In this series we showcase mechanical and artistic wonders that were especially designed for women and others originally for men that come alive on spirited ladies’ wrists. We participated at the Watches and Wonders 2022 and we browsed a few novelties.
The perceptions about ‘women’s watches’ changed a lot in the last few years, as we covered in this article for example. I think that a greater openness in terms of what you can imagine on yourself as well as what you would accept on others is conspicuous. Sometimes, I love to wear an outspoken oversized piece with a minimalist black attire. At other times, I feel a small, tastefully adorned timepiece would suit best for the occasion. The traditional men’s and women’s watch distinction makes less sense to me. Mainly because even if the timepiece is an earth-shaking example in its own right, it becomes just one component of the whole look when worn. With a balanced vision of style and a healthy self-confidence you can basically wear anything.
So, even though trends have evolved overtime, as long as we get reactions like ‘great watch, wrong wrist’ on posts where we picture a bigger ‘tool-watch’ or a high complication on a female wrist, I guess this series that we started back in 2015 has a raison d’être.
Let’s see what we found at the Watches and Wonders 2022.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur MB EON Gold
So we start with a real statement piece, a new Roger Dubuis Excalibur. Roger Dubuis defines their work as ‘hyper horology’ – which combines traditional craftsmanship with radical innovations, high-tech materials and a daringly disruptive attitude. The ‘NO RULES, OUR GAME’ slogan well characterises both their collaborative partners – in the field of motorsport (like Lamborghini Squadra Corse or Pirelli) or urban art (with Brian Woo, known for his moniker Dr. Woo, who creates hyper-realist needle designs in the tattoo world) and their target segments.
One of the most recognisable lines – and my favourite from the brand – is the Excalibur. The Manufacture launched it in 2005 with two innovative & exclusive calibres in the world of Haute Horlogerie: the double tourbillon skeleton (RD01SQ) and minute repeater tourbillon (RD08).
Roger Dubuis is often inspired by knights and wizardry (just see their other novelties here) and this line is named after King Arthur’s mythical sword, which is usually paired with magical powers. According to certain legends, whoever pulls the Excalibur sword from the stone will become the warrior who will protect the country from attacks. Inspired by the Arthur Legends, Roger Dubuis created the Excalibur collection, which bears the slashes of the famous sword in a similarly shaped skeletonized movement. Enhancing the rough look further, the bezel of the entire collection has triangle-shaped cut-outs from the heavy blade. The special skeleton movements are important parts of the Geneva watchmaker’s identity.
The new Excalibur Monobalancier emphasizes this look with the brand’s new proprietary material the EON GoldTM – a specific 750/1000 5N gold alloy that is more resistant to tarnishing when exposed to extreme conditions by the addition of palladium. The bezel received a high dose of extra sparkle with 60 round-cut diamonds and the interchangeable purple calf-leather strap contrasts with the EON gold very well. On the skeleton dial the RD’s signature star is reshaped to ‘levitate’ above the barrel.
The watch houses the RD720SQ automatic skeleton movement with a micro-rotor and improved performance: increased power reserve up to 72 hours thanks to a gear-train toothing and escapement optimisation through its geometry.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Dazzling Star
Jaeger-LeCoultre is known for offering great mechanical watch options for women. We already included one of the beautiful Reverso timepieces in this series and now we chose the latest Rendez-Vous, presented at Watches and Wonders. The Rendez-vous has been one of my favourite ladies’ watches since its inception in 2012. The Maison creates many interpretations from more simple pieces, suitable to invigorate your daily office life, to highly gem-set versions.
This year Jaeger-LeCoultre combines the classic and very recognisable Rendez-Vous design with a new complication, which captures the romance and unpredictability of shooting stars.
An old superstition suggests that if you wish upon a shooting star, your wish will be granted. Shooting stars are so rare and you have to have the right viewing conditions to witness them, so if you manage it, you’ve been specially selected for a dose of good luck for sure.
According to CoolCosmos shooting stars look like stars that quickly shoot across the sky, but they are not stars. A shooting star is really a small piece of rock or dust that hits the Earth’s atmosphere from space. It moves so fast that it heats up and glows as it moves through the atmosphere. Shooting stars are actually what astronomers call meteors. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere before they reach the ground.
Activated by the movement of the wearer’s wrist, the shooting star appears on the dial at random moments – usually four to six times per hour. You can’t predict it but if it appears it is certainly your lucky time. To enjoy the enchanting display more often, the star may also be summoned on demand by turning the crown several times.
