Post-Geneva – Time for the girls

March 2011

This year’s Geneva shows revealed that the ladies are just as hungry for new watches as their male counterparts, with new products galore.

Ladies’ timepieces were certainly not forgotten this year as brands at the SIHH, the GTE and those presenting in the suites of the Geneva hotels presented some exquisite ladies’ timepieces, exclusively and unconditionally designed for women. New designs, creative concepts, magical mechanics and experimental techniques were all called upon to seduce the female client who has never had such a large choice of fine timepieces.

One of the most delightful trends currently sweeping the watch industry is the revival of traditional watch crafts. Enamelling, gem-setting, engraving, wood marquetry, the use of semi-precious stones and more have returned to modern day watchmaking after a long intermission. This return to the arts follows the general tendency towards traditional watchmaking. It started over a decade ago with the rebirth of the mechanical watch, and has now embraced a multitude of historical watchmaking crafts whose techniques came very close to disappearing forever.
Jewellery brands are perhaps the best qualified for artisanal work in their watchmaking workshops thanks to their expertise in a var-iety of different crafts. Cartier is one such brand that has been developing its artistic timepiece collections that they call their Métiers d’arts collections. This year Cartier presented a menagerie of animals using a variety of new and traditional techniques.

Cartier’s menagerie
There are six different timepieces in this new collection that not only continue these artistic crafts, but reinvent them in totally new ways. One of the most stunning examples of this is the Rotonde de Cartier Turtle whose dial is created as a miniature mosaic with 1,167 pieces of stone measuring only 0.75mm square and 0.4mm thick. Onyx, tiger’s eye, falcon’s eye, yellow Pietersite, carnelian, yellow jasper, palm jasper, Kalahari jasper, yellow agate, moss agate, coral and mother-of-pearl are delicately cut and positioned to give the turtle its colour, shape and form. All the stones are fixed and cemented to ensure an even surface, a process that takes over 60 hours to complete.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls ROTONDE TURTLE and ROTONDE POLAR BEAR by Cartier

Another artistic piece in Cartier’s collection this year, and that definitely deserves a mention, is the Rotonde de Cartier Polar Bear. This enamelled timepiece is created using plique à jour paillonné enamel. The technique dates back to the 14th century and is a complex process that results in a stained glass window effect (For enamel techniques see The witchcraft of watch craft on www.europastar.com). White gold stars, called paillons, are also applied to the enamel to create a starry night sky effect.

A voyage with Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels presented another an-thology of Poetic Complications and Extraordi-nary Dials this year with a number of collections dedicated to the author and adventurer Jules Vernes.
Jules Gabriel Verne was born in France in 1828 and is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His most famous novels include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. Verne’s tales relate the wonders of space, air and underwater travel even before the invention of the airplane or the submarine.
Verne’s adventures gave Van Cleef & Arpels’s designers strong themes for inspiration. “We take something, a book, a place, a work of art, and see how we can translate it into watches and jewellery,” notes Nicolas Bos, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Vice President and Director of Creations. “Plato, Shakespeare and Jules Verne are all storytellers…we continue their stories in new directions,” he explains.
The stories that the brand has chosen to continue take the watch lover to the South Pole, through the jungle and across the planes of Africa using a variety of artistic crafts that bring each timepiece to life.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls EXTRAORDINARY DIALS by Van Cleef & Arpels

Peter Tanisman brings a personal touch to watchmaking
As Swiss traditional watch crafts are making a comeback across the female watch segment, Peter Tanisman has decided to celebrate a well-known art form from his own Turkish homeland. Iznik ceramic is named after a town in western Anatolia where it was made and where it reached the height of its popularity in the sixteenth century. This highly decorative pottery is instantly recognisable with its floral designs and the use of different shades of blue. Peter Tanisman has interpreted this traditional art in his Caroussel line of timepieces using enamel techniques that bring out the beauty of the Iznik design on both the dial and the spinning barrel below. The timepiece photographed here is the Nicée model and depicts two emblematic flowers in Turkish folklore: The red tulip, associated with eternal love, and the Myosotis, better known as the Forget-me-not. The Nicée is created in 18-carat white gold with 62 diamonds and a white satin strap lined with red leather.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls NICÉE by Peter Tanisman

To wear, or not to wear a watch with an evening gown has long been a controversial question. There are certainly many elegant timepieces that would not look out of place, but should ladies really be checking the time on such refined occasions? For women who have to work in the morning, knowing the hour is of utmost importance, and no, a quick peak at the illuminating screen of a cell phone is certainly a no no. The solution: a secret watch hidden in a bejewelled bracelet that provides both a beautiful piece of jewellery and the function of a timepiece. Secret watches first appeared in the 1800s and are now making a comeback, much to the delight of today’s jewellers and high society ladies.

