Our Predictions In The Ladies Category Of The 2022 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG): Little Consensus, 4 Picks To Win
Welcome to the 2022 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève predictions in which the team picks favorites and explains why.
The panelists are:
Elizabeth Doerr (ED), co-founder and editor-in-chief
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Martin Green (MG), resident gentleman
According to the GPHG, the Ladies category contains watches aimed at women that comprise the following indications only: hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phase. These may potentially be adorned with a maximum of nine carats worth of gems.
IS: Wow! That’s six very different watches preselected in the Ladies’ category. This should be interesting. And a tip of the hat to the GPHG team for listening and adding a dedicated mechanical clock category this year.
GG: Here we go again! I’m looking forward to being back in Geneva for this year’s GPHG ceremony and pleased once again to be debating this year’s entries with my Quill & Pad colleagues.
As usual, we’re starting with the Ladies’ category, and I’m sad to say that I’m not overwhelmed by the choices this year, even though I’m a fan of the makers represented.
JM: Once again, we are back to our favorite pastime: predicting the winners of the next edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève! It feels like only a couple months ago we were debating the merits of a menagerie of incredible pieces and here we are right back at it.
The 2022 edition looks to be another great showing, and I’m excited to see how we all fare choosing our hopefuls. For the first category, we take a look at ladies’ watches and have a tough job ahead of us. Since it is such a broad category it lacks a clear focus as to what should constitute the best ladies’ timepiece.
As I usually do for this category, I put broad approachability, wearability, and clear feminine intent front and center when I pick my winners, which also causes me to make hard choices against pieces I truly enjoy.
MG: Apparently, time flies when you’re having fun as it is already time for another edition of the GPHG round tables. Not that I mind as they are always so much fun to do!
Quite an eclectic bunch to choose from this year, which makes it all the more interesting!
Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Eclipse I
MG: I absolutely love this watch as Arnold & Son took the creative approach by utilizing a wide variety of gemstones in an asymmetrical design. As a result, you get an instant eyecatcher capable of holding your attention. Not a detail skipped scrutiny, and I also love the lace effect in the aventurine dial. Bottom line: we need more watches like this.
JM: I have loved every version of the Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon the brand has released because it is a giant moon phase watch with visually captivating moon. How could I not love it?
This version is for those who want to garner a lot of attention, from the lace-cut aventurine dial set with diamonds, sapphires, and mother of pearl to the moon formed from ruthenium crystals. The hour markers are triple-set diamonds, and the bezel, crown, and lugs are set with 90 brilliant-cut diamonds as well. The assortment of gemstones is pretty stunning and combined with a moon phase movement sporting 90 hours of power reserve, this is one awesome watch.
ED: Arnold & Son is killing it right now! I adore the ruthenium crystals seen here on the moon, which is turning into an Arnold & Son specialty, as well as the interesting and decorative use of gemstones and aventurine. And it is not as showy on the wrist as one might think; it is much more subdued than it might seem to be from the press pictures. It is very hard to pass judgement on watches with gemstones without seeing them in the metal. And this one looks good in real.
Also, while 38 mm sounds largish to some people, it is the size of watch that I prefer over all others. For me this watch fits perfectly and is more than comfortable.
It ticks a lot of my boxes – especially with its cool movement! – and it is unusual, interesting, and extremely high quality. It is my clear winner in this category.
JM: The only reason it doesn’t win the category for me is the overemphasis on gemstones; essentially it is a lot of dazzle. In the jewelry category this would be a winning strategy, but for a ladies’ watch, too many jewels can be a bad thing as it makes it much harder to wear every day and could draw too much attention. I think the watch could very easily win over the jury, but I think it lacks the broad appeal that the winner of this category needs to be crowned the best ladies’ watch.
IS: The Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Eclipse I ticks all the boxes for an excellent ladies’ watch: 38 mm case, moon phase, (laced) aventurine dial, and lots of glitter. Plus, there’s the new in-house caliber and new case design. It all looks nice to my eyes, but I’m not seeing anything making it pop out from its competition here.
GG: For me, the Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Eclipse I is just a mess from a visual standpoint and at 38 mm a relatively large mess at that.
