The most important event in the world of watchmaking, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, is approaching and the jury has already reveled the shortlists of potential winners in each of ten categories. One of the categories is the newly established Ladies’ Complication competition which along the complementary Men’s Complication replaces the Best Complicated Watch Prize. As the regulations state, women’s timekeepers with at least one complication are in the selection for the accolade. This year’s potential winners are Boucheron Epure Tourbillon Vitis, Bovet 1822 Recital Tourbillon Miss Alexandra, Chaumet Attrape-moi… sit u m’aimes Spider and Bee, DeLaneau Rondo Tourbillon Great Bear Constelation, Hermes Arceau Le temps suspendu, Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram Tourbillon and Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée.
Boucheron Epure Tourbillon Vitis
The first contestant for the Best Ladies’ Complication award is Boucheron timekeeper from the Epure d’Art Line which draws its inspiration from the nature, as it can be seen on the dial of the watch which features a lovely detailed grapes motif made from a single piece of white mother-of-pearl. The beauty of the miniature decoration is coupled with one of the most revered complications in horology – a flying tourbillon. It is noteworthy to mention that this is the only timepiece on the shortlist that has a flying tourbillon feature. Every copy of the model with the reference number WA021405 requires hard and skillful work of the brand’s artisans and watchmakers, which is why it is not that surprising that the watch is made in a very limited series of just eight examples, each featuring the price around $260,000.
From the watchmaking perspective, Boucheron Epure Tourbillon Vitis can pride itself with a manual-wound mechanical flying tourbillon movement which operates at the frequency of 21,600 vph and includes a vast power reserve of 90 hours. Apart from the basic hours and minutes indicated on the small off-centered dial placed at the one o’clock position, the timekeeper does not include many other functions. To be precise, there is just one complication. However, no one should underestimate this timepiece since its flying tourbillon, the only present complication, is considered as one of the most demanding and respected additional features in the world of horology.
As far as the decorations of the Boucheron’s timekeeper go, it is quite a different story. Epure Tourbillon Vitis is a true representation of the brand’s expertise and its background as one of the most renowned manufactures of high jewelry products. In the making of the watch we are talking about, Boucheron utilized a mirror finish technique which uses compact powder to increase the illumination of the decorations. Moreover, the brand chose hematite mineral as a suitable background for the diamonds and was able to present all of its expertise by sculpting three-dimensional motifs with the space of 1.7 mm. It should be also said that the watch has a round white gold case with the diameter of 43 mm and the height of 14.7 mm.
Stemming from the Dimier collection by Bovet 1822, Recital 9 Tourbillon Miss Alexandra is a lovely ladies watch distinguished by the presence of an enlarged tourbillon on its open-worked dial, a lovely realistic moon phase display with the accurate representation of a night sky and in impressive power reserve which lasts for a whole week. This is possible despite the smaller dimensions of the watch which is intended for a lady’s wrist (the oval shaped red gold case is 41 mm long and 37.2 mm wide). Likewise, even though the tourbillon cage and balance have been enlarged, the tourbillon of the watch with the reference number DTR9-RG-0B0-C1 is exceptionally light with the miniscule weight of just 0.49 grams.
Apart from the tourbillon set between two three-qurter plates, one of the most eye catching features is the astonishing moon phase display of Recital 9 Tourbillon Miss Alexandra. The realistic moon with the exact cartographic representation is set against a nice looking deep blue background which is likewise visible on two pallets that cover it in order to indicate the current moon age (these discs are used instead of the traditional aperture system). There are several other impressive visual traits visible on the face of the watch, and among them there are the irregular shaped hour and minute hands which form the shape of a heart when standing at the same position.
The impressive creation by Bovet also includes an unobtrusive indication for its extended power storage and a central seconds hand. The price of around $193,300 makes it one of the most expensive timekeepers in the competition. Additional decorations visible on the watch are diamonds on the bezel and a cabochon crown.
The next timekeeper in the competition for the Best Ladies’ Complication watch is immensely original in the way it shows time. The name of its collection means “Catch me… if you love me” and it is perfectly suitable for this piece. Spider and Bee watch has no traditional hands for hours and minutes. Instead, Chaumet used a pink gold spider for hours and a diamond-studded bee for minutes. In a never-ending pursuit, the faster moving bee which zigzags and the lurking slower spider travel across the dial which represents a spider’s web which was achieved by combining 43 mother-of-pearl elements with brilliant-cut diamonds. As the spider and the bee (this motif has been used by Chaumet in several occasion since the foundation of the brand) circle the web, the wearer can see current time by observing their position on the dial. To make the timekeeping feature as legible as it is possible, the brand has made the diamond-studded bezel which includes pink gold cabochons that serve as hour markers.
Even though the timepiece with the reference number W16199-BC1 includes only indications for hours and minutes, it obviously qualifies for the award since the time display is completely unconventional. In order to make an original watch such as Spider and Bee, Chaumet commissioned a Swiss movement manufacturer who developed a brand new CP12V-XII caliber exclusively for this model. It is an automatic-winding mechanical movement that operates at the frequency of 28,800 vph and has a shorter power reserve which lasts for 36 hours. Set in a round gold case with the diameter of 41 mm, the innovative Chaumet timepiece from the Attrape-moi… si tu m’aimes collection is worth around $156,000.
