Our Favorite Watch And Formalwear Pairings For Women
By popular demand, we’re delving back into the always entertaining intersection shared between fire fits and even spicier mechanical watches — focusing this time around on women’s formalwear
In honor of International Women’s Day and (full disclosure) our evergreen commitment to championing horological culture in the public atrium that is pop culture, this month’s edition of In Good Company is dedicated to ladies formalwear — and a selection of timepieces most befitting such elegant, situational clothing.
Being not all that well-versed on the subject matter myself, I’ve opted to enlist the aid of Ms. Vanessa Sin — a Hong Kong-born marketing consultant and erstwhile fashion commentator, who is based out of London.
With the breakdown of traditional dress codes across fashion becoming more acute by the day — a phenomenon one feels all the more in the stuffy world of formalwear — our major query for Sin was what the ‘new black tie’ for women looks like in 2023.
Acknowledging for a moment how personal taste is a crucial factor, it was great to see what an eclectic selection of gowns, tailoring and alt formalwear Sin had assembled: so of course, we had to pick five equally interesting watches to match.
A vintage design that harkens back to the era of intricate jewelry and shape watches, this time-only Audemars Piguet model is an elegant stopgap between traditional feminine wristwear and the ubiquitous steel sports watches of the 2020s.
In addition to its gently luminescent opal dial (decorated with diamond-set indexes) the watch is defined by a seamless integration between its oval-shaped case — eminently wearable at 35mm — and bracelet. The latter sports an ornate ‘beads of rice’ style design — typical of the aesthetically charged dress watches that Audemars Piguet was creating during the 1970s. Already a great option for enthusiasts intrigued by a slightly left-of-field daily wearer, Sin suggests elevating this vintage AP further with a ‘Solaris’ stretch-tulle top from London-based label 16Arlington. “I think the garment’s sequinned fabric picks up on the gem-setting in the dial really well — both of which project a brilliant shimmer under direct light. Along with the keyhole neckline, this mash-up will ensure you make a bedazzling entrance at any festivities you attend.”
The Runway Editor
Part of a historic and deeply collectible family of watches that indie doyenne F.P. Journe produced between 1999-2003, this Tourbillon Souverain is inspired by the first wristwatch the eponymous French watchmaker created in the early 1990s.
Appointed in a rock-solid 38mm platinum case — a size that works surprisingly well on smaller, more delicate wrists — the centerpiece of the Tourbillon Souverain is naturally the eponymous kinetic complication: situated on an intricately finished dial made using white gold, along with an aperture for Journe’s signature remontoir (a kind of constant force mechanism in traditional clockmaking).
By Journe’s own standards, most of the visual interest at the heart of this manually wound movement (calibre 1498) recurs in profile, with the reverse side home to a handful of black-polished jewels and the remontoir’s spring-like blade mechanism. A classic complication crafted by one of the renowned watchmaking artisans of our time, Sin wagers it’s best to wear this Tourbillon Souverain with straightforward staples — pieces like the ‘Everyday’ double-breasted blazer from Blazé Milano. “Much like what a tourbillon contributes to a watch’s dial, this blazer’s signature ‘Smiley’ pockets inject a hint of whimsy,” offers Sin, “while the classic tailoring construction helps to project the image of a strong, independent, critically-minded luxury consumer. So, very much in keeping with the archetypal Journe collector”.
The Femme Fatale
Part of the heritage-inspired Hommage collection (introduced following Roger Dubuis’s acquisition by the Richemont Group) this 42mm dress watch is a robust unisex option, with some serious fine watchmaking credentials under its sapphire crystal.
This particular Hommage, cased in 18K rose gold, is powered by the calibre RD620: a self-winding movement driven by a unidirectional micro-rotor that has been decorated in compliance with the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève — the same independent aesthetic certification favored by ‘Holy Trinity’ brands the likes of Vacheron Constantin. No mean feat at US$10,000. For such a classic time-only execution, Sin recommends the staple maxi dress — here reimagined by Alaïa designer Pieter Mulier. The garment’s open-knit panels evoke the hand-finished radial guilloché present on the Hommage dial. “The two accentuate each other, while still leaving plenty of room for the watch to ‘pop’ as a focal point of attention,” Sin observes. “Together, they make for a look that screams drama, success and a lot of sex appeal.”
A timely reminder that the Patek Maison is no one-watch pony, the Ref. 5159R offers a glimpse into the refined, patrician tendencies of the world’s most infamous luxury watch brand — and how these extend far beyond the typical ambit of steel, three-hand sports watches.
Ostensibly a perpetual calendar with moonphase and retrograde date hand (what a perfectly ordinary English sentence!) our bigger fascination with the 5159R arises from its numerous aesthetic quirks - largely inspired by heritage watchmaking.
The piece features an oversized ‘onion’ crown; lugs which have been soldered onto the flank of the 38mm rose gold case; and a hinged caseback cover that is rooted in the tradition of officer-style watches during WWI.
Unsurprisingly, these little details all feed into an expression of high watchmaking that feels noticeably ‘fancy’ on the wrist — a sensation that Sin suggests you lean into when you’re contemplating what to wear. “Such a grandiose complication requires an equally glamorous counterpart,” she reasons, “which is why I’ve paired the 5159R with a single-shoulder ruche gown from Alexandre Vauthier.” Cut from stretch jersey that has been dipped in a sea of copper-toned crystals, this certainly isn’t an option for the faint of heart: but then again, neither is wearing a $50,000 Patek.
Few designs epitomize the art of restraint in fine watchmaking quite so flawlessly as the Saxonia Thin. Among the slimmest timepieces that Teutonic heavyweight A. Lange currently makes, this 5.9mm-thick two-hander pares every detail right back to its most essential — even foregoing any obvious numerals in favor of an aesthetic language that holds the wearer’s attention, rather than shouting at them.
“To showcase such an elemental representation of the summit of mechanical watchmaking, I’ve picked a classic strapless floral-print jumpsuit design,” says Sin. “Oscar de la Renta’s version will transport you to an idyllic country garden; and I think there’s something to be said about how the design achieves this with relatively simple techniques such as embroidery and the use of a texturally interesting faille fabric.”