At the world’s largest and most important watch exhibitions this year, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and Baselworld 2016, the number of new timepieces that
were designed expressly for women was staggering.
Even more remarkable was the fact that a majority of these luxury watches were more than just pretty faces—ladies’ watches are now complex timepieces with brawn and brains in addition to beauty. Many are even equipped with in-house-made movements designed exclusively for women’s collections.
The luxury watch brand Roger Dubuis, for example, is predominantly known for its ultracomplicated men’s timepieces, but went all out at SIHH, unveiling an exhibition space dedicated entirely to women’s watches. Among those introductions are the Velvet Secret Heart, a bi-retrograde jumping date watch that has an in-house-made self-winding movement and retails for $83,000, and the Excalibur Brocéliande, a skeletonised flying tourbillon with built-in escapements that compensate for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity, starting at $256,000.
Now that women also want something substantial under the hood, they are just as prepared as men to spend upwards of $50,000 and $100,000 on the right boardroom watch or statement piece.
This growing women’s segment has also helped certain brands expand their overall business in a global economy that has seen flat sales of complicated men’s watches.
One of the key contributing factors to the surge is the new blend of mechanics and magnificence many watch brands are seeking. For decades, women’s luxury watches were nothing more than scaled-down men’s models with quartz-powered movements and diamonds. That trend shifted several years ago, and brands began designing lines solely with today’s women in mind, offering substance in mechanical movements and complications such as chronographs and perpetual calendars.
“As ladies have become more aware of traditional mechanical watchmaking, and as the diameter of the case has increased, we are able to offer more traditional mechanical movements, including automatics and complications, to our ladies’ watches,” says Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe USA.
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(This story appears in the July-Aug 2016 issue of ForbesLife India. To visit our Archives, click here.)