Let’s face it — you’re here because you forgot Valentine’s Day and are currently feeling an uncomfortable kinship with the proverbial frog in a pot (rather alarmingly already at level “onsen”). Never fear, because we heard your cry of panic and anguish from afar and have put our “Save The Day For REVOLUTIONaries In Need” hats on.
We have here 10 of your best and loveliest timepieces, guaranteed* to make your better half bend a forgiving gaze upon you, a gaze well fortified with renewed favour (and fervour). Remember, if one watch doesn’t get you out of the soup, try adding another one!
In no particular order:
1. Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée
There really is absolutely no way any woman can resist this timepiece. Aside from its exquisite construction, layered with enamel, diamonds and white gold, the watch also possesses an utterly bewitching origin story. Inspired by the ethereal grace of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, the central figure on the watch turns into a winged fairy at the touch of a button located on the side of the case — the wings indicate the hours and minutes when raised. One doesn’t get to see the time at a glance, but that matters very little when it’s so much fun to let the ballerina work her magic on demand. Hold me closer, tiny dancer.
2. Zenith Star Moonphase
I have a very particular fondness for this watch. If it weren’t for my absurdly skinny toothpick wrists I’d have one strapped on already. The combination of its tantalisingly curved cushion-shaped case, the super-subtle texture on the moonphase subdial, the smooth profile of the leaf-shaped hands, radiant hour indices, adamantine sparkle in the corners — surveys** have shown that this watch arrests any coherent flow of thought in the feminine mind and endows the person holding it with Adonis-like levels of divine beauty.***
3. Patek Philippe Ladies First Minute Repeater ref. 7000
Let’s get this out of the way first of all — the repeater chime is exceptionally pure and light. You would expect this from a Patek Philippe minute repeater in any case, but just you listen to this clip and you’ll see what I mean. And then we have this officer-style Calatrava case with the straight lugs, the ultra-feminine calligraphic Breguet numerals, sensuous poire hands, the small seconds counter at six o’clock with the second markers forming a sinusoidal corona (“reminding me of how you’re the sunshine of my life, darling,” you should hasten to add at this juncture) and honestly why are you even still reading this and not rushing out to procure one? Mind you, there’s a bit of a wait for this watch, but no matter, Valentine’s Day comes around every year! In the meantime, you can get something else on this list.
4. Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin
Every woman needs a Reverso. Am I overstating things slightly? All right, perhaps it’d be closer to the truth to say that every woman who loves watches and loves well-made objects of art needs to have a Reverso timepiece somewhere in her collection. The Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin is an especially fine specimen of the family, softening the Art Deco angularity of the case with a convexed oblong of nested guilloché work on the dial. The ultra thin construction of the watch means that it will cleave to her like a second skin. The Good Book speaks of friends that “sticketh closer than a brother”, and in terms of constant companionship I would say a watch certainly qualifies. Get the model with the gorgeously supple double-tour Valextra leather strap — the slenderness of the hand-stitched band is a perfect match for the watch.
5. Breguet Queen of Naples ref. 8967ST
As a general rule, the watches of the Breguet Queen of Naples collection lives up to its name by being superbly regal and classical executions of fine watchmaking. The only steel variation of the Queen of Naples showed up in 2010, a little larger than the other models, and with a contemporary spin on the dial design as befitted its steel skin. Last year we saw the steel Queen of Naples break out in spring hues, including this model with fuchsia accents reminiscent of a riotous bed of wildflowers. “Everyday luxury” is one of those asinine phrases that very rarely make any sense whatsoever, but the steel Queen of Naples is the one thing in a million that makes the contradiction in terms work.
