Montblanc, Bohème Perpetual Calendar Montblanc, Bohème Perpetual Calendar

The secret history of women's watches, and the brands that are honouring it.

Highlights of this year’s array of watches in which the jewels are both inside and out

by 30 September 2014

High-end wristwatches, with their precision technology and their capacity for identifying status and wealth, are traditionally seen as a man's accessory. Unfortunately, for this reason, women's luxury watches are often dedicated less attention than they deserve, both in magazines and in specialist blogs. As a watch lover I personally feel insulted when I see a women's watch that is just a downsized version of a man's watch, or instead a watch plastered with so many baguette diamonds that I need to wear sunglasses when looking at it.

Caroline Murat, Reine de NaplesYou might be surprised to find out that wristwatches were invented by a woman over 200 years ago. Caroline Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte's sister and Queen of Naples, commissioned a watch from Abraham-Louis Breguet specifying that, instead of being the usual pocket watch, it should be small, slender, and mounted on a wristlet in gold thread. It took Breguet two years' work, involving 17 craftsmen, to complete the piece, but in the end, the oval watch, the first wristwatch in the world, was delivered on 21 December 1812. Today, the piece lives on in the Reine de Naples collection, and the Jour/Nuit 8999 Haute Joaillerie watch is a truly spectacular version, with 131 baguette diamonds on bezel and caseband, and 73 brilliant-cut pavé diamonds on the dial. Hours and minutes are shown on the lower dial, while the sun, in the form of the balance wheel, and the moon, rotate on a dial above, creating a day/night indicator. Pure romantic poetry. €191,700.

 

Montblanc launched its Bohème collection in August 2014, and the Bohème Date Automatic Jewellery is a lovely piece, glittering with 178 diamonds on the dial, and 62 on the bezel, set in a red gold case. I love the way in which the central pavé has an elliptical window at 6 o'clock for the date, balanced by a corresponding recess at the top. The iridescent sheen of the mother-of-pearl and the red-gold-plated hands catch the light differently at every instant. With an automatic movement, this piece is very attractively priced at €13,000.(left) Montblanc's Bohème Collection, (right) Watch Manufacture Le Locle, Switzerland

Omega's Constellation Pluma has a discreet elegance that takes you through the day and into the evening, with a mother-of-pearl dial enhanced by a lovely pattern of waves and the diamond hour-markers, with a date window at 3 o'clock. There is a choice of natural white, champagne, gold or blue for the dial, and personally I love the combination of white mother-of-pearl with case and bracelet in steel and red gold. It sits beautifully on my small wrist, with a diameter of 27 millimetres. The automatic movement has a power reserve of 50 hours, and time and date settings are easy to adjust. €8,765.

Pavonina by Glahütte Original was designed especially for us women, with a graceful cushion-shaped case reminiscent of the 1920s and an unusual treatment of strap and lugs. The diamond decoration is lavish and sophisticated, embellishing bezel, caseband, dial, crown and lugs, while the satin strap in a lovely orchid tone adds a note of colour. The watch has a quartz movement, and it is available only in the brand's own stores and the Swatch Group's Tourbillon boutiques. Price €33,500

left: OMEGA's Constellation Pluma, centre: Pavonina by Glahütte Original, right: Rolex's Datejust

Rolex in Istanbul
For those moments when you yearn for a little extra attention, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster 34 is just the ticket. It comes in various combinations of gold colours and gems, but my favourite is undoubtedly the yellow gold version with pink baguette-cut sapphires on the bezel, and 455 diamonds on the dial. It's Rolex, and so the watch glass has a Cyclops lens over the date window, and the Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to 100 metres. The Calibre 2236 movement is robust, accurate and dependable, with 55 hours power reserve. I particularly like the version with the diamonds on the bracelet, which echo the bezel and make it an expression of all-round beauty. Prices from €59,800.

Rolex now has a stronger presence in Turkey thanks to two brand new boutiques opened by the brand's trusted long-time retailer Rhodium in Nisantasi and Istinye Park. The new locations symbolise the sophistication and precision of a premium Rolex watch: polished walnut wood cabinets, bronze detailing, floors in Crema Marfil marble from Andalusia and cream-coloured leather tabletops and panelling set the scene for a customer experience that is as luxurious as the watches on display. You'll be surrounded by design elements reminiscent of water and the sea, evoking the essence of Rolex, known worldwide as the inventor, in 1926, of the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch. Elegantly designed salesrooms provide a bespoke service to clientele seeking a more discreet shopping experience.