Recently – as I do fairly frequently and I’m sure to the annoyance of some many – I changed my profile picture on Facebook. The latest image is from a photo shoot I had taken part in back in 2011 when I was named one of Atlanta’s “50 Most Beautiful People” by Jezebel magazine. I was thirty-eight at the time, had just had my second child the year prior, had gotten my 5’ 9.5” self back in shape, and was probably feeling just a little arrogant. (Look, when you grow in and then push out two nine-pound babies from your body over a four-year span and can fit afterward into a dress you had since you were twenty-five, I think that earns you a pass on the cockiness scale, at least temporarily.) That attitude came across in the pictures, too, and to the delight of my tremendously talented photographer, Austin Holt, it gave him some hefty material to work with.
The shot I speak of was taken in Midtown Atlanta. In it, I’m walking toward the camera as the wind is blowing in my direction (think every video you’ve ever seen Beyoncé in) as Austin catches me mid-stride. My right eyebrow is cocked, my arms, intentionally swinging, my long, chestnut locks shining in the camera’s flash, and the smirk on my face is more evil than good. One might even say that I look sinister. I like sinister. Sinister vibes/attitudes/people make life interesting, because everything shouldn’t be all good, all the time. If this world were nothing but positive we would lose our appreciation for it. Without a little bad, there can be no good.
Once the profile picture change happened the comments followed almost immediately. “Femme Fatale” said my jewelry designer friend, Delphine Leymarie. “Fearless” replied Lisa Kim, another badass artisan, herself. But it was the verbiage used by horological “It Boy” James Thompson that stuck with me most and gave me the idea to write this piece:
He couldn’t have been more on the nose.
The sign of Aries and the label of “Alpha Female” pretty much go hand in hand. AF’s are often defined as being confident, bossy, intelligent, extroverted, and aware of their own sensuality. In a piece titled, “The Alpha Female Dilemma” written by Gabriela Cora M.D. for Psychology Today, Dr. Cora suggests that a professional AF should, “Dress down, use less makeup, or use plain colors to camouflage [her]self” since according to the article, “the more beautiful and smart a woman is, the more criticism she receives.”
The Alpha Female inside me read the above statement while doing my research on the interwebs and immediately had a thought that is likely typical of my personality type:
Yeah, to hell with that.
So this piece is for all of you Alpha Females out there who value your moments on this earth. These are my suggestions for you as to which watch fits your personality. Like your lipstick red, your men unavailable, and your lingerie where it belongs – on the floor? Then read on, sister, because no one knows how to use their time quite the way you do.
Roger Dubuis Velvet Haute Couture Passementerie
According to Merriam-Webster (which, by the way, is really fun to follow on Twitter, if you haven’t given up on Twitter yet), “Passementerie” is defined as an ornamental edging or trimming (as tassels) made of braid, cord, gimp, beading, or metallic thread. If you’re like I am, you had to look up the definition of the word “gimp” as you had only heard it used in an alternate, rather unpleasant meaning previously. Regardless, this particular timepiece by Geneva-based Roger Dubuis is one of a trilogy of watches that fall under the brand’s “Velvet Haute Couture” category. The Passementerie pays homage, it appears, to the one article of clothing that is a staple in every Alpha Female’s wardrobe: her fishnets. Yet while the sexiness of the watch’s strap will make for a great conversation piece while sipping a gin martini at the hotel bar (in your fishnets, no less), it’s the craftsmanship and inner-workings of the timepiece that make it truly worthy of ownership. The Poinçon de Genève hallmark on this watch is nothing to sneeze at, and the brand itself boasts on its website that it “devotes 40% longer production times to ensuring that all its Poinçon de Genève timepieces are worthy to bear this guarantee of exclusivity, origin, know-how, performance and durability.” I don’t know about you, but I’m a woman who really appreciates it when 40% more effort is involved in anything.
From a stats standpoint, the watch contains the automatic movement RD821, is 36mm, has a 48-hour power reserve, is set with roughly 1.76 carats in round, brilliant cut diamonds, has a warm grey dial and an 18K pink gold case. The strap is handmade with a beige satin finish and folding clasp that also contains round brilliant cuts. It’s the perfect watch for the woman who wants it all, and frankly, for the woman who deserves it all.
