As we count down the last remaining days of 2015, thoughts naturally turn to what kind of a year it’s been. Well, it’s certainly been one where women’s watches took centre stage, which means we’ve found ourselves in a position where there’s finally some choice. Gone are the days when all that was on offer to women were “shrink pinks”; from masculine parity to mechanical marvels via diamonds, if you’d like, finally the Swiss have started to seriously think about what women want.
We couldn’t go through all the watches that have impressed us this year (you’d be here until this time in 2016 if we did that), so we just chose the few that stood out from the crowd, made our knees a little bit weak and had us almost handing over our credit card.
These are our watches of the year.
Best Watch Under £2,500 – Nomos Minimatik champagner
The phrase “new launch from Nomos” is always going elicit a fashion clap, so you can imagine how thrilled we were when we saw the Minimatik. The name refers to how thin the watch is, thanks to the DUW 3001 calibre and it’s a tad more feminine than Nomos’s usual styles. While we like the original, the Champagner, with its delicate oatmeal dial with coral accents, is the one we love.
RRP: £2,420. Available from Nomos
Best Mid-Range Luxury Watch (£2,500-£10,000) – Chanel Boy.Friend
Ok so the rest of the range does tip into the over £10,000 category, but we just love the medium beige-gold version of Chanel’s Boyfriend, which clocks in at £8,100. It is epitomises everything we love about Chanel – that whiff of masculinity, the elegant simplicity and the ability to create something that feels so modern and yet also an instant classic. Suffice to say it wouldn’t be a “watch of the year” compilation without it.
RRP: £8,100. Available from Chanel
Best Watch over £10,000 – Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas Sertie
Rumour has it that it was Wallace Simpson, femme fatale and all-round fashion plate, who first ordered this particular design back in 1935. The name means “lock” in French and as well as being beautiful to look at, this design actually had a practical function – the timepiece had to be concealed because it was considered incredibly improper for a woman to be seen wearing, let alone checking, a watch in public.
Times may have changed in terms of what is considered proper female behaviour but this design, despite being 80-years old still looks fresh, innovative and totally a la mode.
RRP: £23,800. Available from Van Cleef & Arpels
Best Out of This World Watch – Dior VIII Grand Bal “Fil D’Or”
Dior’s Grand Bal watches are the perfect illustration of how complications can be rendered incredibly feminine. On these watches the rotor has been moved from the back of the movement to the dial. Dior then turns this from something horological to haute couture, designing each embellished rotor to mimic the swirl of a ball gown’s skirt.
This particular incarnation really highlights the Maison’s couture heritage. It is decorated with gold thread, for which Dior used a lady lace-maker from Le Puy-en-Velay, which is the epicentre of the Auvergne, a district in central France famous for its lace. You can’t get more feminine than that.
RRP: £35,025. Available from Dior
Best Showstopper (unusual design, feature or concept) – Richard Mille RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur
No one does showstoppingly complicated watches as well as Richard Mille, but usually its technical prowess is reserved for the men’s watches. However, at SIHH in January, Richard Mille unveiled this.
It has an enamel flower at 7 o’clock that, when activated, opens to reveal a tourbillon at its centre that is then raised proud of the petals so you can get a better view.
It might set you back over £1m, but it really is something that will make anyone who sees it just a little bit speechless.
RRP: £POA. Available from Richard Mille
Best Complicated Watch– Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Small Model
Another winner from this year’s SIHH was this chronograph from Vacheron Constantin. The chronograph may not seem like the most interesting complication to choose but it is one of the hardest to make and yet surprisingly ubiquitous, except, that is, in women’s watches.
This example is the first time Vacheron has put a chronograph in a woman’s watch and it’s a masterclass in how to put a traditionally masculine complication in a feminine design, without feeling like anything has been compromised on either front.
We could have slight moan about this not being a monopusher chrono, like the gent’s version, but frankly that would be splitting hairs.
RRP: £50,550. Available from The Watch Gallery
Best Smartwatch – Apple and Mondaine
This category has to have two winners, if only because they both represent two different interpretations of the word “smartwatch”. First up is Apple’s first forary into wristwear – it does everything bar make the tea, but has begged the question: is it really a watch?
If you want something that straddles smartness and is definitely a watch then look no further than Mondaine’s Helvetica 1 Smart. It looks like a watch but has added smart capabilities. It doesn’t quite have the technological range of Apple but it does have the horological heart that many have criticised Apple for lacking.
Ones to Watch
This year has seen some interesting new brands launching but as they all arrived towards the back end of the year, we couldn’t, in good conscience, name one a standout “best newcomer”. So here’s our picks of the brands to look out for next year.
Brüggler – why give your customers one option when you could give them 7.2bn possibles? That seems to have been Bruggler’s philosophy when it set up its bespoke-watch brand. Brüggler.com
Farer – another addition to the growing fashion Swiss section of the market (brands using Swiss-made components but within the fashion rather than luxury sector), Farer is designed in Britain but made in Switzerland and takings life’s journey as its inspiration. The watches are even named after notable explorers. Farer.com
Henry London – the vintage-inspired fashion brand that has a real old school aesthetic and names its watches after places in London. Henry-London.com
Best Men’s Watch – Omega Spectre Limited Edition
This was a tough call but thanks to its use as a brilliant plot device (an explanation of which is in the video below) and for its uber cool Nato strap, Omega’s Seamaster 300 SPECTRE limited edition is our man’s watch of the year.
It is the perfect all-rounder – you can dive in it, it’s resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss and it can be called on to defeat the most maniacal of despots. Even if it didn’t have the associated cool of being worn by Bond, we’d still love it.
RRP: £5,980. Available from Watchmaster