Insulting? According to Yann Gamard, CEO of Glashütte Original, Nayla Hayek asked him to make a watch that “wouldn’t insult her.” Perhaps the insulting things that she had in mind was wtaches that are just downsized men’s watches, or watches covered from top to bottom in diamonds. In any case, the result was the Pavonina by Glashütte Original, which is definitely not an insulting watch. Here are my top five of the women’s watches seen at the two 2014 watch fairs, in no particular order.
1. Pavonina, Glashütte Original
With this watch, the people at Glashütte Original show that in their opinion, for a women’s watch:
– a quartz movement is OK, because many women aren’t interested in geeky things about the movement, and they want to be able to take the watch out of their box, drawer or safe without having to rewind it and reset the time;
– dial, case and strap design are important;
– special case shapes (not round) are good;
– strap colour is important;
– a few diamonds are always appreciated, and likewise a mother-of-pearl dial.
The Pavonina, reference 1-03-01-05-34-30, has a case in white gold, 31 x 31 millimetres, very slim at 7.5 mm thickness. The strap is in a satin-look ‘Radiant Orchid’ colour. The quartz movement provides hour, minute and date indiations, and keeps running for 48 months before the battery has to be changed. There are diamonds on the case, lugs, dial and crown; the case has an interesting design, cushion-shaped, with diamonds framing a circular mother-of-pearl dial, with diamond hour indicators, and an area of pavé diamonds at the centre that reflects the same cushion shape as the case. The diamonds on the bezel are cleverly graded to enable the circular dial to fit the cushion-shaped exterior line. The way that the lugs are hinged to the case provides great mobility, so that the watch sits very comfortably and adapts to the curve of even a small wrist.
2. Cartier Tortue
This is a classic watch, dating back to 1912, now available in a new series. You could say that it has stood the test of time, along with the other Cartier special-shaped watches, such as the Tonneau, Baignoire and Crash watches. The name Tortue comes from tortoise, and the shape is roughly inspired by this animal, though the original domed watchglass that suggested the curving shell of the tortoise has been abandoned for a more modern, flatter and more attractive flat glass. Its lines, slimness, relatively large dial and delicate curves make it immediately recognizable. The case is 34 x 28 mm in size, and 7.6 mm thick. Inside it has a mechanical, hand-wound movement, providing hour and minute indications shown with sword-shaped hands.The watch is available in several versions: small and medium sized, in white gold, pink gold, or diamond set; with leather strap for use during the day, or a flexible bracelet for use in the evening. Tortue also exists in men’s models.
3. Lucea by Bulgari
Lucea by Bulgari, or LVCEA by BVLGARI. Very confusing. The brand actually distributed a press release a few months ago saying how they wanted their name spelled, Bulgari when it’s lower case and BVLGARI when it’s all capitals. It’s connected to the brand’s Roman origins, that they underline using references to Ancient Roman lettering. But that’s just a detail. Lucea is a watch that has a lot of thought and a lot of design incorporated into it, combining the heritage of their Serpenti range in the bracelets, with some new features. The most important visual element is the crown, which dominates the watch with its large size, smooth surface, and construction with a cabochon-cut pink stone and a diamond set at the centre. The watch has a mechanical Calibre B77 self-winding movement, for hours, minutes and seconds, and a date window at 3 o’clock, It has 42 hours power reserve. The watch is 28 or 33 mm in diameter, and the many versions available range from steel case and bracelet with silver-toned dial right through to precious metals. Bulgari want it to become (sorry, I have to write a horribly over-used word) iconic, and personally I think it could well become just that. The design is excellent, the detailing exquisite, the bracelet is amazing.
4. Élégante by F.P. Journe
Élégante is the first collection of women’s watches by F.P. Journe, and it reflects a lot of thought in designing a watch specifically for women. Its principal practical characteristic is its movement, much more than a simple quartz movement: it has 126 components, and it is elecromechanical. It has a mechanical motion detector, visible at 5 o’clock on the dial. When the watch is not worn, the gears, rotors and hands stop after about thirty minutes, and the movement goes into standby mode. But the microprocessor is still measuring time, and when you pick it up again, the motion detector sets it into motion, and it automatically sets itself to the correct time. In this process, the hands take the shortest path, rotating clockwise or anticlockwise, again to conserve energy. As a result, the watch has a power reserve that reaches 18 years in standby mode, and 10 years in normal use.
The case has a “tortue” (tortoise) shape, comfortably sized at 34 x 35 mm, slim at 7.35 mm thickness; the dial is luminescent for an attractive appearance by night. It is made in several versions, in titanium, with coloured partitions on the case and a rubber strap available in matching colour, white, pink, light blue, midnight blue, chocolate, burgundy, red or khaki; in a red gold version with chocolate stap; a platinum version with dark blue strap; and a jewellery version with diamond-set bezel.
The caseback is transparent, revealing the battery bridge which is decorated with Côtes de Genève, and the circuitry, with the electronic chip marked by a heart motif. All parts of the watch are made in Switzerland.
