Pre-Selected Ladies: Round Table Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014
by Ian Skellern
From now until the end of October, we will bring you round table discussions on the pre-selected wristwatches in each category of the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
This will give you the chance to listen to well-known tastemakers and journalists in the world of horology talking about their favorites in each category and the watches’ chances. And please don’t hesitate to let us know if you agree or not: taste is subjective.
Note: each contributor is responsible for his or her own opinion, and it may not reflect the stance of Quill & Pad.
Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr may not participate in these round tables as she is one of the judges for the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and must retain neutrality. In today’s edition you will read the following participants:
IS Ian Skellern, co-founder of Quill & Pad
JM Joshua Munchow, resident “nerdwriter” for Quill & Pad
GG GaryG, resident collector for Quill & Pad
RN Roberta Naas, founder of ATimelyPerspective.com
NO Nancy Olson, managing editor of iW Magazine and founder of NancyOlsonInk.blogspot.com
These are women’s watches with no complications and comprising two at most of the following indications: date, power reserve, classic moon phase, second time zone. They may be adorned with a maximum of 5 carats of gemstones (more and they are automatically placed in the jeweled watches category).
It should be noted that our panel members did not discuss their final choices with each other beforehand and chose their predicted winning watches individually.
RN: The choice for ladies watches is not necessarily easy. To begin with, a lot of it is simply personal preference. Someone who is not a fan of green, for instance, just may not like the dial of the superb self-winding Garden of Eden by DeLaneau. The same is true of the alluring, neon-colored de Grisogono Allegra Steel, though the creativity behind its aesthetics, with intertwined leather cords as a strap and color-coordinated gemstones, is really quite bold.
IS: I have enough trouble deciding what I really like, let alone trying to divine what women might like, but I do think the days of creating ladies watches by adding sparkle to a men’s watch and expecting to do well in this category are long gone. What you say about colors is true, though, Roberta. DeLaneau is the champion of artistic dials for women and has created many I love, but the green just doesn’t pop enough for me. As for the de Grisogono model: this may well attract a younger generation, but I’m looking for more elegance in this category.
NO: I think there are some great contenders in this category this year, and each is lovely in its own way. At first glance, these watches appear quite diverse, from materials used to types of movements – with two quartz-driven models, no less. But I think what they share is absolute legitimacy and loyalty to their respective brands, while at the same time challenging boundaries.
So I used “authenticity” as the criterion in making my choice in what could be considered a very broad category. I’m really quite opinionated when it comes to what I like and don’t like in a watch, but I think every one of these watches is a credit to its maker. I can find some exquisiteness in each of them – even the snazzy Allegra Steel quartz number from de Grisogono, which is not my taste at all. I’d really like to spend a whole day staring at DeLaneau’s unique piece Rondo Garden of Eden Magnolia, an absolutely wonderful example of the company’s expertise in high-quality enameling and use of high-quality movements. But since the DeLaneau Rondo Translucent Champagne won in the Ladies category last year, another win for DeLaneau might be a tough call.
JM: If I had a runner-up, I would choose the DeLaneau Rondo Garden of Eden Magnolia entirely for its dial. It is an amazing piece of craft and skill, not to mention a beautiful depiction of a magnolia in translucent grand feu enamel. I don’t think it will win, but it is the only other piece that simply captivates me outside my winning pick…
GG: For me, this is really a three-watch race: the very feminine Blancpain versus the classic Breguet and the technically interesting Laurent Ferrier.
IS: I think that Breguet is beautiful, classic, and nicely proportioned for a smaller wrist. I love it, and think it would be prefect for daily wear, but I don’t think that it’s “pretty” enough for this race.
RN: The very classic-yet-cutting-edge, self-winding Blancpain Off-Centered Hour watch and the Breguet Classique Dame are natural leaders. The stunning blued dial and extraordinary diamond setting of the quartz-powered Harry Winston Midnight Diamond Drops is also a real eye-catcher.
