Feminine horology

Laura McCreddie-Doak
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The women’s watch market has come alive in recent years, with far more mechanical timepieces to choose from. Getting the right one, though, can be tricky.

FREUD once said to the French author and psychoanalyst Marie Bonaparte: “The great question that has never been answered is… ‘What does a woman want?’” It’s something many have agonised over when searching for a watch for a woman in their life.

Perhaps because of limited demand, or because the Swiss watch industry until recently thought women simply weren’t interested in mechanical movement, women’s watches have tended to be quartz-based.

This led to the “boyfriend’s watch” trend, where women raided their partner’s collection to find a decent mechanical timepiece. But things have changed. Where looks were once the be all and end all in female watches, now there is a generation of discerning women who are just as concerned about what’s behind the case back as they are about whether it matches their outfit. As a result, more and more women’s watches are including high-end features like open apertures and sapphire case backs.

This is good news in terms of lasting value: in most cases a mechanical watch is more desirable and liquid on the secondary market. But which one to choose?

Tag Heuer’s Aquaracer now houses the Tag Heuer Calibre 5 automatic movement, while Chanel’s Premiere Tourbillon Volante – an exquisitely beautifully watch, pictured below – has, as the name suggests, a flying tourbillon at the 6 o’clock. There is also Jaeger-LeCoultre’s recently released Rendez-Vous, which has a completely new movement, while Omega has released the Ladymatic, which now outsells its famous Speedmaster Moon Watch.

If you have serious money to spend there is Dior’s VIII Grand Bal Plume, which has a feather rotor on the front. The movement of the rotor is supposed to mimic the sway of a Dior ball gown and, thanks to the rotor being on the front, it also has serious horological clout. If that sort of overt feminity is too much, then look to Zenith, which has pulled off the rare feat of feminising a man’s watch – its Montre D’Aeronef Type 20 – without just knocking a few centimetres off the male version and chucking diamonds at the bezel.

These stunning timepieces prove that horological prowess no longer comes in exclusively male-centric form. While you can’t tell for sure what a woman wants, at least when it comes to watches, you’ll have an idea.

Chanel Premiere Flying Tourbillon Sapphires; £TBA: chanel.com