5 ‘Shrink And Pink’ Watches Highlighting How To Do It Well (None Of Which Are Actually Pink)
“Shrink and pink” is a relatively recent term used to describe the way that watch brands sometimes utilize a men’s watch as a base for making a timepiece more oriented toward the female consumer.
It implies making the case of an existing men’s model a few millimeters smaller and/or adorning the watch with gemstones, mother-of-pearl dials, and/or changing color schemes and adding other embellishments.
While in general this ploy doesn’t work as well as the brands think it does, there are exceptions offering a slice of heaven for the female watch enthusiast.
Here are five timepieces highlighting successful use of the “shrink and pink” tactic that I would wear in a heartbeat.
Breguet La Tradition Reference 7038: mechanics in Breguet’s best tradition
Breguet’s La Tradition was introduced at Baselworld 2005 in a case measuring 38 x 12 mm. Despite looking both very unusual and quite complex for its time, it did nothing more than tell the time (hours and minutes) on a small subdial.
The “drama” of La Tradition lay – and continues to lie – in its stylistically vintage pocket watch-like appearance coupled with a movement finished using historical techniques and the extreme visibility of the mechanical components from the dial side.
La Tradition contains one of Breguet’s ingenious inventions from 1790, the forerunner of Kif and Incabloc: the pare-chute shock protection. But the real treat was – and remains – movement architecture designed to reveal components on the front of the watch that are usually hidden behind a dial.
This edition of Reference 7038 is not Breguet’s first feminine version of La Tradition, which is three millimeters smaller in diameter than the variations for men available now, but it is the newest. And it is the first to come with an Italian calfskin clutch handbag of the same color as the strap as packaging.
This version of Reference 7038 for women is adorned with iridescent Tahitian mother-of-pearl and a fresh orange leather strap. Typical for the Tradition line is the concentration on the essential combined with plenty of love for the mechanical details to create a paradigmatic example of stunning design.
The small time-telling subdial at 12 o’clock is in Tahitian mother-of-pearl – how delicate the guilloche work in the center is! – while the rest remains openworked to showcase the beauty of the perfectly decorated dark brown galvanized movement, with its regulator, bridges, gear train, spring barrel, and signature pare-chute shock-protection system all clearly visible.
The plate and bridges are made perfect with a delicate sandblasted finish. To place the centrally located mainspring barrel further into the spotlight, the barrel lid is beautifully engraved with a guilloche rosette pattern that is repeated on the oscillating weight seen through the transparent case back.
A small gold hand at 10 o’clock discretely indicates the retrograde seconds, barely discernible as the scale is etched into the plate. You are only likely to notice it when the watch is running and the little hand does its lightning flip back to zero every 60 seconds.
This highly feminine yet extremely technical creation comes in an 18-karat pink gold case set with 68 white brilliant-cut diamonds around the bezel and a cabochon-cut ruby in the crown. The case band is delicately fluted, as Breguet cases often are, a beautiful detail. The prong buckle is delicately set with 25 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.13 ct).
And there is one more ultra-cool detail: La Tradition Reference 7038 comes in unique packaging comprising an elegant calfskin clutch purse in the same orange tone as the strap. Made in Italy, its clasp features the same guilloche rosette pattern as the watch’s mainspring barrel lid and rotor.
For more information, please visit www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/tradition.
Quick Facts Breguet La Tradition Reference 7038
Case: 37 x 11.85 mm, pink gold set with 68 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.895 ct) and ruby in crown (0.16 ct)
Movement: automatic Caliber 505SR, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, power reserve of 50 hours, lever escapement with silicon pallet fork and balance spring
Functions: hours, minutes, retrograde seconds
Availability: only at Breguet boutiques
Remark: comes in an Italian calfskin clutch bag of same color as the strap
Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Small Model Caliber 1142: cushion-shaped love
Vacheron Constantin surprised visitors to the 2015 SIHH with a fully new and complete line of chronographs. A second big surprise was that Vacheron Constantin chose to house this line celebrating 260 years of the manufacture in an elegant, modernized, cushion-shaped case inspired by one of the brand’s first wristwatches from 1928.
This cushion-shaped case design really sets the Harmony line apart from other modern chronographs.
The designated female-oriented chronograph from this line is called Harmony Small Model Caliber 1142 and it is extraordinary not only for its cushion-shaped case, but also for its interesting movement: a rebuilt Lémania chronograph caliber with higher frequency (3 Hz instead of 2.5 Hz) that Vacheron Constantin redeveloped for use with the blessing of Breguet (who owns the Lémania movement manufacturer, which is now integrated into Breguet Manufacture).
The Harmony Chronograph Small Model came in a 37 mm pink gold case. Its manually wound Caliber 1142 features a chronograph with a 30-minute counter, while its case is decorated with 84 round-cut diamonds (approx. 1.2 ct). It was unfortunately limited to just 260 pieces.
