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    Watches and Wonders 2024: The epicenter of horological artistry and technological advances

    Elizabeth Doerr

    MADAME Arabia’s watch columnist Elizabeth Doerr clocks the most covetable ladies timepieces at this year’s Watches and Wonders

    The 2024 edition of Watches and Wonders, currently the industry’s biggest trade fair, took place with a record number of visitors and thousands of gorgeous new timepieces. Here is a round-up of the watches that caught my eye there that are most definitely worth taking closer look at.

    Following on from its perfect daily wearer for men introduced in 2021, the H08, Hermès now does the same for women with The Cut, a watch derived from the creation of its unusual case shape. In fact, Hermès is masterful when it comes to the vocabulary of shapes, and The Cut can almost be described as an aesthetic rupture with its sculpted, bevelled edges. Introduced in a svelte 36-mm stainless steel or two-tone steel-and-rose-gold case, with or without a gem setting, it is powered by Hermès’ own automatic Calibre H1912. It comes on a metal bracelet with a patented quick-change system, and eight different coloured rubber straps are available for it.

    Twenty-4 by Patek Philippe. Image: Patek Philippe

    Patek Philippe’s first collection dedicated entirely to women introduced in 1999 – Twenty-4 – celebrates 25 years of existence. And it does so with a brand-new rose gold version of the manchette-style watch whose dial is embossed with concentric waves and given many layers of purple and translucent lacquer to create a sublime depth that is enhanced by the addition of 34 diamonds (0.63 ct). It is powered by Patek Philippe’s own quartz movement.

    J12 Couture Workshop Automaton Calibre 6 by Chanel. Image: Supplied

    While Chanel introduces many versions of its evergreen J12 in any given year, this writer was wowed by the sophisticated J12 Couture Workshop Automaton Calibre 6, an enchanting 100-piece limited-edition watch that perfectly sums up designer Arnaud Chastaingt’s 2024 collection capsule ‘Couture O’Clock’, themed around the Parisian workshop of the legendary Gabrielle Chanel.

    Impossibly impressive is the automaton function powered by manually wound Calibre 6 that sees Mademoiselle Coco spring to life for about 10 seconds when a button on the left side of the case is pressed. The dial depicts Mademoiselle in her couture workshop, a decorative world of cutting and sewing in black and white that is articulated on five levels. The scene is framed by 48 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 3.19 ct) set into the black-coated steel bezel of the otherwise ceramic J12.

    Self-Winding Overseas in 35 mm by Vacheron Constantin. Image: Vacheron Constantin

    Vacheron Constantin introduces the perfect symbiosis of sporty daily wearer and that little bit of sparkle that every woman loves in a brand-new green-dial rose-gold Self-Winding Overseas in 35 mm. “We absolutely wanted to have the same depth as our blue dials in the Overseas collection. This is why it’s not a dark or intense green like some, but it’s a tone that we found really creates this impression of depth and sophistication,” explains Christian Selmoni, style and heritage director at the house, about the colour choice. 

    And while we are at “prettified” sporty casual watches originally designed for men, let’s look at the latest white gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in 40 mm with mother-of-pearl dials, diamond markers, and 36 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezels. While these watches are not specifically crafted for women – I would definitely call them unisex models – their shiny dials push them more into the feminine realm. Reference 126589 comes on an Oysterflex rubber strap and offers a white mother-of-pearl dial with black mother-of-pearl chronograph counters, while Reference 126579 comes on a white gold bracelet and features the opposite design: a black mother-of-pearl dial with white mother-of-pearl chronograph counters.

    Reflection de Cartier by Cartier. Image: Cartier

    Heading into the dressier side of watchmaking, Cartier once again introduces a whole new collection with the bold Reflection, continuing the iconic brand’s work with shapes. This watch is imbued with savoir-faire from both the watchmaking and jewellery sides of Cartier, starting with an unprecedented ‘open’ cuff bracelet that reflects not only polished gold, but also the petite dial at the end of the elongated lines, making it visible from almost every angle. It was introduced in a variety of versions in rose, yellow, and white gold, including plenty of gems. 

    “Reflection is a veritable sculpture on the wrist,” says Marie-Laure Cérède, watchmaking and creative director at Cartier, of the timepiece that is also a jewel. “Disruption is woven throughout; different sections interrupt the visual rhythm and flow, and angles and faces break up its roundness.”

    Chopard gives us the perfect watch for a night out in the latest version of L’Heure du Diamant, this time in a 32 x 32 mm, avant-garde, octagonal-shaped case on a gold bracelet inspired by Chopard’s rich past. The white or rose gold used is, of course, Chopard’s ethical gold, while the choice of rich mother-of-pearl or malachite dial is resolutely vintage in style and framed by a halo of pure, luminous diamonds totalling 4.35 ct. But the kicker is the sweet automatic Chopard Manufacture movement, proving that even the most luxurious hearts can be mechanical.

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