Here are some 2015 highlights from the world of women’s watches. This is a type of watch that often becomes very expensive because of the jewels used to decorate case, bracelet and dial, and so I have chosen a couple of watches in the lower price range. In general I have tried to privilege watches that look good and that show a certain consideration to the requirements of their users. The watches are in ascending price order.
A quick note on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon included in the list. This is part of the 2016 collection, and I included it because, talking to women, if there’s one watch they’d really like to own it’s nearly always a Reverso. It’s small enough to become similar to a bracelet, it has that case-swivelling mechanism that works to perfection and is great fun to use, it transforms from one appearance to another… the Reverso ticks more boxes than most. The new Reverso collection includes some models that offer incredibly good value for money.
1. Mido Baroncelli Donna Caliber 80, about €980
Mido‘s Baroncelli collection offers women’s watches with mechanical movements at accessible prices. This piece is powered by the new ETA mechanical Caliber 80 (C07.611) movement, which provides 80 hours power reserve. The dial is in white mother-of-pearl dial with eight diamond hour markers (total 0.04 carats), framed by a circular rose PVD-finish 316L stainless steel case. The cream-coloured leather strap has a rose PVD-finish folding clasp. It’s a classic 33 mm women’s watch good for the day and through to the evening. The sapphire caseback provides a view of the movement, decorated with circular graining, blued screws and an oscillating weight with Côtes de Genève and the Mido logo. Mido Baroncelli Donna Caliber 80, reference M022.207.36.116.11.
2. Jeanrichard Terrascope 39 mm, €2,400
If there is a word that defines our 21st century age, it could be “ambiguity.” The age in which Conchita Wurst dresses and sings female but wears a beard. The same is true of watches. There was a time in which men’s watches were men’s watches, and women’s were much smaller and more decorative and bejewelled. Today, 39 mm is a diameter that can be worn by both men and women, and jewelled watches are worn by a lot of men on the planet. This piece is elegant and sophisticated, and has the same sort of ambiguity: a bit round, a bit square. It’s relatively slim at 10.3 mm, and has an automatic JR60 movement, power reserve 38 hours, visible through the sapphire caseback. The bezel is set with 54 diamonds, and a steel case and bracelet: price €4,700. Water-resistant to 100 metres. Jeanrichard Terrascope 39 mm, reference 60510-11-901-BB9A.
3. Cartier, Clé de Cartier, about €7,350
Clé de Cartier was one of the absolute highlights of 2015 watches. It has a new shape with a circular bezel developing from a cushion-like case, and a curved, arching profile when seen from the side, following the wrist’s natural curve. But most important is a new technical feature, the “Clé” or crown, which is rectangular and not circular. So you don’t have to fight with it using fingernails to extract it. You just have to rotate it, which brings its extremities outside the thickness of the watchcase and so it’s easy to pull out, after which you can adjust time and date as normal. It’s a brilliant piece of design. Inside the watch, the new in-house movement, Calibre 1847 MC, was named after the year of the brand’s foundation. As well as the basic time functions, the watch has a semi-instantaneous date indicator. The movement is beautifully finished with wavy Côtes de Genève. The watch is made in the sizes 40mm, 35mm and 31 mm. All look good on a woman’s wrist. This version with steel case and bracelet with pink gold details, including the crown set with a synthetic spinel, is at the lower end of the price range. Cartier, Clé de Cartier reference W2CL0003.
4. Hermès Arceau Petite Lune, about €8,400
The Arceau Petite Lune by Hermès has an in-house manufacture movement and a 38 mm case set with 60 diamonds. The bright violet strap mounted on the characteristic stirrup-shaped lugs is one of the versions in which it is sold, with a whole range of interchangeable colour options, all in alligator, including white, indigo, red, ember, raspberry and elephant grey. The dial is in mother-of-pearl with an intriguing spiral effect generated by the sloping numerals, an offset moon phase, and subdial for the date. The Arceau Petite Lune was first introduced in 2013 to mark the 35th anniversary of the original Arceau created in 1978 by Hermès designer Henri d’Origny.
5. Perrelet Diamond Flower Amytis, €9,950
About 15% of Perrelet’s watches are models for women, and the Diamond Flower line, first presented in 2008, now comprises this model, Diamond Flower Amytis, named after the wife of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (famous for the hanging gardens). The watch is commendable for its in-house mechanical movement, at a relatively low price, starting from €5,450 for the basic version and moving up to diamond-set models. The watch is characteristic for its dial-side rotor in the form of flower petals, which gives the watch a constantly changing, dynamic appearance. The stainless steel case is 36.5 mm in diameter, 12.3 mm in thickness, and the dial is in black or white mother-of-pearl, with hands that are also petal-shaped. This diamond-set version is set with 80 diamonds on the bezel for a total of 1.02 carats. Perrelet Diamond Flower Amytis, reference A2066/4.
6. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon, €11,800
The Reverso reached its 85th anniversary in 2016, and Jaeger-LeCoultre has launched an extensive new collection including models with straps and dial colours by Louboutin. In addition, an interactive in-store console enables you to choose the design, functions and colours that you prefer, checking the price as you go. The Reverso One Duetto Moon has one face with a moon phase on a dark blue dial, and another with just time functions on a sunburst silver-toned dial. Both displays are driven by a single mechanical movement, the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 842 with 38 hours power reserve. The case has the classic Art Deco elegance typical of Reverso, long and slim at 40 x 20 mm, 10 mm thick. The perfection of the swivel-case mechanism gives this watch advantages to which nothing else in the world of watches comes close. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon, reference Q3352420.
