Mechanical watches and especially complications – once the preserve of men – are now highly coveted by women. If you’re serious about your timepieces, you’ll have noticed that women’s watches have been a big focus lately in an industry that tends to favour the men’s market. It’s no longer enough just to downsize an existing men’s watch, insert a quartz movement or an older mechanical movement, sprinkle it liberally with diamonds, tack on a mother-of-pearl dial, and market it to ladies. Aware that women’s interest in technical watches is far greater than a decade ago, brands have been making a conscious effort to offer complicated mechanical timepieces created especially for the fairer sex. Here are seven of our favourite watches that combine both style and substance.
01: Little Lange 1 Moon Phase
The asymmetrical Lange 1 with outsized date display was the hero watch that helped revive A. Lange & Söhne in 1994 and it just keeps getting better. Today, the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase proposes the new manually-wound L121.2 movement with twin barrels providing 72 hours of power reserve – based on the updated Lange 1 movement from 2015 – which drives the moon phase and instant date jump on a guilloched, argenté-coloured gold dial in a 36.8mm pink gold case.
02: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Frosted Gold honours the 40th anniversary of the iconic women’s Royal Oak, originally reinterpreted by Jacqueline Dimier from Gerald Genta’s 1972 model. Made together with Florentine jewellery designer, Carolina Bucci, the watch reveals a surface treatment process stemming from an ancient gold hammering practice using a diamond-tipped tool – also known as the Florentine technique – which has been adapted for horology, giving the white or pink gold case and bracelet a diamond-like shimmering effect.
03: Breguet Tradition Dame 7038
First launched in 2005, Breguet’s emblematic Tradition collection is now enhanced with the 37-mm rose gold Tradition Dame 7038. The watch’s unusual architecture offers views of the main movement components dial-side, and its symmetrical layout gives the piece a distinct visual identity. Powered by the self-winding Calibre 505SR, it showcases a central barrel with a rosette motif, a hobnail guilloché pattern, white mother-of-pearl dial at 12 o’clock, engraved retrograde seconds at 10 o’clock and wheels forming an arc from four to eight o’clock.
04: Chanel Premiere Camelia Skeleton Watch
Following last year’s highly acclaimed Monsieur de Chanel for men equipped with Chanel’s first in-house movement, Calibre 1, the house presents the Premiere Camelia Skeleton Watch. A resolutely feminine timepiece, the Camelia Skeleton is powered by the house’s second manufacture calibre, in commemoration of 30 years of Chanel watchmaking. A Place Vendome-shaped white gold case hosts the new Calibre 2, which is fully skeletonised in a camellia motif, Coco Chanel’s favourite flower. Some versions even see 246 diamonds set directly onto the gold plate, a highly complex technical task.
05: Slim d’Hermes L’Heure Impatiente
Time at Hermes is playful, spontaneous and full of emotions. Building on the popularity of the super-slim and minimalist Slim d’Hermes watch collection, which has all the makings of a future classic, L’Heure Impatiente allows the user to set her watch to the time of a much-anticipated event that will take place within the next 12 hours. An hour before, a countdown at six o’clock sets off, enhancing the sense of expectation, until a lasting note rings out at the desired time, animated by the self-winding manufacture Hermes H1912 movement.
06: Patek Philippe Ref. 7130 Ladies’ World Time
Highly handy for the globetrotting businesswoman, the Patek Philippe Ref. 7130 Ladies’ World Time indicates all 24 time zones at a glance on a grey-blue hand-guilloched dial centre housed in a 36-mm white gold case. Local time shown by the hour and minute hands refers to the location on the city disc that is directly aligned with 12 o’clock. To switch from one time zone to another, simply press the button at 10 o’clock. Genevan watchmaker Louis Cottier created this practical function in the early 1930s and offered it to Patek, which patented it in 1959.
07: Van Cleef & Arpels’ Lady Arpels Papillon Automate
In Van Cleef & Arpels’ Lady Arpels Papillon Automate, a butterfly automaton beats its wings randomly and irregularly: every two to four minutes when the watch is off the wrist, and increasingly frequent as the wearer becomes more active. It can also be triggered on demand via a pushbutton, thanks to a self-winding movement made by Manufacture ValFleurier exclusively for Van Cleef. Various decorative arts – paillonne enamel, champleve enamel, mother-of-pearl sculpture, gem-setting and miniature painting – are showcased, including a brand-new technique invented by Van Cleef & Arpels: curved plique-a-jour enamel forming twisted blades of grass.