It’s no secret that the luxury watch world has long been a boys’ club. But that’s quickly changing. Female collectors are purchasing watches in record numbers, and the selections they’re making reflect a growing appetite for complicated movements.
They’re making a resounding statement with their wallets, and brands are responding by outfitting more ladies’ offerings with in-house movements that any collector, male or female, would be proud to own. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most gorgeous—and groundbreaking — examples of mechanical movements designed with women’s wrists in mind.
Patek Philippe Ladies First Chronograph (pictured, main image)
Introduced in 2009, the aptly named Ladies First Chronograph featured Patek Philippe’s first hand-wound chronograph movement to be fully conceived and manufactured in-house. The CH 29-535 PS was a monumental calibre, made all the more extraordinary by the brand’s decision to debut it not in a men’s watch, as was (and still is) the norm, but in a women’s piece.
The original chronograph, the Ref. 7071, was a fixture in the brand’s boutiques until 2016. The watch was revived at Baselworld last year with a new reference that featured an elegant round case and a completely new face, but the same exceptional calibre.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101
Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, this record-breaking calibre is somehow still the world’s smallest mechanical movement. The Calibre 101 weighs just a single gram and features a rectangular form that squeezes into a tight 14mm space, composed of a staggering 98 handcrafted components.
Because only a handful of watchmakers have mastered its painstaking manufacturing process, Jaeger-LeCoultre only produces 50 per year. The most incredible thing about some of these jewellery pieces? Their diamonds are actually bigger than the movement.
When the Ladybird made its debut just over 60 years ago, it was the world’s smallest round watch, with the world’s smallest round movement. The movement, the calibre R550, measured just 11.85mm in diameter, but offered an incredible-for-its-size 40-hour power reserve.
The Ladybird has endured as a symbol of elegance over the years, with variations to accommodate female collectors’ changing tastes. In 2016, Blancpain marked the piece’s 60th anniversary with a handful of new variations, including a limited-edition piece with an updated self-winding movement. The new Calibre 6150 measures just 15.7mm in diameter, which places it right alongside its ancestor as one of the world’s smallest.
Christophe Claret Margot
Introduced in 2014, Margot is as whimsical a watch as you’ll ever see. The brand’s first high-complication women’s watch, Margot features an ingenious mechanism inspired by the children’s game ‘he loves me, he loves me not.’
Each time the wearer presses the pusher at two o’clock, a petal—or sometimes two; it’s impossible to know—is plucked from the flower on the dial. Once the petals have been plucked, the eagerly anticipated answer to the ‘love’ question is revealed via an aperture at four o’clock.
But there’s even more to this playful watch than meets the eye. Turning Margot over reveals a delicately carved automatic winding rotor. The rotor is adorned with a red lacquer heart and surrounded by colourful precious stones symbolising various feelings. When the rotor spins, it ultimately lands on a 'feeling', and the wearer’s romantic fate is revealed.
This story first appeared on www.crownwatchblog.com