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5 Ladies' Watches of SIHH 2017

By Charlie Lim

Diamond Outrage
Audemars Piguet
Diamond Outrage

Audemars Piguet, Diamond Outrage

The Diamond Outrage was an easy pick, and not just because it’s a women-only high jewellery piece. As a secret watch – timepieces with flip or sliding covers disguised as jewellery – it also harks back to days long gone, when women had to read the time discreetly whilst among polite company. The third in a trilogy that began with 2015’s Diamond Punk and continued with 2016’s Diamond Fury, the watch shares its siblings’ gem-encrusted surfaces, but takes things up a notch with an outline dominated by spikes. Just two one-off references have been made: a diamond-only version set with over 65 carats of brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, and a sapphire version set with blue sapphires totalling over 65 carats.

Courtesy of CartierRonde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold Watch
Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold Watch

Cartier, Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold Watch

Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d'Art has invented and adapted various metiers d’art techniques for watchmaking, and this ladies-only watch has debuted its latest: flamed gold. An 18k white gold alloy with an unusually high iron content is used here; heating the alloy to different temperatures changes its colour from beige, to brown, to blue, essentially allowing the artisan to “paint” with fire to create the panther on the dial. To show the dial off in its entirety, Cartier has opted to use a simple two-hand layout for the dial. Just 30 pieces of this timepiece will be produced, undoubtedly both because of the work involved, and because Cartier will have devised new designs to show this metiers off by then.

Courtesy of IWCDa Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36
Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36

IWC, Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36

Its tagline may be, “Engineered For Men”, but IWC has shifted its focus to court the ladies as well, beginning with the refreshed Portofino collection unveiled in 2014. The Da Vinci is the brand’s latest and most overt foray into the women’s market. The collection has been completely revamped, with round cases replacing the previous iterations’ tonneau shaped ones, and most of the models now sport designs targeted at women. Consider the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 here, for instance. The timepiece has been equipped with what is arguably the most feminine complication, the moon phase display, and sized at 36mm to fit small wrists comfortably. One reference even tops things off with a diamond set bezel.

Courtesy of PiagetAltiplano Double Jeu Gold Lacework
Altiplano Double Jeu Gold Lacework

Piaget, Altiplano Double Jeu Gold Lacework

For the Altiplano Double Jeu Gold Lacework, Piaget sought the expertise of Sara Bran, an artisan who’s the inventor and sole proponent of gold lacework. Bran’s work involves creating fabric-like lace from gold plates mere millimetres thick by removing material via drilling and cutting. This, of course, weakens the structural integrity of the plate, which makes the work increasingly challenging as production continues. The final result is shown off on the watch – a delicate sculpture that offers glimpses into the watch below. This “protective” lid can be lifted off to reveal the watch dial proper.

Courtesy of Van Cleef & ArpelsLady Arpels Papillon Automate
Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Papillon Automate

The Lady Arpels Papillon Automate contains a purpose-built complication that is as technically impressive as it is whimsical – an automaton module that depicts the random fluttering of a butterfly on the dial. As if that’s not enough, the frequency and number of times the butterfly flaps its wings is dependent on the barrel’s state of wind; a more active wearer will wind her watch up more, which prompts the butterfly to be more active as well. Various metiers d’art techniques adorn the dial of the watch to create a scene with surprising depth, thanks to the layering of the elements, and the enamel’s and jewels’ play with light.