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Ladies’ day watches with substance over bling
New Models

Ladies’ day watches with substance over bling

Monday, 09 January 2017
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Carol Besler
Journalist

“Watches are functional art.”

Carol Besler covers watches and jewelry worldwide.

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6 min read

While the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie has traditionally been one of the most likely places to see full-on bling in ladies’ watches, there are early signs of a new, more subdued aesthetic at January’s show.

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert was recently quoted in a New York Times article saying, “Luxury has got to be more discreet; the day of bling is gone; forget it. The hatred of the rich is going to expand, and people will not want to show their wealth off and put it in people’s faces like they have in the past.” So while the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie has traditionally been one of the most likely places to see full-on bling in ladies’ watches, there are early signs of a new, more subdued aesthetic at January’s show. Pre-SIHH introductions from IWC, Parmigiani Fleurier and Jaeger-LeCoultre suggest a combination of classic design with solid mechanical movements.

Of IWC’s three pre-SIHH pieces, two are ladies’ watches, with more to come. According to IWC creative director Christian Knoop, “IWC is consciously trying to anchor the brand in the minds of women, who account for a significant proportion of watch lovers.” Both new watches are in the Da Vinci line, which was first introduced in the 1980s and completely revised this year for the first time since 2007. Both are classic pieces. As Knoop pointed out, “IWC is not a romantic, playful brand. The watches are very clean cut. We are a brand with roots in pocket watches.” The Automatic 36 Ref. IW458312 in stainless steel with an intense blue dial is a nod to a vintage IWC. The bezel can be set with 54 diamonds, totaling just under a carat, but this is otherwise a very sleek, unadorned daily wear timepiece. There are four references, including gold pieces with diamonds. It contains the automatic IWC Caliber 35111 with a 42-hour power reserve.

IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36
IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36

The second is the IWC Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Ref. IW459308. The moon phase indication is signature to the Da Vinci line. The new Moon Phase model is rose gold with a brown alligator strap and contains the automatic Caliber 35800, with a 42-hour power reserve. The new Da Vinci models maintain some original design codes, the most important of which, from a ladies’ perspective, are the moveable lugs that give the watch a snug fit. The caseback engraving of the “flower of life” is another nice touch. The collection’s muse, Leonardo Da Vinci, was interested in this geometrical figure within a circle, composed of multiple, evenly-spaced, overlapping circles arranged to form a flower-like pattern. It is considered a symbol of creation and the source of all patterns in the universe.

IWC Da Vinci Automatic Phase de lune 36
IWC Da Vinci Automatic Phase de lune 36

The second is the IWC Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Ref. IW459308. The moon phase indication is signature to the Da Vinci line. The new Moon Phase model is rose gold with a brown alligator strap and contains the automatic Caliber 35800, with a 42-hour power reserve. The new Da Vinci models maintain some original design codes, the most important of which, from a ladies’ perspective, are the moveable lugs that give the watch a snug fit. The caseback engraving of the “flower of life” is another nice touch. The collection’s muse, Leonardo Da Vinci, was interested in this geometrical figure within a circle, composed of multiple, evenly-spaced, overlapping circles arranged to form a flower-like pattern. It is considered a symbol of creation and the source of all patterns in the universe.

The sky-themed dial is made of aventurine glass blown in Murano, near Venice.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s new classic Tonda 1950 is the Set Galaxy. “Set” for gem-set, and “Galaxy” in reference to the dial’s depiction of the night sky as seen from the brand’s headquarters in Fleurier, Switzerland. “In the Val-de-Travers, where Parmigiani Fleurier is based, there is virtually no light polluting the night sky, and nothing obstructing the millions of stars it contains,” says the company. The sky-themed dial is made of aventurine glass. Aventurine is a quartz mineral known for its random mica inclusions that sparkle like stars in a night sky. Aventurine glass is a man-made glass blown in Murano, near Venice, where it was discovered when a glass blower dropped a sliver of copper into melted glass, resulting in a material that resembles the mineral.

Parmigiani Tonda Set Galaxy
Parmigiani Tonda Set Galaxy

The starkness of the night-sky dial is broken only by needle-thin gold hour markers and Delta-shaped hands. The bezel is set with 84 diamonds. The watch contains the automatic Caliber PF702, an ultra-thin movement with a 48-hour power reserve. The platinum rotor is engraved and the plates are decorated in a Côtes de Genève pattern, all of which can be seen through the sapphire caseback. The black alligator strap is made by Hermès, as are all the brand’s straps. The 18k rose gold case is only 8.4mm thick and 39mm wide. The crown is set with a white opal.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina

Jaeger-LeCoultre has added functions rather than bling to its ladies’ Rendez-Vous collection, including a new moon phase and a chiming watch. The Rendez-Vous Sonatina is essentially the Rendez-Vous Night & Day but with an added chiming function. The day/night indicator remains at 6 o’clock, while the chiming indicator, in the shape of a star, is set to the appointed hour by using the crown at 2 o’clock. The hour is chimed by a single strike. It contains the new Caliber 735, with a 40-hour power reserve. The rose or white gold case is 38.2mm wide and 10.59mm thick. The Sonatina can be slightly blinged up if desired: it is available in white gold with a dial of graduated hues of purple.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Moon
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Moon

The Rendez-Vous Moon is new in the sense that the moon phase function was previously reserved for only the jewelry pieces in the collection. It is now available in a basic steel (or gold) model, without diamonds. It contains the Caliber 935A, with a moon phase accurate to one day every 985 years. The moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock is understated, with a simple repetition of the guilloché pattern of the inner dial for the sky, and with a textured blue moon to match the hands. The case is 34mm wide and 9.56mm thick. Strap options include ostrich or alligator in various colors, or a steel bracelet, and can be changed without a tool.

All of these new ladies’ pieces are robust day watches with minimalist styling and only a few subtle details that separate them from the best men’s designs, with purpose-built calibers of substance. They constitute, in the words of Mr. Rupert, “discreet luxury.”

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