Professional Jeweler Archive: Ladies First

June 2001


Ladies First

Watchmakers introduce more petite, fashion-forward, colorful styles for women at major shows in Basel and Geneva

Among major themes at the spring timepiece trade shows in Basel and Geneva, Switzerland, one appeared most prevalent: the desire for a woman’s wrist. The emphasis on women’s watches was evident in new sizes, fashion-forward colors and matching accessories.

Of course, watchmakers didn’t forget their traditional male customers, adding variations on larger cases, among other introductions. And they generated more than the usual stir among the horologically inclined with new technologies (more on this next month).

In addition, numerous companies provided spectacular combinations of jeweled artistry and technical innovation (check out several platinum-cased examples in this month’s Timepieces/New Products section, p. 100).

What’s Important

Size. While many women chose larger timepieces in the past few years, exhibitors in Basel introduced petite versions of the same models this year. This is the case with Bertolucci’s Serena, Corum’s Bubble, Hermes’ Belt and Patek Philippe’s Twenty-4 models, among others.

Color. More companies now offer women’s timepieces in a range of dial and strap colors to coordinate with apparel. In addition, several companies have added more color to the sapphire crystal that covers the dial, including Cyma and Corum. This is a step beyond the gemstone colors seen on bezels in recent years, though that trend continues unabated. Boucheron, for example, places blue, yellow or pink sapphires in its wide bezel Diamant to similar colorful effect.

Straps. To appeal to women’s fashion sense, companies introduced more straps made of different material, including satin and patent leather. Removable straps are a staple in fashion watch lines. But as Boucheron’s “Reflet” demonstrated years ago and the Hermes “Belt” more recently, the option to alter the look of a watch at home is popular also in the higher price ranges. More companies also offer double-wrap, extra-long straps. At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Baume & Mercier touted versatile strap/bracelet combinations with a high-profile global relaunch of its Linea for women.

Diamonds. With the increase in timepieces designed for women comes an increase in diamonds on bezels and dials.

Accessories. Some new timepieces are designed with matching bracelet, pen, earrings or ring. Many brands in the Swatch Group already offer jewelry in branded retail shops (Breguet and Swatch, for example) or as part of a collection (cK and Hamilton offer chains that accent particular watches or can be worn separately).

Collections. Many watchmakers now have full collections of watches for women – something usually reserved for men’s watches until now. This means automatic chronographs instead of only quartz, curved cases, rounded edges and sleek profiles designed to fit a narrow wrist.

Next month: Technology Trends.

– by Michael Thompson

Ebel’s new Beluga is now sold on a pastel silky fabric strap or white or black patent leather. Diamond-bezel models are available. Suggested retail with four diamonds, $1,700; with diamond bezel, $3,750.

Ebel, New York City; (212) 888-3235,

Blancpain’s automatic chronograph with flyback function has rarely been seen this way. With matching pastel strap and dial and 2.6 carats of diamonds, it’s sized for women. The company, known for complicated watches, wants to attract women with this and a luxury boxed set called “Six Masterpieces for Women.”

Blancpain, Weehawken, NJ; (201) 271-4757,

Cartier offers an exceptional white gold dial with diamond checkerboard that includes the interlocked “C” logo. Here it’s shown on a new Mini-Tonneau Lanières watch with an 18k white gold case and bracelet.

Cartier, New York, NY; (212) 753-0111,

Montblanc adds more color and fashionable straps to its popular collection of steel chronographs. Purple grained calf leather shown here is made in various colors; ostrich and alligator straps are available.

Montblanc, Chatham, NJ; (973) 665-7200,

Several brands add peek-a-boo dials or clear case backs this year. Pictured is the Vistosa, an 18k gold watch by Jean d’Eve.

Exclusive International, Flemington, NJ; (908) 788-0029,

Fendi’s new Selleria is based on the handcrafted Fendi leather Selleria handbag. Suggested retail, $395.

Fendi, Spring Lake Heights, NJ; (732) 282-0300.

Bonneville Watches offers a sporty quartz line called Bonspeed, available in sizes for women and men. The Camber chronograph model shown features an integrated and flexible metal/polyurethane strap available in several colors and styles. Suggested retail, $195.

Bonneville Watches, Anaheim, CA; (714) 666-1966,

Watchmaker Vincent Calabrese created this 18k gold jumping hour watch exclusively for luxury goods company Goldpfeil. It’s one of a unique collection created by seven members of the independent watchmaker’s organization AHCI (see Professional Jeweler, May 2001, p. 82). The pieces will tour the globe this year and be auctioned at Basel 2002.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications