Special FX: Ladies High-Mech at GPHG 2016

10 November 2016


Looking at the 72 preselected watches (divided in 12 different categories) of the 2016 edition of the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève enables us to understand the latest creative and technical trends pursued by the participating brands. And among those trends, one clear observation can be made: the “Ladies High-Mech” category is probably the most audacious of all.

But when you think of it, this is actually not so much of a surprise. The horological offering has considerably evolved over the last couple of years in order to properly integrate the feminine clientele’s growing interest for elegant, yet complicated mechanical watches. Even if some similarities do exist with its masculine counterpart, this new and particular segment of feminine high-horology abides by its own codes and particular rules. To seduce and convince this demanding clientele, a slight adaptation of a tourbillon movement is definitely not enough. The most accomplished feminine high-horology piece will be the one capable of having its watchmaking expertise serve a clear emotional purpose, where the decoration work is in perfect harmony with the complication(s) displayed. An alchemy that will need to be subtly found and applied to the watch, obviously taking into consideration the additional constraints imposed by smaller and thinner watch cases.

It is precisely these incremental challenges and their particular relationship to time that render feminine high-horology pieces into such fascinating treasures. For this reason, Watch-Her will be presenting you every two weeks a new “ambassador” of this segment, diving into its particularities and decoding all the emotions which it aims to transmit. Expect to be brought on a journey where time is expressed in an alternate way and where mechanical movements reach unexpected heights!

The 6 pre-selected watches in the 2016 “Ladies High-Mech” category of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève perfectly reflect the incredible ambition displayed by many brands for this segment. These watches could be classified in two different groups:

  • Those proposing an original time display, with a twist; or an unexpected function
  • Those that stand out through the decorative elements displayed around a tourbillon

The first group comprises of the Christophe Claret Marguerite, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Color Blossom Spin Time, and the Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down Art Deco. The second group comprises of three tourbillon watches: the Bulgari Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière, the Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye Tourbillon with Gold Bridge, and the Ulysse Nardin Skeleton Tourbillon Pearl.

My personal preference would tend to be for the timepieces of the first of the aforementioned groups, since they go beyond a traditional expression of time. The Louis Vuitton Tambour Color Blossom Spin Time reinterprets one of the favorite themes of the brand through the usage of rotating cubes that indicate the hours. A playful and charming evolution of the well-known jumping hours technique.

The Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down Art Deco operates on the same playground and proposes an inventive and amusing jumping hours mechanism. The correct “hour-disk” is the one displayed in the right direction (heads up)… whereas the eleven other numbers remain upside down. When the hours change, the two concerned discs will spin on themselves and the changing of the hours can actually even be felt on the wrist without having to look at the dial.

The Christophe Claret Marguerite displays time in a classic manner through the graceful dance of two butterflies. So why have I classified this timepiece in this first group? Because by activating the push piece positioned at 2 o’clock the numbers on the dial give way to a small and direct message that can be personalized when ordering the timepiece. An original way of creating a highly romantic interaction with the watch. Moreover, the oscillating rotor provides a fun way to play the “He loves me / He loves me not” game…

The second group is a perfect illustration of how three brands can treat a same complication, the tourbillon, in drastically different ways. Each one of them remains true to its reputation. Bulgari went down a rather exuberant path however without sacrificing refinement. The way in which the famous snake curls up to form the bezel of the watch is truly delightful.

Ulysse Nardin, in turn, chooses a more sober, stripped down approach in order to better put forward the actual construction of the movement and its lightness. But lightness does by no means imply simplicity: considering their finesse, the decoration of the bridges requires a perfect mastery. The mother-of-pearl finally adds a very serene and calming touch to the watch.

The originality of the Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye Tourbillon with Gold Bridge resides in the shape of its case and in the very delicate decoration of the mother-of-pearl dial. The tourbillon bridge is of imposing nature, yet this is the brand signature and it dispenses a lot of character to the entire piece.

The competition will be tight between these 6 worthy candidates in the “Ladies High-Mech” category. My personal preference would go for the watch by Ludovic Ballouard whose originality, discrete and harmonious decoration and beautiful movement undoubtedly have the potential to seduce the most demanding high-horology connoisseurs.

In any case, the presentation of these 6 competing watches was a perfect introduction to what you will be discovering in the upcoming articles on Watch-Her: audacity, creativity, interactivity and a new type of relationship with time. An exciting program we can’t wait to share with you!

– François-Xavier Overstake, Equation du Temps


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