Bulgari Divas’ Dream in Black
When one thinks of Bulgari women’s watches one also tends to think of the famed Serpenti, however, Bulgari has more than snakes on the brain and this rose gold and diamond watch from the Divas’ Dream collection proves it. When I visualize a femme fatale or an Alpha Female, I often think of the colors black and red, which is likely why the watches I decided to highlight for this piece fall into that color scheme. I wouldn’t suggest wearing this particular watch to a board meeting, although, scratch that, because honestly, who am I to judge if you did? Yeah, wear it to your board meeting. Hell, wear it on your third date with Massimiliano Allegri as the two of you discuss Gianluigi Buffon’s goaltending statistics over a Barolo and a Federico Fellini movie. Wear it alongside your mink coat to midnight Mass when you’re home in South Philly for the Catholic holidays. Or wear it with your black silk tunic that you bought just for the occasion of celebrating your best friend’s birthday at the newest burlesque hall’s opening. Whatever you do, where it loudly, proudly, and often, for it’s a statement piece befitting a woman of your caliber.
The watch itself does have a quartz movement rather than an automatic. However, the beauty of the piece and its use of onyx and diamond accents make the quartz aspect of it forgivable. The case measures 39mm in diameter and is 18K pink gold. The small central dial is lacquered black and the strap is a beautiful patterned satin connected by an easy to remove pink gold clasp (for those nights when you don’t watch to scratch up your partner during… uh… foosball). All in all, the Divas’ Dream is an ideal accessory for the AF with flair.
Hublot Big Bang Caviar
If there is a sport that an Alpha Female loves to take part in, it is the act of making a man – old, young, middle-aged, married, single, gay, or straight – ever so slightly uncomfortable. The AF enjoys the thrills that many men have had at the expense of women for years, which is why I selected this particular watch – largely because of its name – as one that an AF could have a really good time with: Big Bang. The watch is called “Big Bang.” I honestly feel like the rest of the description could write itself at this point. Let’s imagine the scene though, shall we? It’s late September in Miami. The woman is in her early fifties, fit with just the hint of reconstructive surgery that doesn’t show itself in proper five-star hotel bar lighting. She’s wearing a tailored suit and dress shirt unbuttoned just enough to peek at the black bra beneath. On her right wrist is a diamond bracelet; twelve carats total, a gift from her second ex-husband. On her left, a watch. A massive, bold, manly statement watch. Enter forty-something-year-old Delta airline pilot #1. He sits at the bar, two stools down from her with no one in between the pair of them. She makes big talk (because Alpha Females don’t *do* small talk) with the hipster bartender as Delta Pilot #1 watches her with mild admiration. Then, he speaks…
Pilot: “Are you drinking scotch?”
AF: “Why? You buying my next one?”
Pilot: “I would, if you’d like.”
AF: (to bartender) “I’ll have the Oban 21. Neat, please. The pilot’s buying.”
After a half-hour conversation, Delta Pilot’s much younger, taller co-pilot enters the room. He sits between the two of them uncomfortably as clearly there is a mist of sexual tension in the air. Sensing an opportunity to play the game she’s good at, the AF takes her final sip of scotch, gathers her briefcase, and bids the gentleman a pleasant evening but not before she’s beckoned back by Pilot #1…
Pilot: “I wanted to ask you, what’s that on your wrist? I couldn’t help but notice it since, well, it’s hard not to.”
AF: (Now making her way over to stand between the two men, maneuvering herself so that a part of her brushes both of their bodies.) “This? Oh, it’s my Hublot. It was a gift given to me by a former lover after our sailing trip on the Adriatic.”
Pilot: “Oh, really? What model is it?”
AF: (Looking at Pilot #1 longingly, then slowly turning toward the now blushing co-pilot before taking a long, slow breath as she sculpts the words in her mind before releasing them through her mouth.) “It’s called the ‘Big Bang.’ Isn’t that a great name?”
And with that, she exits the lounge, hips swaying, hair bouncing, and ever so softly chuckling.
This Big Bang Caviar contains 1.80 carats in round brilliant cut diamonds set into a high-polished 18K red gold bezel affixed to its 41mm case. The watch contains the HUB1112 self-winding movement with 42-hour power reserve, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, black shiny calf and rubber strap, and gold-plated dial. It’s one hell of a watch for one hell of a woman and it’s a guaranteed night starter whether it intends to be or not.
Fiona Krüger Black Skull
Another characteristic of the Alpha Female is that she senses and seeks out other driven, determined, and successful women and can often times become enamored with them. I don’t know Fiona Krüger personally, though I do hope to meet her someday soon, but what I know about her through what I feel when I look at her designs is that she dares. She dares to challenge the norm. She dares to challenge an industry dominated by men. And she dares to be herself, which means in the simplest of terms, to be different from all the rest. She’s a millennial woman, which makes her a target for the old school minds of the sometimes misogynistic watch world. She’s Scottish, which, you know, means she’s not Swiss (I can only imagine the “oh, the humanity!” looks this woman must receive), and she’s making watches that are creative, fun, and honestly, pretty g*ddamned badass. Fiona’s designs are right up the AF alley as they serve as a figurative middle finger to what some in horological society deem appropriate. The Black Skull series was made in a limited edition of twelve pieces, each crafted by hand in Switzerland. Every watch is intricately detailed, hand polished and hand painted. They are mechanical timepieces, each with a 5-day power reserve and custom black bridges. Fiona’s watches also come with a Certificate of Authenticity and 2-year warranty, proving yet again that Scottish people are really rather rad on the whole.
