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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2016 - Ladies' watches

GPHG 2016 Ladies' watches

Twenty-four candidates are entered in the ladies’ watch category of GPHG 2016, and there is a highly diverse range of entrants.

In order to be included in this category, watches must fulfil two criteria: they must have a maximum of two functions including date, power reserve, classic moon phase and second time zone, and may be set with a maximum of five carats of precious stones. The first thing to notice about this year’s candidates is that complications are few and far between: none of them has a second time zone, just one has a power reserve indication, there are three moon phases, and fewer than a third offer a date function.


Other than that, while the criteria for what makes a women’s watch are highly subjective, the genre generally resorts to a number of traditional themes, which are well represented by the candidates. Six watches feature flowers and one includes real butterfly wings. There are also six pieces in pink, and a further ten have white as their dominant colour. Just three are black, despite black being a major trend this year, including the Serpenti Spiga by Bulgari and the Chanel J12 XS Glove, both delightful pieces. Almost half of the watches have a mother-of-pearl dial, four have no precious stones whatsoever, and two pieces feature neither mother-of-pearl nor gems. This is the case with the Patravi ScubaTec by Carl F. Bucherer, which dispenses with the canons of classic ladies’ watches to showcase a sporty diver’s timepiece with none of the usual features, although it has elegance in spades.


And to wrap up the statistics, a cursory analysis of the competitors in this category reveals that gold remains just marginally more popular (11 watches) than steel, which is definitely a rising trend, and which is found in somewhat similar models from Eterna, Baume & Mercier and Raymond Weil. Circular cases remain the undisputed favourite, featuring in 21 out of the 24, and nine watches are driven by quartz movements.


If we were to stick with the themes traditionally associated with the fairer sex, it would take little imagination to pick out the L.U.C XP 35 mm Esprit de Fleurier Peony by Chopard, and Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Slim Color Blossom as representative of the essence of feminine beauty, with their pink hues, round cases in rose gold and diamond setting. But there is much more to them than meets the eye: the Chopard houses an automatic movement made of rose gold, engraved with peony motifs and powered by two barrels providing a 65-hour power reserve, along with a micro-rotor that enables the movement to fit inside an ultra-thin case. Turning our attention to the Louis Vuitton, the monogram flower carved in three dimensions out of tinted mother-of-pearl in the centre of the gem-encrusted dial bears witness to a high level of skilled craftsmanship.


The Carrera 39 mm by TAG Heuer, minimalist despite its gem-set bezel, and the Zenith Lady Moonphase are probably the least classically feminine timepieces of the batch. This is not the case, however, with the new Millenary by Audemars Piguet, by far the most richly set, with its almost 600 brilliant-cut diamonds, interlaced with black onyx across the dial, which showcases the balance wheel bridge of the automatic movement as a decorative element. The Fabergé Lady Levity combines elegance, purity and poetry with its delicate miniature moon and sun in place of the traditional hour and minute hands, driven by a movement developed by Agenhor.


King François I of France is said to have scratched the words “Woman often changes: foolish is the man who trusts her” onto a window pane of the Château de Chambord; the wide range of watches contesting the Ladies’ Watch category of the GPHG 2016 certainly reflects women’s eclectic tastes and the complexity of their moods. It also reflects the variety of sizes of bank account required to purchase them – watch prices range from CHF 2,600 to 120,000!


The competing watches in the Ladies' category

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