The majority of women’s watches above the price of CHF 50,000 are heavy on diamonds and other precious stones, and many can be categorised as jewellery watches, with the inevitable eye-watering price tag. But there is also a growing choice of haute horlogerie timepieces for women, some with grand complications.
Chopard – Gardens of Barbados inspiration: CHF 459,000
Gardens of Barbados © Chopard
“Rihanna loves Chopard” is a high jewellery collection unveiled in Cannes last May, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the film festival and the 20th anniversary of its partnership with Chopard. The singer and fashion icon didn’t just lend her name to the collection, she also played an active part in designing the range, adding her special brand of urban glamour to Chopard’s refinement. As well as jewellery, the collection includes this sublime self-winding automatic watch, clothed in a lacy filigree of diamonds totalling 30.76 ct.
Corum Heritage Sublissima or rose : CHF 86,400
Heritage Sublissima, or rose © Corum
Rose gold, mother-of-pearl and diamonds are a winning combination for this ultra-feminine timepiece. This traditional round watch, part of Corum’s Heritage collection, embodies timeless style, with its delicately understated and breathtakingly elegant design. The 25 diamonds embellishing the 38 mm case appear oversized compared with how the bezels of ladies’ watches are usually set, and for good reason: they total 6.16 ct. The watch is driven by a self-winding mechanical movement with a 50-hour power reserve.
de Grisogono Luna S02: CHF 73,200
Luna S02 © de Grisogono
As is usual for de Grisogono’s ladies’ collections, the new Luna range offers a wide variety of different setting options in a plethora of bold and vivid colours. We went for the black model with guilloché dial and shagreen strap. The curvaceous white gold case is set with 162 diamonds in 35 different sizes, with the largest stone in the central 6 o’clock position, producing a bold three-dimensional effect. The hours and minutes are powered by a quartz movement and elegantly displayed by dauphine hands. The corrector is hidden on the back of the watch.
Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Eight Flower CHF 178,200
Lady 8 Eight Flower © Jaquet Droz
More than simply a jewellery watch, the Lady 8 Flower is also an automaton. Under its sapphire dome, a white gold lotus flower opens and closes on demand via a push-piece, revealing the diamond hidden in its centre. The time is displayed below, on a white gold dial set with 353 diamonds, contrasting with the blue sapphires that define the outline of the case. Inside the watch are the gears that activate the floral automaton and the self-winding mechanical movement, which has a 38-hour power reserve, and is wound by a platinum rotor.
Van Cleef – Charms Extraordinaire Fée Rose de Nuit – CHF 63,900
Charms Extraordinaire Fée Rose de Nuit © Van Cleef & Arpels
The luminous hands are a slender, curved sword design using a pole seconds hand which once again features the red Alpina triangle, now as a counterweight. Dial printing of this Alpina logo and touch is large, though given the 44mm case and ample dial property, it isn’t overpowering. Overall, the dial is effective and attractive. One of the vital components of any pilot’s opinion is instant legibility and the Startimer Automatic has that in spades given its clear and clean layout. Some might take offense at the replica of Alpina’s triangle which looks no less than three times from the dial and hands but, quite frankly, that is simply how Alpina rolls and you see their logo everywhere in their own collection. The inclusion of an anti-reflective sapphire crystal ensures unfettered screening of the dial despite varying lighting conditions.Moving to the case, which can be 44mm by 10.7mm in dimension with a brushed finish and an extremely minimal pragmatic design, we see again how Alpina are paying homage to important pilot’s watches of days long ago. Absent are any intricacies in shifting finish or complex case shapes or bevels. The instrument watch feel is clear here and gives the watch a no-nonsense aesthetic that plays to the pilot’s view idea. A straightforward but neatly engraved case back increases the utilitarian concept. A minor issue for me is the use of instance plating on two of those four variants of the Startimer Pilot Automatic. While I understand the drive to produce a “gold” and also a “titanium” version, I believe the idea of case plating is a bit distasteful for many who understand this plating can easily wear off with use, particularly on a instrument watch.
A fairy, a flower, stars and a half moon : Van Cleef & Arpels has accustomed us to finding movement in its delicate figures and has succeeded in making the display of time poetic. On this Charms model, however, the scene is static and we find two conventional hands. But the magic is still there. The gracious fairy has a touch of marvel, the sculptured mother-of-pearl petals seem to flutter, and the hand-painted night sky with its diamond celestial bodies invokes a sense of mystery. The white-gold case has three rows of sapphires and diamonds in a gradient of sizes and a floral charm that follows the movements of the wrist.
Patek Philippe- 7140G– CHF 82,000
Réf. 7140G © Patek Philippe
Some lucky person will receive a Patek Philippe grand complication watch this Christmas – perhaps even this ultra-thin automatic perpetual calendar. This new version in white gold (the timepiece was originally released in rose gold) with sunray silvered dial, features 68 diamonds around the bezel. It comes fitted with a matching grey alligator strap, but the additional turquoise green strap gives it an extremely modern appeal. Inside beats the Calibre 240Q, just 3.75 mm deep – a development of the famous micro-rotor Calibre 240, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – with perpetual calendar, moon phase and 24-hour indications.