Women Turn to Mechanical Watches
By Roberta Naas
The hottest news in haute horology is that women want mechanics, too. Today, top watch brands recognize that Miami’s women desire more than just a watch with a pretty face on their wrists. So, the category of complicated mechanical watches is no longer a boys-only club.
“As savvy, empowered consumers, the women in Miami are demanding the same level of craftsmanship, innovation, and design in fine timepieces as their male counterparts,” says Rachel Branch, vice president of sales and marketing for Hublot of America. “They value not only the functional aspects but the skill and time that goes into each piece, like our Big Bang in red gold and diamonds.”
Not reliant on battery power, mechanical watches come in two categories, hand-wound and automatic. With a wind watch, turning the crown transmits energy to the main spring, where it is stored. As the wound spring uncoils, it releases the energy necessary to activate movement in the gear train, and the watch begins to tick. An automatic watch winds itself via a rotor or oscillating weight that spins when the wearer moves his or her wrist.
Women appreciate the power of mechanics and the sophistication of gears, wheels, and trains inside a watch, and they tend to gravitate toward quality timepieces that go the distance—whether in a business setting or while enjoying a night out on the town. Typically these mechanical calibers are hand assembled. Many comprise hundreds of tiny parts to form a whole cohesive mechanical marvel that keeps time in perfect harmony. Generally the final movements, sometimes visible via a transparent sapphire caseback, are elegantly finished with engraving and detailing that make the watch an
aesthetic work of art as well as a mechanical one. It can take weeks—even months—for the most complicated of movements to be assembled before being fitted into a watchcase of distinction.
“We have been improving the ladies’ line,” says Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, which has created women’s mechanical watches for years. “Even though we have a lot to offer women, our female clients have been requesting something more complicated. Now we can deliver that.” In fact, Sandrine Stern (Thierry’s wife) is head of the design division and is bringing a woman’s eye and touch to the newest ladies complex mechanical watches.
Among the most coveted complications on the market for women’s mechanics are tourbillons (watches with an escapement that compensates for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity when the watch is in certain positions), multi-time zones, calendars, and chronograph function. But these details can be painstaking in the making. Oftentimes there are waiting lists for such delicate pieces. That’s okay, however, because women know that good things are well worth the wait.
Photography By Jeff Gale; STYLING BY TERRY LEWIS