It was nice to see Vacheron Constantin recognizing that women are interested in technical timepieces. But even more than that, this diamond-embellished smaller version of the Harmony collection remains an absolute stunner on the wrist.
This watch is now unfortunately sold out, but you can see more from the delicious Harmony collection at www.vacheron-constantin.com/en2/watches/harmony.
Quick Facts Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Small Model Caliber 1142
Case: 37 x 46.6 x 11.74 mm, pink gold, set with 84 round-cut diamonds (approx. 1.2 ct)
Movement: manually wound Caliber 1142, rebuilt and highly modified Lémania movement, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 48-hour power reserve, Geneva Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; chronograph
Limitation: 260 pieces, sold out
Gustafsson & Sjögren (GoS) Sarek Ladies: Swedish nature
This watch by Swedish independent watchmaker GoS has definitely been “shrinked” and “pinked” – and come out the other side looking simply fantastic!
A smaller version of the GoS Sarek, its centerpiece is a magnificent dial made of Johan Gustafsson’s Damascus steel – a material I am quite partial to. “Johan has a unique ability to extract natural vibrant colors from his hand-forged steel, which we use in the Sarek to the fullest,” watchmaker Patrik Sjögren explained to me at its introduction in 2016.
For me, that dial created from 164 layers of steel is pure emotion. The unusual coloring is partially achieved by tempering (controlled heating and cooling) the steel until the desired colors display. Gustafsson makes each dial entirely by hand in his Swedish forge, and each is unique in pattern and color.
GoS also offers customization in a way that few watchmakers – even independent watchmakers – do: when clients order a Sarek directly from the workshop, they are offered a selection of dials. Additionally, clients may request coloring alternatives as desired.
Named for the most famous national park in Sweden, the ladies’ version of the Sarek – which is a full 11.5 mm smaller in diameter than the men’s! – boasts an increased amount of displayed dial to open up the indexes and a slight angle to the case interior, adding more light to and reflections from the Damascus steel indexes.
Screwed spring bars securing the strap to the watch head is one new element on the Sarek Ladies, with the single lug on each side of the case giving this watch a different feel to the much larger men’s version.
Speaking of the strap, the Sarek Ladies is available on the same moose leather found on the men’s version or optionally with a high-quality calfskin strap in a choice of pastel colors – which I think goes particularly well with the warm color scheme of the colorful Damascus steel dial.
For more information, please visit www.goswatches.com/sarek-ladies.
Quick Facts Sarek Ladies
Case: 31.5 x 9 mm, stainless steel
Dial: 164-layer Damascus steel forged by Johan Gustafsson and tempered to color; each dial is unique in pattern and color
Movement: automatic Soprod A10 caliber with GoS triskele rotor
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: $8,500 plus applicable tax
Remark: five-year guarantee
Romain Gauthier Insight Micro Rotor Lady: inspiring views
Romain Gauthier’s only dedicated women’s watch to date is neither pink, nor did he shrink it down from the “male” version: it is exactly the same size. But the Insight Micro Rotor Lady is a men’s watch that it has been “prettified” and feminized with mother-of-pearl and other cosmetic color changes – which enhance its good looks in my opinion.
As its name suggests, the Insight Micro Rotor Lady puts the rotor in full view on the front of the dial. Based on the Insight Micro Rotor first seen in 2017, the Micro Rotor Lady displays the hours and minutes on a subdial at 12 o’clock, with another subdial for seconds positioned in the center.
The dials of both versions of the Insight Micro Rotor Lady are crafted in mother-of-pearl, 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 the unanimous opinion of the Quill & Pad team).
This bold architecture lends the dial depth in an almost three-dimensional look, 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 on the “Lady” variation 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.
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
This incredible timepiece by independent watchmaker Beat Haldimann is based upon an existing watch first conceived for men, the H1 Flying Central. That fact, however, does not in the least diminish its beauty, functionality, and attractiveness.
And I fibbed regarding this one too: there is no shrink and pink here to be seen as the H1 Flying Central is available for all in a choice of 39 or 42 mm case sizes.
The only other difference between the H1 and the H1 Stars is the addition of one diamond each on the hands peeking out from behind the watch’s central tourbillon. The addition is so subtle that the watch can also easily be worn by anyone.
The showpiece of this watch 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 significantly larger tourbillon diameter.
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, and if you listen closely you may just hear it for yourself.
And, as per Haldimann’s own ethos, no CNC machine was used in the manufacturing process: this is handcrafted horology of the highest order. Haldimann’s workshop even makes its own dials, hands, and buckles, enhancing the handcrafted depth.
“Our watches are for people who are about content, not brands,” the introverted watchmaker told me during my last visit to his Thun, Switzerland-based estate.
For more information, please visit www.haldimann-horology.ch/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)