GG: My wife’s daily wearer is a Blancpain, and she’s a big fan of the brand, so in the real world that’s the one that I’d probably be most likely to buy. But my official vote from a “collector’s perspective” goes to the Breguet: delicately sized at 33.5 x 6.95 mm, classic look, and attention to details like the blue date numerals that match the blued hands.
RN: It’s such a hard choice, but the watch I think I would pick to win is the Blancpain Off-Centered Hour. It is a graceful and artful blend of sophisticated self-winding movement, elegant aesthetics and creative off-centered hour for a twist on the norm. What makes the watch even more alluring to look at is the free-flowing diamond pattern on the mother-of-pearl dial. The new Blancpain movement with its 226 parts is the real winner for me and the way it translates to the dial with hours at top and seconds at 6 o’clock makes it a winner.
NO: Laurent Ferrier’s Lady F is pure perfection, in my opinion, and it is my personal favorite. And, yes, I also think it will win. It is exactly what I would expect from Mr. Ferrier with its exquisite finishing (inside and out), uncluttered look and absolute attention to detail. The red gold case, for example, is a well-chosen complement to the intricate mother-of-pearl dial, the brown sapphire on the crown and the single diamond at 12 o’clock. The movement is icing on the cake.
GG: If last year’s results are any indication, this jury is just wild for independents! Even with a bit of turnover in the membership, I’d expect this trait to remain, so I’m thinking that the Ferrier will take this category. And it’s certainly deserving of the win with the intriguing micro-rotor movement, great finishing and time-keeping that Ferrier is known for, including a double direct-impulse escapement, and a feminine dressing-up that includes a sculpted mother-of-pearl dial.
The only thing that bugs me about the Ferrier is that it’s a ladies’ version of a men’s watch, and it’s the largest of “my” three finalists at 39 mm in diameter and 11 mm in depth.
JM: In this category, I would have to call the Laurent Ferrier Lady F to win. Based on the pedigree of the Galet micro-rotor movement and the impeccable finishing that comes with every Laurent Ferrier piece, I think this would take the hearts of women who truly appreciate fine watchmaking and stand out from the crowd of lovely, but not overly feminine watches.
Granted, the colors, materials, and jewels of the others are typically feminine, only the Lady F seems to take on the qualities of a true ladies’ watch with more graceful curves and considered ensemble.
RN: Which is my personal favorite? It would be the Laurent Ferrier Lady F in red gold with that incredible bronze-colored mother-of-pearl dial with swirly motif. I am not sure it will win, as it is up against some stiff competition from larger, better-known brands. But to me, in addition to the elaborate hand-finished dial, the self-winding movement of this watch is superb.
It is equipped with the off-centered Galet Micro-Rotor that has heretofore only been in Laurent Ferrier’s men’s watches. This exclusive movement also uses a silicon escapement with a double direct-impulse on the balance and that is super sweet for a women’s watch. Of course, it is finished in the brand’s workshops to exacting standards that rival the finest brands. Even the mirror polishing is done by hand.
IS: The Laurent Ferrier Lady F is a hands-down winner for me: elegant case, sophisticated dial and a simply stunning in-house movement with micro-rotor. And this is my personal favorite. If the Laurent Ferrier Lady F doesn’t win (as it should), then I think that the Blancpain will.
The results are in, and the winners are:
Ian Skellern: Laurent Ferrier Lady F
Joshua Munchow: Laurent Ferrier Lady F
GaryG: Laurent Ferrier Lady F
Roberta Naas: Laurent Ferrier Lady F
Nancy Olson: Laurent Ferrier Lady F
So, for the Ladies category our panel has voted unanimously for the Laurent Ferrier Lady F.
For more on the Lady F, please check out Lady F Reinterprets Laurent Ferrier’s Stunning Galet For The Feminine Wrist.
For more information on this year’s GPHG, please read New Jury And Categories At The 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
Click here to vote www.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2014/PRE.
Next up Ladies High-Mech.