Women’s watchmaking is central to the history of modern horology. In fact, it is largely recognised that the first wristwatch ever created was designed to fit the wrist of the Queen of Naples, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, in 1812.
Fast forward 200 years or so and the women’s watch is still an elegant expression of femininity. Of course, most watches are perfectly gender-neutral these days, but there is still a place in the market for those uniquely bejewelled or ornamental pieces that glitter from the wrist.
The five watches on this year’s shortlist are not just aesthetic marvels, but strike a balance between fine mechanical watchmaking and the Métier D’Art – the stunning decorative craftsmanship showcased in each timepiece.
Check out the list below…
Girard Perregaux Cat's Eye Plum Blossom
Introduced in 2004, the oval-shaped Cat's Eye collection sees Girard Perregaux blend feminine jewellery qualities with the venerable brand’s mechanical heritage, which dates back as far as 1791.
The new addition to the family is the Plum Blossom: a demure time-only piece that features the added flourish of a hand-painted flower at nine o’clock on the dial. The watch is powered by the GP03300-0152 calibre, a self-winding movement that offers a power reserve of 46 hours. There are three options available: a shimmering mother-of-pearl, sparkling aventurine glass or fully set with 361 diamonds for maximum pizzazz.
A new definition of floral display.
For more info, visit girard-perregaux.com
Harry Winston Emerald 33
The Emerald takes its inspiration from Harry Winston himself – an ode to the enterprising jeweller’s favourite diamond cut.
The latest rendition comes in a new larger 33mm case boating a bold octagonal structure reminiscent of a flourishing diamond; the bevelled edges of the construction lending a similar glimmering finish. Perhaps the neatest touch is the date aperture at six o’clock, which has also been bevelled to replicate the emerald shape.
It’s a tight concept that lends itself perfectly to elegant dress wear – accompanied by a suite of Harry Winston diamond jewellery, of course.
For more info, visit harrywinston.com
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day Jewellery
At the confluence of fine watchmaking and elegant design, you’ll regularly find Jaeger-LeCoultre. One of the founding fathers of the Swiss watch industry, it’s no surprise that the brand is equally revered for its women’s pieces, which brings us to the newly updated Rendez-Vous collection.
First seen gracing the stands at SIHH in 2012, the revamped 2019 line-up continues to celebrate the feminine side of horology (smaller, rounder case shapes, featuring flourishes like mother of pearl and diamond) in pieces like the 36mm Night & Day Jewellery. In many ways, this particular watch is a celebration of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Atelier Des Métier D’Art – a section of the manufacture’s factory that specialises in artisanal crafts such as diamond setting and guilloché engraving.
There are 126 smaller and larger diamonds in two rows on the bezel (set using the intricate prong setting), plus a further 47 diamonds on the inner ring on the dial and 12 on the lugs. There’s even a single inverted cabochon diamond set in the crown. But for all the 3.52 carats of diamonds this piece boasts, JLC has managed to find the perfect balance between glitz and restrained horological glamour. The day/night complication is housed in a small aperture just above six o’clock, while the dial is a shimmering mother of pearl.
If this watch were a movie star, it would be Audrey Hepburn.
For more info, visit jaeger-lecoultre.com
MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT
There are few watch brands in horology that deserve their cult status more than MB&F: a brand that has created jellyfish-inspired dive watches and desk clocks in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It plays with the notions of convention and incorporate spectacular watchmaking into their ostentatious timepieces. For all its envelope-pushing designs, however, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken until 2019 (14 years after the manufacture’s inception) for MB&F to turn its creative eye on the world of women’s watches – but it was damn-sure worth the wait.
The Legacy Machine FlyingT is one of the brand’s smallest pieces, clocking in at 38.5mm, and features a centralised automatic flying tourbillon stacked on the movement itself – there’s even a little diamond, which turns with the tourbillon’s rotation, as the glittering cherry on the top. The dial itself is all but a small lacquered plate angled at 50 degrees so that only the wearer can read it. The pronounced crystal dome and various diamond-setting options only adds to its visual splendour.
In a video accompanying the watch earlier in 2019, MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser said of creating the brand’s first women's watch: “It was time to get out of my comfort zone.” In many ways, then, this represents one of MB&F’s greatest achievements – a foray into unknown territory from which the watchmaker has returned victorious.
For more info, visit mbandf.com
Richard Mille RM 07-03 Marshmallow
You’ve got to hand it to Richard Mille: in a world where watchmaking can easily be construed as being overly conservative, it has pushed the boat out with its most outrageous collection to date.
The Bon Bon includes ten references across two categories, Sweets and Fruits, and sees the watchmaker play with a series of themes previously considered wholly inappropriate for horology.The most successful, in our view, is the ladies-sized RM 07-03 Marshmallow, which combines a lavender pink ceramic case, with hand-enamel work in the dial that depicts a swirl of pastel marshmallow – or, as we’d know it in the UK, a ‘flump’.
This tasty concoction isn’t just sugary sweet on the outside, flip the watch over and through the sapphire caseback you’ll find the skeletonised Calibre CRMA2 movement, which features an “adjustable rotor geometry” that allows the automatic winding system to be set according to the owner’s activity level.
Suffice it to say, this is watch candy on a whole new level.
For more info, visit richardmille.com