Minutes in miniature: the return of dainty dials

Small ladies’ watches are back in a big way, with diminutive delights from Bulgari, Harry Winston and Breguet.

Bulgari PICCOLA LVCEA watch

The teeny tiny watches of yesteryear are making a comeback. It’s time for the hulking timepieces that invaded ladies’ wrists to step aside and welcome the return of mini-sized cuties conceived exclusively for women. To get a feel for just how diminutive these ladies’ watches are, the smallest of these, the Harry Winston Emerald, has a diameter similar to that of a British five pence piece or an American 10 cents coin.

Piccola Lvcea watch in rose gold
The articulated gold bracelet of Bulgari’s PICCOLA LVCEA is similar to those in the Serpenti watch family (£23,200). 

Carla Bruni is the face behind many of Bulgari’s advertising campaigns, including the launch of the LVCEA ladies’ watches in 2014. Intimately associated with Rome, the LVCEA is Bulgari’s tribute to the sundials of antiquity, and its name is a derivation of the Italian word luce, meaning light. A star product in the line-up of Bulgari watches, its articulated rose gold bracelet is reminiscent of the sensual Serpenti family, with the LVCEA also appearing in a delightful mini format with a case measuring just 23mm in diameter. This particular PICCOLA LVCEA jewellery model in rose gold gleams with diamonds on the dial, bezel and links of the bracelet, and features the iconic pink gemstone cabochon crown with a diamond in its heart, which is so much a part of LVCEA’s identity. The face of this watch glows with a beautiful light thanks to the white, opalescent, mother-of-pearl dial.

Emerald watch in white gold
Harry Winston’s Emerald watch celebrates the Hope Diamond and the emerald cut that made him famous (CHF 10,000).

Straight from the heart of America’s “king of diamonds”, the Harry Winston Emerald watch collection was unveiled at Baselworld 2016. This intense blue women’s watch pays homage to Mr Winston’s legendary Hope Diamond - which he donated to the Smithsonian in 1958 - and to the emerald-cut that became a hallmark of the grand New York jeweller. Measuring just 17.75 x 24mm, the emerald-cut white gold case packs a punch with its brilliant blue lacquered dial, which contrasts with the cool white diamonds. Presented on a fashionable double-tour satin strap, these Harry Winston watches capture the spirit of the jeweller to a tee.

Reine de Naples Princesse Mini 9818 watch
Breguet’s Reine de Naples Princesse Mini 9818 features 64 diamonds and a lavender mother-of-pearl dial (£36,600). 

Breguet’s Reine de Naples collection is inspired by an early bracelet watch created by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1810 for Bonaparte’s sister, Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples. Using historical descriptions of the original, the brand launched these oval-shaped Breguet watches back in 2002 and have declined the watch over the years, always staying faithful to its original shape. For 2016, the Reine de Naples Princesse Mini 9818 comes in a white gold case measuring a dainty 32.7 x 27.3mm, with an eye-catching lavender-coloured mother-of-pearl dial. Set into the billowing cloudy mauve landscape, the dominant Roman numeral XII has been inserted in white mother-of-pearl marquetry. The bezel and lugs are set with 64 brilliant-cut diamonds and a plump briolette diamond is set in the crown. Of the three mini ladies’ watches we have reviewed in this article, Breguet’s Reine de Naples is the only one with a mechanical automatic movement and is presented on a matching lavender leather strap.

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