This new complications requires a new movement, and its mechanism is a bit contradictory to the rules of horology – to be very precisely calibrated. As Gregory Vandel, one of the Manufacture’s watchmakers says – ‘The word “random” does not exist in the world of watchmaking where everything is expressed through precise mathematical rhythm.’
Of course the watchmakers accepted this challenge and the new automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 734 reconciles the randomness of shooting stars.
The artisans of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares® (Rare Handcrafts) atelier created the perfect setting for the new complication – it has a 36mm pink gold case and a diamond-set bezel combined with the delicate sparkle of the deep blue aventurine dial. In the inner circle of the dial three superimposed discs make the shooting star appear and disappear. The first disc – an oval aventurine – conceals the shooting star when it’s inactive. The second disc is a circular one with a cut-out of the shooting star. When the star is activated this disc spins and allows the star to appear. The third disc is a fixed one from golden metal with a glowing and gradient finish.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Self-winding
I’m a bit biased here – Vacheron Constantin has a ‘regular seat’ in our series – their watchmaking expertise in the field of ladies’ watches dates back to the 19th century. We dedicated a whole chapter to them with some 2020 novelties and I have a sweet spot for the very classic and timeless Patrimony collection too. The Patrimony line is inspired by 1950’s Vacheron Constantin models and it is the epitome of nonchalant elegance since its launch in 2004.
This year’s novelties of the Patrimony include a 36.5 mm-diameter redesigned case in 18k white gold or 18k 5N pink gold with a subtly rounded crown. The white gold model has a deep blue dial while the pink gold is combined with blush pink, both featuring a unique colour gradient.
Each of the two versions features either a bezel set with 72 round-cut diamonds lighting up the circular-grained minutes track, or a minutes track itself composed of 48 round-cut diamonds positioned between the applied gold hour-markers (on the non-set bezel version).
The colour scheme is comprehensive with the night blue or rosy beige alligator leather strap with an iridescent satin finish. Vacheron Constantin uses its interchangeable strap system on these watches too that can be released by pressing lightly on a single-push button, with no need for a tool.
In order to keep the nice proportions, the calibre of the watch has to be thin – the in-house 196-component self-winding movement (2450 Q6/3) is barely 3.6 mm thick. The timepiece displays the hours and minutes along with central seconds and an aperture-type date at six o’clock.
Tudor Black Bay 36, 39 with Manufacture Calibre
There were a few famous dive watches in the 50’s, like the Rolex Submariner and Blancpain 50 Fathoms from 1953, just to mention to most well-known ones. The Tudor Submariner came out after the launch of the Rolex one, in 1954. The Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner reference 7922 was designed from its origin to fulfil exceptional criteria of durability, reliability, precision and waterproofness at a moderate price, it quickly positioned itself as an instrument of choice for professionals.
Over the next 45 years this original tool-watch continuously evolved to ever better meet the specific requirements of the many types of divers who were clients of the brand. Many of these dive watches became real collectors’ pieces throughout the years.
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf established the Tudor company in 1946 (however the Tudor trademark was registered in 1926) with the intention of having a ‘sister company’ for Rolex to offer more affordable quality watches.
In 2012 the brand reinterpreted the early Tudor Submariner with the Heritage Black Bay. From then the collection not only includes tool watches but also more classic, very easy-to-wear pieces. In 2022 Tudor presented four categories of novelties in the line: the Black Bay Pro, the Black Bay GMT Steel & Gold, the Black Bay Chrono S&G and the Black Bay 31, 36, 39 and 41 – all with Manufacture calibres.
For this series we chose the Black Bay 36 and 39. Tudor introduced these simple, three-hand design models without the rotating bezel, like the Black Bay 36 (79500 with ETA movement) and many people are loving them. These two novelties have the MT5400 and MT5602 Manufacture calibres respectively and the cases are in steel and yellow gold with a fixed bezel and a new curved winding crown. If you wish to add sparkle you have the option of a diamond-set bezel for sizes 31, 36 and 39.
The five-link bi-metal bracelet comes with Tudor ‘T-fit’ rapid adjustment system for the length (up to 8mm on the clasp).
As the brand describes ‘their curved cases, highlighted with polished yellow gold sections, offer a language that departs slightly from the brand’s iconic tool watch spirit to embrace a sophisticated, versatile, unisex chic.’ I agree and would add that the Black Bay 36 and 39 fit many wrists and they are very comfortable to wear.