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At the other end of the scale are brands at­tempt­ing to shore up their women’s tech­ni­cal watch reper­toire with com­pli­ca­tions. A sur­pris­ing trend is that of ladies’ chrono­graphs.

Chrono­graph watches, with stop­watch-like func­tions and de­signs that evoke ath­letic viril­ity, have long ig­nored women col­lec­tors given their of­ten testos­terone-laden de­signs. This year, brands like Breguet, Blanc­pain, Co­rum, Chopard and Hublot roll out de­cid­edly more ladylike ver­sions in smaller cases and pret­tier colours to suit fem­i­nine wrists and styles.

Still, there re­mains a sense that watch brands need to do more than make adap­ta­tions of ex­ist­ing com­pli­ca­tions.

“We are see­ing the start of a new era of women’s com­pli­ca­tions, where there needs to be a bal­ance be­tween tech­ni­cal and dec­o­ra­tive crafts,” of­fers Stephane Bel­mont, JaegerLeCoul­tre’s mar­ket­ing and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor.

Bel­mont il­lus­trates this with his brand’s Ren­dez-vous Ce­les­tial, which pairs a tra­di­tional com­pli­ca­tion (the ce­les­tial dis­play) with ar­ti­sanal dec­o­ra­tions. Adorned with a gor­geous gem-set lapis lazuli dial and en­cased in white gold, the watch’s ladylike so­phis­ti­ca­tion be­lies its com­plex mech­a­nism, which is able to chart the move­ment of con­stel­la­tions with zodiac in­di­ca­tion.

An­other pro­po­nent of aes­thet­i­cally driven com­pli­ca­tions is Van Cleef & Ar­pels. The new Lady Ar­pels Bal­ler­ine En­chantee from the brand’s renowned Po­etic Com­pli­ca­tions range demon­strates this with an in­ge­nious dou­ble-ret­ro­grade move­ment that dis­plays the time on de­mand, set against a stu­pen­dously dec­o­rated dial fea­tur­ing enam­elling and gem­set­ting tech­niques.

“With our Po­etic Com­pli­ca­tions watches, I think we are among the pi­o­neers of a genre which didn’t ex­ist un­til 10 years ago – that is women’s com­pli­ca­tions that ex­press tech­ni­cal­ity through an­i­ma­tion and sto­ry­telling,” says Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ CEO Ni­co­las Bos.

Cartier’s deputy de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor, Ca­role Forestier, is also of the opin­ion that truly fem­i­nine ladies’ com­pli­ca­tions work best when they do not ad­here to con­ven­tional ex­pec­ta­tions of how such watches ought to look and per­form. “We should not even per­ceive it as a ‘tech­ni­cal’ watch. The tech­ni­cal func­tions of a women’s com­pli­ca­tion watch should per­form a role of vis­ual en­chant­ment,” she ex­plains.

Il­lus­trat­ing her point with Cartier’s new Ro­tonde de Cartier Mys­tery time­pieces – which com­prise a dou­ble­tour­bil­lon com­pli­ca­tion and a two-hand model, both fea­tur­ing mech­a­nisms that ap­pear to float weight­lessly in a vac­uum – Forestier ex­plains that at its core, a watch’s tech­ni­cal­ity should elicit won­der. She clar­i­fies that while the two watches are not strictly women’s com­pli­ca­tions, they are great ex­am­ples of how a watch’s com­plex mech­a­nism can be trans­formed into some­thing delightful and ac­ces­si­ble even to non-tech­ni­cal watch buffs.

“You see the hands or the tour­bil­lon float­ing, and you keep won­der­ing how it’s done. Know­ing that a watch is com­pli­cated shouldn’t keep one from ap­pre­ci­at­ing it,” she says. “For women col­lec­tors, it is much more pow­er­ful for a brand to con­vey emo­tions through me­chan­i­cal ob­jects, than to make a re­ally com­pli­cated watch just for the sake of it.”

Ro­tonde de Cartier Mys­tery 42mm 18K

rose gold case, al­li­ga­tor strap, and

hand-wound Cal­i­bre 9981MC move­ment, Cartier Ren­dez-vous Ce­les­tial 37.5mm 18K white gold case, al­li­ga­tor strap, and au­to­matic Cal­i­bre 809 move­ment, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre

Hong Kong ac­tress-singer An­ge­lababy

Chrono­graph Grande Date 38.6mm 18K rose gold case, satin strap, and au­to­matic Cal­i­bre 26F8G move­ment, Blanc­pain

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