Ten amazing women’s wristwatches are still in the race for the best ladies’ timekeeper accolade at the upcoming Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve 2012 awards. Even though the shortlist includes only exceptional products for the fairer sex, some of the nominated watches clearly stand out from the competition. One of these favorites is the masterpiece by Van Cleef & Arpels – Poetic Wish watch made with an automated scene and a montre à sonnerie complication. Two other notable timekeepers that can be considered as the cream of the selection are Richard Mille Phoenix Tourbillon piece and Camelia Flying Tourbillon by Chanel. The former is a watch opulent with a mythological symbolism, lavishly decorated and equipped with RM 051 tourbillon caliber, while the latter one sports a camellia flower motif on its dial and includes the first flying tourbillon movement launched by Chanel.
From a technical standpoint, one of the nominees that is additionally interesting is Voutilainen 2-Eight watch since its caliber includes an original balance-spring configuration with double escapement wheels and curves. As it could be expected for ladies’ timekeepers, the preselected watches sport various kinds of unique and appealing decorations. Apart from clusters of precious stones that are more than common in this type of watches, we can notice some creative dial ornaments, such as the use of feathers, openwork decorations, as well as visual elements with equestrian thematic.
A Romantic Parisian Scene on the Intricate Van Cleef & Arpels Watch
One of the most amazing pieces nominated for the prestigious award is, without any doubt, the highly complex timekeeper, the female version of the Poetic Wish pair, first presented at the start of the year at SIHH. The lovely decorated face of the watch depicts a scene of Paris with landmarks of the city and a figure of a girl. Furthermore, a press that turns on the five-minute repeater complication (the audible representation of time) of the timekeeper also brings the dial to life. Even without the activation of the mechanism, the face of the watch is pretty cool; it includes a delicate enamel painting and figures of a girl and a kite that are used for the retrograde display of the current time. However, once the striking mechanism is activated, the dial becomes even more impressive when the girl makes her poetic wish and flies a kite in the direction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral where her loved one awaits.
With the inclusion of a jacquemart mechanism and the attached five-minute repeater complication to the manual winding movement with 60 hours of power reserve, this watch is truly a high watchmaking piece of exceptional characteristics. On the other hand, the complex and alluring scene of Paris surrounded with a diamond-encrusted bezel qualifies this timekeeper as a proper work of art. With such outstanding traits, it is not surprising that this watch with a round white gold housing (the diameter of 39mm and the thickness of 14mm) stands as one of the favorites for the GPHG award. Nor it is strange that it has the whooping price of almost $350,000.
Chanel’s First Flying Tourbillon – A Classy Women’s Watch with Camellia Flower Motif
One of the timekeepers that are likewise considered as the most likely to get the accolade is the first watch with a flying tourbillon complication launched by a French fashion powerhouse, Chanel. The immaculately designed timekeeper with octagonal housing sports a flying tourbillon cage made from interlocked camellia petals and with a cluster of diamonds at its center. The highly complex caliber with a one-minute tourbillon was manufactured in the collaboration with Renaud & Papi, the research and development branch of Audemars Piguet. It has a custom rectangular bottom plate and a multitude of hand-decorations with components that are chamfered, drawn and circular-grained.
As it could be expected for a product that bears the Chanel logo, the watch is extremely eye-pleasing and made with a high-end stern design. It is part of the Premiere collection, the first by the brand, and the new watch is the anniversary piece that celebrates a quarter of the century since the launch of the first Chanel timepiece. It replicates the appearance of this initial model to some extent (albeit in the different size) and has an octagonal shaped housing made from white gold (28.5mm wide, 37mm long and 10.2mm thick). This shape matches the one on the bottle stopper of a Chanel perfume, as well as of the iconic Parisian square Place Vendome.
Once more, technical substance is paired with diamond ornate appearance: Chanel Flying Tourbillon Camelia timekeeper includes a breathtaking 4.85mm rose-cut gem for the crown, as well as 101 baguette-cut diamonds (total weight 5.7 carats) and 127 brilliant-cut precious stones of the same kind (2 carats). The setting of all these gemstones is not an easy task – it takes 23 hours just for this action in addition to over 100 hours that are needed for the assembly of the complex timekeeper. Chanel Flying Tourbillon timekeeper, made with the motif of the favorite flower of Coco Chanel, is produced in a limited edition restricted to 20 copies, each carrying the price of $276,000.
