A grande complication on a watch, generally speaking, used to be the preserve of those timepieces on the male side of the display cabinet. They allowed men to show off how much they knew about watches while indulging in a little horological one upmanship (this despite the fact I have never met a man who fully understands how to programme his GMT without a return trip to the boutique).
However, as with most of the core perceptions held dear by the watch industry, this has started to change and, thankfully, we’re seeing some serious complications cropping up in women’s watches, ones that are beautiful as well as useful.
Obviously you can’t talk about complications without doffing your Philip Treacy to Patek Philippe. This house has been a long-standing champion of women’s watches. Moonphases, GMTs, minute repeaters, split-seconds chronographs – whatever you desire, this brand has a timepiece to suit your needs.
And other brands are following suit. Take IWC, which launched its Portofino Midsize collection to much fanfare at the beginning of this month (the “Midsize” tag is purely to avoid alienating the Asian market, where men are partial to a smaller dial and if it features diamonds, so much the better). This gorgeous, unashamedly feminine collection has two complicated watches in it – the moonphase and the Automatic Day & Night. The latter is an easy-to-set GMT, which is beautiful and, more importantly, really useful. While the hour, minute and second hands display the local time, the blue hand on the inner 24-hour ring shows the time at a second location (the daytime hours are in white and the night-time in blue).
Montblanc also released a complication recently: its younger, more stylish Boheme collection, which included as its star piece a perpetual calendar. And this isn’t a perpetual calendar design that Montblanc has appropriated from an existing man’s watch – it was, like the whole collection, designed specifically for the women’s market.
Jaeger-LeCoultre, meanwhile launched its Rendez-Vous Ivy Minute Repeater – the first time it’s put a minute repeater, which tells the time through tonally different chimes, in a woman’s watch. There’s more, too: Zenith unveiled the Elite Lady Ultra Thin Moonphase, featuring an in-house movement and a complication that looks discreetly feminine against the delicate dove-grey motherof-pearl dial; yours for under £5,000.
Complications still conjure images of boardroom bragging rights, but just like every other element of boardroom culture, women are becoming an important part of it – and these new watches will fit in just fine.
Laura McCreddie is editor of eveswatch.com