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Ladies’ watches add beauty and glamour to the Grand Prix...
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Ladies’ watches add beauty and glamour to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève

Tuesday, 27 November 2018
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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

Women’s watches not only figured prominently in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, they are becoming more impressive every year: a sign that Swiss watchmakers are taking female patrons seriously.

Three of the 12 categories – Ladies’, Jewellery and Ladies’ Complication – are for women’s watches. The winners, Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels in two categories, are impressive, but given the high caliber of entries now in this competition, all the pre-selected ladies’ watches are worthy of mention, and the jury might just as easily have chosen any one of them. Here are the winning watches and some of the runners-up.

Secret de Coccinelle © Van Cleef & Arpels
Secret de Coccinelle Van Cleef & Arpels

The winning piece in the Ladies’ category is, ironically, a watch that was designed to have a masculine aesthetic. Chanel’s Boy-Friend takes its name from the slang used in the fashion industry to describe the men’s shirts, jackets and other items that women like to “borrow” from their boyfriends. The watch has masculine angles rather than feminine curves, and a blackened openworked movement: the manual-wound Caliber 3, Chanel’s third in-house movement. The diamond-set bezel in a pink gold case add a touch of femininity, but this remains a watch that could easily be worn by a man. The rectangular outline, with its beveled edges, is inspired by the contours of the Chanel No.5 perfume bottle and stopper, a shape originally inspired by Place Vendôme in Paris.

Boy•Friend Skeleton © Chanel
Boy•Friend Skeleton © Chanel
Van Cleef & Arpels twice winner

The winning piece in the Jewellery Watch category is the Van Cleef & Arpels Secret de Coccinelle, a unique piece that is designed as a secret watch. The cover uses rubies, diamonds and onyx to form the shape of a ladybug, which sits on a bracelet designed as a leaf, set with emeralds and green tsavorite garnets. The ladybug reveals the dial by sliding upwards on the leaf via an invisible mechanism. Movements in high jewelry watches are often quartz, since the star of the show is the setting rather than the mechanics, and because a small movement is often dictated by the design. However, this piece contains a movement by sister brand Jaeger-LeCoultre – the famous Caliber 101, the smallest ladies’ movement on the market.

Movements in high jewelry watches are often quartz, since the star of the show is the setting rather than the mechanics.

The winning piece in the Ladies’ Complication category was also a Van Cleef & Arpels, the Lady Arpels Planétarium. The movement, Valfleurier automatic caliber Q020, is equipped with a planetarium module developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels by Christiaan van der Klaaw, one of the few specialists in astronomical complications. The module drives the movement of three planets and a moon that revolve in real time around the sun at the center of the dial. Earth is depicted by a turquoise ball, Mercury by a pink mother-of-pearl sphere, and Venus by a green enamel ball. The moon is a diamond, and the sun is made of 18k pink gold. Time is indicated by a gold shooting star. The scene unfolds against a backdrop of sparkling aventurine glass, representing outer space. The caseback indicates day, month and year, and showcases a diamond-set, moon-shaped rotor. The 38mm white gold case is set with diamonds. It is available on an alligator strap or a diamond-set bracelet.

Here are the other five entries in the Ladies’ category:
  • Bovet 1822 Amadeo Fleurier 39 Fan, a convertible watch that can become either a table clock or pendant. It is a unique piece in a series of watches depicting fans. It contains an automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve.
  • The Bulgari Lucea Tubogas Skeleton, with an openworked movement carved out to spell the brand name, with each letter diamond-set. It contains an automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
  • The Chaumet Laurier, a secret watch set with 446 diamonds totaling 3.34 carats. It is carved in the shape of a laurel leaf and covers an aventurine dial.
  • The Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Twist Classic, with a mechanical movement that is manually wound using the strap attachment at 6 o’clock. The center of the dial is guilloched.
  • Piaget Possession Lapis Lazuli in pink gold with a rotating diamond bezel. The blue alligator-skin strap can be changed by the wearer for another style.
Possession Lapis Lazuli in pink gold © Piaget
Possession Lapis Lazuli in pink gold © Piaget
Here are the other five entries in the Ladies’ Complication category:
  • The Beauregard Dahlia C1 is a unique piece, with a central flying tourbillon escapement. The dial is designed as a dahlia with mother-of-pearl petals.
  • The Bulgari Diva Finissima Minute Repeater, activated by a gem-set charm on the case side. The dial is crafted from Urushi lacquer.
  • The Chaumet Les Espiegleries de Chaumet, one of a limited edition of five pieces. It is a jumping hour, with an African scene on the dial made by engraving and miniature painting.
  • The Ludovic Ballouard Pink Hours, a jumping hour with a pink mother-of-pearl dial and a red gold case. It is limited to 12 pieces. The present hour turns right side up, while the rest remain upside down.
  • The Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Tourbillon Galaxy, a manual-wound tourbillon with an aventurine dial and baguette diamonds on the case and lugs. It is a unique piece.
Kalpa Tourbillon Galaxy © Parmigiani Fleurier
Kalpa Tourbillon Galaxy © Parmigiani Fleurier
Here are the five other watches in the Jewellery watch category:
  • The Antoine Preziuso Trillion Tourbillon of Tourbillons, a skeletonized triple tourbillon movement connected by a triple-differential gear. There are three trillion-shaped diamonds floating on the dial.
  • The Bulgari Serpenti Pallini High Jewellery, made with over 250 tiny moving spheres crafted and assembled by hand. It is set with diamonds and two emeralds for the snake’s eyes. It is one of eight pieces.
  • Chanel Bouton de Camelia, a white gold watch shaped like a camelia and set with 86 diamonds totaling 1.91 carats. The movement is quartz. The strap is satin.
  • The de Grisogono Cascata with 126 round diamonds and 72 oval-cut diamonds on the case totaling 30 carats, and a dial snow-set with 148 diamonds. Each watch requires 70 hours of setting time.
  • The Piaget High Jewellery Cuff Watch Dentelle d’Or is a one-of-a-kind piece in pink gold lace set with 382 round diamonds and 30 marquise diamonds. They surround a white opal dial.
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