Quill & Pad’s Predictions For The Ladies Category Of The 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève
by Ian Skellern
Welcome to the 2015 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) predictions in which we pick our favorites and explain why.
Our panelists are:
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Nancy Olson (NO), resident pen expert
Note: as a GPHG jury member, Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr is excluded from these predictions.
Ladies’: women’s watches comprising two at most of the following indications: date, power reserve, classic moon phase, second time zone; may be adorned with a maximum 5-carat gemsetting.
IS: As I’m the wrong sex to know exactly what women are looking for in a watch, I’m going to base my selection on which of these pre-selected watches I’d consider for my wife (money not being a limiting factor) and why.
NO: While I think all the watches featured this year in the Ladies category are really beautiful, well-crafted timepieces, my top three picks are the DeLaneau Rondo 42 Peony, the Ulysse Nardin Jade, and the Audemars Piguet Millenary – each for very different reasons.
JM: While I am not a woman, I can definitely appreciate beautiful and feminine timepieces. My favorites stand out for their style as well as their mechanical competence, and specifically because they are not limited, special, or unique editions (with the exception of the hand-enameled DeLaneau, of course).
Delaneau Rondo 42 Peony
IS: My top pick in the Ladies category has to be the Delaneau Rondo 42 Peony, mainly for its visually striking oven-fired black enamel dial, which makes a sensational background for the colorful peony set with 12 yellow diamonds in the center.
NO: It is stunningly understated and perhaps best described as the classic little black dress of watches – every woman should have one. The seemingly simple embellishments of diamonds totaling about six carats, augmented by the gem-studded peony at 10 o’clock, are really not simple at all. In addition to exquisite stone setting, it comprises a few different types of enameling techniques: grand feu, plique à jour, and paillon.
IS: But looks aren’t everything, and while it was the spectacular dial that first attracted my eye, the reason that the Rondo Peony is my top pick is that it also ticks a few more boxes that generally appeal to women: automatic winding and diamonds. Diamonds around the bezel, diamonds on the lugs, diamonds in the peony flower, and there’s even a diamond in the crown.
While a few women may find 42 mm a touch on the large size, I think that because it is slim it will look and feel great on any wrist size. I don’t know about my wife, but I would never get tired of looking at that dial.
NO: The inky-black dial, interrupted only by the flower and its sparkling yellow sapphire center, breathes an entirely distinctive spirit into the Rondo, particularly with the addition of the graceful hour and minute hands. This watch gets my vote for authenticity, since it is a true tribute to what DeLaneau does best.
Quick Facts DeLaneau Rondo 42 Peony
Movement: automatic, caliber not specified, 72 hours power reserve
Case: 42 x 11.34 mm, white gold
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 95,000 Swiss francs
Ulysse Nardin Jade
IS: There are many things that I like about the Ulysse Nardin Jade, not the least of which is the manufacture movement especially developed for these ladies models. But the Jade has much more going for it than a nice movement. The slightly oval case adds a touch of je ne sais quoi that makes round cases look a little bit bland at times.
NO: The Jade collection, first introduced in 2013, is significant for many reasons, but perhaps most notably because it is the first ladies collection in which the company has offered an in-house movement: the UN-310 with hours, minutes, small seconds, date, and power reserve. This latest pink gold rendition has everything I want in a watch, from its user-friendly manufacture movement to its drop-dead gorgeous looks.
IS: The diamond-set bezel and crown are a perfect balance of not too bling, but not shy to strut either. I like the non-uniformity of mother-of-pearl dials, and that serpentine diamond-set gold swirl on the dial is a nice touch.
The crown, which neither needs pulling or pushing to operate is clever. And I while some dislike power reserve indicators on automatic watches, I think that they are a good idea, especially on a ladies’ watch with a smaller rotor.
NO: The Jade has a pusher at the 4 o’clock position on the case designed to change the function of the crown: position one winds the watch, while position two sets the date forward and backward. Position three sets the time. Each function is then actuated by turning the crown forward or backward without any need to pull it out – brilliant, and apparently manicure-friendly.
IS: The Ulysse Nardin Jade would have been the winner for me except for one indication: the date. To my eyes that date is too small and I’m not talking too small for old eyes to read. That date just ruins the lines of the dial for me.
NO: I love the stylized interpretation of the Arabic numerals on the dial, not to mention the unexpected dotting and swoop of diamonds on the white mother-of-pearl that seem to caress the small seconds without constricting them. This is a lovely new interpretation of this flagship model.
For more information, read 5 In-House Calibers From Ulysse Nardin.
