Women’s watches galore – Part 1

July 2011

One of the best places on earth for seeking out fabulous new women’s watches is BaselWorld in springtime. It is the Mecca for watch professionals the world over, and the beauty of this annual event is that there is something for everyone. From the most discerning collector to the teenage fashionista, there are timepieces for every taste, budget, style and occasion. Europa Star takes a look at some of the hottest products and the most important trends for the coming year.

A question of size
Watch sizes have been on the constant climb for over a decade with women’s timepieces reaching 40 mm and more. These are great sizes for women with larger wrists or those wishing to make a big, bold statement, but they aren’t for everyone, so it was a real pleasure to see several brands coming back down to a more sedate 38 mm. Many brands were also dropping to even smaller diameters of 26 mm and below. These mini sizes were really popular among the jeweller/watchmakers such as Chanel, Boucheron and Graff, who all had stunning mini sizes in their jewellery watch collections, as did some of the fashion brands such as Storm and Fossil .
Don’t be mistaken, big isn’t on the way out, but watch brands are now conscious of the fact that they need to provide different sizes to accommodate the wrists and tastes of all women, something that has been commonplace in other accessory industries such as jewellery and handbags. It only makes sense that women’s timepieces should also be available in different sizes.

The little steel bracelet watch
Most of us have heard of that essential women’s wardrobe item, the ‘little black dress’, well in timepieces, this translates into the ‘little steel bracelet watch’. For women who want a timepiece that matches everything and can do anything, the little steel bracelet watch is a must-have. It can be worn to work, to the gym, out with the girls, with that ‘little black dress’, and can even cope with the messier activities of cooking or painting! These timepieces are typically equipped with a quartz movement (due to the practicality of having a timepiece that will keep time for three years or more), however mechanical versions are also seeing the light of day and are becoming popular with women who appreciate the magic of a mechanical movement. The most prominent timepieces in this category are Patek Philippe’s Twenty-Four, Cartier’s Tank and Baume & Mercier’s Hampton, but many other brand’s also have beautiful variations in this growing segment.
This BaselWorld saw the introduction of Ebel’s newly revised Beluga and Brasilia Collections. Both models have alternating satin-brushed and highly-polished finishes on the bracelet and a double ‘E’ for Ebel on the dial at 3 o’clock, creating a pure and unique look for Ebel’s steel watch offering. “The level of innovation in the men’s watch business is so important and the dedication to men is huge, but little has been done for women,” explains Marc-Michel Amadry, Ebel’s former CEO and Creative Director. “Ebel has to play a major role here,” he says. From the look of all the new Ebel timepieces (See more in Malcolm Lakin’s article in this issue) Ebel is working hard at providing great products for both men and women. The prices are really attractive too, with the Beluga and the Brasilia collections at between 2,000 and 3,000 CHF.

Women's watches galore – Part 1 BABYGRAFF by Graff, SININ BLUE by Storm, BELUGA by Ebel

Frederique Constant has decided to target a younger generation of ladies with its stainless steel timepieces. The brand has introduced a Junior Ladies Collection, which follows the success of the boy’s Frederique Constant Junior© line, launched in 2010. The Junior Ladies timepiece comes in a 26 mm case and is fitted with a white dial with mother-of-pearl and guilloché details – a great Swiss Made timepiece for young ladies looking for that first elegant ‘do it all’ watch.
Tissot also has a large selection of stainless steel watches for ladies, including a contempor-ary new model called the T-Evocation, which has two original diamond-set ‘T’s at 12 and 6 o’clock and a Swiss quartz movement, resulting in a new take on this classic timepiece.

Beating the blues
Big and bold colours are one of the major trends for this year. From the fashion industry, to jewellery, shoes and watches, there is no better way to bring a little cheer than with a fuchsia pink, a key-lime green or a vitamin orange timepiece, for example. The Belgium based Ice-Watch has really capitalised on this colour trend with its extensive choice of coloured watches. The brand sold two million timepieces in 2010 and expects to sell three million this year. “The colours people buy depend on fashion trends and also the season,” shares Jean-Pierre Lutgen, CEO Ice-Watch. “Ice-Watch has been so successful because it isn’t just about a watch; it is a global concept. The watch is always presented in the same way in all the stores. We want to ensure that the line always looks the same so that the brand is recognisable wherever it is sold in the world,” he says.
On US soil, the Nixon brand has also been extremely successful with its highly colourful timepieces that go so well with the sunny beach lifestyle of Californian surfers.
In the mid-range, Bertolucci has added a strong splash of colour to its new Forza line, which comes with red, yellow, blue, green, orange or purple touches on a strong black case and strap that bring a dynamic touch to this resolutely sporty chronograph. Although originally designed for men, the Forza also looks great on a female wrist and will surely be popular with both sexes.
For women who like to change the colour of their watch, GlamRock has a fun new collection called Sobe which allows its owners to change the colour of the bezel, or add a diamond bezel, with a ‘Just Click’ system that is simple and easy to use and a great choice for women who like to change colours without necessarily changing their watch.

Women's watches galore – Part 1 JUNIOR LADIES COLLECTION by Frederique Constant , T-EVOCATION by Tissot, FORZA by Bertolucci

An element of fun
Seiko is one of the leading manu-facturers of electronic components covering a vast number of different business sectors from liquid crystal displays to quartz crystals, micro batteries, semi conductors, nano technology and printers. In addition, the company also has a number of licensing agreements for watch collections with names such as the running shoe experts Asics, the fashion brands of Issey Miyake, Cacharel, and J. Springs, and the famous Italian designer Alessi. Two of Seiko Instrument’s brands that really stood out for their fun and daring design were Appetime and Tsumori Chisato.
We featured Appetime in our 5/2010 issue Over the rainbow with fashion watches with its fruits and elevator buttons. The Appetime designers continue to innovate with a new cake collection this year which is fun, colourful and will have the ladies licking their lips. Perhaps they should infuse vanilla and chocolate perfumes into the straps too – now there’s an idea!

