Who needs a watch? In the age of mobile phones, absolutely nobody. Who wants a watch? Now, that is a very different question. As our interest in watches has shifted from the purely functional to the desirable, we are seeking out timepieces that make us tick. For some, it is the beauty of a mechanical watch that delights – the art of handmade horology holding a mystic allure compared to the dully perpetual accuracy of digital timekeeping. Others seek style and sophistication, marking off milestones and career highs through a collection of quietly communicative status symbols. Today’s timepiece is no longer simply a timekeeper, it is a covetable accessory of substance.
Not all dials are made equal, and the18ct rose-gold and diamond Blancpain Quantieme Retrograde Calendar automatic watch is a shimmering example of just how good different can be. The traditional watch dial, denoting the passing hours and minutes, has been minimised to make room for a celestial display, played out over a mother-of-pearl marquetry dial. Within it, a retrograde calendar keeps track of the date with a star-tipped serpentine-blue hand that automatically resets at the end of the month. There is also a moon phase to track the glowing orb through its monthly revolutions; particularly helpful should you feel your moods bound to the lunar cycle.
There is something incredibly modern and chic about the stretched dial of the Cartier Baignoire Allongée watch, yet the heritage of this radical shape dates back to 1910. It was then that Louis Cartier first challenged traditional round dials by imagining a timepiece that would be shaped more like a bathtub (or baignoire, in French). By the late 1950s, it was a Cartier cult classic. This modern interpretation of the Baignoire, powered by an automatic movement, was released this year. It has an 18ct rose-gold case blanketed with 304 diamonds, including one cresting the crown, and a taupe alligator strap.
Often the priority for women’s watches is that they should look pretty over having any sort of horological substance. The Chopard LUC XPS doesn’t buy into such nonsense. There’s more to it than its classic mother-of-pearl dial regulated by gilded Dauphine hour and minute hands, and a second hand that rotates smoothly over an embellished sub-dial. Beating beneath this is a powerful self-winding COSC-certified movement that offers a power reserve of 65 hours (the length of time the watch will continue to tick when off the wrist and not powered by movement). All this power comes in a neat, little package, with the 18ct gold case an ultra-thin 7.1mm De Grisogono Allegra 25.