5 Outstanding Watches For Women Introduced In 2018
Watches for women can be so uncreative. Really.
In 2018 however, I noticed a new movement afoot, one that takes both the design and the mechanics of women’s timepieces a lot more seriously, blending technical expertise and sublime design.
Here are five timepieces anno 2018 made especially for the female wrist that I believe really have everything an aficionada would be looking for in a serious timepiece.
Romain Gauthier Insight Micro Rotor Lady: inspiring views
Independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier surprised female lovers of the exceptional in 2018 with his first dedicated women’s watch.
As its name suggests, the Insight Micro Rotor Lady puts the rotor in full view 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 and offered in a choice of white with Australian provenance or black Tahitian. Beneath that, positioned at 6 o’clock, is the expressively staged gold-colored balance wheel.
Arcs of sweeping bridges that are painstakingly beveled and straight-grained by hand are also eminently visible: every element on this watch features 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 in an almost three-dimensional way, though the mechanical highlight is the bidirectional oscillating weight making its eternal 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 scintillating, constantly changing 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 bi-directional winding. 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)
Beat Haldimann H1 Stars: high mechanics by a top independent maker
Like Romain Gauthier’s beautiful Insight Micro Rotor Lady, this timepiece by Beat Haldimann is based upon an existing watch first conceived for men. That fact, however, does not in the least diminish its beauty, functionality, and attractiveness. And as the addition of the diamonds on the hands is so subtle, it can also easily be worn by men if so desired.
The showpiece element of this watch, however, is not the discreet sparkle of the diamonds, but rather the oversized tourbillon centrally placed for maximum effect. This is a re-interpretation of (and perhaps something of an homage to) the flying tourbillon developed in the 1900s by Glashütte instructor Alfred Helwig. Haldimann took major elements of the Helwig design, above all the lyre-shaped tourbillon carriage, and brought them forward to today, enhancing them with features that include a greatly increased tourbillon size.
While this watch “only” contains one centrally positioned escapement, Haldimann likes to characterize it as resonant: “the cage and the tourbillon resonate with each other and begin to sing,” he says. The tourbillon – which is a sculpture within itself according to him – contains a melody that begs to be released. And if you listen closely, you may just hear it for yourself.
And, as per Haldimann’s own ethos, no CNC machine was touched during the manufacturing process: this is handcrafted work of the highest order. And Haldimann’s workshop even makes its own dials, hands, and buckles, enhancing the handcrafted depth.
Haldimann only produces about 20 watches each year. “I don’t need to make ‘limited editions,’ everything I do is limited simply by the fact that I manufacture at least 90 percent of the watch myself here,” Haldimann reiterated during a recent visit to him in mid-2018. “Our watches are for people who are all about content, not brands.”
For more information please visit www.haldimann.swiss/en/Collection/Haldimann-H1-Flying-Central.
Quick Facts Beat Haldimann H1 Stars
Case: 39 x 10.8 mm, available in yellow, pink, and white gold or platinum
Movement: manually wound Caliber H-Zen-A with central one-minute flying tourbillon; 38-hour power reserve, triple spring barrels
Functions: hours, minutes; seconds (indicated by pointer on tourbillon cage)
Price: CHF 169,200 (gold), CHF 172,000 (platinum)
Beauregard Dahlia C1: beauty and brains
This watch was a complete surprise to me in 2018, and I will admit that I still do not know enough about it.
But after handling it during the judging of the 2018 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, where it was entered into the Ladies Complication category, I can only say that I remain duly impressed by its beauty and functionality.
Like Haldimann’s extraordinary H1, this watch features a central tourbillon. Unfortunately, I am not yet informed as to this tourbillon movement’s maker. But from the looks of it, it is certainly a somewhat more industrially crafted movement than what an independent watchmaker like Haldimann would produce. Beauregard describes it only as having been produced in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
Unlike Haldimann’s work of art, this tourbillon is not put on show as the main act, but rather almost hidden by a number of other decorative elements. In fact, its creator, Montreal-born Alexandre Beauregard, seems to have gone to great pains to hide it, commissioning a white gold tourbillon cage to cover it that is shaped like dahlia petals to echo the outstanding mother-of-pearl elements encircling it.
The fact that the central tourbillon is “hidden” in no way diminishes this watch’s incredible aesthetics, which include the use of 144 diamonds to emphasize its intended target audience’s predilection for scintillating stones and drawing light to the dial.
This watch oozes femininity, the floral aesthetic mimicking the look of a dahlia and enhancing the watch’s symmetry.
Forty-eight hand-carved mother-of-pearl petals surround tourbillon and provide a backdrop to the not-so-easy-to-read hands (the time here is secondary to the art) framed by 0.27 ct of snow-set diamonds. The pearl petals were hand-sculpted and polished to a tolerance of .02 mm and invisible set.