Tsumori Chisato is a famous Japanese fashion designer who has been bringing her magic to watches since 2006. The designs are “simple yet a little quirky” as she says herself, and she has found inspiration in turtles, candy, bows and cats in her previous collections. Chisato’s latest collection, however, breaks from a more traditional watch design by incorporating a timepiece into a large beaded bracelet that is both fun and original.

Women's watches galore – Part 1 ISSEY MIYAKE ‘O’ WATCH by Tokujin Yoshioka, SWEETS by Appetime, HAPPY BALL collection by Tsumori Chisato

Ladies mechanicals – hot or not?
American and European retailers often share that the majority of their female watch clients aren’t really that bothered about the movement inside their timepieces. They claim that design and price are far more important factors in the decision making process than the choice of movement. Listen to the brands, however, and it is a whole different story. They are all singing the “ladies love mechanicals” mantra. At BaselWorld everyone seemed to be repeating the same message as they presented their ladies mechanicals. So what is going on?
A visit to the stand at Omega threw some light on the situation. The team at Omega shared that the growth of the Chinese market and the preference of Chinese women for mechanical timepieces over quartz was largely responsible for the current demand. “Asian and Chinese women have far more confidence in mechanical timepieces,” shared Omega ’s Vice-President and Head of Production Development, Jean-Claude Monachon. “For the Ladymatic, which was launched in October in Beijing, we can’t produce enough,” he explained.
The Ladymatic is not a new timepiece, it was first launched in 1955 and was one of the first Omega watches to be designed especially for women and featured the smallest automatic movement Omega had ever made. Today, the Ladymatic is equipped with Omega ’s Co-Axial technology and is housed in a 34 mm case with a distinctive ceramic ring between an outer decorative wave and the inner case body. The cases are crafted in 18-carat red or yellow gold or in stainless steel.

The Chinese market has certainly been a saviour for many watch brands during the recession, and now this huge market seems to be having an important impact on watch production. As the American market drove the production of big and bold ladies’ timepieces a few years ago, maybe the Chinese’s love of more feminine timepieces is the reason behind the new trend for smaller sizes too? It makes sense that the strongest market dictates the trends - a sort of Charles Darwin approach to the evolution of consumerism.

New mechanicals
Whatever the reasons behind the profusion of new ladies mechanical movements, the resulting timepieces are sensational looking, and once the mechanics are revealed beneath the dial, it will be difficult for new female clients not to be amazed.
Some of the most impressive new ladies mechanical timepieces this year were to be found at Patek Philippe who is renowned for its ladies’ mechanical wristwatches, whichever geographical market is leading the charge. This year, the brand surpassed itself with a selection of women’s timepieces that were on par with the new men’s collections. Starting at the top was a brand new ladies minute repeater in a beautiful rose gold case that uses the brand’s self-winding calibre R 27 PS, one of the thinnest movements with a striking mechanism. It may not be the first ever minute repeater for women, but it was definitely the first one to appear in such a feminine-size. The height of the movement is a discreet 5.05 mm thanks to a mini, off-centred, 18-carat gold rotor and it is housed in a case that measures a mere 33.70 mm in diameter, keeping this timepiece resolutely feminine. Also highly admired during BaselWorld was a women’s split second chronograph that follows the brand’s Ladies First Chronograph (Ref: 7071R) collection launched last year with Patek Philippe’s in-house calibre.

Women's watches galore – Part 1 LADYMATIC by Omega , Ref. 7059R by Patek Philippe

Bédat & Co. presented all its new timepieces this year with a mechanical movement, from its square-shaped reference No. 1, to the No. 8 chronograph with simple calendar and the tonneau-shaped No. 3 collection. The star of the show had to be the Extravaganza Haute Joaillerie collection that showcases the brand’s savoir-faire in both watchmaking and jewellery. Two timepieces were presented in the Extravaganza collection, the first, Ref: 188.500.910, featuring a dial made up of 12 mother-of-pearl segments, with an art deco design using strong geometric lines, and the second, Ref: 288.440.910, also displaying a complicated mother-of-pearl dial, but with softer lines.

Ellicott revealed a new Lady Tuxedo model this year called the Chronotimer. This stylish chronograph is designed in the most feminine way and its movement has some beautiful and original details that make it stand out from the crowd. The Chronotimer follows the brand’s Midnight collection that was launched last year and sounded the hours and the quarters on request.

Fabergé was concentrating on women’s mechanicals too, with the majority of its new timepieces being equipped with Frédéric Piguet automatic movements. Fabergé ’s new timepiece offering is divided into three collections: the Alexei, Agathon and Anastasia. Each piece brings together elements of Fabergé ’s immense artistic history, such as enamelling and guilloché work, with contemporary forms and designs. The brand also has some unique jewellery creations that you can discover in our sister magazine CIJ Trends & Colours, or on the web site www.cijintl.com.

Women's watches galore – Part 1 EXTRAVAGANZA collection by Bédat & Co., LADY TUXEDO by Ellicott , ALEXEI by Fabergé

Source: Europa Star June - July 2011 Magazine Issue