The choice will certainly not be an easy one, and it is bound to be subjective. Watches in this category may include no more than two major complications, with precious stones totalling up to eight carats (an increase over last year, when the maximum was five carats). The six women among the 28 jury members for this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève will no doubt be paying particular attention to these timepieces, perhaps hoping to transmit their enthusiasm to their male colleagues.
It’s little details such as this which make Parmigiani timepieces allure to the type of person prepared to invest $200,000 on a luxury watch. No, and again, it is not attempting to be. Cost for the Parmigiani Ovale XL Tourbillon benchmark PFH750-1000600-HA3141 watch is195,000 USD.Here is an intriguing watch which will undoubtedly be tremendously appealing to a very niche group of watch fans. It isn’t the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 merchandise itself is a niche-appeal thing (quite the opposite actually), but rather this meteorite snowflake version of this will be among the rarer and arguably more exotic variations. The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Meteorite is so rare, we saw it almost a year ago and it isn’t on the brand’s website (at the time of writing).In the vintage watch universe, the term “exotic” is used a lot, but rarely explained. More often than not, exotic is used to refer to a dial versus a entire watch. In fact, very few truly exotic (in the total design perspective) classic watches are really that popular (most are laughed at — and perhaps justifiably so). Is it really true that all classic watches seem exactly the exact same and therefore are highly conservative in vogue? Certainly not. Folks oddly fetishize many of the very ordinary, pedestrian designs in regards to a great number of classic timepieces. It’s, hence, the simple fact that many “exotic” watches at the classic sense are otherwise normal or well-received watches using various dials and/or colors. This is about as exotic as most of the conservative collectors appear to get (as much as I see it). I sometimes wish I watched more “bravery” in watch tastes. Though, I do respect not needing to be brave considering the current costs.
Although aesthetic appreciation is a very personal thing, of the six candidates still in the running for the title, four are quite classical in appearance (Audemars Piguet, Chanel, Chopard and Parmigiani), while the others have a more unusual (Urwerk) or bold (Fiona Krüger Timepieces) case style. Half of the watches are made of steel, and the other half are gold. All but one are set with diamonds, at least around the bezel, and some have additional stones set into the case, the dial or the bracelet clasp. On the technical side, all six of these watches conform to the growing trend for fine watchmaking in women’s timepieces, as they all have a mechanical movement (just one of which is manually wound). Unsurprisingly, half of the models feature a moon phase display, but just two sport a date, and none has a power reserve or second time zone, both authorised complications in this category.
Will Chanel’s watch division win a second time this year with its Première Camélia Squelette, five years after the Première Tourbillon Squelette was rewarded in the same category? It would be a fitting commendation for a collection that celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The watch is undoubtedly arresting, and is sure to win votes with its exclusive skeletonised manufacture movement, the Calibre 2, in the shape of a camellia, which takes the place of the non-existent dial. The Première Camélia Squelette is a marriage of black curves and geometric lines set with diamonds, where watchmaking technique is brought into the service of aesthetic effect.
Première Camélia Squelette © Chanel
Chopard’s Impériale Moonphase and Parmigiani’s Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène Galaxy feature a moon phase display at 12 o’clock, presiding over an exquisitely worked dial, the former of shimmering mother-of-pearl, the latter in midnight blue aventurine speckled with minute metallic inclusions, both reproducing the effect of a starry sky. Another feature both watches share is a small seconds at 6 o’clock. Chopard has imbued its watch with classical styling borrowed from the Roman empire, with its gem-set lugs reminiscent of ancient columns, sword-shaped hands and Roman numerals. Behind the intricate dial lies the automatic Chopard 96.25-C movement, with a 65-hour power reserve.
Impériale Moonphase © Chopard
Parmigiani’s entry, which also shows the date inside the seconds subdial – making it the most complicated of all the shortlisted watches in this category – conceals inside its steel case the self-winding manufacture movement PF318, with moon phase corrector and two barrels, providing 50 hours’ autonomy.
Tonda Métropolitaire Sélène Galaxy © Parmigiani
The only watch in this category without a single diamond, the Royal Oak Frosted Gold by Audemars Piguet, nevertheless has a glittering case, thanks to the skilful application of the jeweller’s art. The scintillating gold of the case and bracelet is the result of a surface treatment rooted in an ancient gold hammering technique; the gold is beaten with a diamond-tipped hammer, creating tiny indentations in the surface that sparkle like precious stones. The Royal Oak Frosted Gold is driven by an automatic movement with a 60-hour power reserve.
Royal Oak Frosted Gold © Audemars Piguet
Fiona Krüger Timepieces can be proud of their selection for the final phase of the GPHG 2017 in the Ladies’ Watch category, alongside many prestigious brands. This quirky, hand-painted, multicoloured watch in the shape of a skull is powered by a Swiss-made automatic skeletonised movement. The UR-106 Flower Power by Urwerk also makes a strong design statement. The luxurious limited edition watch marries steel with diamonds to create a piece that can rival the finest jewellery.
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