Chinese Mythology Meats High Watchmaking – Richard Mille RM 051 Phoenix Michelle Yeoh Watch
The third piece with a six figure price is a very special wristwatch by Richard Mille, an innovative and captivating product with a mythological inspiration, made with and for the brand’s ambassador – actress Michelle Yeoh. The face of RM 051 model depicts a phoenix which is a symbol of feminine beauty, grace, strength and human virtues in Chinese tradition. Ornate with diamonds, graceful contours of a phoenix dominate the view on the watch’s skeleton dial with a visible tourbillon cage, barrel and power reserve indication. The delicacy of the design is achieved with the addition of a tonneau-shaped housing which is made from red gold and in quite substantial dimensions (in order to accommodate its complex beating heart), especially for a woman’s timepiece. It is tonneau shaped with the width of 39.7mm, the length of 48mm and the thickness of 12.8mm.
Richard Mille RM 051 Phoenix timekeeper has a manual-winding tourbillon movement, based on RM 026 caliber. Its descendent caliber RM 051 runs at the frequency of 21,600 vph and stores a power reserve that lasts for two days. The remaining level of stored power is indicated on an innovative display with a printed red line on a moving disc, located at the upper left section of the dial. In accordance with the mythological inspiration, the caliber has a baseplate forged from black onyx that is believed to be a protector from spells and is used as a symbol of equilibrium and inspiration.
The special tourbillon watch with a phoenix motif is made in a limited edition consisting of 18 pieces, since number 18 happens to be Michelle Yeoh’s favorite number. The horological homage to women by the famous brand from Les Breuleux is the most valuable timepiece in the competition for the best ladies’ watch GPHG 2012 award with the steep price of $540,000.
A Unique Escapement Supplements the Beauty of Voutilainen 2-Eight Watch
The list of preselected timekeepers in the category for the best women’s watch includes another one which supplements exquisite styling with technical innovations. It is Voutilainen 2-Eight piece. When it comes to the looks, the timekeeper has a plenty to offer with its captivating mother-of-pearl dial surrounded with a guilloche chapter ring and complemented with pomme-styled hands. All these components look really well in concert with a round case (37mm wide and 10.8mm thick) made from pink gold and with a purple leather strap.
When it comes to technical characteristics, the watch by Voutilainen is even more impressive, since it has an in-house manually-wind mechanical movement that features an original and yet unseen configuration of the balance spring with two curves. While the external one utilizes a Breguet overcoil, the internal uses less standard Grossman curve. Together with the double escapement wheels, this configuration enhances the efficiency and reduces the consumption of energy which further extends the product’s longevity. This innovative caliber with one-of-a-kind escapement is additionally richly decorated with hand-performed finishes, even on the most minute or invisible parts. The used caliber beats at the frequency of 18,000 vph and provides a power reserve of 65 hours. Once again, we are talking about the limited edition watch – Voutilainen 2-Eight timekeeper is produced in a series of ten copies. The value of the timekeeper is a bit above $85,000.
Creative Use of Feathers – Rebirth of an Ancient Art Technique
As it has been said, some of preselected pieces sport very interesting decorations and two of them even utilize feathers as ornaments. The first one of these timekeepers is Premier Feathers timepiece by Harry Winston, a watch that revitalizes the ancient and slightly forgotten art of feather marquetry. The watch from the Premier collection shows off the delicate work of Nelly Saunier, one of the few current artisans who have mastered the ancient art technique. For the nominated watch, Nelly Saunier used peacock feathers which are carefully arranged on the face of the round watch, giving it an aura of high class, especially in the combination with shiny brilliant, marquise and pear-cut diamonds that are encrusted on its bezel and lugs in cluster setting with the use of a technique which was originally devised by Harry Winston himself.
The lovely timekeeper with peacock feathers is sadly equipped with a quartz movement, thus failing to match its fabulous decorations with the caliber of the same kind. It is fitted into a round housing made from white gold (36mm wide and 7.2mm thick) which is paired with a satin strap. Harry Winston Premier Feathers timepiece costs $65,600.
