Welcome to the first-ever Eve’s Watch Awards. These awards are special for a number reasons – it is the first time women’s watches have been recognised in their own right and it is the only time that an awards ceremony has been judged by women for women.
Every watch was judged against strict category criteria, most importantly, they had to be timepieces that, in whatever way, moved the world of women’s watches forward. The result is an awards with a list of shortlistees and winners that serve as a snapshot of where women’s watchmaking is in 2016.
And what a beautiful, inspiring and varied world it is. We are delighted to present the winners of the Eve’s Watch Awards 2016…
As well as experts from the watch industry deliberating the awards, we strongly believed that the buying pubic should have their say too, so we devised a special award to find out which brand was the ‘popular choice’.
In association with our media partner Time Inc. UK and supported by Marie Claire, InStyle, woman&home, Livingetc and Country Life; we asked voters to tell us their favourite brand via an online vote hosted by Eve’s Watch.
It didn’t have to be a brand they already owned, it could be one they were saving up for or the one they had on their “money is no object” list; the only criterion was they had to love it.
Well, one month, and thousands of votes later, the public have spoken. And the word was Rolex.
If we’re honest, we’re not entirely surprised that it was this 97-year-old name that beat the likes of Michael Kors, Seiko and TAG Heuer to take the crown (somewhat aptly too…)
Rolex has become the byword for democratic luxury. This is a brand that produces around 1million watches a year, of which an astonishing 800,000 are COSC certified.
It is not just that they are exceptionally well made, the designs, such as the Submariner, the Explorer, the Daytona and the Lady-Datejust, are iconic and their names have entered the lexicon as synonyms for beautifully crafted, desirable timepieces.
It is the brand of choice for such stylish women as Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston and Elle MacPherson; its watches are innovative yet classic, luxurious yet not too much for everyday wear and precisely the sort of timepiece you can pass on to the next generation; if you can bear to take it off your own wrist that is.
In short, it creates perfect watches for today’s woman, no wonder it received the public’s stamp of approval.
There are so many watches launched every year that to choose a favourite is nigh on impossible. Luckily we only asked our judges to choose their watch of the year from the 40 that were shortlisted for the awards. And we’re not surprised with their choice. The Chanel Boy.Friend has been a runaway success since it launched in 2015.
There is always a certain weight of expectation that comes with an announcement of a new launch from Chanel HQ. Will it be something that manages to be cool, modern, desirable and yet have that air of a future classic? In the case of the Boy.Friend watch, the answer is “yes” to all of the above.
While the name has divided opinion (it is actually a reference to the close relationship you have with your watch rather than a nod to unisex design), the timepiece itself has made many a fashionista’s must-buy list. It also manages to encompass many of those Chanel touch points, in terms of design, that are integral to the Maison.
The case is the octagon that references the stopper of a bottle of No.5, which in turn echoes the Place Vendome in Paris where Chanel has its jewellery store and over which Mlle Chanel used to gaze from her suite at the Ritz. It is practical, almost to the point of being austere, which was the hallmark of Coco’s early collections and it is so French you can almost smell the Gauloise.
We’ve not met a woman yet that wouldn’t want to have one of these on her wrist and it’s a timepiece we keep coming back to again and again as a symbol of how to design the ideal women’s watch.
It just had to be the Watch of the Year.
Bulgari has definitely been a champion of women’s watches, but the judges felt that over the past year it has really taken things up a notch, making it a brand that stood out in terms of what it had produced as well as what is has contributed to the industry as a whole.
The Serpenti Incantati collection, which launched at Baselworld this year, had such a simple premise at its core (uncoiling its iconic serpent) but it was done with such inimitable flair. The standout, and hopefully a sign of many more exciting things to come, was the Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière Skeleton. It is a showcase of Bulgari’s jewellery and horological prowess and an example of how to make a complicated woman’s watch.
While this is predominantly an award for a brand that has contributed to the female side of things, it would be remiss not to mention the incredible pieces that have come out of the Bulgari workshop on the men’s side, such as this year’s Octo Finnissimo Minute Repeater – the world’s thinnest watch containing this complication that, thanks to being made from titanium, is designed to wear every day.
Bulgari continues to innovate, it is a leader not a follower and we look forward to its launches next year.
When discussing who should be our Woman of the Year, Rebecca Struthers was a name that came up again and again and it’s really not too hard to see why. She fit the brief of being inspiring, pioneering and a major force for change in the industry.
