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
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.
The column wheel is hidden beneath a highly polished cap as seen on the picture directly over. It’s an eccentric cap which permits the fine-tuning of this aforementioned clutch — since you can see, there’s a somewhat beautifully curved arm that connects the two meshing wheels with the column wheel itself. When the chronograph’s start pusher is engaged, the column wheel below the cap rotates, thus falling this arm between the pillar wheel’s columns, therefore moving the second of those two driving wheels slightly so that it begins to mesh with the wheel in the middle. The distance traveled by this arm requires painstaking fine-tuning, something this cap would be to assist with — though I’d still like to see a well-working chronograph with an exposed column wheel. I think that is enough column wheel talk for the day.The beauty of a hand-wound chronograph is you get to have of the eye-candy. There isn’t a fiddly rotor always at all. Power book of the CH 29-535 PS is at least 65 hours, allowing the Gyromax balance and Breguet-style hairspring to perform their 4Hz ballet for well more than fourteen days. Sixty-five hours is sufficient to produce the 5170P final from Friday evening till Monday morning — a feat every luxury watch wider than 36mm if provide.All the performance aside, the 29-535 is indeed beautiful, I would go so far as to say it is a must have in every collector’s career. Not necessarily a life keeper, but a benchmark for every contemporary high-end chronograph. None should be a replica of this, do not get me wrong, but any modifications done to this layout and these proportions should be encouraged by strong reasons — improved functionality, higher performance, etc.. Few movements bother with proportions, let alone proportions against case size, but things are just right. The massive balance wheel seen in Patek chronographs of old surely add a more customary flair, but if you want contemporary frequency and balance wheel design, you have to accept a smaller balance as a reasonable compromise.
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.