Although it may seem counterintuitive, creating watches for women is a challenge — more so than creating watches for men, in some regards, because most women will not be impressed by technical feats of horology. It takes a far more sophisticated hand to design a watch whose aesthetics will appeal to women.
But judging by the many, many women’s watches on the market that are just smaller iterations of men’s watches with a quartz movement and some diamonds tacked on, most watch brands are not rising to the challenge. Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin is one of the rare few that has — its new Égérie collection for women represents what is possible when feminine watchmaking is taken seriously.
The Égérie collection, whose name means ‘muse’ in French, distills the maison’s values of technical precision and impeccable craftsmanship into beautiful pieces of horology — emphasis on the beautiful. The collection comprises four models: self-winding, moon phase, moon phase diamond-pavé, and moon phase jewellery.
Even at first glance, the Égérie is visually compelling, using the motif of concentric circles to tell its design story.
The main part of the dials on the self-winding and moon phase models is composed of concentric rings with differing textural finishes — all done by hand, of course. The innermost ring features radiating lines that resemble the delicate silk pleats on a couture skirt, with the edge of each pleat embossed with a round dot, giving the impression of scalloped lace. The pleated pattern continues into the outermost ring for a cohesive look. According to Vacheron Constantin, this pattern was developed over the course of several months by a master guillochage artist, who adjusted a vintage 1904 pantograph-type machine to produce the delicate pleats specifically for the Égérie.
The middle part of the dial houses the elegant calligraphic numerals, which are a slimmer and more modern take on the traditional Breguet numerals. On the Égérie self-winding, the numerals are also reflected on the off-centre subdial, situated between one and two o’clock. While the subdial itself does not move, it does house an elegant recessed aperture that reveals the date wheel.
In the moon phase models, this off-centre subdial is taken over by a moon phase complication. On the moon phase model, the complication comes with iridescent mother-of-pearl clouds and a bright gold moon, while the diamond-pavé and jewellery models come with translucent crystal clouds and a mother-of-pearl moon. In all models, the subdial is surrounded by a ring of brilliant-cut diamonds, which itself echoes the diamonds set on the bezel of the watch.
The asymmetry of the dial is further emphasised by the crown, which is placed just beside the subdial, between one and two o’clock. Depending on the model, the crown is topped with either a cabochon-cut moonstone or a rose-cut diamond.
Speaking of diamonds — Vacheron Constantin has also catered for those who like their watches ice cold. The Égérie moon phase diamond-pavé and the moon phase jewellery models both have a dial and case that are fully set with diamonds. The difference is that the diamond-pavé model is equipped with two straps — one each in satin and leather — while the jewellery version is fully blinged-out with a diamond-studded bracelet.
As an additional nod to feminine fashions, all models with straps come with quick-change mechanisms that allow the wearer to easily change between different straps.
Given that the Égérie came from the ateliers of Vacheron Constantin, the movements housed inside the watches are also exceptionally well-crafted. All models house the self-winding 1088 movement, which has 40 hours of power reserve, and delicate côtes de Genève finishing on the oscillating weight. All moon phase models have an additional module to run the complication.
When combined, all of these design choices come together cohesively to form a watch that is feminine, elegant, and resolutely modern. From a design perspective, it is clear that a lot of careful thought went into the design of the Égérie specifically as a feminine timepiece, not just as a watch that has a few diamond-dusted models for women.
And really, given that we live in a time when gender equality has become a big issue, it is about time that our watches get the same amount of thought going into them as the men’s watches do.
For more information on Vacheron Constantin’s Égérie collection, visit their site here.