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Why these watch designs are the icons of tomorrow

From classic timepieces to re-imagined heirlooms

They may be fresh out of the box, but these new luxury watches have already earned their place in fashion history; behold the iconic designs of tomorrow’s world.

The current return to more classic style sees the great watch houses concentrate on pure lines, materials and finish. When shapes and dials are simple, all these aspects come into focus. In particular, the latest women’s watch models illustrate perfectly the idea that classic design does not have to be dull. Some, such as the Rolex Lady Datejust or the Patek Philippe Calatrava, have evolved their distinctness over decades. Others, such as the Chanel Boy.Friend or the Jaeger Lecoultre Rendez Vous, are more recent, attaining classic status by the sheer force of their design. All remain icons despite updates – classics are both current and timeless.

Chanel Boy.Friend Tweed

Chanel Boy.Friend Tweed watch

An instant classic since its launch in 2015. Simple, masculine lines, inspired by watches worn by Coco Chanel’s English lover, Boy Capel, but with many Chanel codes – feminine curves on the pure dial, encased in a signature rectangle with cut-off corners, recalling the No5 perfume-bottle stopper. Three sizes, steel or gold, plain or with diamonds, strap or bracelet – the tweed stamping on the bracelet is a genius touch while the blackened steel version adds an edge. £8,300
159 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, chanel.com

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust 28

Rolex Oyster Perpertual Lady Datejust watch in Oystersteel

A true classic with staying power, the Lady Datejust goes back to 1957, when it was spun off from the original men’s model. It has waxed and waned in size, and the new version is slightly smaller – at 28mm – in line with current trends. Its balance of feminine proportions, gentle palette and dial with masculine-influenced bracelet – smooth, supple and assertive – make it the perfect all-rounder, and it respects women’s demands with the 2236 automatic movement, its Syloxi hairspring specially designed for women’s models. £4,850
29 Old Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, rolex.com

Patek Phillipe Calatrava 4897G-001

Patek Phillipe Calatrava 4897G-001 watch

Launched in 1932, the Calatrava is one of the great planks of Patek Philippe design, the essence of a pure, round, elegantly slim watch. As such it can be endlessly redesigned and subtly embellished and it has proved fertile ground for women’s models. The newest goes effortlessly from day to night in the beauty of its hand-guillochéd dial lacquer in translucent caerulean blue, its delicately painted arrowhead indexes and its slender case concealing a hand-wound mechanical movement. £21,970
16 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, patek.com

Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph 38Omega Speedmaster Co-axial Chronograph 38 watch

The Speedmaster is a great Omega classic that originated in the late 40s and has had many forms, mainly as diving watches and best known as the horological choice of action-hero James Bond. The latest version takes it in a new direction as a chronograph – at 38mm it could be unisex but the details are unequivocally feminine. Soft oval subdials and a vertical oval date window, subtle diamond bezels, classic colours and an elegant bracelet make a gentle yet sporty statement. £6,720
260 Regent Street, Soho, W1, omegawatches.com

Baume & Mercier Promesse

Baume & Mercier Promesse watch in steel, rose gold and mother-of-pearl

Inspired by a model from the 70s heyday of small watches, the Promesse’s distinctive shape, with a gently oval bezel inside a round case, has quickly established it as a well-priced new classic dress watch. The unmistakable design lends itself to many variants – three sizes including the dainty, 22mm Petite Promesse with its bright double strap, quartz or automatic movements, bezels plain or with delicate graduated diamonds, a fine guilloché dial and even a night-dark moonphase version. £2,990
At Watches of Switzerland, 155 Regent Street, Mayfair, W1, watches-of-switzerland.co.uk

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold watch

Created in the 70s by legendary watch designer Gérald Genta, the Royal Oak was the classic that defined smart, sporty 70s’ style, first for men, then later, for women. The new version is available in three sizes and already a classic in its own right – it was voted luxury Watch of the Year at the 2017 Eve’s Watch Awards for women’s timepieces. Designed with jeweller Carolina Bucci, who always wears a vintage Royal Oak, it uses a Florentine gold hammering technique to create a soft, feminine sparkle that is irresistible. £39,100
At Watches of Switzerland, 155 Regent Street, Mayfair, W1, watches-of-switzerland.co.uk

Chopard Happy Sport 36mm

Chopard Happy Sport 36mm ladies watch

This is the ultimate classic with a twist, first introduced 20 years ago as a novelty – a functioning diving watch with free-floating diamonds. Its many iterations since have included bright colour and floating fish, but this sophisticated version, with an automatic movement, introduced to celebrate the anniversary, has longevity and class. In steel with a feminine bracelet, it has a finely guillochéd dial centre that offsets the “dancing diamonds” around it. Still a highly original design. £7,270
12-13 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, chopard.com

Cartier Panthère de Cartier

Cartier Panthère de Cartier watch in yellow gold

The re-introduction of a 70s success has created a new classic for Cartier. Derived from the men’s Santos with its riveted bezel and softly squared shape, it was a highlight of an era when the small gold watch for women reigned supreme. Now it’s back and the updated version with its ultra-flexible bracelet and signature Roman numerals is already a hit. In two sizes, with or without diamonds, in steel or gold or bi-colour, with jewellery variants to come. £17,100
175-177 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, cartier.co.uk

Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day

ez-Vous Night & Day watch

Best known for the unique design of the Art Deco Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre have a distinctive classic for women in the Rendez-Vous with its subtle and beautiful details. Inspired by a 30s piece in the brand’s museum, it has clear Art Deco figures, a guillochéd dial, a charming sun and moon indicator and a feminine bracelet of delicate links. Many iterations exist – with strap, in steel, without diamonds, plus complications and jewellery models, all automatics. £29,700
13 Old Bond Street, Mayfair, W1, jaeger-lecoultre.com

Bell & Ross BR S Diamond Eagle

Bell & Ross BR S Diamond Eagle watch blue

In 10 years Bell & Ross’s bold, square case/round dial, aviation-inspired “instrument” has become an icon of stylish sports watches, mainly for men. The introduction of a smaller, 39mm model has allowed women’s styles to take wing, giving sleeker, dressier alternatives to the more rugged sports styles. Most poetic is this diamond outline of the Eagle constellation on a midnight blue sky. Also with diamond bezel. £2,100
48-49 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, W1, bellross.com

This article was originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of The Glossary.

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