Her journey started at the age of 17, while exploring the world of jewellery and silversmithing, it was her love of creating complex pieces of articulated jewellery that led her to horology. This sparked more than just a passing interest for Rebecca who even managed to tailor a masters degree in history of art and design to antiquarian horology because nothing like that existed in the UK at the time.
And she’s really not stopped trailblazing ever since. With her husband Craig, she runs Struthers London, which has made its name by designing and making bespoke watches using vintage and antique movements. The duo has also created an exclusive watch for the British motorcar company Morgan.
This year, Rebecca has been focusing on her PhD in Horology based on, in her words “forgery, smuggling and the birth of mass production in the watch industry”, which, when she receives it, will make her the most relevantly qualified person in the industry.
As well as fueling her own passion, Rebecca is involved in helping the next generation of watchmakers and enthusiasts understand Britain’s role in the history of global horology in her capacity as public face of the Antiquarian Horological Society’s Wristwatch Group.
Unsurprisingly, Rebecca has got many accolades to her name. She’s appeared in the UK’s watch industry bible WatchPro’s Hot 100 list for two years in a row; appeared in jewellery and watch industry magazine Retail Jeweller’s 30 Under 30 list and, in 2015, was named Birmingham City University’s Alumna of the Year.
Struthers really has proved that you can be a successful woman in the very masculine world of watch restoration, watchmaking and academia. We bet the person who told her a watch workshop was “no place for a woman” is now eating their words.
Rebecca is a true inspiration to those who want to pursue a career at the bench and a poster girl for a new generation of female watchmakers. We are delighted she is the Eve’s Watch Awards 2016 Woman of the Year and anticipate a very exciting future to come.
We’ve asked the experts what they thought for the other 11 categories and for the Popular Choice Award we’ve asked the public what they think, so it seemed like a good idea to ask buyers for their opinion.
These are the people who have to cast a critical eye over the hundreds of names on the market and decide what their customers will want to buy; they exert an incredible amount of influence over what we see on the high street and we wanted their views.
Buyers from Aurum, Amazon, DM London and Signet assessed brands based on design, desirability, marketing and how they respond to trends. The brand that excelled across all those areas was Olivia Burton.
And it’s not surprising. With its vintage styling and whimiscal use of pattern, this brainchild of ex-fashion buyers Lesa Bennett and Jemma Fennings, who launched the label in 2012, has been a major driver in getting women wearing watches again.
Its amazing price point means it isn’t prohibitive, there really is a style to suit almost every woman’s taste – from simple to patterned, and oversized to cocktail – it has even responded to some people’s concerns about using animal skins by giving some of its most popular designs a “vegan” makeover, complete with synthetic leather strap.
And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve only got to look at the amount of brands trying to emulate that Olivia Burton aesthetic to know how well they are doing, after all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Rather than imitate, we’ve decided to flatter the duo behind Olivia Burton by giving them our Buyers’ Choice award.
Dior Grand Soir Kaleidiorscope
Each piece is 18 months in the making. Of the eight that have been made, every one is unique and the resulting dial is a breathtaking, three-dimensional riot of precious stones that no picture could possibly do justice to, so you’ll just have to take our judges’ words for why it is our jewellery watch of the year. One described it as breathtaking while another thought the work on the dial was simply extraordinary and a step up for Dior.
In order to create the incredible designs, samples of Mr Dior’s embroidery were refracted through a kaleidoscope and the pattern was picked out in precious stones on the watch dials.
It’s daring, beautiful and could have come from no other Maison but Dior.
Swarovski Crystalline Hours
For a few years now, Swarovski has been launching interesting watches referencing both its fashion links and crystal heritage. This manages to do both of those as well as being the first ever woman’s watch released by the brand to have an automatic movement.
The judges were looking for something that showed a knowledge of current trends and thought that this watch not only tapped into where fashion was at the moment, but also acknowledged the growing interest, among women, in automatic watches.
At 38mm, it’s got that still-relevant boyfriend feel, though, with a case filled with 4,000 jet-black crystals, it’s definitely aimed at women. It’s fun, but not totally frivolous, and suitably fashion-forward without being too frightening.
In other words, it’s the perfect fashion watch.
Nomos Metro Neomatik Champagner
Nomos as a brand is built on the principles of good design so it seems fitting that one of its watches takes home this particular trophy. This category was a tough one to judge because although everyone knows what bad design is, good design is subject to personal opinion as well as objective analysis.