As if that all weren’t enough, the attention to detail is strengthened by the crown with its unique, carved flower motif and pearl cabochon and the triple-folding clasp set with 124 diamonds (0.39 ct), which like the strap, is made in Geneva.
For more information please visit www.beauregard.ch.
Quick Facts Beauregard Dahlia C1
Case: 38.8 x 15.05 mm, white gold set with 330 diamonds (1.17 ct)
Dial: 48 hand-carved mother-of-pearl petals, 144 diamonds (0.27 ct)
Movement: unspecified automatic movement with one-minute central flying tourbillon, 65-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: one unique piece
Price: CHF 240,000
Graff Mastergraff Floral Automatic 37 mm: femininity and playful mechanics
This time-only watch by Graff takes the flower theme off in quite a different direction than the Beauregard. For one, by using asymmetry as a surprising and interesting design aesthetic involving a bouquet of stylized enamel flowers.
I was already a fan of the dedicated Floral women’s watches, which Graff introduced as the Floral Tourbillon at Baselworld 2017, a watch that made it into the shortlist of the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the Ladies High-Mech category.
In 2018, the handcrafted gold and enamel flowers returned on a time-only version that is not only a bit more diamond-encrusted, but also a tad smaller (37 mm vs. 38 mm).
The loss of the tourbillon is not a great one in my opinion. As the cage was covered by a skeletonized, stylized flower, it was only barely discernible anyway. In my opinion, also moving the cutaway for the regulator to 6 o’clock – instead of 5 o’clock on the tourbillon – also does little to relieve the asymmetric look. In fact, I like it almost better at 6 o’clock, most likely because the beautifully handcrafted flowers have also been rearranged a bit.
And the flowers positioned at 8, 10, and 1 o’clock continuously rotate! Graceful and hypnotic, what a lovely detail that is. The design of the pink, blue, purple, or white flowers are inspired by the gardens of the Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a five-star hotel in wine country on the Garden Route. It is owned by Laurence Graff, founder and chairman of Graff Diamonds International.
The flowers are hand-cut from white gold before each petal is hand-enameled, the artisan perfectly capturing the precise hue. Each of these bouquets can take up to 50 hours to complete.
Graff dials always feature a special diamond-set “Icon motif” on them – and naturally there is one here too, set into the mother-of-pearl panel stretching from 1 to 4 o’clock, though it is almost easy to overlook thanks to the firework flurry of diamonds on the case and dial.
Though Graff does not like to release its retail prices publicly, thanks to the GPHG we know that the price of the tourbillon model was 195,000 Swiss francs. Without the complicated whirlwind in the movement, I would be certain that the watch likely costs much less – which is another plus point.
For more information please visit www.graff.com/watches/for-her/technical-watches/graff-floral-37mm.
Quick Facts Graff Mastergraff Floral Automatic
Case: 37 x 10.18 mm, white gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: automatic Caliber TL 5020; 46-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, animated flower automata
Price: price upon request
Louis Moinet Sundance: mysterious artistic technique
Louis Moinet’s beautiful Sundance models also profit highly from unusual dial treatments. But unlike the watches I have discussed thus far here, we really don’t know what that treatment is.
Only that Louis Moinet calls these “Cosmic Dials” and the process is something like a lacquer that renders each dial unique.
The reason for this is that Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO and creative head of Louis Moinet, does not wish to reveal either the artisan or that artisan’s technique for fear that they could be usurped by another brand, rendering Louis Moinet’s special watches less unique by volume.
But not to fear: these insanely gorgeous specimens are unlikely to be successfully copied any time soon. And they come in a variety of unique colors, hues, and tones – the plurality of which might make it hard for me to personally choose one (Santa, can I have them all please?).
As this is a creation guided by the idea of special aesthetics, that is where the watch’s focus lies. However, it does not mean that mechanical creativity has been fully left out of the picture: the openworked sun at the base of the hand arbor is not just decoration. It turns in perpetual motion, representing the onward march of seconds. And even though it doesn’t point to the exact second, it lets the wearer know that the movement is wound and working, providing a great deal of kinetic visual interest too.
This beauty is housed in Louis Moinet’s complicated Neo case, which constitutes 46 individual components. The case band is uniquely designed in a material the brand calls “Neoralite.”
For more information please visit www.louismoinet.com/collection-sundance.
Quick Facts Louis Moinet Sundance
Case: 38 x 10 mm, white or red gold (with or without brilliant-cut diamonds)
Movement: automatic Caliber LM 58; 42-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, running seconds
Limitation: 60 pieces
Price: CHF 30,000; CHF 40,000 with diamonds