DeLaneau Rondo Tourbillon Great Bear Constelation
The next watch by the Genevese jewelry and watchmaking brand DeLaneau is not as unusual as the previous one, but is certainly a very impressive one. Made in just one example, the watch from the Strength collection is another shortlisted product in the competition which combines high-end jewelry with a tourbillon complication. While the tourbillon dominates the lower section of the timekeeper’s face, the upper part is reserved for the representation of Ursa Major on a night sky which is exactly why the timepiece was dubbed Rondo Tourbillon Great Bear Constellation.
The one-of-a-kind timekeeper from the DeLaneau Strength collection is made with a hand-wound tourbillon mechanical movement with 21 diamonds which functions at the frequency of 21,600 vph and stores enough energy in its reserve to keep it running for as much as 60 hours. It is fitted into a 42 mm wide round Rondo-styled housing which is decorated with over 4 carats of baguette-blue sapphires and over 3 carats of diamonds. However, this is only the beginning of the story about the gems that grace the watch. On its gold dial with the center made of aventurine, there is a representation of the Great Bear constellation made from 55 diamonds and 139 blue sapphires. The rest of diamonds can be seen on the crown and the white gold clasp of its nubuck strap. DeLaneau Rondo Tourbillon Great Bear Constelation with the reference number RON42T123 WG URSA is the most expensive watch in the competition, with the price of around $210,000 which is caused by the technical excellence, the level of decorations and the fact that it is made in a single copy.
The female version of Hermes Arceau Le Temps Suspendu timekeeper (with the reference number AR7.471.213/ZAR), which was unveiled this summer, has one of the most interesting complications. As the French-speaking readers might have guessed, the watch is able to “suspend’ the time. The charming feature basically includes a possibility to temporarily delete hours and minutes from its face. After a press of a push-piece, both hands move to the 12 o’clock position and remain there until the wearer presses the same button. Once this happens, both hands move back to their proper positions and the time suspension is over. Even while the time is erased, a small seconds counter on the lower right part of the dial keeps on running to indicate that the watch is still functioning.
This charming feature of questionable functionality was made possible with the addition of a manufacture self-winding mechanical Calibre H1912 protected with two patents. It runs at the frequency of 28,800 vph and has a power reserve of 50 hours. Its excellence can be backed up with the fact that a slightly different version of the watch (with a retrograde date instead of a small seconds display) won the GPHG award for the best men’s timekeeper two years ago. Interestingly, the watch from the Arceau series which has a 38 mm wide pink gold casing decorated with diamonds is the most affordable timepiece in the competition with the price of about $43,000.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram Tourbillon
Another diamond-encrusted tourbillon in the competition is part of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram collection. It is supplied with a proprietary automatic tourbillon movement made in La Fabrique du Temps, the high-end Genevese movement manufacturer which Louis Vuitton acquired in 2011. It is LV80 Calibre which features a 60-hour long power reserve and the operating frequency of 28,800 vph. It is the only tourbillon with a self-winding system which has entered the shortlist for the prize of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in the Ladies’ Complications category. The caliber, visible through the transparent case-back is decorated with a Cotes de Geneve pattern and the Lozine motif on the oscillating weight.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram Tourbillon (with the reference number Q13600) is set in a pink gold round housing with the diameter of 38 mm and the thickness of 12.21 mm. It includes a delicate mother-of-pearl dial engraved with a subtle Monogram pattern. The dial includes two circles made of diamonds. One of them is placed around the carriage of its one-minute tourbillon with a bridge made in the shape of the brand’s Monogram flower, thus further punctuating the feature. More sparkling precious stones can be seen on the bezel. Moreover, the piece includes several visual traits of the Tambour Monogram collection, including the characteristic horns and an octagonal cabochon crown. The white and pink timekeeper by Louis Vuitton comes at the price of just under $86,000.
The seventh and the final watch that has been put under the consideration for the Best Ladies’ Complication award is Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée (the reference number VCARO4F200). The watch from the brand’s Poetic Complication features a very interesting manner in which the time is displayed, similarly like the Chaumet piece that we have already covered. It features a lovely ballerina figurine which occupies the center of the dial and which is used to tell the time.
The golden figure of the dancer is sculpted in relief and then set with gems which accentuate her face and waist. She is dressed in a dancing dress (otherwise known as tutu) which is made in two layers. While the inner layer of champlevé enamel is used to clothe the dancer, the outer veils made in the shape of a butterfly wings are used to show the time. The figure of the dancer is set against a background with a guilloche motif which was covered with several layers of transparent Grand Feu enamel to make the scene even more breathtaking.
Unlike it was the case with the Chaumet piece, here the time is not constantly visible, but only on demand. After the button at the eight o’clock is pressed, the double retrograde movement of the timepiece comes to life. Firstly, the veil that shows hours rises and shows the proper place on the retrograde scale. This is followed by the movement of the other “wing” which then moves to the respective place on the minute scale. Finally, both wings return to the starting positions at the same time. The whole process is even more impressive due to the fluidity of the movements. All of this is enabled by the included in-house hand-wound mechanical caliber that operates at the rate of 21,600 vph and boasts a power storage of 59 hours. The timepiece by Van Cleef & Arpels is placed inside a circular white gold housing which has the diameter of 40.5 mm and the thickness of 12.4 mm. Its price matches the quality of production and is nearly $150,000. The winner of the Best Ladies’ Complication award, as well as other accolades at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, will be unveiled on November 15.