6. Cartier Crash
There are two things that make each and every single Cartier timepiece. The first thing is a strong sense of symmetry and geometric balance. The second thing is an underlying current of full-throated sensuality. The first without the second is boring, and the second without the first is vulgar. Where the two collide, worlds of creativity and heart-stopping splendour ensue. The gorgeous exception to these two rules is the Cartier Crash, a watch that upends your table of Cartier expectations, yet is so deeply rooted in the story and design heritage of the Paris maison — it’s difficult to contemplate without wanting to rend one’s clothes in paroxysms of desire. Get this for someone who inspires the same emotion in you. The model from 2013, with finely tooled, diamond-set bracelet will do very nicely, yes it will indeed (my precious).
7. Chopard Imperiale Tourbillon Joaillerie
Sometimes, less is more. In the case of the Imperiale Tourbillon Joaillerie, more is jolly well more. If you’re looking for a subtle, sober watch that actually tells you the time without carrying on to split light into its component parts as a matter of course, you’ve come to the wrong place. Don’t listen to people who tell you that high watchmaking has no place in a feminine watch — the Imperiale Tourbillon Joaillerie brings together the gemsetting expertise of Chopard and the haute horlogerie savoir-faire of its Fleurier facility. Beauty and brains in the same body. I don’t suppose you know someone who could be described the same way and would be glad to hear you express that sentiment? Recommended retail price is EUR 681,170 by the way — you might want to start counting out those shekels.
8. Bulgari Serpenti
There’s a Cleopatra in every woman. Somewhere deep inside her (not very deep at all, in the case of a few) there is an imperious queen who can reduce ordinary men to gibbering idiots and victorious generals to lovelorn dotards. Since the fabled queen of ancient Egypt spent her days in a metaphorical snake pit of craven ministers and treacherous allies, and ended her life with self-administered asp venom, she would have appreciated this ruby- and diamond-studded rose-gold Serpenti with time indication hidden in the head. Keep your enemies close, and all that. If your aim is to pacify and propitiate, you could do a lot worse and probably only a tiny bit better than the double-coil gem-set Serpenti. The secret time indication is also a nice touch, suggesting the ability of the wearer to fend off the tiresome impositions of the passing hours. After all, age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.
9. Piaget Limelight Dancing Light
If you’re thinking to yourself by this point — and I don’t blame you — “Wherefore all these ticking confections of extravagance? Flowers will convey my sentiments just as effectively!” Indeed they will, my friend, especially if they come in the form of the Piaget Limelight Dancing Light Piaget. The 2012 Piaget collection was all about the Yves Piaget Rose, some insanely beautiful and delicately fragrant varietal of rose that has won spades of horticultural awards. The Dancing Light watch is all about the twirling, sparkling ribbons of diamonds that encircle the time indication in the middle of the dial, and here they come in the form of an unfurling rose. As the diamond-limned petals twirl, they appear to multiply, so it’ll almost be as if you bought an entire bouquet! Bonus — they neither fade nor have to be refrigerated.
10. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Ladycat Chronograph
You know, not every piece on this list has to be a super-feminine, dressy evening watch studded with diamonds. Sometimes we like super-sporty, outdoorsy watches that are studded with diamonds. The Royal Oak Offshore debuted in 1993 as a behemoth of a muscular timepiece, and the 20 years since its introduction hasn’t mellowed it down any. This version of the ladies’ Offshore chronograph isn’t too weighed down by carbon-based sparklers — we’ve seen full-set versions that literally leave you gasping; you can save that for when you’ve missed a big anniversary — showing relative restraint with a single row of diamonds on the bezel and a double row of brilliants on the lugs.
Special Mention: Richard Mille Tourbillon RM 19-01 Natalie Portman
While I’ve made it a point to list only watches that are already available on the market (save perhaps for the Patek Philippe, with its aforementioned waiting list), I’ve simply got to point to the RM 19-01 Natalie Portman as something we saw this year that you might want to keep in mind for the next time you miss a birthday or whatever (you know it’s gonna happen).
* Metaphorically speaking, of course.
** Just one survey, conducted on just one person (ie, me).
*** Your mileage may vary.