7. Montblanc Bohème Perpetual Calendar Jewellery, €19,900
This is the women’s version of the men’s perpetual calendar watch that caused a real surprise at SIHH in 2014, becoming the world’s most accessible perpetual calendar watch at about €10,000. The dial presents all calendar information on three subdials, month and leap year at 12 o’clock, day of the week at 9 o’clock, and date at 3 o’clock. Moon phases are shown on another subdial at 6 o’clock. Overall it has a harmonious design, heightened by the red gold case and bezel, with 60 Top Wesselton diamonds. The mechanical automatic movement, the calibre MB 29.15, is visible through the sapphire window set into the gold caseback. Presumably it is a Sellita SW300 (based on the ETA 2892-A2), with a Dubois Depraz perpetual calendar module. If the watch is kept going, its calendar indications won’t need adjusting until 2100. Recessed pushers on the side of the case enable regulation in the case that the watch is not worn for a time. The case is 36 mm in diameter, and 10.05 mm thick, mounted on a white alligator leather strap; other strap colours are available. Read more here.
8. Rolex Lady-DateJust 28, from about €20,000
The DateJust 28 by Rolex replaces the previous 26 mm model. It is available in a wide range, all in precious metals, 950 platinum, yellow gold or Everose gold. To ensure reliability, the model has the customary high degree of waterproofness, and the movement’s precision means that the screw-down crown has to be unscrewed only occasionally, lessening the risk of the entry of any moisture or dust. The solid screw-down caseback with Rolex fluting (it can only be opened by Rolex authorized watch repairers using a special tool) also contributes to the watch’s 100-metre waterproofness rating. The sapphire watchglass has the usual Cyclops lens that enlarges the date numeral. The DateJust 28 is powered by the Calibre 2236 movement, mechanical self-winding, entirely designed and built in-house. Its precision of +2/-2 seconds per day is industry-leading for a women’s watch and double that of COSC certification (+4/-4).
9. Ulysse Nardin Jade, €25,500
In a watch, one of the most annoying components is the crown. It’s often hard to pull out, requires work with fingernails, and I imagine, if you’re a woman, it risks messing up the manicure or the varnish. Especially if the watch is the last thing that you take out of the drawer, and you discover that it’s stopped and it needs rewinding and setting. Jade shows how Ulysse Nardin have taken this into consideration (apparently based on a request in 2002 by Chai Schnyder, then chairwoman of the company, from her husband Rolf Schnyder). The crown doesn’t have to be pulled out to set the date and time: the pusher at 4 o’clock selects the crown function, winding, quick backwards and forwards date adjustment, and time-setting. The indicator at 3 o’clock provides an indication as to which function has been selected. Jade was the first Ulysse Nardin women’s watch with an in-house movement, the calibre UN-310. The case is slightly oval, 36 by 39 mm in diameter, a graceful composition in rose gold, diamonds and mother-of-pearl. The crown is particularly attractive, in rose gold with inset mother-of-pearl beads. The watch has a sapphire caseback revealing the movement. Ulysse Nardin Jade, reference 3106-125B/591.
10. Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Sunstone, about €28,000
Jaquet Droz have used sunstone – a material invented accidentally in 17th-century Venice, when a glassmaker spilt some metal powder into a batch of vitreous paste – in the Lady 8, which has a beautiful design, with graded diamonds creating a line that works up and encloses the sunstone ball at the top. The dome-shaped dial is enclosed in a red gold, diamond-set 35 mm case, in which there is the Jaquet Droz 1153 automatic movement, with a power reserve of 68 hours. The sunstone ball at the top rotates freely and becomes a sort of game, something to do when you need something to fiddle with. Limited edition of 88 pieces. Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Sunstone, reference J014503271.
11. Chopard L.U.C XPS 35mm Esprit de Fleurier, €44,330
For a few years now, blue has been one of the trend colours in watches, and the women’s watch L.U.C XPS 35mm Esprit de Fleurier by Chopard is a good example. It has a light ultramarine blue mother-of-pearl dial, with a diamond-set bezel, and an alligator strap in matching hue. At 7.1 mm thickness it is prodigiously slim. It has a mechanical movement, the L.U.C Calibre 96.23-L with a micro-rotor and twin barrels providing a 65-hour power reserve; precision is documented by COSC chronometer certification. The display consists of just the hour and minute hands, with seconds on a subdial nicely differentiated with guilloché finish. The transparent caseback reveals the bridges that feature hand-engraved work. The Chopard L.U.C XPS 35mm Esprit de Fleurier, reference 131968-1002, is a 25-piece limited edition available only in Chopard boutiques.
12. Blancpain Day Night Retrograde, about €45,700
This complex and beautiful piece by Blancpain combines a lavish amount of bling with intricate mother-of-pearl crafting and an unusual mechanical movement featuring two retrograde functions, for hours and seconds, and a day-night indicator. The case is in 18-carat gold, fairly large at 40 mm diameter and 11.35 mm thickness. On the dial, the minute hand is the only conventional indication, rotating once every hour. The seconds hand is retrograde, jumping back to zero after 60 seconds. The hour hand is also retrograde. The day-night disc rotates twice every 24 hours, giving the watch an ever-changing appearance, with different colours of the mother-of-pearl used to suggest the change from day to night. The moon is depicted by 50 diamonds, while the sun comprises 50 yellow sapphires. What happens is that just before 6 o’clock, both in the morning and the evening, the day/night disc rotates through 180° to change the scene from night to day or vice versa. This rotation is a fairly slow process, lasting four minutes. Then at 6 o’clock the hour hand jumps back retrograde to the beginning of the scale. The Blancpain Day Night Retrograde, reference 3740-3744-58B, is available as from January 2016.