From carbon fibre to ceramics, women’s watches are getting the high-tech treatment

Laura McCreddie
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Mother of pearl dial, dainty case diameter and diamonds somewhere about its person – those used to be the three must-have elements when it came to designing a woman’s watch.

However, the latest launches from quite a few notable brands seem to be challenging that status quo. From cases in interesting material – sapphire crystal, carbon fibre – to new movement innovations, women’s watches are becoming as fertile a ground for brand experimentation as their masculine equivalent. Even better news is that aesthetics haven’t been sacrificed at the altar of innovation, so prepare for a new generation of women’s watches that marry brains and beauty.

Roger Dubuis Black Velvet Paraiba
£44,600, harrods.com

Before titanium flexed its metallic muscle, if you wanted a durable but lightweight watch then carbon fibre was your go-to material. It was used on lots of muscular, manly watches such as the Hublot Big Bang or U-Boat’s Classico; it looked like the material Batman would have a watch from and was never seen near a woman’s timepiece. Until now, that is. Roger Dubuis has created the first carbon-fibre watch for women and it’s fabulous. Part of the iconic Velvet collection, it feminises the material without hiding it, thanks in no small part to the bezel encrusted with Paraiba tourmalines, which, due to carbon fibre’s ridiculous hardness, Roger Dubuis had to invent a now-patented technique to set.

Rado True Open Heart
£1,720, rado.com

Having material innovation – in this case ceramic – can hamstring you somewhat when it comes to women’s watches. However, Rado hasn’t let the relative froideur of this proposition stand in its way with its most recent launch. The True Open Heart doesn’t disguise what Rado is all about – it just gives it a much more appealing outfit. For starters there’s the gorgeous pearlescent case and bracelet but the real beauty is the dial, which uses a plate of wafer-thin mother of pearl to allow you to see the movement beneath.

Patek Philippe Calatrava
£28,810, Patek.com

Innovation doesn’t always have to take the form of material or movement development (though Patek is renowned for the latter). For this Calatrava, it decided to tackle how to get more light into the diamonds on the bezel. The stones are set in two staggered rows, and once in place, the gemsetter manually sculpts a small prong for each one, which is bent over every individual diamond to secure it. He then takes a sharp burin to split the gold between the stones, which causes it to form small supports that secure the diamonds from below.


47-51 Brompton Road, SW3

Watches of Switzerland

If you can’t face negotiating the crowds at Oxford Circus to get your Watches of Switzerland fix at 155 Regent Street, then news that another store has opened in Knightsbridge will be music to your ears. Situated at 47-51 Brompton Road, it houses the first stand-alone Patek Philippe boutique in the area, has a showroom dedicated solely to Rolex, and spaces for, among others, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, TAG Heuer and Zenith. It looks so perfectly at home that it makes you wonder why Watches of Switzerland hasn’t ventured into SW3 before: we’re certain the locals are pleased it finally has.

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