Watch connoisseurship has traditionally been a man’s world. But we’ve noticed that women have recently demonstrated an increasingly discerning eye for a mechanical timepiece, no longer satisfied with uninspired quartz watches blandly feminized with a tacky spray of inferior diamonds.
Greg Simonian is the president of California’s Westime, a fourth generation family retailer specializing in watches. He confirmed our call saying, “People are getting more educated about watches in general. Twenty years ago it was Rolex and Timex. Now people talk about the heritage of watchmaking. And you see women getting interested as well.”
Simonian noticed, for example, that in women’s watches, case sizes are growing, which makes sense since more mechanically sophisticated movements require bigger casings. “You usually see a 29 millimeter diameter case in women’s watches,” but in the three women’s mechanical watches we’ve profiled below, the smallest is 35mm. Since quartz is less expensive, “it’s always been more popular for women – and still is,” says Simonian. But “there is a shift” in buying patterns among women with educated tastes.
Here are, for example, three sophisticated women’s watches that caught Penta’s eye. If you are a woman who appreciates that some of the best parts of a watch are unseen and under-the-hood, or you’re a spouse or partner who wants to get something special for their better half, then these are three watches you might want to put on your shortlist of possible acquisitions. They prove that “feminine” elegance and “macho” mechanics need not be mutually exclusive in a timepiece.
Even the diamond-focused Harry Winston is shifting to a more robust women’s watch. Take their Ocean Lady’s Bi-Retrograde ($50,000). A combination of diamonds and 18K gold (rose or white,) it contains a self-winding movement, that is, a rotor (a pivoted weight that constantly moves with the wearer, thereby constantly winding the watch and maintaining a power reserve). Two retrograde indications (hands move in a segment of a circle before swinging back to the original position) of days of the week at four o’clock and seconds at eight o’clock surround a date display window at six o’clock. The dial is an elegant grey-tinted mother-of-pearl set with 96 diamonds. Another 90 diamonds lay along the buckle and hinges, among other parts. The crown is framed by two arches, emblematic of Harry Winston, inspired by its iconic archway we walked through.
Revered Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe launched its first perpetual calendar watch, the Patek Philippe Ladies Grand Complications 7140R-001 ($100,200), for women this year and it matches the men’s equivalent complication for complication. It’s self-winding with a 22K gold rotor and ultra-thin with a height of 3.88mm. Aside from hour and minute hands, three subsidiary dials indicate day of the week, date, month, leap year cycle, moon phases, and military hour of the day all atop a shimmering opaline circular dial, framed by 68 diamonds. The watch comes in an 18K rose gold case and interchangeable alligator straps in mink grey or royal purple. An 18K rose gold buckle is adorned with an additional 27 diamonds. In earth tones, this piece is a pleasant departure from splashy colors that watchmakers often assume women want.
Audemars Piguet’s megahit, the Royal Oak, just got a self-winding 37mm model for women, the Audemars Piguet Ladies Selfwinding Royal Oak ($23,300), which a representative from Audemars Piguet told us, “was reimagined to have a closer design to the men’s Royal Oak.” It’s the most hefty-looking women’s watch we’ve discovered in our quest. Especially unusual is the rounded octagonal bezel with 8 lines of 5 diamonds, separated by screws. Unlike many women’s watches with diamond set crowns, Piguet’s is screw-locked. The dial is engraved with AP’s trademark grid, or, “Grand Tapisserie” pattern. The only addition to minute, hour, and second hands is a date display at three o’clock. Hour markers are drawn in lines of white gold. The bracelet comes in hand-stitched crocodile strap or traditional stainless steel.
- By Christiana Cefalu (Source)