Quick Facts Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Eclipse I
Case: 38 x 10.44 mm, white gold set with 90 brilliant-cut diamonds
Dial: aventurine with white and blue mother-of-pearl fragments, 35 brilliant-cut diamonds, three pear-cut diamonds, four brilliant-cut pink sapphires, and eight pear-cut blue sapphires
Movement: manual winding Caliber A&S 1612, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 90-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phases
Limitation: 18 pieces
Price: CHF 77,900
Chaumet Montre à Secret Déferlante
IS: The Chaumet Déferlante Secret watch looks more like a striking jewelry piece than a “simple” ladies’ watch, especially as it features fil-couteau (“knife-edge”) diamond setting in which the gems appear to levitate. It’s a practical watch to wear with the cover closed and makes quite a statement when you open the cover to read the time. But I feel that’s it is too much of a special occasion timepiece than a daily wearer, and a winner here should be (in my view) suitable for daily wearing.
JM: I have always thought the idea of a secret watch is something that should be explored more, both in women’s watches and men’s, but sadly they are usually reserved for jewelry-style watches. The Chaumet Déferlante Secret Timepiece straddles the line between jewelry and wristwatch as it is clearly a wristwatch that effectively has a swiveling cover made from extravagant diamonds.
It obviously works as a secret watch, but only as much as a person walking around with fake glasses and mustache. For that reason, it definitely belongs in this category over the jewelry category because it is first and foremost a watch, just with pizazz. This is why I really enjoy this piece and think the jury will probably enjoy it as well. But I think it falls short in the category for the same reason others do: it just isn’t as practical as my winner and it is limited in the ability to be worn casually, something I think the best ladies’ watch needs.
GG: My top pick is the Chaumet Déferlante Secret: the swinging array of shooting stars that opens to reveal the time and engraved dial is cleverly done, it features an automatic mechanical movement, and at 30 mm in diameter it is well sized for smaller wrists.
ED: Or perhaps too small for some smaller wrists, Gary . . . I can no longer see the time on watches of this size!
I also agree with what’s been said here: it’s too much of a special occasion watch to fit in this category well, though I do give it plus points for the (undisclosed) automatic movement that Chaumet enigmatically calls Caliber Fleurier FLW2580. As Chaumet is located in Paris, I take this to mean that the movement is made in Fleurier – by Chopard? By Vaucher? It would be an interesting question to know the answer to.
MG: This Chaumet has one of the most stunning dials I have seen in some time. That also makes it somewhat frustrating that the brand put a diamond cover over it. Good dials are far rarer than an abundance of diamonds, no matter how well set. Did you also notice the quiet trend that watches like this are now more and more often equipped with mechanical movements?
Quick Facts Chaumet Montre à Secret Déferlante
Case: 30 x 13.77 mm, white gold set with 153 brilliant-cut diamonds (3.43 ct), cover set with 57 brilliant-cut, square-cut, princess-cut, and baguette-cut diamonds (1.24 ct)
Movement: automatic Caliber Fleurier FLW2580, 40-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 3 pieces
Price: CHF 131,860
Chopard Alpine Eagle 33
MG: The Alpine Eagle a tempting offer as a ladies’ watch as much as a men’s watch. The only thing that I have against it is that the diamond setting is very unimaginative and “safe.” From a commercial point of view a brand needs watches like this, but I am missing the wow-factor that so many other Chopard models possess.
IS: With the Alpine Eagle 33, Chopard has hit a homerun. It’s a women’s equivalent to the Royal Oak, but better in nearly every way. Easy-wearing 33 mm case, sustainability oozing out of every pore, new in-house automatic movement, and enough diamonds around the bezel and marking the hours to attract the eye but not dominate the aesthetics. It was a close call, but the Alpine Eagle 33 is my pick for best ladies watch of 2022.
JM: This is a watch that has a lot of appeal in the modern age of luxury sport watches, and Chopard is a top name for most women interested in watches and jewels. The Chopard Alpine Eagle 33 is a very wearable watch that does take a slightly more restrained approach to gem setting, though it still is very heavy on the stones. The spiral-brushed dial and bracelet are perfect for what could have been a “masculine” watch that was just given a gemstone makeover, not to mention it sports a C.O.S.C.-certified chronometer movement.
