5 New Ladies Timepieces Both Technically Intriguing And Aesthetically Captivating
Having written about mechanical timepieces since what seems forever, there have been very few days when I haven’t looked at a watch, researched a watch, described a watch, speculated about a watch, asked for the price of a watch, or compared one watch with another . . .
The lion’s share of the watches I cover are for men, since men are generally fonder of mechanics and, simply put, watches are pretty much the only jewelry men wear.
I also have to admit that I do admire men’s timepieces and my interest in jewelry is quite limited.
Personally, I would rather buy a men’s watch than one specially targeting women, and I only own men’s watches. But that doesn’t mean that I lack an appreciation for exquisite women’s timepieces.
Whenever I write articles about high-end ladies’ watches, I am fascinated by how masterfully some of them blend technological expertise and sublime design. And to highlight what I’m talking about, here are five recent horological treasures, exquisitely fashioned for the demanding aficionada’s wrist.
Can a simple symbol take on a more beautiful appearance than in Jaquet Droz’s Lady 8 Petite? I doubt it! And you might doubt it too after looking at the new Lady Petite 8.
The latest version of this emblematic ladies’ collection once again draws inspiration from the numer “8,” a lucky number in Chinese culture symbolizing eternal beauty and rebirth.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz, the visionary watchmaker who was also a busy traveler in the Far East as early as the eighteenth century, created a pocket watch in 1784 showcasing a fascinatingly balanced dial design reflecting the figure eight using the hour and minute subdial and a large subdial for seconds to form an “8.” The effect is as minimalist as it is beautiful – and it still is today.
Since then, the numeral eight has taken center stage at Jaquet Droz.
One of the latest examples is this intriguing ladies’ jewelry watch, whose case shape mimics the two circles comprising the numeral eight. Hence, the case consists of two parts and enthroned in the upper is an Akoya pearl exuding a lustrous sheen.
Delicate diamonds set into the case enhance its unusual silhouette.
The dial consists of white mother-of-pearl, a popular material for ladies’ watches and a staple in Jaquet Droz jewelry watches. The delicate hour and minute hands match the pink gold hue of the case in good style.
The pink gold bracelet is is truly eye-catching, it’s a piece of art itself consisting of ten segments, each featuring a shimmering Akoya pearl surrounded by a wreath of diamonds. There are a total of 192 diamonds in this timepiece.
Glancing through the case back is fascinating too. Here we see a beautifully decorated movement, featuring a rotor with a fan-like guilloche pattern plus a silicon balance spring and silicon pallet fork.
For more information, please visit www.jaquet-droz.com.
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Petite
Case: 25 x 9.6 mm, pink gold with diamond bezel and pearl cabochon in the crown
Movement: automatic Jaquet Droz Caliber 615, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, power reserve 38 hours, silicon balance spring and pallet fork
Functions: hours, minutes
Based in Le Sentier, one of Switzerland’s cradles of technical watchmaking, Romain Gauthier surprised female lovers of the exceptional with his first watch created specifically for women. And what a gorgeous watch it is!
As its name suggests, the Insight Micro Rotor Lady puts the rotor, the power house of the intricate inner workings of its in-house movement, in full sight on the front of the dial. Based on the men’s Insight Micro Rotor introduced in 2017, the Micro Rotor Lady displays the hours and minutes on a subdial at 12 o’clock while the subdial for seconds is positioned right in the center.
Both dials are crafted in mother-of-pearl, either white with Australian provenance or black Tahitian. Beneath it, at 6 o’clock, is the expressively staged gold-colored balance wheel.
In between we spot arcs of sweeping bridges that are painstakingly beveled and straight-grained by hand, as all elements feature an exceptionally high level of finishing (one of the best in the business, in fact, is the unanimous opinion of the Quill & Pad team).
This bold architecture lends the dial depth an almost three-dimensional aura.
However, the mind-blowing mechanical highlight is the bidirectional oscillating weight that makes its revolutions at 9 o’clock. Crafted in 22-karat gold, the micro rotor is decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds of varying sizes, making its oscillations back and forth a constantly changing, scintillating spectacle. The result is nothing short of hypnotic.
The rotor is framed by two bridges, each fitted with a friction-minimizing ruby bearing, efficiently winding double spring barrels that provide the movement with a generous power reserve of 80 hours.
More intriguing insights are offered through the exhibition case back. From this side, the micro rotor can be spotted setting the visible train of gears in motion, starting with the reversing gear that lends the mechanism its bidirectionality. The gears and ratchets stand out with their eye-catching bevels.
Meanwhile, the golden bridges have been meticulously polished, showing off the jewel countersinks fixed in place using Romain Gauthier’s signature curved-slot screw (or what Ryan Schmidt has called a “coffee bean screw,” which you can read more about in The Schmidt List: Signature Movement Screws).
The sinuosity of the bridges is nicely juxtaposed by the linearity of the straight-grained finishing and four plaquettes.
Romain Gauthier offers two ten-piece limited editions in pink gold, each with the aforementioned dial options.
You might also enjoy The Romain Gauthier Insight Micro Rotor: Complex Simplicity Begets A Deeper Truth.
For more information please visit www.romaingauthier.com/heritage/insight-micro-rotor-lady.
