Think searching for a great women’s watch means choosing from an array of sparkly quartz timepieces? Think again. While there are still certainly plenty of those around should you desire (including some covetable enough to make this list), the world’s finest watchmakers are finally cottoning on to women’s desire for their own slice of the mechanical action – and supplying accordingly.
Admittedly, even at this year’s Watches & Wonders – think fashion week for the watch industry – new men’s releases still vastly outnumbered those for women. Encouragingly, however, unisex lines with complicated movements sized for smaller wrists were on the rise, while there were also some stellar timepieces designed solely with female investors in mind. Read on for our guide to the best new watches for women in 2022…
Chanel Première Original Edition
The Chanel Première watch has been part of the house’s timepiece line-up since 1987, when it was introduced by artistic director Jacques Helleu. At the time Helleu had been working at Chanel for 30 years, having joined aged 18, and so emblematic was the watch of Madame Chanel’s style that it could only have been the product of a man who had immersed himself in the label’s codes and signatures for three decades.
Accordingly, the new Première Original Edition, released to mark the design’s 35th anniversary, is quintessentially Chanel. The case, for example, is taken directly from the shape of the No5 perfume bottle stopper while the bracelet recalls the chain straps of the house’s famed quilted bags. Of course, there was only one colour palette that would do for such a timepiece: black and gold.
La D De Dior Black Ultramatte
Black is the new black – well at least if you ask artistic director of Dior Joaillerie Victoire de Castellane anyway. Inspired by the house’s eponymous founder, who famously once pronounced he could “write a whole book on black”, the latest addition to the La D de Dior timepiece collection is the epitome of all black everything. Available in two editions – one with an engraved ceramic-coated case and the other set with black diamonds – each 34mm watch features a highly minimalist ultramatte dial subtly set with three black diamond indicators.
Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur
Forget travel's Golden Age, Hermès is ushering in a new platinum era with its Arceau Le Temps Voyageur watch. The ultimate world timer, the star here is a satellite map originally created by Jérôme Colliard for the planisphere d’un monde équestre silk scarf, which in this iteration moves and transforms to reflect your geographical location.
Available in deep blue, intense black or white mother-of-pearl, each watch features the continents and meridians which are variously lacquer, openworked, sandblasted, sunburst or transferred, while the in-house H1837 self-winding movement powers a unique travelling time mechanism which displays 24 timezones via a circular disc. The icing on the cake? A bezel set with glittering white diamonds.
Bulgari Divas' Dream High Jewellery
Okay, we know we said we were all about the mechanical movements for women – but even we're not immune to the allure of a dazzling high jewellery watch. Inspired by the flamboyant spirit of la dolce vita, these two new additions to the Bulgari Divas' Dream collection are about as show-stopping as watches come. Think mother-of-pearl dials, brilliant-cut diamonds and 18 karat rose gold cases embellished with slices of tourmaline, malachite, opal and citrine.
Patek Philippe Moon Phase 7121/200G
You don't mess with a classic and no one knows this better than Patek Philippe. The moon phase complication has enjoyed pride of place on its reference 7121 timepieces since 2013 with the brand simply updating it each year with new materials and colourways - and watch lovers still can't get enough of them. 2022's iteration comes in a gorgeous hue inspired by the night sky and features a sunburst dial enhanced by a diamond set bezel. Of course, there's more going on here than just good looks. Hidden beneath the white gold case is a calibre 215 PS LU movement - the smallest in the watchmaker's stable allowing the watch to retain its dainty 33mm profile.
Dior Grand Soir Libellule
One area women’s watch collections tend to have the edge over men’s is in one-of-a-kind pieces – and Dior’s Grand Soir Libellule may just be one of this year’s prettiest. Inspired by the dragonflies that populated Christian Dior’s garden – and which he immortalised in his 1951 Théâtre de Verdure haute couture gown – above a 36mm white gold dial snow-set with round-cut diamonds floats a gorgeous yellow gold dragonfly decorated with emeralds, sapphires, amethyst, mother-of-pearl and feathers. The off-centre hands can be found at 12 o’clock but, when it comes to a watch like this, telling the time is really beside the point.
