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Ladies Classics: Tried and True
Beginner's Guide

Ladies Classics: Tried and True

Monday, 18 April 2016
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Carol Besler

“Watches are functional art.”

Carol Besler covers watches and jewelry worldwide.

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6 min read

Whenever there is a slight downturn in the market, watch brands concentrate on safe, classic designs, either in new collections or by tweaking existing core collections. This move away from showpieces to standard fare is a good development for ladies’ watches.

For years, we lamented that ladies’ watches were merely smaller versions of men’s watches, and demanded dedicated collections. The result was a flurry of collections with overtly feminine motifs, including flowers and butterflies and bumblebees. Judging by the introductions at Baselworld this year, we have thankfully come full circle back to classics – and, yes, smaller versions of men’s watches – and that is a good thing. Ladies’ watches can now be appreciated for their movements and for their more refined design features and finish, with “feminine” elements reduced to subtle dashes of color, mother-of-pearl dials and diamond bezels.

Glashütte Original Lady Serenade
Glashütte’s new Lady Serenade is two-tone with or without diamonds.

There is a return to two-tone among the new introductions, which is important for women with jewelry collections in both white and yellow or rose gold. Glashütte’s new Lady Serenade, for example, includes a new bi-color model, with a bezel and crown in 18k rose gold and the case in steel. It has all the codes of the classic timepiece, including Roman numerals and a minimalist dial, in this case a choice of black or white. The date window makes it a perfect classic day watch. Decorative touches are limited to elements that might be seen on a men’s classic watch: the crown is onyx or diamond, and the seconds hand has a counterweight in the shape of an 8, the mark of eternity and a lucky number in Asian culture. Even the diamond bezel versions, an essential option for any ladies’ classic collection, would not be out of place today on a men’s classic watch. The Lady Serenade contains the automatic Caliber 39-22, with a stop-seconds function, visible through the caseback – aficionados can point to Glashütte’s trademark three-quarter plate and decorated components, including a skeletonized rotor.

Rolex Lady Datejust
The newest Rolex Lady Datejust, with a new tighter fluted bezel and a new-generation movement.
A subtle design touch

Tudor has redesigned its Style collection, with fluted bezel, baton hands and markers, completing the similarities between it and the Rolex Datejust – although priced at far less than the Datejust, this is sheer value for the money. It is available in 28mm, 34mm, 38mm and 41mm sizes. The 28mm size, deemed the ladies’ version, is a two-tone model with a mother-of-pearl dial and diamonds. As for the Rolex Datejust, it was introduced with a new movement this year, the automatic Caliber 2236, with the Rolex-patented Syloxi hairspring in silicon. It is also two-tone, in 904L steel and 18k gold. The non-diamond version has a new fluted bezel with more flutes than the previous model.

Slim d’Hermès Manufacture
Slim d’Hermès Manufacture

Hermès has become known for its interesting fonts on classic watches, and it tries out a new one on the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture. The gaps between the lines of the numerals add to the bare minimalist aesthetic of the watch, which contains the ultra-thin automatic Caliber H1950 with micro-rotor which keeps it thin. This is a men’s/ladies’ watch, with case options of 39.5mm, 32mm and 25mm, with diamond options and a perpetual calendar version with an Agenhor module. To keep it interesting from a fashion point of view, there are also colored straps, including blue, purple and red.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Timeless White Ref. 7122
Patek Philippe Calatrava Timeless White Ref. 7122, with hobnail markers.

The 33mm Patek Philippe Calatrava Timeless White Ref. 7122 eschews numerals altogether in favor of unique hobnail style hour markers, a new application of one of Patek’s signature patterns. The only other adornment on the white lacquered dial is a small seconds counter that is not demarcated by a circle. The unusual case design carries the lugs right to the dial, leaving four overlapping bridges of gold in the bezel where diamonds would otherwise be set to complete the circle. This subtle design touch is decorative without interrupting the classic aesthetic. It contains the ultra-thin manual-wound Caliber 215 PS, and is set with just over a half carat of diamonds.

Fabergé Altruist
The Fabergé Altruist, with four Roman numerals and customized Breguet style hands, looks a lot like the Lady Fabergé. The Lady Fabergé, with four Roman numerals and customized Breguet style hands.
Sport watches for ladies

Fabergé, known for its bold jewelry watches, introduced the new Altruist collection this year. It is a men’s collection, but I mention it here because it shares the same design codes as its core ladies’ collection, the Lady Fabergé. Both have four Roman numerals, simple dials and Breguet-style moon-tip hands – with ends that take the shape of the oval Fabergé egg. The 41mm Altruist is slightly bigger than the 36mm Lady Fabergé, but could easily be worn by women who appreciate the beautiful white or blue grand feu enamel dials and a slightly larger, more refined case. They contain the same movement, the automatic Vaucher Caliber 3000 with a 22k gold rotor.

Even classic sports watches are now being made in smaller ladies’ versions.

Longines and Mido were among the brands that returned to the trend of simultaneously introducing identical watches for men and ladies, with the ladies’ version slightly smaller than the men’s and available in diamond versions, but otherwise identical. The Longines Heritage 1918, inspired by the brand’s first bracelet-chronographs, retains original details like the lugs – which were always add-ons in the days of pocket-to-wristwatch  conversions – blued-steel hands with honey-colored varnish, matching honey-colored numerals and strap, and the white polished lacquer dial. The 38.5mm ladies’ version is set with a carat of diamonds in the bezel. Both contain the automatic Caliber L615 with a 42-hour power reserve. Mido, a brand that focuses on classic design with interesting twists and an affordable price point, introduced the Baroncelli Heritage as a his-and-hers duo, with an ultra-thin case in rose PVD-treated steel. The ladies’ model is a slim 33mm wide and 6.85mm thick. Both men’s and ladies’ contain the automatic Caliber Mido 1192 with an ETA 2892A2 base from its sister company in the Swatch Group.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer is the first all-ceramic TAG Heuer watch.

Even classic sports watches are now being made in smaller ladies’ versions. The ceramic TAG Heuer Aquaracer with a diamond bezel is TAG’s first all-ceramic ladies collection, and has all the qualities of a men’s sports watch, including 300 meter water resistance, a unidirectional rotating bezel and lots of lume. Omega introduced a new Master Chronometer caliber in its ladies’ 39mm Planet Ocean 600M, with the Caliber 8800/8801. The Seamaster Aqua Terra Good Planet, while not touted as a ladies’ watch, was introduced in a new 38.5mm model, with a thickness of 12.8mm, a watch that seems tailor made for women who like a classic sporty style.

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean in a smaller (ladies) 39.5mm size.
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