In past years, men's timepieces have dominated the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve. But times have changed. The organisers recently announced the timepieces that have made it through to the final round this year and, with more categories than ever devoted to ladies' timepieces, the calibre of watches for women is particularly strong.
The winners will be announced at the 13th prize-giving ceremony of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, which takes place on 15 November 2013 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. But in the meantime, enjoy our edit of feminine finalists in the watch industry's equivalent of the Oscars, which span four of the 10 main categories.
The Pendentif Boule pendant watch by Hermès deserves a special mention because it is the only timepiece shortlisted in the ladies' watch category not designed to be worn on the wrist. Inspired by a buttonhole watch unearthed in the maison's archives, the Pendentif Boule rotates, revealing a reverse clad in alligator leather from Hermes' famous workshops.
Among the all-female categories is artistic crafts, which honours artisanal skills such as guilloché, miniature painting and enamelling - rare skills that have been used in watchmaking for hundreds of years or, in the case of Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé Camélia Brodé watch, pioneering new methods of artistic expression. Featuring a floral motif, hand-embroidered using coloured silk thread, the watch was created in collaboration with the esteemed embroidery atelier La Maison Lesage.
Chaumet's Hortensia Tourbillon watch is another exceptional example of what is referred to as "Metiers d'Art" in the world of watchmaking. Sitting below a bed of hydrangeas, each flower on the dial is hand-sculpted in 3D using a combination of engraving and Grand Feu enamelling. Continuing the floral theme, the backside plate and upper disc on the tourbillon movement have been drawn in the shape of a hydrangea.
The finalists in the category for ladies' complications include several wonderfully feminine tourbillons and two creative complications that incorporate the passage of time in a bigger picture. Louis Vuitton is relatively new to the world of haute horlogerie, so to have the elegant Tambour Monogram Tourbillon shortlisted is a real honour. Louis Vuitton's first tourbillon movement for women, developed in its haute horlogerie ateliers in Geneva, the tourbillon bridge is crafted in the shape of the Monogram flower, an iconic motif of the maison.
Chaumet's Attrape-moi... si tu m'aimes high jewellery watch plays with the idea of a spider weaving a web in which to catch a bee. Powered by a brand-new movement, the CP12V-XII automatic winding calibre allows the bee to zigzag around the dial, chased by the spider and telling the time as it does so. The bee indicates the minutes and the spider the hours. In a similarly poetic style, Van Cleef & Arpels' Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée timepiece features a double retrograde movement and depicts a girl - half dancer, half butterfly - whose tutu flutters upwards at the press of a button, revealing the time in a quite unique way.
There has been a proliferation of watches launched this year that celebrate the art of jewellery watchmaking. Bulgari's Berries Jumping Hours and Retrograde Minutes marries high jewellery with fine watchmaking, while DeLaneau's Haute Couture Grace Ruby watch sets a sparkling diamond face among a bracelet of 214 cabochon-cut rubies - the very definition of a jewellery watch. For sheer, unadulterated prettiness, however, there is Boucheron's Ajourée Héra. Featuring a peacock whose sapphire-, chalcedony- and diamond-set tail fans around the case, glimpses of skin are revealed through the openwork design.
To view all the finalists in the 2013 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve, click here.