Women's watch liberation

Highlights from the rapidly-growing realm of women's haute horlogerie


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18 April 2013

'Rock around the clock' could be an apt description for Stonehenge, but also for a lot of women's watches in which diamonds play a prominent part on the bezel. But nowadays it's not just about the stones outside, but also the jewels inside. External beauty is mirrored by the perfection of the movement, often revealed by a transparent sapphire caseback.

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe has a long tradition of complication watches for women. One of its most spectacular is the Ladies Grand Complication, with a movement providing perpetual calendar including leap years and moon phases. The 27.5-millimetre case is delicately enhanced by 68 diamonds on the bezel. The watch is water-resistant to 30 metres, and the movement can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback. From the front, it is a beautiful essay in clarity, in gold against the opaline dial.

Harry Winston

Harry Winston's Ocean Sport™ Ladies chronograph gives feminine appeal to traditionally men-oriented functions. The automatic-wound movement powers a complex, multi-level dial, on which hour and minute subdials are balanced by another small dial at 3 o'clock with the shuriken, now part of the Harry Winston DNA. The shuriken is a weapon used by the ninjas, but here it provides a more tranquil indication of the passage of seconds, and above all enables the user to ensure that her watch is running correctly. The beauty of this watch is enhanced by the brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel.


A different sort of visual fascination is provided by the Corum Admiral's Cup Legend 38 Mystery Moon. In this watch, the dial completes one revolution every 31 days, taking with it the date indication that corresponds to the position of the sun. From here, mother-of-pearl rays emanate towards the earth opposite, with phases of the moon. Extra glitter is provided with diamonds around the bezel in the 12-side case with nautical pennants at the hour-marker corners, and in the stars on the earth disc. The automatic movement can be viewed through the sapphire caseback. A remarkably beautiful version of a series that has been existence for over 50 years, a tribute to the world of sailing.


Cartier is a maison that is constantly searching for new heights of beauty both in their jewellery and their watches. The Rotonde de Cartier revives a craft dating back to the Etruscan civilization: granulation. Tiny spheres of gold are formed by heating segments of a piece of gold wire, and then they are assembled onto the gold base plate to form the motif, the panther that figures so strongly in Cartier's history. You have to see it: the result is a miraculous, luscious, warm, radiant piece of art, framed by the diamond-studded bezel. The manually-wound movement's horological excellence is demonstrated by the transparent caseback and the 30-metre water resistance. The piece is in a limited series of 20.


The Oyster Perpetual Datejust Lady 31 by Rolex has an automatically-wound mechanical movement, in a 31-millimetre case in steel and 18-carat yellow gold. The bezel is embellished with 24 diamonds arranged according to the hour positions. It inherits the classic Rolex hallmarks: the Oyster waterproof case rated at 100 metres, and the date, introduced by the brand in 1956.

Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels have a unique approach to time. Instead of watches that simply tell the time, they illustrate the mystery of its passage by means of poetic movements. This year one of their signature pieces is the Ballerine Enchantée, in which a double-retrograde movement powers the butterfly wings over the dancer's tutu. When you push the button at 8 o'clock, the butterfly wings rise in sequence to show the hours on one side, the minutes on the other. The ballerina is beautifully crafted in gold, and decorated in champlevé enamel. While the time functions may seem simple, the movement required a lot of study, in part to achieve the fluidity of movement that makes it so charming, but also for a particularly neat function. You may think that if you activate the mechanism repeatedly, the mainspring would run down faster, but in actual fact this is not the case. Every time you press the button to show the time, you add a little energy to the movement, prolonging the already generous 60-hour power reserve. An extra touch of technical beauty to accompany the diamonds.

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Highlights from SIHH 2013