Creative Use of Feathers – An Oscillating Weight Dressed in a Ball Gown
The other timepiece with feather decorations is quite different to this one. Dior VIII Grand Bal timekeeper is made with the brand’s Inverse caliber which has an oscillating weight visible on the dial side. This movement’s components which freely rotate and wind the mainspring are ornamented with pink feathers with diamond tips. With every movement of the wearer’s wrist, this feather covered metal disc rotates in moves that resemble the swirling of a ball gown during a dance.
Overall, the watch is very elegant and classy, and the pink feathers look really nice in the combination with the white mother-of pearl dial and bezel, and white case and bracelet forged from high-tech material made from the mixture of steel and ceramic. Additional decorations include diamonds all over its bezel and in the centre of the dial. The glossy white housing of the watch by another fashion giant from France is 38mm wide. Inside it beats an automatic winding mechanical movement with the frequency of 28,000 vph and a power storage that lasts for about 42 hours. Just like the most of the nominated products, this one is likewise launched in a limited edition which, in this instance, includes 88 pieces. This elegant timekeeper with a dancing oscillating weight retails for about $35,000.
Openwork and Diamonds – Boucheron that Resembles French Lace
Another preselected watch with an extraordinary appearance is Boucheron Ajourée Volute timekeeper that combines the open space with spiral shaped decorations adorned with diamonds. The visually appealing ladies’ watch by Bucheron is a part of the innovative Ajourée collection which includes refine timekeepers with openwork gold elements. In this instance, the material is white gold. The background of diamond-covered volutes integrates an off-centered snow-white dial with two hands. This lovely timekeeper by Boucheron works thanks to a quartz module, set into a 38mm wide and 6.8mm round housing.
Watches with Stirrup-Shaped Elements
As the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneva has decided, the shortlist of the most prominent women’s products includes two watches with stirrup-shaped elements. The first one of these is Hermes Arceau Ecuyère Anniversary Piece with the distinctive asymmetric stirrup-shaped lugs. It is the latest piece in the collection that appeared 34 years ago and that is well known for securing the attachments to straps in this manner. In the new Anniversary piece, Hermes uses its manufacture movement with the diameter of 10 ½ lignes. The new H912 automatic mechanical caliber, developed especially for the brand by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. It beats at the common high frequency of 4 Hz and provides an extended power reserve of 50 hours. The lovely newcomer is made in the limited series of 100 examples that celebrates a century of the brand in watchmaking industry. It is made with a rose gold case (34mm wide) set with gemstones, while its crown includes a large rose-cut diamond.
A look at the dial of the Hermes Anniversary timekeeper reveals the brand’s knack for creation of highly gallant products. Hermes Arceau Ecuyère Anniversary Piece has a delicate mother-of-pearl dial with characteristic sloping numerals that are also found on the small seconds counter at the bottom of the face. The central segment is styled with a radiating motif while the material of hands matches the one used for the housing. As the famous watchmaker decided, the watch comes with a padded and saddle-stitched alligator leather strap which is completely made in the watchmaker’s workshops in Brügg. Arceau Ecuyère timekeeper retails for $30,000.
The equestrian inspiration is even more promininent in the next nominated product – Ralph Lauren Link Rose Gold timekeeper, made with a housing in the shape of a stirrup which is the visual element that the renowned designer tends to use in his creations quite often. This stylish case is constructed from pink gold and in understated dimensions, with the length of 29.3, the width of 27.5 and the thickness of 7.1mm. Just like the case, its glamorous chain link bracelet is made from pink gold. Inside the intriguing body of the timekeeper beats RL430 hand-wound mechanical caliber. The movement that was made especially for Ralph Lauren by Piaget includes a power storage that powers the watch for about 40 hours. Just like the former equestrian inspired timekeeper, Ralph Lauren Link Rose Gold can be bought for $30,000.
Amethysts and Spinels
The final watch in the competition for the title of the ladies’ timekeeper of the year is Roger Dubuis Velvet Amethysts andSpinels piece, a mysterious and black and purple watch with lots of class and style. It is a timepiece with a black PVD titanium housing (38mm wide), a special lugs and intense colored amethysts and spinels as decorations. Roger Dubois watch for women is equipped with an automatic mechanical RD821 caliber which consists of 168 components and integrates 33 jewels. The in-house movement is 11 ½ lignes wide, it has the frequency of 28,800 vph, and a power reserve that lasts for two days. It is paired with a black satin strap and forged in a restricted edition of 188 products. If you want this refine timekeeper on your wrist, you will have to pay around $38,000.