There was certainly no shortage in the creativity applied to new ladies’ watch designs at BaselWorld this year, which include the use of new materials, new applications of colour and collections based around the four seasons. In this article we single out the brands who are pioneering these different areas of design.
Century’s unusual new crystal
Century, which is famous for the facetted sapphire crystal it uses for its cases, introduced an innovation in the form of an entirely new case material. The brand has succeeded in synthesising the crystal structure of alexandrite, a naturally-occurring mineral that changes colour according to the light, taking on a greenish tinge in daylight and a reddish tinge in artificial light.
The changes in reflection are due not only to the chemical properties of the mineral but also to its crystallisation, which made synthesising it no easy task. Furthermore, while Century’s sapphire crystals can only be worked with diamond-tipped tools, its synthetic alexandrite – which registers 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale – can only be scratched by sapphire.
This new material, which took three years to develop, finds its expression in the new Mogul Alexandrite limited-edition pieces, which are available in 18-carat red or white gold with a natural mother-of-pearl dial that is enveloped by an alexandrite crystal with 192 facets that have been cut and facetted by hand. With only two people at Century capable of working the alexandrite, the collection is limited to 222 pieces of each model.
A touch of glowing colour by De Grisogono
After presenting its first tourbillon for ladies before BaselWorld, with an enormous 60mm by 45mm case adorned with a staggering total of 642 diamonds for approximately 8.57 carats (see our article in the previous issue), De Grisogono turned its attention to the theme of colour.
Fashion watches already come in a wide variety of colours, but De Grisogono has applied the colour theme in a manner more befitting of the luxury segment in which it operates. In the new Tondo By Night collection presented at BaselWorld, rather than contenting itself with a simple coating to add colour to its pieces, De Grisogono uses an original pearl-effect photoluminescent fibreglass composite for the case of the Tondo By Night.
The oscillating mass of the calibre SF 30-89 in-house movement used in the new collection has been located on the dial side of the watch, blackened and set with 60 coloured precious stones to match the 48 stones set on the bezel, all of which match the colour of the case. The result is that by day the reflections of these stones catch the eye and draw attention to the colour of the piece, while by night the subtle colourful glow generated by the photoluminescent case draws attention to the watch like a beacon.
Colourful Galuchat straps match the case, with a black PVD-coated steel folding clasp accentuating the colour and matching the black diamond set into the crown. “I dedicate this watch to happy summer days and glamorous night life. It’s not only a luxury timepiece but can be also worn as a magnificent jewellery piece, with a twist,” explains Fawaz Gruosi, Founder and President of De Grisogono. The colours available clearly back up Mr Gruosi’s claim, from the classic white with diamonds to orange, pink and yellow with matching sapphires, green with tsavorites or violet with amethysts. Whatever the colour, it is definitely not a watch for ladies who wish to remain discreet.
DeLaneau captures the seasons
DeLaneau returned to BaselWorld in style this year after a ten-year absence, creating its stand out of shipping containers in the open courtyard at the centre of Hall 2. The original idea came from the same lady who is responsible for the designs of DeLaneau’s watches, Creative and Marketing Director Brigitte Morina. “I have always been fascinated by containers,” she says, “and I wanted to see how far we could go with them.”
The enamellers at DeLaneau – all ladies and all referred to by first name – are heavily involved in the creative process, too, and are allowed to express themselves fully using a mixture of old and new enamelling techniques. The new collection presented at BaselWorld, entitled Cerisier, is the first in a series of “four seasons” themes at the brand. It uses the cherry blossom tree to depict the different colours and hues of the four seasons in champlevé enamel, with the dial representing winter using the rare grisaille enamel technique, which only uses black and white.
The four watches in the collection are enhanced by precious stones set around the rectangular bezel and the edge of the strap, curving around the slender attachments to the case, which helps to further accentuate the stunning craftsmanship on the dial – the result of around three months of high-concentration work by DeLaneau’s in-house enamellers.
A new ladies’ collection from Ebel
Ebel is not just thinking about the design of its ladies’ watches. The brand was boldly announcing that it is refocusing its collection towards ladies and will be introducing an entirely new collection targeted at younger female customers (under 35 years old) this autumn. In the meantime Ebel introduced new versions of two of its classic ladies’ watches at BaselWorld this year.
A new Brasilia Mini watch, with the 23.7mm case in stainless steel with contrasting brushed and polished finishes, is adorned with two rows of diamonds totalling 34 brilliant-cut stones for approximately 0.544 carats. The stones delimit the classic silver-toned dial with its central guilloché section, Roman numerals and blued hands, while a Swiss quartz movement takes care of the timekeeping functions.
This elegant look is also carried over to a new diamond-set version of the Beluga Grande, on which 36 diamonds (approx. 1.692 carats) follow the curves of the 36.5mm round case to meet the first links of the integrated stainless-steel bracelet with its contrasting brushed and polished surfaces. Here too, the dial takes the Roman numerals and guilloché central part with blued hands, differing only through the discreet date window at 6 o’clock.
Gucci’s bamboo theme
The renowned Italian fashion house celebrates forty years in watchmaking this year with a new piece in its bamboo collection. Guccio Gucci, the founder of the brand, used to use bamboo as an alternative to steel, which was in short supply after the Second World War. After soaking in water for 20 minutes, the bamboo can be bent into shape. It is then dried out in an oven before being burned to give it colour. It has been used consistently by Gucci in everything from handbags to timepieces, where it was first used in 2003 in a design by Creative Director Frida Giannini.
The latest incarnation of the Bamboo timepiece is available with a black, brown or silver sun-brushed dial with bamboo inlaid around the bezel and used in the bangle-style bracelet, which consists of the signature Gucci “horse bit” links.
At BaselWorld Gucci also introduced new yellow and pink-gold PVD versions of its G-Gucci models and a white-ceramic version of its G-Chrono model, in which the signature “G” of the case design is overlaid on the 44mm stainless-steel case in white ceramic.
Source: Europa Star June - July 2012 Magazine Issue