8 Iconic Women’s Watches To Know
Fancy a classic? This is girl power as we know it.
Breguet Reine de Naples
The story goes that Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, commissioned Abraham Louis Breguet for a minute repeater bracelet watch in 1810, thus (possibly) leading to the creation of the world’s first wristwatch. Whether or not this is true is unimportant in the face of such a stunning masterpiece – the result of two and a half years of work. As a tribute to this distinctive egg-shaped watch, the brand launched the Reine de Naples (Queen of Naples) collection in 2002, with its oval frame often adorned with jewels and housing visually stunning complications.
Despite its popularity among feminine archetypes like Princess Diana and Katherine Deneuve, Cartier’s Tank watches actually had far more robust origins. Created by Louis Cartier in 1917, the Tank got its name and design from the tanks used by France’s allies in World War I, with the first prototype given to American General John Joseph Pershing. Not only did the Tank break convention with its angular case, its integrated lugs also contributed to its seamless form and was the first Cartier watch to feature the (now trademark) sapphire cabochon on the crown. Today, the Tank is offered in five variations: Anglaise (pictured), Louis Cartier, Americaine, Francaise and Solo.
Chopard Happy Sport
With a design as playful as its name, Chopard’s Happy Diamonds was conceptualised in 1976 with the free-spirited in mind. Unrestrained by settings, small brilliants were free to slide around within watch faces, rings and pendants, offering sparkling animation to a usually static face. The inspiration, apparently, was to capture the iridescence of light reflected off a cascading waterfall. Although the mobile diamonds look delicate, its designer, Ronald Kurowski, managed to keep them safe from impact by encasing the stones in gold film and then sandwiching them between two sapphire crystals. The concept was reborn into a full watch collection, the Happy Sport, in 1993 and was the first watch to feature diamonds alongside stainless steel.
Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye
Women’s watches often focus solely on aesthetic appeal based on the long-held and often true assumption that the ladies treat timepieces more as accessories than luxurious toys. This, and the fact that women’s tickers are often very dainty, is why many are powered by quartz movements. This has never been the case for Girard-Perregaux’s Cat’s Eye Collection. For over a decade, the collection has captivated its feminine fans with mechanical complications and chic design, proving that there are a considerable number of women who understand that what’s inside counts just as much. And who’ve though that the once-common oval shape would transform into such an iconic silhouette for the Cat’s Eye? Simply flip the shape to its side, and viola, one sees sensuality from a whole new perspective.
Chanel may not be the first to introduce ceramic to watchmaking, but it certainly was a pioneer in giving it a more luxurious image with the Chanel J12 watches. It was designed by the late Jacques Helleu, the fashion house’s former artistic director and designer of the Premiere, Chanel’s first watch. While the J12 claims to have nautical influences, its use of high-tech ceramic is what made the collection stand out since its launch in 2000. Rich colour is difficult to achieve in ceramic, but the J12 has been presented in intense black, white and shimmering grey (the titanium-ceramic mix Chanel calls “Chromatic”). It even inspired the launch of a J12 fine jewellery collection in 2005. In fact, one can even argue that the J12 was the collection that showed typically staid watch brands that it’s ok to have a little fun. More than a few marques introduced their own versions of ladies’ ceramic watches following the J12’s success.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is no slouch at making ladies’ watches but they have always been more like sparkling sculptures than serious timepieces. In a bid to offer more horological value to the growing number of women who would appreciate it, the manufacture released the Rendez-Vous collection in 2012 to huge success. Save for one quartz piece in the Rendez-Vous Date series, all watches in this dedicated women’s line are equipped with automatic movements. While the diamond bezels and classic case design make them unquestionably chic, the collection is also home to some exceptional complications, such the Rendez-Vous Perpetual Calendar or Ivy Minute Repeater. While other brands sought to distinguish their women’s offering with easily identifiable shapes or features, the Rendez-Vous demonstrates that the sum of a creation is greater than its parts, combining classical styling, decorative techniques and mechanical sophistication to stunning effect.
Baume & Mercier Linea
The goal of Baume & Mercier’s Linea line is not to impress, but to express. Its easily interchangeable straps and bracelets, coupled with their ever-growing variety, make Linea the perfect accessory for the woman of varied style. The collection’s easy patented snap-on-and-off mechanism allows one to easily swap the bracelets for satin or leather straps – available in an array of dazzling colours – to suit different moods and occasions. Of late, Baume & Mercier has even rolled out new leather straps in tandem with the fashion seasons. The Linea collection actually dates back to the 1950s, but has managed to reinvent itself for the 21st century without sacrificing its original DNA. As such, the Linea watches have always remained on the petite side, with no piece larger than 32mm.
Vacheron Constantin 1972
Fashion is temporal but style, eternal? The 1972 collection proves that age is no cage. Its moniker maybe be self-explanatory, pointing to the year in which it was created, as well as the decade’s post-Woodstock hangover, which goes some way to describe its genre-defining, albeit slightly psychedelic trapeze case shape. But the 1970s has no hold on the collection’s perpetual sophistication, as new models continue to look resplendent as their predecessors did years ago. An elegant dress watch that ranks alongside the Malte series for sheer glam quotient and iconic stature, the 1972 has somehow managed to stay aesthetically safe, dominated by quartz models and bejewelled versions. We think there’s no better time than now to endow the collection with more mechanical versions for that little bit of gravitas to complement its indelible refinement.
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