A little Magic from DeLaneau
DeLaneau has reinforced its reputation as the ‘jeweller of the watch’ this year with the unveiling of an extremely intricate secret watch. The creation is called the Magic and is a sculpture of baguette rubies that spiral around a gold dome. The difficulty of setting the dome is a feat of jewellery engineering as each perfectly matched ruby is cut into a different shape and set around the dome. The gem-setter starts at the bottom and works upwards in a spiral, leaving no margin for error at the pinnacle of the dome. A closer look at this delicate timepiece reveals an articulated bracelet with a combination of baguettes and micro-cut diamonds displaying the huge talent of DeLaneau’s gem-setters. The hidden timepiece below is equipped with a small mechanical movement and is accessed by sliding the dome to the left or the right for a peak at the time.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls MAGIC by Delaneau

Piaget’s Garden Party
Piaget never fails to delight and surprise the crowds at the SIHH and this year was no exception. On the one side were the world record slim movements for men, and on the other, a selection of jewellery and timepieces for ladies around the theme of a garden party. Cherry blossom, cocktails, birds and garden lanterns were represented in necklaces, rings, earrings and a selection of ladies timepieces. Piaget’s secret watch is created in white gold with white chalcedony and precious stones depicting cherry blossoms on a white satin strap. The floral face slides to the side to reveal a secret watch beneath. This feminine timepiece is part of jewellery collection that follows the same theme with a cherry blossom ring and a necklace. For more information see our sister magazine www.cijintl.com.

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the trend for more masculine looking watches is also gaining in popularity. Many women love to steal their husbands’ or boyfriends’ timepieces to make a bold fashion statement, and watch brands have been observing this phenomenon for some time now.

Richard Mille’s sexy snakes
Richard Mille is one brand that provides women with it all – a powerful watch with a feminine touch. One of the brand’s star introductions at the SIHH was its RM 026 tourbillion with two gem-set snakes. These two serpents are set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and red coral (for the tongue) and intertwine with the tourbillon movement. “We have many glamorous pieces, but it hasn’t been easy due to our technical/macho image,” explains Richard Mille. “We pushed for years, but now it is working well,” he says. No concessions have been made with regards to quality: a tripartite tonneau case, a tourbillon, a newly developed power reserve indicator and torque limiting crown all add to the attraction of this imposing timepiece that will look good whether it’s on the wrist of the husband or his wife!

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls RM 026 by Richard Mille

JeanRichard makes a splash
After the success of its 2010 Aquascope Lady collection, JeanRichard has released two new versions for 2011. The Aquascope is a sport-chic diving watch with a professional water resistance of 300 metres and JeanRichard’s JR1000 automatic movement. This retro-inspired collection is a reinterpretation of a 1960s model with the brand’s distinctive round bezel on a tonneau case, rotating aluminium bezel, satin finishes and red touches. This year’s new releases include the Aquascope Lady Day (in white) and the Aquascope Lady Night in an intense black. The Night version combines the masculine nature of the black diving watch, with its black case, bezel and strap, and the glamour of a ladies timepiece with eight diamond indexes and a fabric strap.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls AQUASCOPE LADY NIGHT by JeanRichard

The popularity of mechanical movements in ladies timepieces gains ground every year as women become more knowledgeable about watchmaking. “At the high-end ladies are often making the choice, but their husbands are sometimes reluctant to invest a lot of money in quartz” shares Van Cleef & Arpels’s Nicolas Bos, “We like to offer the choice - some people really like mechanical while others prefer quartz,” he adds. There is no arguing with the practicality of quartz, but a mechanical movement gives a little extra magic to a timepiece that has been crafted with such attention to detail.

Quinting’s crystal mechanics
Quinting is best known for its mystery movements that are hidden with the help of sapphire crystal components. Each Quinting movement is made using several thin toothed sapphire crystal discs that are superimposed onto each other. The brand’s chronograph, for example, has 13 thin layers of sapphire, seven of them are stationary and six (the ones holding the hands) are mobile. As an aside, Quinting produced the stunning Mysérieuse movement for Dior. Predominantly a brand focused on the male client, Quinting is now offering a myriad of timepieces for women with a variety of different gem-settings.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls TRANSPARENCY by Quinting

Roger Dubuis treats the ladies
At the heart of Roger Dubuis’s Excalibur Lady lies the RD821 in-house mechanical movement, hallmarked with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève and certified by COSC, which are both rare in a women’s timepiece. It isn’t only the movement that has received Roger Dubuis ’s attention, this 36mm timepiece incorporates a number of design cues from the men’s Excalibur collection – a characteristic indented bezel, triple lugs and Roman numerals – giving this timepiece a distinctive feminine twist. The dial is decorated in tapered Roman numerals that stretch across the face of the watch, along with a satin sunburst design and a variety of diamond settings.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls EXCALIBUR LADY by Roger Dubuis

Watchmaking may be veering towards a return to the classics for men, but it seems that the ladies are not ready to go back to the small, round timepiece of yesteryear just yet. New and unusual case shapes made their appearance all over Geneva.