But the best features are the social and environmental impacts. The gold is both ethically sourced and produced and recycled in the in-house foundry to make scraps go as far as possible. The diamonds are also as responsible as they can be for natural diamonds following the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Responsible Jewellery Council system of warranties. But as I’ve pointed out with other pieces in this category, I feel it is too flashy to be the best all-around ladies’ watch, though I wouldn’t be surprised as my first runner-up if it wins the jury over.
ED: As this watch is officially under embargo until October 1 – yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me, either – I have not had the pleasure of handling it. However, I have handled a lot of other Alpine Eagle models, and they are all excellent quality and gorgeous in design and execution. I am also a big fan of Chopard’s ethically sourced metals. Excellent watch, just not quite as imaginative as the entry by Arnold & Son this year for me.
GG: I’m a big fan of Chopard’s work over the past years and I do like the Alpine Eagle line, but the Alpine Eagle 33 with its diamond bezel loses some of the essential qualities of the Eagle look and becomes just another nice ladies’ sports watch.
Further reading: Chopard Alpine Eagle: A Cool – And Ethical – Sports Casual Watch
Quick Facts Chopard Alpine Eagle 33
Case: 33 x 7.85 mm, ethically sourced pink gold
Movement: automatic Chopard Caliber 09.01-C with 42-hour power reserve, 25,200 vph/3.5 Hz frequency, official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds
Price: CHF 45,500
Konstantin Chaykin Harley Quinn
GG: Could I have picked the Konstantin Chaykin Harley Quinn as my winner? Certainly! I bought the Joker watch that started Chaykin’s series of Wristmon watches, and this piece does a good job of providing a whimsical interpretation of the Harley Quinn character. I’d be more than pleased to applaud Chaykin if he ends up making the trip to the stage to accept a second GPHG trophy, but I’d be happier if his nominated watch came from his rich catalogue of higher horology pieces.
ED: I definitely think this watch is too quirky to win this category: it won’t appeal enough to all the jury members, no matter how much I personally love the Joker’s fearless girlfriend as a comic character and Chaykin’s reinterpretation of her!
Having handled it, I can attest to its great fit despite its 40 mm size. And it just makes me smile!
MG: Creative and imaginative, I am always surprised how Konstantin Chaykin is able to capture the soul of a character in a few clever, well-executed details. With the Harley Quinn, he has done it again. I am wondering when the concept of this watch is going to grow stale, but for now that does not seem to be something to worry about.
JM: Konstantin Chaykin is one of my favorite independent watchmakers today and I have been a big fan of the Joker series ever since its launch. The watches are always fun and well received, bringing great success to Chaykin as well.
This Harley Quinn edition is once again a very fun and enjoyable piece, but it doesn’t feel as if it was made exclusively for women per se, and at 40 millimeters it is the largest and still most masculine of all the watches in this category. I know the jury will have lots of fun with it, but I don’t know if it represents everything I think a ladies’ watch can be, and it’s functionality and wearability keep it from being my winner.
IS: Konstantin Chaykin’s Harley Quinn is the watch that I’d love to see winning the Ladies’ category 2022 just for the shock of it, but I strongly suspect that the jury will ignore the broad smiles on their faces as they handle it before picking something more traditional.
Quick Facts Konstantin Chaykin Harley Quinn
Case: 40 x 13.5 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber K07-0, based on ETA 2824-2 with module by Konstantin Chaykin manufacture; 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Functions: regulator hours and minutes; moon phase display
Limitation: 28 pieces
Price: CHF 19,950
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatic
MG: The Tonda PF is one of the models dominating this edition of GPHG for all the right reasons. I think they should abolish the gender-related categories as I would happily wear this 36 mm beauty with its diamond-set hour markers.
ED: I have been saying that for a while now! But I don’t think we’ll ever see these genderized categories abolished here, Martin. Tradition is sooooo Swiss.