Quick Facts Ulysse Nardin Jade
Movement: automatic, Ulysse Nardin in-house Caliber UN-310 with silicon escapement
Case: 36 x 39 x 10.64 mm, pink gold
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, power reserve indication
Price: 25,500 Swiss francs
Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds
IS: It’s surprising, moon phase indications being a staple of ladies’ watches, that the Hermès Arceau Petite Lune is the only one of the six pre-selected Ladies’ watches to display a moon phase indication. While the diamond-set bezel is fairly ubiquitous in this category, those sparklers look the part and they neatly frame the mother of pearl dial with the “old” Hermès font of the Arceau line, which I’m a big fan of. I also like the new font of the Slim d’Hermès line very much! (Read Introducing Slim d’Hermès: The Elegant New Backbone Of The Hermès Collection.)
While I think that automatic movement is a plus − because in my experience, women generally (and I know there are many exceptions) tend to prefer wearing and admiring over winding − the Petite Lune loses points for me because the movement is slightly small for the case. That moon phase indication and date are on the periphery of the movement, and it’s a pity that they are not also on the periphery of the dial. That said, this is a good-looking watch and I much prefer the date on a ring like this to a window in the dial.
JM: As my pick for winner of the category, I would choose none other than the Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds. Not only does this piece have a date and moon phase combined with a very clean mother-of-pearl dial, it maintains readability and stylistic integrity throughout the entire piece.
The wire lugs of uneven sizes typical of the Arceau line lends some dynamism to the entire watch on the wrist, instead of forcing an uneven design to overtake the dial for a sense of movement. It also tops out the competition as the most affordable model, putting it in reach of a wider swatch of feminine watch aficionados. Quite amazing considering its exclusive movement!
GG: I also put the Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds in top three of this category.
Quick Facts Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds
Movement: automatic, Hermès manufacture Caliber H1912 with Dubois Dépraz module for moon, 50 hours’ power reserve
Case: 38 mm, stainless steel
Functions: hours, minutes; date, moon phase
Price: 14,900 Swiss francs
Piaget Limelight Gala
JM: For my second runner-up, I choose the Piaget Limelight Gala for its refined and graceful beauty combined with a truly petite and feminine size: 32 mm is the smallest watch in the category, and while I know many women enjoy larger watches, it seems to me to be the most restrained and classic.
GG: I also put the Piaget Limelight Gala in top three of this category.
Quick Facts Piaget Limelight Gala
Movement: hand-wound, caliber not specified
Case: hours, minutes
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 32,500 Swiss francs
Audemars Piguet Millenary
GG: I’ve long been a fan of this watch line that looks even better on the wrist than when seen on display, and this twentieth-anniversary interpretation is absolutely gorgeous. It’s not too big to be wearable, but still makes a real statement.
NO: While the Millenary was first created a couple of decades ago, this white gold addition to the line has a new hand-wound manufacture movement: the Millenary 5201. Much of it is gorgeously visible on the dial side the watch.
While its functions are pretty straightforward − hours, minutes, and small seconds − the way they are visually elucidated is quite inventive. The offset diamond-paved hour and minute dial features non-conformist Roman numerals typical of the Millenary, and the diamond-rimmed mother-of-pearl small seconds subdial is nestled in at about 8 o’clock. On top of all this, I love oval-shaped watches, which seem so intuitive in their fit on one’s wrist.
GG: Audemars Piguet claims that the new 5201 movement has been created to fit the form of the case exactly; I wish that the balance bridge were even more toward the left edge of the case to follow through on this claim, but overall the combination of appearance and horological interest made this one my winner.
JM: For the first runner-up, I would go with the Audemars Piguet Millenary, both for the on-display mechanics treated elegantly and with sensible women in mind, and for the classic Millenary case shape and off-center dial.
Both combine to make something that is intriguing to look at, something perfect for a woman of intrigue.
NO: This watch has my vote for GPHG winner: it’s a strong-looking, yet feminine example from a collection that is improving with age.
For more on the Audemars Piguet Millenary, please see Give Me Five! Scintillating Ladies Watches From SIHH 2015.
Quick Facts Audemars Piguet Millenary
Movement: manually wound Audemars Piguet Caliber 5201 with visible regulation system
Case: 39.5 x 35.4 x 9.8 mm, white gold
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: 56,500 Swiss francs
Ian: DeLaneau Rondo 42 Peony
Nancy: Audemars Piguet Millenary
Joshua: Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds
Gary: Audemars Piguet Millenary