What do women want in a timepiece? The high-end watch industry put its collective energy behind answering that question last month when scores of brands introduced their 2023 collections in Geneva. Below, we offer a take on who did it best.
Cartier Métiers d’Art Baignoire Allongée
The puzzle on the dial of this high jewelry watch from Cartier’s iconic Baignoire (bathtub-shaped) line is composed of shards of mother-of-pearl, turquoise, onyx, and white gold laser-cut into miniature elements and assembled, through the art of marquetry, into a harmonious whole. Each dial requires 25 hours of work. The spiky bezel, set with diamonds, gray spinels, and blue tourmalines in an inverted pavilion setting, plays up the difference between the curves of the elongated dial and the angular texture of the gemstones. The watch is limited to just 50 numbered pieces. Price on request.
Chanel J12 Hyper Cybernetic
Chanel’s space-themed Interstellar capsule collection of graphic black-and-white timepieces was a standout at Watches and Wonders, and the J12 Hyper Cybernetic model was a standout of the capsule, making it one of the fair’s all-around talking pieces. With a design that evokes the look of a pixelated screen set with 240 diamonds, the watch, which is limited to 55 pieces, revels in contrasts—between the brilliance of the gems and the matte black ceramic of the dial, 38 mm case and bezel. Price on request.
Piaget Hidden Treasures Palace Decor Turquoise Dial
The Dali-esque design of this striking quartz timepiece from Piaget dates back to 1961 when the watchmaker created its signature pink gold bracelet. Inspired by the decorative technique of guilloché, the irregular texture on the gold is manually engraved, ensuring that each watch is a singular work of art. Combined with a turquoise dial partially obscured by the bracelet, with a bezel half-set with blue sapphires in a delicate graduated design, the look and feel of this unusual, $161,000 timepiece recalls vintage Piaget at its absolute dreamiest.
Hermès Médor Mini Joaillerie
Derived from a belt Hermès created in the 1930s, the iconic pyramid stud that defines the maison’s 30-year-old Médor watch now appears in a miniaturized 15×15 mm size in this mini joaillerie version with the same secret functionality as the 1993 original: At the touch of a button positioned at 3 o’clock, the cover opens to reveal the hours and minutes. Of the four versions Hermès introduced in Geneva, this white gold quartz model is easily the most spectacular. Between the 1.55 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds that adorn the case, the four diamonds on the white mother-of-pearl dial, and the 14.05 carats of diamonds that line the bracelet, the watch is the very definition of a showstopper. Price on request.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Precious Colors
Since its founding in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has earned a reputation as “the watchmaker’s watchmaker” for its long history of making movements for other brands. Oft overlooked is the maison’s expertise in the decorative arts, including the delicate work of enamel. Two new watches that belong to the Reverso One Precious Colors collection promise to remedy that situation. Boasting beguiling deco-esque patterns of chevrons and zigzags, the diamond-set watches—one in shades of blue with black on a pink gold background, and the other in different tones of green on a white gold background—place Jaeger’s mastery of miniature-painted grand feu enamel on the prettiest of pedestals. Price on request.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-Winding
For a refined take on the classic steel sports watch, look no further than the new Overseas Self-Winding model from Vacheron Constantin. The 84 round-cut diamonds that adorn the bezel and the fetching shade of beigy-pink on the dial lend the 37 mm timepiece a feminine vibe, but there is serious watchmaking on display here, too: Just look to the open-worked caseback, which reveals a 22k gold oscillating weight decorated with an image of the wind rose, evoking the spirit of travel. The $26,900 watch comes with three easily interchangeable straps—steel, leather, and rubber—each with its own chic/sophisticated/sporty character.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 4997/200R-001
Call it eggplant, plum, amethyst, violet, or just plain purple, the zingy color of the new $38,440 Calatrava Reference 4997/200R-001 has us mesmerized. Encircled by a diamond-set bezel, the dial of this elegant timepiece is embossed with a pattern of concentric waves, and coated with more than 50 layers of translucent lacquer. Inside the model’s refined 35 mm rose gold case ticks caliber 240, an ultra-thin self-winding movement.
Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo Secret
The mystery at the heart of Van Cleef & Arpels’ newest secret watch is how a timepiece so small has cast such a spell on us. Centered on the maison’s 1934 Ludo bracelet, a slinky, brick-pattern meshwork shaped like a belt and named after the nickname of cofounder Louis Arpels, the $143,000 watch comes in two rose gold versions: one with diamonds and the other with pink sapphires. To reveal the time, the wearer needs only to pinch the curvy forms on either side of the case to reveal a mother-of-pearl dial. Swoon!
Bovet 1822 Récital 23 Timepiece
Encased in Bovet’s signature “writing slope” case, this elegant, oval-shaped timepiece comes in 18k red and white gold versions, each framed with diamonds (approximately 1 carat on the bezel and another carat on the case). It’ll retail for CHF120,000, about $133,975 at current exchange. The off-center subdial, which is chiseled and then layered with seven coats of vivid green lacquer, displays hours and minutes (note the diamond-set hour markers), and an egg-shaped display at 12 o’clock features a moon phase. Inside, a self-winding movement with a 62-hour power reserve does the serious work of keeping time (oh so perfectly).