Any kind of watch if meant for a woman cannot sacrifice on its aesthetic appeal. With this category of nomination in GPHG we salute all the qualifying brands shortlisted under this category. The piece which certainly deserves a standing ovation is Fabergé’s Lady Compliquée Peacock. This piece has craftmanship, innovation, elegance and beauty. It has no hour or minute hands. Instead elements of the peacock move constantly to display time. Its the unique display of time which features a fan at the heart of the watch. In a Platinum case with a platinum crown, size 38 mm with 54 brillant cut diamonds. A piece of art for a successful sophisticated women.
Only nine watches competed in the Ladies’ High Mechanics category this year (see here), compared to 14 in the Men’s Mechanical Exception category, to which, in fairness, must be added most of the other Mens’ watches in competition given that most present a mechanical complication. That comparison demonstrates that in the high mechanical category, watches for women remain, in the market as in this competition, a relatively uncommon beast.
Here, I must also note the absence of Christophe Claret, a serious contender in this category and winner of the prize last year with the remarkable Margot. I am also disappointed that the ultra-cool HYT H1 Iceberg did not make the cut, as it is a fantastic model of mechanical prowess, sporty and feminine in white gold with blue liquid.
He’s already dropped a huge hint, but only because he understands I have a bit of a weakness for Breguet and with just one word, he has got my entire attention. And just like that, he’s off to the back of the store before we’ve properly said hello to one another.Must be a Type XX, I tell myself. He’s got an army of beautiful examples. Or possibly a gold calendar wristwatch from the middle of the century. These are my personal favorite. No. What he brings is a really strange tonneau-shaped stainless steel Breguet with a very simple black dial, baton hands and baton indexes. It screams 1970s. It doesn’t shout “Breguet.” It could easily bear a different manufacturer’s touch, and in reality, it reminds me of a Zenith Respirator, but the simple fact is that this is a Breguet.But then Antoine does something even more unexpected and calls over a young guy who looks quite familiar to come join us. His name is also Antoine, he’s just started his summer internship here and on his left wrist would be the specific same Breguet. What are the odds of that! When there’s 1 decade that is easy to spot when it comes to watch design, it is the 1970s. The Swiss watchmaking industry was under threat, Japanese Quartz was pushing mechanical movements on their way out, and manufactures had to lower their production costs to offer anything remotely competitive. For many watchmakers, these are not when they created their best work (although there is a very real passion for these funky layouts, to borrow a term often used by one of my colleagues, that happens to be one of those very passionate collectors).
In this category, the watches that appeal to me are those that feature a horological complication in the service of a function that makes the watch quintessentially feminine.
The Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock is an interesting model. Inspired by the Peter Carl Fabergé’s famous Peacock egg designed in 1908, it features a complication that displays the hours at the winding crown located at three o’clock using a rotating mother of pearl band, and the minutes by the peacock’s fanning tail as it deploys its feathers with the passage of time.
Chaumet’s creative Hortensia Complication is also a serious contender. Part of Chaumet’s Hortensia high jewelry collection, the complication in this watch shows the time by the dance of two hydrangea flowers along a winding path around the dial. The proportions and volumes make this a generous and opulent model.
Finally, the Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower is interesting in that it adds an “automaton” function to the mechanism of the watch, all in the same space and without interference with the watch’s functioning. The automaton here is a blossoming flower, an added animation that allows a lotus flower to open.
Bulgari’s Il Giardino Notturno speaks to my romantic side with its modern application of traditional métiers d’art combined with a dramatic moon phase complication, a personal favorite. The intricate multi-layered dial’s execution is exquisite with its moonflower blooms engraved using the champlevé technique and set with white diamonds, while petals are inset with luminous white and Tahitian mother-of-pearl. Watery waves are sculpted from mother-of-pearl that has a bluish tint achieved by applying black varnish to the underside of the material. Sparkly blue aventurine glass serves as the night sky, a glittering backdrop for the oversize engraved and polished gold moons that sweep across the top of the dial. This beautifully rendered nocturnal scene, combined with a dynamic moon phase, captures the hearts of dreamers and stargazers.
Vote for your favourite watch in the ladies’ high-mech category at the GPHG 2015 in the WorldTempus readers’ poll.