Demoiselle D, love-me, love-me-not…
The Demoiselle D booth at the GTE was definitely the most difficult place to get into in January. There was always someone in deep conversation with the brand’s husband and wife team, Jean and Véronique Muller, a very good sign for this newcomer to the watch industry. Demoiselle D’s timepieces are resolutely feminine with their cases inspired by the shapes of flowers (for the Demoiselle Rosa and Demoiselle Capucine collections) and orbiting planets (for the Demoiselle O line). All three collections are unique in their form and we look forward to seeing and hearing more from this resolutely feminine brand in the future.

Cartier’s Delight
Cartier has always liked to play with forms in its ladies’ collections and this year the brand offered a new collection called the Délice. The case is shaped in a twisted oval with diamond links and bezel as well as an integrated brushed canvas strap or bracelet. It is available in three sizes in both pink gold and rhodium-plated white gold. The shape is a little disconcerting at first glance, but once on the wrist it is a real delight. Photographed here is the XL model in rhodium plated 18 carat white gold with 5.23 carats of diamonds on the dial, bezel and lugs.

There are different ways to personalise a timepiece and people have been engraving dates, messages and initials on casebacks since the very first pocket watch. As the global market place reaches further and further a field, it is just as easy to find the same timepieces in remote places as it is in the big cities, making the quest to be unique even harder. Personal-ising a timepiece is one way to have something special and many watch brands are providing ways for their clients to individualise their watch.

A frame to fill
Jaeger-LeCoultre has been offering the possibility to personalise the second face of its Reverso watches since the model’s inception, however the brand never really promoted the fact as such. For the Reverso’s 80th anniversary this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre has decided to share its passion for the decorative arts and all the possibilities for personalising a Reverso timepiece. A visit to the brand’s engraving workshop revealed just some of the special requests that have been realised over the years - from diamond set initials and lacquered monograms to enamel miniature paintings and engraved portraits – a beautiful way for a client to add his or her own creativity to a timepiece and mark the time.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls DÉLICE LADY by Cartier, Diane Kruger and the GRAND REVERSO LADY ULTRA THIN by Jaeger-LeCoultre

Time in pairs
DeLaneau launched an interesting new concept for women this January by offering any of its watches in a set of two. The idea is to create a bond between women by proposing two-of-a-kind timepieces that link two ladies together. The pairs could be for a mother and daughter, sisters, best friends or business partners, for example, creating a link between them and their appreciation of time. The first pair of DeLaneau timepieces will be created as mirror images in the brand’s Atame collection. For a lady who falls in love with the design of one of the pairs, but doesn’t necessarily want to buy two, the link is not necessarily lost as she will have the opportunity to contact the owner of the twin timepiece and perhaps acquire a new friend as well as a new watch.

“Life is about moments”
It is easy for us to get lost in the workings of watches, the savoir-faire, the distribution figures and the prices, but it is important not to forget why watches are so dear to us. Most of us remember our first watch as a child, and most definitely remember our first luxury timepiece. Whether it was a present from a loved one or a gift to oneself, a timepiece captures a moment in time: a graduation, a birthday, a new job, a wedding or the birth of a child. Baume & Mercier presented a brand new concept during the SIHH this year - the celebration of life’s moments - with an emotional context of seaside living in the Hamptons. “It isn’t about where you live, but more a mindset,” shares Rudy Chavez, Baume & Mercier’s President for North America. “It is about special moments that transcend generations and cultures” he explains. Each timepiece is personalised by the reason for its purchase, and that is personal to everyone.

Post-Geneva – Time for the girls ATAME by DeLaneau and LINEA by Baume & Mercier

So as the January shows closed their doors and the brands started to tally up their orders, it was a joy to see that for women celebrating events in 2011, there would be plenty of gorgeous timepieces to choose from – from haute-joaillerie timepieces to striking shaped cases, mechanical marvels and sporty watches – maybe us girls don’t need an occasion after all!

Source: Europa Star February - March 2011 Magazine Issue