Ten of the most stunning women's watches of 2017
There is little doubt that, when it comes to watches, many women’s appetites have long since bridged the gap from jewellery to complicated horology. Thankfully, gone are the days when a brand might simply throw some baguettes on a dial, toss some brilliant cuts in the bezel, and shrink the diameter of their cash cow from the men’s range. Gone too are the days that an exceptional dial and case will house a quartz movement retrieved from the bottom of the drawer in the Maison. We celebrate this evolution by highlighting the best of women’s horology in 2017.
And if you’re looking for more luxury gift ideas, check out the complete Robb Report Ultimate Gift Guide for 2017, which includes inspirations in every category from cars to watches to fashion, to travel, and more.
At once rugged and delicate, the Royal Oak Frosted Gold has many hallmarks of the original Genta-designed icon while retaining the distinct femininity of its original 1976 women’s imagining. The 37-mm pink-gold case and bracelet shimmer without the need for a single gemstone. This is thanks to the Florentine technique of beating the gold with a diamond-tipped tool, expertly executed at Caroline Bucci’s workshops.
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Based on the first timepiece collection launched by Harry Winston in 1989, the Premier is a striking dress watch that features a selection of impressive design attributes. The dial is made of blue-and-white mother-of-pearl, with one emerald-cut and 42 brilliant-cut diamonds; 74 brilliant-cut diamonds occupy the bezel and those signature central lugs; and an off-centre dial has something of a poetic three-leafed subsidiary-seconds indicator.
With a unique case shape and automatic movement, this vibrant time-indicating skull on the wrist is as much of a contemplation upon — and embrace of — immortality as it is a confetti-packed explosion of a watch. The colour and energy of the Petit Skull radiates beyond twilight, thanks to the SuperLuminova that mingles with the hand-painted lacquer and rhodium plating.
For those looking to transcend the simple hand indication of time, Fabergé has beautifully embellished the exclusive mechanics of Agenhor to create something whimsical and visually stunning. The Lady Compliquée Peacock Ruby features an 18-karat white-gold hand-engraved peacock on a diamond-and-ruby-set dial. Its feathers provide the retrograde indication of minutes, fanning outward with each passing minute before retracting suddenly at the turn of the hour. Meanwhile, the hours rotate on a mother-of-pearl outer ring, with the crown acting as the reference point for the hour in question.
Van Cleef & Arpels
As can be expected from Van Cleef et Arpels, with its exquisite “poetry of time” creations, the Papillon Automate is a perfect fusion between whimsical mechanics and the finest artisanal craft. The Papillon is stunning in its composition, but it comes alive in its use. Time is eccentrically — almost off-handedly — positioned within a jewel-encrusted sun. Its rays emanate across the background of the dial, while the foreground, a product of three different enameling techniques, depicts a butterfly among the reeds. What makes the watch a mechanical marvel is that butterfly: Another exclusive movement created by Agenhor, its wings will flap at random intervals but at a specific variety of repetitions. The power reserve of the watch will determine whether the wings flap once, twice, thrice, or four times, making the Papillon Automate a deceptively functional piece of art.
Price: from $130,000
For the 30th anniversary of the Première range, Chanel has presented its second in-house movement — the fruit of its ongoing partnership with watchmaking master Romain Gauthier. The dial of the Première Camélia Skeleton Black has ample negative space, allowing light beams to pass through one sapphire and into the next, with only the skeletonised and DLC-coated bridges of the movement to intercept them. The bridges themselves do not evoke the sort of industrial aesthetic that DLC coating is most capable of; instead, they undulate outward to form the shape of a camellia.
Some of the most beautiful women’s watches do away with scientific chapter rings and remove the hands that jut out from a canon pinion. As with the Creative Complication Colombes, Chaumet has used minutes and hours discs to provide a clean dial surface. The result is a blank canvas upon which a pair of doves is depicted, each holding a ring beneath a partially cloud-obscured starry sky.
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The Grand Bal range is arguably the most striking in Dior’s portfolio. Two base ingredients — the use of exotic dial materials and a dial-side automatic rotor designed to imitate the swirl of a ball gown — allow for a vast variety only limited by one’s imagination. In this unique iteration, the Envol N°7’s dial features “green beetle wing marquetry,” and a white-and-yellow-gold rotor with baguette-cut diamonds provides the energy to the mainspring via a beautiful dial-side dance.
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Exceptionally thin, mechanically complex, skeletonised, and covered in diamonds, Piaget’s Altiplano has never looked better in this 38-mm case. The skeletonised bridges are lined with diamonds and almost camouflage the movement beneath. With an ultra-thin movement with a micro-rotor to provide automatic winding, this watch is functional but extremely elegant.
A watch with a moon-phase complication can be expertly crafted when in the right hands, and Jaeger-LeCoultre has such hands. The Rendez-Vous Moon is a gorgeous watch. Enlarged radial numerals occupy the top half of the dial, with a view of the constellations on the bottom half and a moon-phase aperture (also enlarged) sitting within it. What is the second crown and shooting star for? The star can be adjusted along the chapter ring by turning the crown, indicating the “time for your next meeting with the star in your life.”