Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1

July 2010

After months and months of unexciting line extensions, creativity has finally returned to the women’s watch segment.

At the beginning of the year, new women’s watches had become such a rarity that it was starting to look as though the majority of the watch industry considered the women’s market as a niche! The fact that women outnumber men, that they are the world’s primary consumers of luxury products and that they love wearing watches, didn’t seem to make the slightest bit of difference. Maybe it was a recession strategy: improve efficiency, outsource, gain market share and forget about women! Who knows, but thankfully at BaselWorld things were obviously looking up as women’s watches were everywhere.

Franc Vila takes on the challenge
Even the likes of Franc Vila, known for his very masculine collections, launched his first women’s line, although he was the first to admit that it was no easy task. “Designing a women’s watch was the most difficult thing I have ever done; it was even more difficult than the SuperLigero Tourbillon, because it isn’t the watch I want to wear,” shared Vila candidly.
The collection is entitled ‘Tribute’ and is equipped with Vila’s self winding FV28 calibre with a jumping hours function. Each watch has a mighty serving of hand-set diamonds and, like all Franc Vila’s collections, is limited to 88 pieces. Vila wanted to create something feminine with flowers or plants, but he also wanted something more sophisticated for women with a strong character. “I chose an ivy design for the dial as ivy can break down a wall or destroy a house,” he explains. This is certainly a strong image, and yet the watch manages to stay graceful and powerful at the same time. A sure winner for women wanting to make a statement.

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 FV28 by Franc Vila and 80003 by Louis Golay

Louis Golay’s pearls of wisdom
Another newcomer to the world of women’s timepieces this year is Louis Golay, best known for its ‘pearl-in-a-square’ jewellery. The company, which dates back to 1887, but which was relaunched last year, has developed a technique of pearl marquetry that is achieved by cutting the pearls in half and setting them in gold or steel, like diamonds. Golay is the only workshop that has mastered in this exclusive skill.
Louis Golay hadn’t really considered launching itself into the world of horology, however, as Roman Büchi, the company’s Brand Designer and CEO explains, “People in the watch industry kept asking me if I would be interested in selling them my ‘pearls-in-a-square’, so I knew it was time to make a watch, or someone else would!”
The most spectacular piece is the 80003 in 18-carat white gold and set with 448 diamonds (2.9 carats). However, the diamonds are like wall flowers next to the 109 pearls that entirely cover the dial and case. The 80003 is powered by a self-winding movement and is limited to 25 pieces. There are two other more accessible collections in steel with pearls incorporated into the case, which are less spectacular, but equally unique.

Fendi’s Crazy Carats
Over the last few years, animations have become increasingly popular on women’s jewellery and watches. Basically, anything to fiddle, twiddle or tinker with seems to amuse today’s consumers. Fendi has taken this idea one colourful step further with its Crazy Carats Collection. This first-of-a-kind watch has two crowns, one for adjusting the time and one for rotating the index gemstones. There are three different settings for three distinctive gemstone colour combinations using a choice of diamonds, rubies, sapphires or multi-coloured topaz. The gems are fixed onto individual satellites that turn in place and the passage to the next colour feels surprisingly smooth to the touch.
The challenge for the brand and its retailers will be to get this fun timepiece into the hands of potential consumers for them to play with. It is a tactile timepiece that is impossible to put down once you start twiddling!

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 CRAZY CARATS COLLECTION by Fendi and M018 by Marvin

Suprises at Marvin
Marvin has been promoting its masculine collections very successfully this last year and the brand even won a prize for the best watch advertising campaign. However, unknown to many, Marvin also has a great women’s range of mechanical watches that don’t require a personal loan to purchase! And the women’s quartz timepieces start at a very reasonable 500 CHF. Pictured here is a 33mm model with a Technotime quartz movement, white mother-of-pearl dial, 58 diamonds, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a silver strap, and the company’s M111 mechanical model with a Sellita SW200 movement, open dial and sweeping hands – definitely something worth promoting too!
However, that isn’t the only surprise at Marvin. During the months of June to August, it is possible to order your Marvin watch and pick it up from the brand’s 13th century, fairytale castle in the Swiss countryside. Each client is personally met by the brand’s Community Manager and spends the day receiving a tour of the castle, vineyards and watch facilities, before receiving his or her watch and a bottle of the castle’s own wine. What a great idea for someone looking for a very special gift for a loved one. Read more about Marvin’s male collections in Malcolm Lakin’s article in this issue.

