In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all that long ago that women’s watches were something an afterthought, largely uninspired designs with only the most basic of functions. They were, indeed, poor relations to the ever-more stunning, complex and precise pieces that constituted chap-oriented chronometers. This was, of course, because the majority of horological houses were solely preoccupied with churning out macho statement timepieces in the belief that men would always be the primary purchasers of high-end horological items.
That, of course, has all changed over the course of the last 10 years, with the more elegant lady watch-loving collectors now accounting for a significant proportion of international timepiece sales. As a consequence, the watchmaking industry has risen to the challenge of reinventing the outdated design aesthetics and mechanics that once characterised the watches-for-women sector. Indeed, gone are the days when petite, nondescript wrist accessories were deemed to suffice. In their place is a new generation of intricate, chronologically advanced mechanisms that are more than a match for their male counterparts in terms of stature. Of these, we’d recommend six femme-focused timepieces for your particular perusal…
First up is Breguet, with its all-new Marine Dame 9518 encapsulating a cool aquatic aesthetic. This is largely thanks to its beautifully hand-guillochéd wave-motif blue mother-of-pearl dial, fetchingly enhanced with a diamond-set bezel. Under the hood, the balance spring, escape wheel and lever have been ably crafted from ultra-lightweight silicon, with the self-winding Calibre 591A movement – visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback – extending to powering a date indicator. Water resistant to 50m, blue leather straps complete its memorably maritime appeal.
Another unusual design comes courtesy of renowned Swiss watchmaker IWC in the form of its defiantly distinct Portofino Automatic 34. Boasting an 18K 5N gold case ringed with 92 diamonds, its dial is all entrancingly silver-plated and fetchingly embossed, bestowing upon it a glamorously glittering sheen. Powering this 34mm style icon is a Calibre 35100 movement, complete with a 42-hour power reserve. Four other fresh-out-of-the-workshop models of the Portofino 34 are also available, all with an easy quick strap change system, giving wearers the option of matching a different look to their particular mood.
Looking more aloft for inspiration, meanwhile, is Swiss manufacturer Zenith’s Elite Moonphase. With its silvery white dial burnished with a sunray-patterned motif, it comes neatly punctuated with a small running seconds hand at the nine o’clock slot. Housed in a slimly-elegant rose gold case and ringed with a diamond-set bezel, the jewel in its particular crown is undoubtedly its blue six-o’clock-set moonphase indicator.
In a departure from the usual circular case scenario, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a rectangular frame for its new Reverso One Duetto. Taking its inspiration from an earlier ’30s innovation, this red-hued hour-tracker was conceived with flexibility very much in mind. Its front face, restrained yet refined, is just about perfect for everyday wear, while its reverse side is all opulent elegance, led by a shimmering burgundy lacquered dial with the hour markers stretching outwards sunray-style.
Similarly opting for a bold scarlet style is the delicate Lady 8 Petite Ruby Heart, the latest offering from Jaquet Droz. Available in a limited edition of just 28, it measures a mere 25mm in diameter, but its diminutive dimensions are more than made up for by the intricacies of its design. Ringed with diamonds and set in a rose gold case, this alluring piece of rococo wrist enhancement is crafted in the brand’s iconic figure-eight form. Its lower half is all minimal grace, with its ruby heart dial featuring solely hour and minute hands. The upper segment, by contrast, is all whimsical flourish, while housing a ruby ball bearing that swivels freely in line with any movement of the wrist.
In the coveted number six slot on our list of femme-focused timepieces comes one of the most outré lady’s timepiece currently on offer – Cartier’s all-new Panthère de Cartier Watch, a tribute to the marque’s much-feted twin expertise in fashioning fine jewellery and watchmaking. The watch proper – a 22mm wide yellow gold case with a gem-set bezel and diamond hour marker – comes mounted with the inevitable bejewelled panther, an iconic Cartier emblem since 1914. Arresting, attention-grabbing and unabashedly conspicuous, it stands as an apt homage to the indomitable spirit of womankind.