If anything was a signifier of how important the Asian market has become to the world of luxury watches, it was Richemont Group setting up an outpost of SIHH in Hong Kong. Called Watches and Wonders, it opened for the first time last year, following the same invite-only rules as the Geneva edition, it was a complete success.
What is surprising isn’t that Watches and Wonders is back for 2014, but that brands are using it as a platform for new launches rather than waiting until Geneva in January.
The good news is that there has been a few interesting women’s watch launches this year.
First up is Roger Dubuis, who has teamed up with three companies from the couture industry to create absolutely amazing straps for its Velvet watch. Declercq Passementiers, France’s oldest trimmings manufacturer has devised a strap that looks like a fishnet stocking; renowned saddle makers Les Artisans Selliers has made a strap that resembles a corset and then, and this is our favourite, fashion designer Daniel Benjamin fashioned his strap out of gloriously, strokably soft mink. Just gorgeous.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has decided that alongside diamonds, and lots of them, women are coming round to complications, so it has launched its Rendez-Vous watch as a minute repeater, complete with a delicate ivy design picked out on the dial in diamonds. It is the first time a minute repeater has appeared in a Jaeger-LeCoultre and follows on from the other complications – Tourbillon, Celestial and Perpetual Calendar – that the brand has been putting in its ladies Rendez-Vous watches since 2012.
A. Lange & Sohne brought its Little Lange 1 Soiree along. This timepiece has all the design codes of the brand’s iconic Lange 1, but softened somewhat by diamonds, a mother-of-pearl dial and a 36mm case diameter. This is the ideal watch for women who want prettiness as well as mechanical prowess, containing as it does, Lange’s exclusive calibre L901.4, with its twin mainspring barrel delivering a power reserve of over three days, which is indicated on the right hand side of the dial.
Vacheron Constantin has been leading the charge on the women’s watch front for a while now and it shows no sign of slowing. Along with some rather extravagant diamond-encrusted models, it also launched these rather lovely Traditionnelle Moonphase and Power Reserve timepieces. Billed as “mechanical poetry for enlightened female connoisseurs”, they are hand wound, with a manufacture movement and a 40-hour power reserve. And diamonds too, if that’s what you want.
Although Cartier’s Pasha de Cartier with its dragon design probably won’t make it to these shores, it is worth mentioning for the movement design alone. That dragon isn’t just there for decoration – it provides the bridges for the movement that seems to float behind it.
While Panerai decided to revamp its Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso with a gorgeous blue dial, which, with the rose gold case really feminised a watch that can often be unrelentingly masculine.
However, the launch that has been on everyone’s lips, even over here, is the IWC Portofino Midsize. It is called Midsize so as not to alienate the Asian male market – appealing to them was why it premiered in Hong Kong before coming here on October 7 – but the reason we’re getting all excited over here, is because this is undoubtedly a ladies collection created by one of the most masculine watch brands out there. And it really is gorgeous. We’ve got our eye on this stunning moonphase, but if we had the money we’d have one of each. So, does anyone know how to rob a bank…?