheme, and are more affordable. The first is the Seiko Prospex Black Series “Sumo” (ref. SPB125J1 or SBDC095), which is a rather large limited edition of 7,000 watches, no doubt because the Prospex Black Series “Turtle” of 2017 sold out swiftly.

The “Sumo” (left) and solar chronograph

The new Sumo has a steel case with a black hard coating, matched with an orange seconds hand and faux-vintage luminous hour markers. Inside is the automatic 6R335 movement.

Prospex Black Series “Sumo”

Identical in style is the Seiko Prospex Black Series Solar chronograph (ref. SSC761J1 or SBDL065), a solar-powered chronograph with a 24-hour hand that functions as a day or night display. Unlike most other Seiko dive watches this has no nickname, since enthusiasts and collectors usually only enthuse over Seiko’s mechanical dive watches.

Prospex Black Series Solar chronograph

Key facts and price

Seiko Prospex Marinemaster Black Series
Ref. SLA035J1 (SBDX033 in Japan)

Case diameter: 44.3 mm
Case height: 15.4 mm
Material: Stainless steel with black hard coating
Water resistance: 300 m

Movement: 8L35
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour, or 4 Hz
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Silicone strap

Limited edition: 600 pieces
Availability: At both retailers and boutiques from March 2020
Price: 300,000 Japanese yen

Seiko Prospex Black Series “Sumo”
Ref. SPB125J1 (SBDC095 in Japan)

Case diameter: 45 mm
Case height: 12.9 mm
Material: Stainless steel with black hard coating
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: 6R35
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour, or 3.5 Hz
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Silicone strap

Limited edition: 7,000 pieces
Availability: At both retailers and boutiques from Feb 2020
Price: 90,000 Japanese yen

Seiko Prospex Black Series Solar chronograph
Ref. SSC761J1 (SBDL065 in Japan)

Case diameter: 44.5 mm
Case height: 13.7 mm
Material: Stainless steel with black hard coating
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: V192
Functions: Time, date, and chronograph
Winding: Solar powered
Power reserve: 6 months on full charge

Strap: Silicone strap

Limited edition: 3,500 pieces
Availability: At both retailers and boutiques from Jan 2020
Price: 76,000 Japanese yen

For more, visit

Correction January 17, 2020: The cal. 6R35 runs at 21,600 bph, and not 28,800 bph as stated in earlier version of the article. 

Correction January 21, 2020: The 24-hour hand on the Solar Chronograph is a day and night indicator, and not an independently adjustable hand. 

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