Laura McCreddie-Doak and Alex Doak round up the top 10 women's watches launched at the 2017 edition of the Baselworld watch fair. Rather than the "shrink-pink" treatments of men's watches, women are better served than ever this year. Let us know your favourite by voting here.
Dior Grand Soir Botanic
No one does decorative dials quite like Dior. Its Grand Bal collection, with its decorated inverse rotors, is a perfect confluence of brains and beauty, but it is within its Grand Soir Pièce Unique line that the team’s creativity and technical mastery come to the fore. This year, Dior has gone back to nature for inspiration, and designed a series of eight watches that are more wearable art than time-telling tools. This particular design, which is number two in the series of eight, uses sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and rubies to create a three-dimensional floral landscape. And in keeping with Dior’s love of mixing the high-end with the functional, the strap is made from the same breathable, synthetic material used for trainers. But don’t worry, it still has a diamond-set buckle.
Chopard Happy Ocean
If you’re of the opinion that you shouldn’t have to ditch the diamonds if you want to dive, then this addition to the Happy Diamonds collection is ideal. Called the Happy Ocean, it still has the iconic precious stones freely skittering around the dial, but it now comes on a Nato strap and is good up to 300 metres, which means you can actually use it for diving rather than just splashing around in the pool. The rotating bezel takes its cues from coral reefs, and comes with raspberry or turquoise accent options and minute hands that glow green in the dark, but it’s the latter that really has that sporty sophistication to effortlessly translate from beach to brunch.
Graff MasterGraff Floral Tourbillon
Graff has done a great deal to distance itself from having a reputation of being a jeweller that merely dabbles in watches. Under the direction of Michel Pitteloud, who previously held executive positions at Bulgari, Harry Winston and Corum, the brand has been launching timepieces with a flair for technical experimentation that belies the company’s years. This MasterGraff Floral Tourbillon is a new move towards feminine complications. There is a tourbillon at 5 o’clock, but it is disguised somewhat under a floral pattern, which stops it from jarring with the riot of enamel blooms. Closer examination reveals that two of the flowers also rotate, adding an element of perpetual motion to the design. With all this going on, the top-notch Graff diamonds are simply an added bonus.
Gucci G-Timeless (with second time zone)
Ever since Alessandro Michele has been in the creative director’s seat at Gucci, the brand has undergone something of a renaissance, and its watch collection has benefited enormously from this sea change. The horsebits have gone, the double Gs relegated to the design dustbin, and in their place we now have bees, serpents and multicoloured moonphases. Following on from the bee-and-star adorned G-Timeless that was launched last year, comes this update with a second time zone, which is indicated by the serpent on the inner ring, while traditional numbers are replaced with bees, stars and a heart. The slim case and masculine leather strap are in keeping with the gender-bending aesthetic of Michele’s catwalk shows, and it also gets extra points for being an automatic.
Harry Winston Avenue Classic Cherry Blossom
You expect beautiful high-jewellery watches from Harry Winston, but, with this latest addition to the art deco Avenue collection, it has surpassed even its own standards. The exquisite stone-set floral patterns on the dial are inspired by the seasonal blooming of the cherry blossom tree in Japan, which is celebrated with a flower-viewing festival called hanami and that announces the arrival of spring and new beginnings. The sakura is realised in white diamonds and pink sapphires, while the pale green mother-of-pearl dial is supposed to be reminiscent of the cloud-scattered skies on a blustery spring day. The entire scene is framed in an opulent diamond-set bezel.
Chanel Première Camélia Skeleton
Chanel has followed up its column-inch-generating Monsieur de Chanel, which housed its first-ever in-house caliber, with its second in-house movement in a watch for women. Whereas the Caliber 1 was a statement of pure mechanical intent, the Caliber 2 is about form rather than just function. The structure of the movement has been reduced to its most skeleton parts and aligned to create the shape of a three-dimensional camellia flower – a famous symbol of Chanel’s iconographic lexicon. That would be incredible enough, were it not for the fact that the movement comes as a stone-set option and is housed in a Première case. It is a truly beautiful piece that more than cements Chanel’s reputation as an haute horology force to be reckoned with.
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Moonphase
Moonphases are big news for 2017, and this one from Hublot is a real head-turner. Although the timepiece has a lunar complication, that isn’t the main focus. Thanks to the see-through quartz dials, made from silicon dioxide and aluminium oxide, elements of the movement, such as the date disc, are also visible. Despite it having the words “Big Bang” in the nomenclature, Hublot has eschewed the usual steampunk porthole aesthetic in favour of a tonneau-shaped case, which gives the design a vintage feel; something that is wonderfully undermined by the four vibrant colours in which the watch is available. Like many things Hublot does, the Spirit of Big Bang collection is a clever fusion of past and present codes of watchmaking, and all the more desirable for it.
Blancpain Villeret Quantième Phase de Lune
There’s much to love about this new moonphase from Blancpain, whose titular complication is a throwback to Blancpain’s own history. The brand apparently had a hand in reintroducing it to the watch landscape in the 1980s, after a period of absence. However, what brings this watch right up to date is that it comes with five interchangeable straps – red, midnight blue and powder blue alligator leather, white ostrich leather and black satin. Strap-swapping has been a growing trend, but usually at the more democratic end of the price spectrum. This is an entirely luxury interpretation, not least because the straps and the watch come in a beautiful presentation box.
Patek Philippe Reference 7130G Ladies’ World Time
Patek Philippe has always been a leader rather than a follower where women’s complications are concerned, and this update of its World Time shows why. In its previous incarnation, the dark outer city ring contrasted with the champagne-coloured inner circle, making the design look too busy. This year, the whole dial is in a delicate blue shade, which looks incredibly elegant when pared with the white-gold case and diamond-set bezel. No legibility has been lost; it’s still a doddle to programme and it’s also a rare example of a World Time watch designed specifically for women.
Hermès Nantucket TPM
The trend for diminutive dials has been quietly running counter to the boyfriend look for some time, and this addition to the Hermès Nantucket family is a perfect example of why women are still beguiled by the bijou. The TPM in the title stands for Très Petit Modèle, and with its mere 17-millimetre width, that is no exaggeration. The straps are constructed from alligator or calfskin, and are available in a wide range of colours. Although the watch comes with both stone-set and single-strap options, it is the double-strap stainless steel version, pictured here, that feels most true to the American East Coast look – a touch Kennedy, a little bit Gatsby, but still incredibly chic.