Our judges were looking for something that had universal aesthetic appeal and they found it in this Nomos.
This update of the hugely successful Metro sees the German brand experimenting with a more feminine palette but it has kept the clean lines that have made its name.
To the casual observer, this is a simple time-only watch with a seconds sub dial. There appears to be not much to say. Until you look closely and note the elegant tapering on the hour and minute hands, the subtle variations in colour and size of the inner circle of hour markers, the colour whispers (you couldn’t really call them “pops”) of the minute markers and seconds hand.
It also houses the brand’s new DUW 3001 – its in-house slimline automatic calibre and the reason it has the word “neomatik” on the dial.
This is a watch that seems so simple and yet is so complex and shows such attention to detail, no wonder it’s the best designed timepiece of this year.
Samsung Gear S2 by De Grisogono
Although Apple has been embraced by women who like a bit of tech on their wrist, the Samsung Gear S2 by de Grisogono is the only smart watch on the market that is really aimed at women.
It has diamonds, for starters, and, although a 41mm case might be too large for some, it looks more like a piece of jewellery than smart wristwear. It has also managed to marry horological features with its technology cleverly, thanks to the way the bezel is used to access the apps and features.
At its heart is the Samsung Gear S2, which, according to those who write about technology means it has a detailed active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) screen that is vivid, easy to read and bright. It also has battery power that outstrips Apple and a handy onscreen keyboard that allows you to respond to emails without having to reach for your phone.
Perhaps what is most interesting, is that this is a luxury watch which is not only embracing new technology but presenting it with women in mind, which we thing is pretty damn smart for a high-end proposition.
Piaget Limelight Stella
As incredible as it may seem, considering Piaget’s prowess in the realm of women’s watches, this is the first time the brand has ever done a complication just for women. And what an elegant one it is. For this category, the judges were looking for a watch that wasn’t just complicated but that had a synergy between the complication and the design and that was obviously created with women
With its larger moonphase aperture at the top of the dial, trompe l’oeil oval case (it’s actually round but the oval shape in the middle makes it look otherwise) and specifically designed in-house, this watch combined elegant design with clever mechanics in a wonderfully feminine way.
Moonphases are the go-to complication for women’s watches, which can make them quite uniform across the brands, but this Piaget offers a discerning new perspective and, in doing so, creates a gorgeous timepiece that every woman will love.
Patek Philippe Calatrava 4897/300
Picking the classics of the future was what we charged our judges with when it came to this category. It was no easy task weighing up whether today’s desirability would translate to being tomorrow’s heirloom, but they all felt that was precisely what the Patek Philippe Calatrava 4897/300 did.
It is this year’s subtle update on what is a classic for the brand. The indices were elongated for its 2016 revamp and, although, blue is a rather fashionable shade at the moment, it isn’t so out there as to immediately date the watch.
Patek Philippe has long touted its heirloom quality through its advertising campaign and our judges agreed that this was definitely a design you’d want to take care of for the next generation.
To innovate when it comes to women’s watches is a tricky thing. When designing a man’s watch, you can play with materials, complications, even tell the time using fluid technology if you want, but there are more constraints when it comes to timepieces for the fairer sex.
Which is why Richard Mille is so constantly surprising. Its latest launch, the RM 07-02, had a case made entirely from sapphire glass, which required 40 days of manufacturing, while the year before its RM 19-02 had a tourbillon housed in a flower automaton. It has even created a movement featuring a skeletonised plate of micro-blasted gold set with diamonds.
The designs may not be to everyone’s tastes – and at that price not to everyone’s budget either – but you cannot help but admire how Richard Mille has pushed the boundaries of what is permissible when it comes to what constitutes a woman’s watch.
Hermès Slim d’Hermès
This is definitely a watch to steal from your other half. Or just buy for yourself. The way you procure it doesn’t matter, you just need to have it on your wrist.
When this launched last year, it was the first really new collection from Hermès for a while and every watch journalist, regardless of gender, fell in love.
The Slim d’Hermès really encapsulated what our judges wanted to see in this category – fantastic androgynous design.
And it is easy to see why. With its slim case and 39.5mm dial, it’s a dress watch on a man but a more casual proposition on a woman.
The numeral typography, created by notable French graphic designer Philippe Apeloig, calls to mind fashion brands such as Chanel but also racing posters of the past.
It at once has its own identity but one that subtly changes depending on the gender of the wearer.
No wonder it has been named our Unisex Watch of the Year.