The minute repeaters is, to a collector, the epitome of fine watchmaking, and there is no reason a female aficionado wouldn’t agree. Women are starting to take notice of “intelligent content” as Jaeger-LeCoultre describes it, with or without decorative elements. Taking it one step further by combining a complicated movement it with the equivalent beauty on the outside of the watch makes it not only more feminine, but even more collectible – the jewelling is in itself like another complication. At least two of these repeaters were introduced as men’s timepieces (including the Ref. 5073), but the gemsetting and proportions make them at least as suitable for women, if not moreso. A jewelled minute repeater is rare, as weight can be an issue, so, combined with their elite calibers, the setting on these pieces makes them worthy collectors items.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Ivy
The Ivy is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first minute repeater for ladies, with the new automatic Caliber 942A taking its place among the 1,249 movements created in this company’s 180-year history. It is one of only two automatic repeater movements made by JLC (the other is in the Hybris Mechanica 11). The 39mm case makes the watch very comfortable for a woman’s wrist, despite the necessary thickness for a grand sonnerie minute repeater. As with the Hybris Mechanica watch, the Ivy uses JLC’s proprietary, double-hinged trebuchet hammers, hitting gongs that are connected directly to the sapphire crystal, creating a “loudspeaker” sound. They use 80% less energy than conventional hammers, which allows for a smaller mainspring barrel.
A “silent-timelapse” reduction system means that unlike conventional repeaters, there is no gap between the chime of hours and the minutes when there are no quarter hours to chime in between. Also, the pitch has been lowered slightly to produce what JLC calls a “warmer, richer, sweeter, inherently feminine melody.” The dial decoration is also sweet, and enameled in a bright blue color, guilloched and superimposed with diamond-set ivy leaves from which the numerals seem to grow organically. The diamonds are continued not only to the bezel but also to the lugs, crown and repeater button. The ivy is meant to appear snow-frosted, as if during winter in the Jura mountains.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5073P
Officially, the Ref. 7000 is Patek Philippe’s minute repeater for ladies, but the 5073 is an outstanding timepiece that seems perfect for women who love high complications. It contains the automatic Caliber R 27 Q, with minute repeater, perpetual calendar and moon phases. The hammers of the minute repeater strike two cathedral gongs, which are twice as long as conventional gongs, resulting in a rich, long-lasting sound that reverberates and carries clearly. The movement also uses a micro-rotor, so despite having to accommodate longer chimes, the case is still a reasonable 42mm diameter (but not as small as the “ladies” minute repeater Ref. 7000, which is 33.7mm and is also an automatic).
The classic railway track minute scale and black and white dial make the 5073 give it a timeless appeal that will work for both men and women – it could be worn equally well with a suit and tie or a black cocktail dress. And then there are the diamonds. It is set with 158 baguette diamonds totaling 5.27 carats. As always at Patek Philippe, a discreet 0.02-ct. diamond between the lugs at 6 o’clock identifies the case metal as platinum. Being a Patek Philippe high complication in platinum, the 5073 will always have a high resale value. I consider it the ultimate collectors’ piece for ladies, but it is a watch that can be sold as a men’s timepiece, which also gives it added value.
Christophe Claret Margot
Christophe Claret specializes in chiming watches, the first of which he produced after graduating from the Geneva watchmaking school in the early 1980s – an hour and quarter repeater with automatons. After he started his own brand in 2009, he began to apply the repeater complication to a series of gaming watches that combine casino sound effects with real-life gaming functions. First came the Blackjack, followed by the Baccara and then the Poker, which allows up to three players to engage in a game of Texas Hold’em, with a cathedral gong ringing like a slot machine whenever a card is played.
The inevitable next step in this series was a gaming watch for ladies. The Margot allows the wearer to play the childhood girl’s game of “He loves me, he loves me not,” in which petals are plucked one by one from a daisy until none are left, ending the verse with either “loves me” or “not.” When the repeater function of the Margot is activated, a petal or two is “plucked” from the dial at random. When the last petal has been plucked, one of five sentiments appears in a window on the dial: he loves me a little (un peu); very much (beaucoup); passionately (passionnément); madly (à la folie); or not all (pas du tout). A pusher at 4 o’clock restores the petals to their original positions. The Margot was named after Queen Marguerite of France, daughter of King Henry II and Catherine de Medici, known for her fashionable style. She was also called Queen Margot, and ruled from 1553 to 1615.
Graff MasterGraff Minute Repeater Tourbillon
Okay, this is a big watch. It’s a hefty 47mm in diameter. But the diamonds transform it into something quite other than a watch, and that makes it a piece of jewellery. And no piece of jewellery is too small for the discerning wrist. Graff Diamond, whose motto is “The Most Fabulous Jewels in the World” did not surprise anybody when it started to make jewellery watches when it launched a watch collection in 2008. Graff is an elite diamond company, famous for selling the world’s most important gems at prices in the double-digit millions. The surprise came later when Graff began to introduce a succession of proprietary calibers – five in six years – including high complications, two of them world-firsts.
The MasterGraff Minute Repeater is fully set with 334 diamonds totaling 30.6 carats. It is set using a proprietary technique called invisible diamond mosaic setting, particularly around the bezel. The bezel is set to resemble the facets of a diamond, with each facet actually represented by three diamonds – two are triangular shaped and one is a hexagonal cut. They are all invisibly set. The hand-wound movement, has a tourbillon escapement. The watch is such a dazzling display of jewelling.