JM: This is my clear winner, and I am entirely conflicted about it. Here’s why.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatic is a slightly scaled-down version of the regular watch, but not so much so that it is really only wearable on tiny wrists. I know many men who love vintage sizing so much that 36 millimeters is often considered perfect. But while I prefer a slightly larger size, I have to admit that this watch may just be a perfect unisex watch. And the small addition of baguette-cut diamond hour markers turns this watch into low-key elegance and modern feminine class.
A dapper dude like Martin Green would pull this watch off flawlessly, but I also think it could easily grace the wrist of any serious watch-loving woman and become the go-to daily-wear piece. It is one of my favorite styles (in the larger size) of the entire Tonda PF collection, and this piece, while not designed from the ground up for women, is an extremely solid piece. The size, dial, markers, bracelet, and material just work together so well that I think, barring extra complications, jewels, and dazzle, this represents the best all-around Ladies’ watch.
In fact, if Parmigiani made this in the standard 40-millimeter steel with platinum bezel and put purple amethyst, green emerald, or blue sapphires for the hour markers, I would have a new favorite watch from Parmigiani.
ED: You make an extremely compelling argument, Joshua, and you could almost sway me if I weren’t so emotionally invested in the Arnold & Son timepiece. At the end of the day, emotion is what a luxury watch is all about, though.
GG: My second choice is the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatic. Parmigiani has finally settled on a design language that melds the best features of its early Toric watches with a contemporary sensibility, and the combination of dial and case colors, the finishing of the bracelet, and the discreet baguette-cut diamond hour markers work together to make for a coherent and attractive presentation.
IS: I very nearly picked the Tonda PF Automatic to win this category, and I would not be surprised if it did. The 36 mm pink gold case perfectly frames the dark chocolate-colored dial featuring a fine barleycorn guilloche that provides texture. The hour indexes are invisible-set baguette-cut diamonds, which are simultaneously classy and discreet. I love the elegant minimalism of the design and the fact that it’s likely to be an easy watch to wear, but it does seem like more of a unisex watch than the Chopard. While it shouldn’t, that may influence the jury.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatique
Case: 36 x 8.6 mm, ethical pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber PF310 with 60-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: CHF 49,500
Van Cleef & Arpels Montre Perlée
MG: This Perlee watch represents a time when ladies’ watches were small and elegant. Apart from the slightly too large font on the dial, this Van Cleef & Arpels makes a case on how appealing this still is. The decoration technique that they choose is intricate yet timeless.
ED: Those granules! That bracelet! Love at first sight. Until I turn it over and find that alongside a pushbutton for setting the time, it’s quartz . . .
Extra marks for making the bracelet quick-change, though.
JM: The Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée watch is a piece that quietly enters a room and asks for nothing but distant admiration. It has no jewels to trick you with a glint in the spotlight, but it looks sumptuously made (that bracelet is incredible) and elegantly tiny on the wrist. It is clearly meant to invoke a glamorous past for fashion and jewelry, and it does so with room to spare.
But this works against it as an all-around ladies’ watch, and I haven’t even mentioned the fatal flaw: the quartz movement. I know, I know, quartz is precise and the culmination of centuries of horology, not to mention fairly common in very small ladies’ watches. It truly is lovely, and for many women there will be no hesitation to choose it for style and not the movement, but I still like what I like and think the jury will have a bit of a bias here too and keep it from taking the top spot since it doesn’t sport a mechanical movement.
GG: Van Cleef & Arpels makes many sensational watches, but the Perlée with its quartz movement and generic-looking lumpy pearled bezel and bracelet isn’t one of them.
IS: I’ve been burned too often in these GPHG predictions in forgetting that if a watch has been selected then it’s not for me to question how or why. But as much as I try to put my personal preferences aside, and while I acknowledge that the Perlée 23 mm is a very pretty watch, it has a quartz movement, and my preference is for mechanical movements.
Quick Facts Van Cleef & Arpels Montre Perlée
Case: 23 x 8.85 mm, yellow gold
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: CHF 26,900
Remark: quick-change bracelet
Elizabeth: Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Eclipse I
Joshua: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatic
Martin: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Automatic
Ian: Chopard Alpine Eagle 33
Gary: Chaumet Montre à Secret Déferlante