Ladies High-Mech Pre-Selected: 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 that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications and do not fit the definition of the Ladies’ 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.
IS: This category is for “women’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity.” The key words here for me here are “mechanical creativity and complexity.”
JM: I hear you, Ian! The Ladies High-Mech category is going to be a landslide and for good reason: nothing holds a candle to the Christophe Claret Margot. It is the only piece here with a movement designed specifically for a ladies’ watch with a non-time complication designed specifically for women. It is a Ladies High-Mech watch through and through.
Not to mention that it is just so enjoyable to use and see. The other pieces except the Breguet are all female versions of male movements and complications, with a seeming emphasis on tourbillons. While tourbillons are incredible for what they are, I feel there is a lack of drive, innovation, and care that go into the diamond-studded versions of tourbillons.
NO: In the Ladies High-Mech category, four of the six watches have tourbillons, further highlighting the tourbillon’s current popularity. But since we’re looking for “women’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity,” I immediately leaned toward the Christophe Claret Margot striking watch and the Frédéric Jouvenot Surya jumping hour.
RN: The Frédéric Jouvenot Surya watch, with jumping petals is intriguing. It’s interesting that as more and more watch brands step up to the plate when it comes to creating technical watches for women, they still focus on the beauty of nature. It demonstrates the industry’s belief that beauty and brawn can mix.
GG: As with the Ladies’ category, three watches made the final cut here for me: the Breguet Reine de Naples, the Frédéric Jouvenot Surya with its flipping tsavorite hour markers, and the remarkable Christophe Claret Margot.
IS: While I am a big fan of the Breguet Reine de Naples, my pick here by a long way is the Christophe Claret Margot. Claret has redefined ladies’ complications with the Margot and it works beautifully, a truly visual and tactile pleasure.
Just how impressed am I with the Margot? Well my prediction for the evening of the big show is that if the Margot is not announced as the winner in this category, it is because it will win the Aiguille d’Or and will make history as the first ladies watch to win the big prize.
RN: I also think the Christophe Claret Margot will win. It is clearly one of the most innovative, highly mechanical watches in the mix. While it does not offer a complication such as tourbillon escapement or moon phase, it offers audible delight with its chiming – Claret’s specialty – and tactile delight with the game of disappearing petals.
NO: After giving it much thought – and even though I’m a big fan of jumping hours (and this is a very creative example) – my favorite is the Margot, and it is also my pick to win. It is a totally new watch configuration for the brand, while Frédéric Jouvenot’s Surya is a new rendition within the existing Solar Deity collection.
And while I think Margot is a little sexist with its “loves me, loves me not” theme, the mechanism is quite engaging. It is also Christophe Claret’s first complicated ladies’ watch, which gives it high marks in my book. Too, it’s refreshing to see a striking watch – a challenging complication to create – made specifically for women.
I really like the Margot’s case construction in white gold with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel – and of course the case band window at 8 o’clock showing the hammer striking the cathedral gong. This watch is a serious timepiece that, while beautiful, doesn’t let its looks get in the way.
GG: The Claret will win. That said, this is the same jury that eliminated the Van Cleef & Arpels Heures d’Ici et Heures d’Ailleurs from the pre-selections, so perhaps it is not as oriented to whimsy as I think!
Like the other watches in my final three, this one is absolutely a ladies’ watch in design and execution. A great deal of attention has clearly been given to coherence, with features like the hidden crown to provide a more feminine look and the chimes that accompany the hiding of the petals. As a technical and artistic achievement this is the one.
JM: I would put as runner up the Frédéric Jouvenot Surya, which has a very cool jump hour function in the shape of a flower with petals that flip from black to green, pink, or purple as time passes. It is a female-oriented version of the brand’s already popular Solar Deity collection movement, but very cool mechanically and sharp-looking as well.
When it comes to beauty, it is also hard to ignore the Breguet Reine de Naples Jour/Nuit. The piece is simply gorgeous, that is undeniable. Will it win? No. But does it look amazing? Of course!
GG: What would I buy with my own money? None of the above, I’m afraid. At these price points, one needs either to be deeply in love or highly confident in the strength of the resale market for the piece in question, and I’m not at the tipping point on either criterion. Breguet actually introduced the Reine de Naples Jour et Nuit in 2013 in a less ornately jeweled version; that’s the one that I might consider plunking down on if push came to shove.
RN: If I was selecting which watch I would purchase, the choice is clear: Breguet Reine de Naples Jour/Nuit. This watch is my personal favorite. I am a lover of moon phase indications (call it romantic, if you want, but I think women have that love affair with the heavens) and this one is superbly executed. The self-winding mechanical movement with tourbillon escapement and sun-and-moon indication is a technical feat – all in a feminine portrayal. While I typically like larger, bolder timepieces, there is no getting around the fact that this watch – with its dual dials, lapis lazuli background and titanium moon disk – is an eye catcher.
IS: If the Christoph Claret Margot is passed over in this category for higher things, as I previously (and boldly –ed) stated, then I predict that it will be down to the Breguet Reine de Naples and Frédéric Jouvenot Surya. While the Surya wins for mechanical creativity, and I like rooting for the underdog, if it was my money on the line for a watch for my wife, it would have to be the Breguet Reine de Naples.
The results are in, and the winners are:
Ian Skellern: Christophe Claret Margot
Joshua Munchow: Christophe Claret Margot
GaryG: Christophe Claret Margot
Roberta Naas: Christophe Claret Margot
Nancy Olson: Christophe Claret Margot
So, for the Ladies High-Mech category our panel has voted unanimously for the Christophe Claret Margot.
For more on the Christophe Claret Margot, please check out Christophe Claret In Bloom: Introducing Margot, His First Ladies Watch.
For more information on the pre-selected Ladies’ High-Mech watches:
Breguet Reine de Naples Jour/Nuit
Chaumet Hortensia Tourbillon Watch
Chopard Happy Sport Tourbillon Joaillerie
Christophe Claret Margot
Frédéric Jouvenot Surya
Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram Tourbillon
You can partake in the fun as well by checking out the competition and voting for your favorite in the Public Prize category. If you vote, you will be in the running for a Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 XXL Petite Seconde model worth more than 10,000 Swiss francs. Note: you only have one vote in total, not one vote per category, so choose wisely!
Click here to vote www.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2014/PRE.
For more information on this year’s GPHG, please read New Jury And Categories At The 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
To find out more about the creation of the Reine de Naples, please see this Watches TV video: The Reine de Naples by Breguet.
To read other GPHG round tables, please click: A Round Table Pre-Discussion Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2014: Ladies.
Also published on Medium.