Six women’s timepieces for a lady to get started in the world of watch collecting.
In an earlier story, we listed six watches that a man can consider when it comes to collecting timepieces. Here are our recommendations for the lady.
Things are a little different here though. For one, women have access to an entire category of precious timepieces that meld both watchmaking and jewellery making in ways that men’s watches cannot. Women also have more liberty in the way they interpret some of the themes in watchmaking – an example in technical watchmaking later illustrates this.
The choices are abundant, but here is a selection of what we think best represent each category. Enjoy the read, and let us know your thoughts!
A feminine delight
Bejewelled timepieces are an easy recommendation to make, given their overtly feminine designs and “ladies-only” status.
In lieu of that, however, here’s something equally exclusive: One that plays with metals rather than precious stones (we’ll leave the stone-setting for later).
The snake is, of course, a recurring motif for Bvlgari, and we have seen the Serpenti interpreted it in a significant varied number of ways over the years.
The Serpenti Tubogas here is a familiar (and evergreen) offering from the Italian house, but revives a tri-metal version that was first introduced in the 1960s.
With three coils – one for each colour of gold – this is a timepiece that’s neither too basic nor too glammed up, making it relevant to any wardrobe.
A Secret in Plain Sight
Secret watches belong to the exclusive domain of women, and date back to the 1920s, when it was considered impolite for a lady to wear a watch or check the time at social functions.
To circumvent this, tiny watches were integrated into jewellery pieces where their dials could be hidden and exposed alternately, depending on their owners’ need to discreetly read the time.
Social norms may have changed, but secret watches are still made today, albeit by just a few houses with both the necessary watchmaking and jewellery-making savoir faire.
Crafted to resemble a hollyhock in full bloom, the centre of this high jewellery piece hides a quartz watch, which is exposed by pressing one of the petals.
The Primerose Secrète doubles as a transformable jewellery piece – it can also be worn as a clip by swapping its strap for a mount.
A technical masterpiece
No collection is complete without a timepiece that showcases the hallmarks of high watchmaking.
Here is a technical timepiece that is recognisable by those who are in the know. The obvious options are high and grand complications, but the Tradition Dame 7038 is neither.
Instead, it reveals the manufacture’s watchmaking savoir faire in other ways, beginning with the symmetrical movement architecture that demonstrates Breguet’s expertise in movement development.
Little accents of visual delight are scattered over the dial, from the retrograde seconds display at 10 o’clock, to the regulating organs across from it at 4 o’clock – this is an inverted movement with the oscillator on the dial, no less!
The layered, architectural movement is largely sandblasted, in contrast with the smooth mother-of-pearl dial, which rims a centre section decorated with Clous de Paris guilloche.
An exercise in design
A design-centric watch adds an important dimension to a timepiece collection by exploring a facet of watchmaking that’s oft-overlooked, with the best ones having timeless designs that remain relevant whatever the current trend is.
Cartier’s Tank is an easy pick here.
First introduced in 1917, the Tank had two major influences from the early 20th century zeitgeist – Art Deco, which was fast becoming a defining style of the era, and the mechanised tank, a (then) modern development that was changing the face of industrialised warfare.
These two elements led to the design codes that the Tank watch has retained to this day, from the geometric shapes, Roman numeral indexes, and railway track chapter ring that are unmistakably art deco, to the parallel bars that form the flank of the watch case, which are reminiscent of a tank’s tracks.
The reference chosen here is the middle-of-the-road option within the expansive Tank line-up, and quite arguably the most versatile and classic.
The diamonds set on its flank, though, help to give a feminine slant to what may be a large and slightly imposing timepiece.
A simple, casual affair
For absolute simplicity, nothing beats a simple three-hand watch.
A. Lange & Söhne’s Saxonia is chosen here for its minimalist execution that retains every bit of watchmaking authenticity. The timepiece has been stripped of all superfluous details, and lacks even a date window that’s de rigueur these days.
Instead, only the essential elements have been preserved, each one perfectly proportioned and positioned relative to the others, from the applique gold indexes to the brand signature.
The mother-of-pearl dial does add a touch of playfulness though, alongside the matching white alligator strap.
Turn the watch around and it’s all business again, with the manufacture’s manual winding L941.1 calibre on display with all the hallmarks of a Lange movement, including the three-quarter main plate of German silver and the hand engraved balance cock.
A sporty ticker
Yes, we are suggesting a Panerai here.
The Luminor Due collection that was first introduced in 2016 has Panerai’s most ladies-friendly timepieces to date, thanks to their slimmer case profiles.
At SIHH this year, the brand upped the ante by unveiling models with cases measuring just 38mm across – these are eminently wearable timepieces, even for ladies with small wrists, making them an easy recommendation to give.
Panerai’s unique Luminor case here comes complete with its patented crown protection device, which immediately calls to mind the brand’s heritage in supplying timepieces to the military.
The classic sandwich dial construction, where the luminous material sits on a layer below the main dial, also points to the timepiece’s origins as a tool watch.
Notably, this is not some downsized monster that retains its masculine vibes; the polished case and green leather strap here point to a classic design that has been repurposed for the modern wearer.