5. Harry Winston, Midnight collection
The Midnight collection by Harry Winston comprises circular watches with models for men and women, and the two women’s pieces described here are carefully designed and decorated. The maison built its success on the founder’s brilliance in using diamonds, and many watches by Harry Winston are showcases for displaying lots of gemstones. These two pieces are more subtle, with gold and champagne colours and gem-set bezels. They are at the top end of size for women’s watches at 39 mm diameter, with 10 mm thickness.
Midnight Diamond Second 39mm has the classic Harry Winston design elements: the triple rectangle motif at the crown, a reference to the brand’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue where the motif is part of the door surround; the HW logo, with an outline in the shape of an emerald-cut diamond, Harry’s favourite; and the lily cluster motif, one of the brand’s jewellery classic, at 6 o’clock, forming a frame for the small seconds display. This is attractive, with a three-leaved rotor with three diamonds, one at each tip, that rotates in a window so that one diamond is visible at all times, through a window framed by the lily cluster motif above. This watch has an automatic mechanical movement, calibre HW2201, and it can be seen through the sapphire caseback. The case is set with 91 diamonds, with another 9 on the dial and three on the small seconds indicator.
The Midnight Moon Phase 39mm has a rosé champagne dial with an undulating circular guilloché, with the moon phase display at the centre of the watch. This is surrounded by a circle of pink gold set with diamonds, which connects to a small circular window for the date at 6 o’clock. The moon phase display is tilted to about 45°, and the moon disc is decorated with black stars, while the guilloché screen above has some gold stars. This watch has a quartz movement and a solid caseback. The case is set with 91 diamonds, with another 70 on the dial.
Both watches have a brown alligator strap.
6. Jaeger-LeCoultre, Rendez-Vous Célestial
This watch was introduced in 2013 as part of the Hybris Artistica collection, a series of 12 watches celebrating the brand’s verticalized structure, with all crafts techniques performed in-house. The Rendez-Vous Célestial showcases jaeger-LeCoultre’s gemsetting, and in particular its patented Rock-Setting technique in which no metal can be seen between the stones. They are held from below, and so have extra dazzle. The diamond-set dial frames a rotating disc of lapis lazuli, hand-painted with the twelve signs of the zodiac. Another poetic touch is a shooting star whose position can be set using a second crown. It can be used to mark an appointment or a special time. This poetic approach to time gives it some similarities to Van Cleef & Arpels. The bracelet is entirely diamond-set.
7. Montblanc Bohème Date Automatic
The Bohème range for women includes a lovely perpetual calendar, and the Date Automatic, both confirming Montblanc’s recent policy of using third-party movements to make watches at attractively low prices. The case is 30 mm in diameter, with delicately curved lugs for extra comfort. The white dial has a sunburst guilloché motif at the centre, with elliptical notches at top and bottom; the latter encloses the date window. The self-winding calibre MB 24.14 movement has a power reserve of 38 hours. The watch is available in a number of versions, in red gold or stainless steel, with bezel set with diamonds, and alligator straps in colours including black, white, grey and warm aubergine. Alternatively, there are bracelets in steel, or steel and gold. There is also a two-colour leather strap in yellow and orange, or light and dark blue. The Montblanc Bohème Date Automatic Jewellery has the central part of the dial entirely set in diamonds.
8. Vacheron Constantin Malte
Vacheron Constantin have been making watches with tonneau-shaped cases since 1912, and it is a classically Art Deco motif. The new Malte collection includes three models for women, and one for men. The women’s watches are comfortably sized at 28 mm wide, 38 high and 7.7 mm thick. The different models have diamond-set bezel, sandblasted silver-toned dial, or a dial entirely paved with diamonds. The in-house movement Calibre 1400 provides hours and minutes, with another version (1400 AS) also providing small seconds. Power reserve is about 40 hours. The movement can be viewed through the sapphire caseback.
9. Richard Mille RM 07-01
The RM 07-01 is both traditional, with its tonneau shape and area of pavé diamonds on the dial, and innovative, with bezel and caseback in white ceramic which provides an interesting contrast with the black PVD baseplate and bridges, and the satin red gold caseband with polished pillars. The watch is 45.6 x 31.4 mm in size, 11.85 mm thick.
The CRMA2 automatic movement is skeletonized, visible through the sapphire caseback. Its rotor has a variable geometry system, with two weights fixed with spline screws: the watchmaker can adjust the rotor inertia by moving the position of the weights on the rotor. This adapts the watch to the user’s lifestyle. Power reserve is about 50 hours. Variable inertia is also used to regulate the balance, which has small adjustable weights.
The same attention to design can be seen in visual details, such as the lovely crown in ceramic and red gold, and the droplet-shaped indices. The watch is also available in brown ceramic, and in white or red gold. The case is water-resistant to 50 metres.
10. La Grande Classique, Longines
Minimalist beauty, in two versions, one with a quartz movement (L4.709.4.11.2), one with a self-winding mechanical movement (L4.708.4.11.6). Pure simplicity, with just hours and minutes, in a 33 millimetre diameter case, 4.4 mm thick in the case of the quartz version, 7.05 mm for the mechanical version. In stainless steel, with black alligator strap or stainless steel bracelet.