— Long neglected in favour of bigger diameters, small jewellery watches are making a comeback at Hermès, Chaumet, Dior and Van Cleef & Arpels. Elegant yet discreet, they cut straight to the chase!
Let’s forget about the past! With the range of ladies’ watches available constantly on the increase, the time when women had to make do with a choice of gents’ watch copies seems to be over. Just like their male counterparts, ladies who appreciate fine watchmaking now demand a choice. This is why, faced with the giant watches that were in fashion over the past few years, there has been a marked return of mini-watches.
Symptomatic of this fact is the Mini D by Dior, which to a certain extent tells the story of this change in attitude. A reduced version of the D by Dior launched in 2003 with a design highly inspired by the 1970s and aimed, in the words of the brand, at “a lady who wears a man’s watch as a constant reminder of him”, the Mini D is unequivocally feminine. Its 19mm steel case set with diamonds is the clearest indication of its feminine style. As is its black mother-of-pearl dial and its strap in a yellow, white or rose gold coloured “mirror” goatskin designed by Victoire de Castellane for the latest models in the collection.
“The Faubourg watch has a minuscule diameter of 15.5mm”
Hermès has always paid particular attention to women, even though the brand has been busy targeting the male customer over the past five years. At Baselworld, the Paris fashion house clearly addressed women, in particular with the Faubourg watches with the minuscule diameter of 15.5mm. Its light silhouette is fashioned in yellow, white or rose gold in both discreet and more precious versions set with diamonds. “We do not follow trends,” explains Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermès, “we are more concerned with developing a range of beautiful objects in line with the brand’s DNA. There is undoubtedly a return to a certain classicism, but it’s not so pronounced. And the Faubourg watch, which is a small, fine and delicate dress watch, runs a little counter to the market.”
Without going to extremes, the market nevertheless seems quite favourable to the return of these small diameters. All the more so given that, in spite of a growing interest among women in mechanical watches, the jewellery watch has never lost its appeal. Think of the Josephine watch by Chaumet, for example, which pays tribute to the empress of the same name. Both feminine and audacious, this shaped watch embodies a delicate heritage by incorporating an aesthetic that alludes to the lace found on the collars of dresses in the era of the first French Empire. The Charms gold Mini by Van Cleef & Arpels also comes to mind, with its gold case with a diameter of 25mm and the mischievous look of its lucky charms, which recall the pendants of the 1920s and follow the movements of the wrist by turning around the case.
Because the size of their case means that they need minuscule movements, these small watches that are big on style are fitted with quartz movements, which may not please the die-hard fans of mechanical watches. But for everyone else, the small watch is now becoming one of the essentials. Less is more…