First introduced in 2000, Chanel's signature women's watch, the J12, may just be one of the most successful women's watches in production today. Combining the fashion house's signature monochrome aesthetic with a sleek silhouette and hugely ergonomic design perfectly sized for smaller wrists, it was an innovator in proving the market for technically accomplished timepieces for women. 2022 marks a new milestone for the J12 with the introduction of the J12.2 – the first in the line to feature a self-winding movement. Designed by Arnaud Chastangt, director of Chanel's Watchmaking Creation Studio, the initial references feature the classic J12 shape in black-on-black and all-over white ceramic in a 33mm design.
Hermès Arceau Les Folies du Ciel
Taking Henri d’Origny’s elegantly minimalist 1978 Arceau timepiece as its base, for 2022 Hermès celebrates the evolution of flight with its 24-piece limited edition Les Folies du Ciel watch. Deploying painting, engraving and animation techniques, and powered by an in-house H1837 self-winding mechanical movement, its whimsical bird and balloon motif is inspired by Loïc Dubigeon’s 1984 silk scarf illustration (which remains part of Hermès' core collection to this day) from which the watch takes its name.
Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Purple Sapphire
Like your watches big and bold? Chances are there are already a few Hublots in your collection then – and 2022’s new release is surely worthy of a place in your watch winder. Continuing its dominance in the field of material innovation, the latest iteration of the house’s flagship Big Bang timepiece is created from the world’s first synthetic sapphire and rendered in an exclusive translucent purple exclusive to Hublot. All that before you even get to the skeletonised dial and a calibre HUB6035 movement that boasts a self-winding tourbillon and three-day power reserve? We’re sold.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Dazzling Star
Combining artistic craftsmanship with technical expertise, Jaeger-LeCoultre looks to the cosmos for its exquisite new Rendez-Vous timepiece. Taking its cues from the majesty and mystery of shooting stars, the Dazzling Star’s Aventurine dial glitters like the night sky and is crafted in layers, allowing its golden shooting star to flash across the wrist at random moments. Dictated by the movement of the wrist, the complication that allows for such spontaneity comes courtesy of a new automatic Caliber 734 movement. Featuring a pink gold, diamond-set bezel and choice of blue leather strap or fully-set pink gold bracelet, this one is a real show-stopper.
Piaget Limelight Gala Precious
A true indicator of the leaps and bounds being made in women’s watchmaking? This high jewellery timepiece set with 174 diamonds and 22 tsavorites, representing 22 hours of gem-setting expertise, is backed up by a mechanical automatic Piaget 501P1 movement. There’s even a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback to prove it. That is, of course, if you can take your eyes off those mesmerising custo-cut gemstones.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar
Vacheron Constantin has flexed some serious watchmaking muscle with the latest addition to its Traditionelle line. This ultra-thin timepiece stands at just 4.05mm high but its diminutive case houses a powerful Calibre 1120 QP movement boasting both perpetual calendar and moonphase complications. Which isn’t to say Vacheron has forgotten about aesthetics. Choose between blue and white mother-of-pearl, surrounded by round-cut diamonds, and finished with a matching alligator strap.
Zenith Chronomaster Open
We know, the latest from Zenith doesn’t immediately look like a woman’s watch. And that’s for good reason: technically, it isn’t. At Watches & Wonders 2022, the Swiss watchmaker debuted two new additions to its Chronomaster collection and went to great pains to make clear that these 39.5 mm watches were designed with every wrist in mind. A revamp of the original Chronomaster Open that was introduced in 2003, this rendition incorporates the technical innovations seen in 2021’s El Primero update, including improved efficiency and a chronograph function that can measure up to a tenth of a second. The tri-colour dial design, thankfully, remains – we’ll take ours with a gold case and white dial.
Chopard Happy Sport Métiers d'Art
Acting as a showcase for a watch house’s most rarified artistic techniques, Métiers d'Art timepieces are usually among the most sophisticated (and expensive) in a collection – which means any new debut is always noteworthy. Impressive, then, that Chopard is adding not one, but three, new Métiers d'Art watches to its Happy Sport line this year. Each is limited to just eight pieces and powered by an in-house Calibre 96.23-L movement, with a colourful design celebrating nature and the animal kingdom. Across the collection, a hummingbird, polar bear and sea turtle are picked out in mother-of-pearl and opal marquetry, precious and semi-precious stones, aventurine, malachite and ethical 18 carat gold.