Quick Facts Romain Gauthier Insight Micro Rotor Lady
Case: 39.5 x 12.9 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 8800, 4Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 80 hours, micro rotor
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 10 pieces each of two editions (white or Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial)
Price: CHF 83,000 (excluding taxes)
The Breguet Reine de Naples 8908 originates in a design created by the great watchmaker himself between 1810 and 1812 for Caroline Murat, Napoléon Bonaparte’s sister and queen of Naples; that particular “Reine de Naples” model is said to be the very first wristwatch in history (see The First Wristwatches From Breguet, Hermès And Patek Philippe Were Made . . . For Women).
Breguet knew very well how to delight noblewomen with intriguing jewels that were not only precious pieces of art but could also tell the time. However, in this case the watch was also able to chime the time audibly as it was driven by a complicated repeater movement.
Since their debut in 2002, the stunningly elegant watches in this regal line have wooed aficionadas with their unique style, which impressively demonstrate the house’s reputation not only in haute horlogerie but also in ambitious jewelry crafting and rare handcrafts.
This year’s edition stages two beloved complications on its signature oval-shaped dial that is crafted from an intensely iridescent Tahitian slice of mother-of-pearl: moon phase and power reserve indicators take center stage at 12 o’clock. Hence, the off-centered time indication with a small seconds subdial integrated at 7 o’clock is placed in the lower part of the dial.
In the noble tradition of the manufacture, this subdial, crafted in silvered gold, features blued Breguet-style hour and minute hands making rotations around the silvered gold dial. Typically Breguet is also the laterally fluted, pink gold case that is dressed to the nines: the bezel and dial flange are set with a total of 128 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Automatic Caliber 537DRL2 with silicon escapement and silicon hairspring keeps time inside the case. A pane of sapphire crystal on the back invites aficionadas to admire the Geneva waves on the bridges and the barleycorn decoration on the gold oscillating weight.
You might also enjoy Queen For A Day: Breguet Reine De Naples Haute Joaillerie.
For more information, please visit www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/new-models-reine-de-naples/8908.
Quick Facts Breguet Reine de Naples Reference 8908
Case: 36.5 x 28.45 x 10.5 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 537 DRL1, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve of 40 hours, silicon escapement
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; moon phase, power reserve indicator
Patek Philippe has likewise established a noble tradition by incorporating complicated movements into its sophisticated range of ladies’ timepieces. Legend has it that Queen Victoria chose a superb powder-blue pocket watch adorned with diamonds set into a filigree floral motif for herself at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.
In more recent years, the manufacture has attracted deep female admiration by premiering an entirely new chronograph exclusively created for aficionadas in 2009, which was aptly named the Ladies First Chronograph Reference 7071 (see Two Exceptional Cushion-Case Chronographs For Women: Patek Philippe Ladies First Chronograph And Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Small Model).
Introduced in a gorgeous cushion-shaped case, Reference 7071 was equipped with Caliber CH 29-535 PS, a brand-new manually-wound chronograph movement with column-wheel control and a vertical disk clutch.
Replacing Reference 7071 as Patek Philippe’s flagship ladies’ chronograph, the new generation, Reference 7150R/250R, delights with a decidedly fresh round style that weds classic elegance with a sublime retro note.
It also retains the same movement, Caliber CH 29-535 PS, with its instantaneous 30-minute counter. Its classic architecture is crowned by six patented innovations and lavish finishing, which is exhibited through the box-type sapphire crystal case back.
Comprising 270 parts, while remaining only 5.35 mm high, it ticks within a 38 mm round pink gold case adorned with 72 diamonds surrounding a silvery opaline dial with pink gold Breguet numerals as well as matching Breguet hour and minute hands.
A nice add-on to the bicompax layout and a telltale element adding to the overall vintage style is the pulsometer scale that recalls early chronographs from the 1920s, used by doctors as a medical tool in those days.
For more information, please visitwww.patek.com/en/collection/complications/7150-250R-001.
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Ladies Chronograph Reference 7150/250R
Case: 38 x 10.59 mm, pink gold
Movement: manually-wound manufacture Caliber CH 29-535 PS, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 65 hours (with chronograph disengaged), Patek Philippe Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph, pulsometer scale
Probably the most precious fish figure out there – and not to be found in the animal kingdom, but in the realm of haute horlogerie – is the Chopard Happy Fish timepiece, part of this brand’s legendary Happy Sport collection introduced as of 2002. The limited métier d’arts models demonstrate the Geneva brand’s technical virtuosity in rare handcrafts and high jewelry.
Amid a deep ocean of sapphires in subtle nuances of blue, set on the dial using the demanding snow-setting technique, which sees stones of varying sizes set side by side, the shimmering effect plays on the stones’ variations in diameter – ranging from 0.5 mm to 1.6 mm – to completely cover the metal.
The end effect is a magnificent fish made of gold and mother-of-pearl “floating” in a totally relaxed manner, apparently untouched by the precious beauty that surrounds it. The eye is made of vibrant red jasper, while the tiny scales are incorporated on its body by means of fine engraving. In addition, inlaid luminescent pigments produce a fascinating extra interplay of light that is perspective driven.
Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele’s legendary moving diamonds – which hurry and scurry freely above the dial but underneath the protective sapphire crystal – could well be interpreted as the filigree fish’s air bubbles. Here we count seven of them.
And many more diamonds sparkle in three different sizes on the bezel of this 18-karat gold case.
For more information, please go to www.chopard.com/intl/diary/happy-fish.
Quick Facts Chopard Happy Fish
Case: 36 x 12.09 mm, pink gold set with three sizes of diamonds, diamond cabochon in crown
Movement: unspecified automatic caliber, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 42 hours
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation 25 pieces
Price: €48,100, only available in Chopard boutiques