New movements for princesses
Fariytales were also a theme at Ellicott, which launched an exquisite ladies repeater that chimes the 12 strokes at midnight for today’s Cindarellas. One of the publicity images that accompanies the watch is a lady stepping onto a private jet (instead of the pumpkin-turned-carriage) and leaving her glass slipper on the tarmac.
Another newcomer to the world of women’s watches is the female watchmaker Saskia Maaike Bouvier, who was exhibiting among the watch wizards of the ACHI (Academy of Independent Watchmakers). It was a pleasure to see such a delightful young lady among all the those male watchmakers. Saskia Maaike Bouvier’s first collection combines a reading of summer time and winter time on an intricate dial that has colourful, decorative elements that render this 45mm timepiece extremely feminine. We will be going into more detail about these, and other mechanical complications for ladies, in the next issue of Europa Star.

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 LADY TUXEDO MIDNIGHT by Ellicott and SUMMER & WINTER TIME by Saskia Maaike Bouvier

Flora and fauna have inspired watchmaking since its inception, so it is by no means a new theme, however Chopard has chosen to celebrate a rather atypical line up of creatures in its new Animal World High Jewellery and Watch Collection. Forget butterflies and big cats, this new collection brings together 150 different animals, such as turtles, monkeys, penguins, seahorses and even a ram! Not the most conventionally beautiful wildlife, but put them in the hands of Caroline Gruosi- Scheufele, Chopard’s Co-President and Creative Designer, and the result brings out all the beauty of nature.
This special collection is to celebrate the company’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and to mark Chopard’s 150th anniversary.
There are 15 watches in the collection and 135 jewellery pieces, each one depicting an animal in its environment using beautifully set diamonds and precious stones on a mother-of-pearl dial.

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 ANIMAL WORLD HIGH JEWELLERY AND WATCH COLLECTION by Chopard and SPEEDMASTER LADIES CHRONOGRAPH by Omega

Tempus Compvtare – A luxurious way of saving the planet
Another company heavily involved in the preservation of wildlife is Tempus Compvtare. Each collection is affiliated with a charity that is dedicated to saving the world’s most threatened creatures. For every watch sold, a third of the net profits are donated to the relative cause. The first two collections, the Shark Watcher and the Sea Shepherd were developed especially for men and the proceeds go to protecting sharks, dolphins, seals and other sealife at risk from humans. (See these collections in Keith Strandberg’s article in this issue.)
However, the third collection, which will be launched at the GTE show next year, is called the Bee Watcher and is being especially conceived for women. Why bees? In the last 50 years the domesticated honeybee population has declined by about 50 per cent, causing much concern among farmers and environmentalists. Bees pollinate 80 per cent of our crops and the commercial value of their work is estimated at US$14 billion in the United States alone. This is a world problem that Tempus Compvtare is raising with this new Bee Watcher Collection. Although the watch is being kept under wraps until the official unveiling, the company has disclosed that the case will be made of wood and steel and the watch will have a petal design. We can’t wait to see it!

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 VELOCI-T LADY by Tissot and HAUSSMAN LADY CHRONOGRAPH by Saint Honoré

Chronographs for girls
Chronographs had to be one of the hottest functions and looks for the girls this year. The chronograph gives a fantastic sporty look to a women’s timepiece with its busy sub-dials, as well as being a really useful function for timing everything and anything. At the high-end Omega’s Speedmaster Ladies’ Chronograph Chronometer is a very attractive 38mm self-winding mechanical chronograph designed especially for women. Each watch is COSC-certified and comes in 18-carat gold with a grey, purple or white dial. Tissot is offering a mechanical chronograph for women this year too, with its Veloci-T Lady which is equipped with the all new C01.211 ETA movement. In the quartz arena, there are a number of great chronographs, including Victorinox Swiss Army’s Chrono Classic Lady in chocolate, pink or white, Gc’s Sport Class XXL Ceramic (See Malcolm Lakin’s article in this issue for a full report on Gc) and Saint Honoré’s Haussman lady Chronograph to name just a few.

Spring buds and ladies watches blossom in Basel - Part 1 SPORT CLASS XXL CERAMIC by Gc and Chrono CLASSIC LADY by Victorinox Swiss Army

Source: Europa Star June - July 2010 Magazine Issue