Top ad area, 970 x 250 (could be anything though)

Women watching women

Milena Lazazzera
April 25, 2024
4.5 min

Gone are the days when watch ambassadors were simply tasked with wearing a timepiece and making it visible at any photo opportunity: nowadays, their job description also includes helping brands dream up new horological fantasies. Such is the case with Paris-based couturier Yiqing Yin, an ambassador for Vacheron Constantin since 2020, who has united forces with perfumer Dominique Ropion to create a unique timepiece for the Maison that has debuted this month at Watches and Wonders.

“At Vacheron Constantin, we refer to ambassadors as talents, as they become our partners in establishing a dialogue of mutual enrichment and pushing the boundaries of creativity,” says Sandrine Donguy, the brand’s Product and Innovation Director. “Égérie – Pleats Of Time is the first time that a watch unites haute horlogerie, haute couture, and haute parfumerie,” Donguy says about the unique new timepiece. Haute couture is evoked in the new watch’s pleated pattern on the dial, and the strap woven with mother-of-pearl shards; meanwhile a scent has been conceived by Master perfumer Dominique Ropion that is randomly released via the wearer’s movements. With its mastery of technical excellence, Vacheron Constantin blends these crafts with remarkable ease.

Vacheron Constantin Égérie – The Pleats of Time concept watch © Vacheron Constantin


But the Swiss Maison is not the only brand that has collaborated with fashion designers lately. Just before New York Fashion Week officially kicked off, Victoria Beckham gathered A-list guests such as model HelenaChristensen and actor Katie Holmes at the trendy Indochine restaurant in Manhattan to celebrate her new series of watches for Breitling. And during couture week, models walking down the catwalk at Tamara Ralph sported the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept, which the Australian designer created for the brand.


Victoria Beckham, 2024. © Breitling

“The importance of women in the watch industry keeps increasing,” says Breitling’s CEO, Georges Kern, of this trend of watchmakers teaming up with female fashion designers. “We liaised with VictoriaBeckham because her brand’s style is a perfect match for the women we aim to attract, and because it complements our positioning as a laid-back alternative to traditional watch brands. Thanks to Victoria’s clout in the fashion world, we can reach a larger female audience.”


Breitling’s collaboration with Beckham has given birth to the Chronomat Automatic 36 Victoria Beckham collection, limited to 1,500 pieces, and comprising six variations of 36-millimetre dials with colour: as inspired by Victoria Beckham’s spring/summer 2024 palette and available in yellow gold and steel. The designer declares she had fun with the project. “I wanted to have something that had the same look and feel as men’s watches, but was a little smaller, while still retaining the masculine edge. It was also important for me that there be subtle nods to my brand, (and that it be) elegant and effortless for every day,” says Beckham, who disapproves of gender categorisations in the watch industry.

Breitling Chronomat Automatic 36 Victoria Beckham watch © Breitling


For Sarah Willersdorf, Boston Consulting Group’s Global Head of Luxury, such efforts are welcome initiatives to address women that leave behind the stereotypes of the past. “Unfortunately, I still need to remind many people about the significant and unexploited growth opportunity for females in the watch category. Female watches represent a significant portion (30 to 40 per cent) of the overall luxury watch market.” As she continues, “women are more interested in previously male-only, high-complexity mechanical luxury watches (than ever). Many manufacturers are increasingly addressing the female segment in a more sophisticated way: some have even stopped gender segmentation to allow for a more versatile customer base, while others have launched female-focused lines.”

Industry insiders point out that women are becoming a force to reckon with, not only as customers but also as decision-makers within the brands – not forgetting, of course, the influence they may have over the purchasing decisions of their male partners.


Olivia Crouan, Chief Brand Officer at Audemars Piguet, emphasises how collaborations have been at the heart of the company’s strategy since its inception, allowing it to “push boundaries and explore new creative ideas.” Marvel Entertainment, jewellery designer Carolina Bucci, and, most recently, Travis Scott are just some the talents Audemars Piguet has worked with ever since it first pioneered the idea of collaborative timepieces in the early 2000s with musician Jay-Z. 

Alex Rivière wearing the AP Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon Tamara Ralph Limited Edition created in collaboration with designer Tamara Ralph © Audemars Piguet


Distilling her style into the compact and constrained form of the watch initially overwhelmed Tamara Ralph, the fashion designer and devoted Audemars Piguet customer who often accessorised her catwalk looks with the brand’s timepieces before they invited her to collaborate this year.Yet the Australian designer has overcome the challenge, sticking to a single colour palette and juxtaposing materials and patterns. The result is a dazzling watch with a vortex motif in tone-on-tone caramel hues, frosted and gold, with a sprinkle of diamonds at the centre. Ralph observes the rising importance of watches in a woman’s wardrobe. “A watch makes you feel very much dressed up without having to wear a lot of jewellery,” she says.


Branching out into watchmaking has advantages for fashion designers, too, according to Willersdorf. “For fashion designers, there are many advantages in collaborating with watch brands. The watch category is highly technical, and to truly target the luxury end, they benefit from the experience and brand trust associated with well-known manufacturers. And while it can contribute financially, these collaborations can also (hugely)elevate a fashion brand – when executed correctly.” There is no doubt that the current spirit of communion between watchmakers and women designers feels like a winning one; the real test will be to see what watches the women around you are wearing in the season to come…