So, you can all thank James Thompson (who, by the way, I wrote about in an earlier piece here) for this idea. Hope you enjoyed an insider’s look into what the Alpha Female wants and is about. I’d write a piece on Omega and Beta females too, but, well, personally I wouldn’t quite know where to begin.
Until next time…
“Why… why watches?”
My father wore drugstore watches. He’d buy a watch at the local Rite Aid that had a leather-like strap and take it home, only to immediately replace it with a Speidel band. He never wore a watch of value, or even a watch of substance, regardless of its price tag. He wore cheap, gold-plated watches that never lasted more than a few months and hung in plastic cases from metal rods on rotating counter displays. Then he’d throw them away and start the process all over again and probably still does it to this day.
But… my father always wore a watch.
I started working in the watch and jewelry industry in 1996 and vowed that year that I wouldn’t let the men I cared for go through their lives wearing drugstore watches. In 1999, as a wedding gift to my first husband, I presented him with a Baume et Mercier Hampton – which he in turn also bought for me when we celebrated our first anniversary. In 2005, when my eldest brother turned forty, I flew home to Philadelphia and surprised him with a Movado Chronograph in stainless steel. And so far, the man I’m married to now is the proud owner of three very not-drugstore watches, all of which I’ve given to him on important days in our marriage. But while these stories tell you a little about my background as well as my experience with watches in general, they don’t quite tell you why I’m starting this blog.
This, however, will:
Shortly after the 2015 GEM Awards I found myself reading some of the watch blogs that I had only brushed over a few times prior. I started to become more and more interested in watches not just as adornments, but as future heirlooms and frankly, machines. My job back then put me in a different jewelry store in a different city week after week, and during those visits or trunk shows or events I’d find myself gazing at the product, taking pictures of the displays, and if I was lucky, getting to ask questions about the watches. I remember so vividly listening to Burt Wilkinson at Blakeman’s Fine Jewelry in Arkansas as he single-handedly schooled me for twenty-five minutes on the watch brand, Tudor. And I recall picking poor Ben Simon’s brain about Ulysse Nardin, Nomos, and IWC – just three of the names carried in his store, Windsor Jewelers. I listened intently as Mark Hendricks of Lee Michaels in Baton Rouge explained Patek Philippe’s fascinating diamond setting process to me, and I smiled widely as Mike Shields with Moretti’s let me try on his store’s various Rolexes. But the more I saw, and learned, and asked, the more I realized I was alone. Where were the women to teach me about watches? And who were the women who wanted to learn more?
As I set out in search of additional information I found that my favorite watch blogs were also largely written by men, as were most print publications (with a few talented exceptions), newspaper articles, and watch collector forums. This didn’t mean I was learning any less, mind you. On the contrary, I probably understand the difference between a perpetual calendar and an annual calendar because websites like Hodinkee exist (so, if I haven’t said it in the past, thanks, Hodinkee). But after a while, it’s kind of like having your women’s health issues debated in Congress by a bunch of old guys in suits; meaning, yeah, they may know the Constitution and every amendment like the back of their hand, but do they really know what’s right for me?
Later in 2015 I began an Instagram series highlighting Fifty Powerful Women in the Jewelry Industry, and that’s when I realized that there wasn’t a ton of information out there about women holding executive positions in the watch circuit. They hold them, don’t get me wrong – and if you’re one of the women who does hold an executive position and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended – there just isn’t a plethora of information available if you’re someone who isn’t in the watch world who needs to find out about women who are. It was tough, let me tell you, and at the end of the day (thankfully because a couple of the women were recommended to me) I did add a few, but out of fifty, there were not many, and that’s when the gears in my brain started turning.
On October 25th I wrote a piece on my jewelry blog titled, “Girl Time: Desperately Seeking Women in the Watch World” and the response the post received was extraordinary, even making one of JCK Magazine’s Top Articles for 2015 that Didn’t Appear on JCKOnline. The time, pun entirely intended, had come to take this to the next level, and by January, after much deliberation, many conversations with trusted friends, a text or twelve with fellow writers, and the support of my incredibly patient husband, I decided not only to go the route of being a full-time blogger, but to also go forward with my idea for a second blog. One that would focus on women’s watches, men’s watches from a woman’s point of view, women holding executive positions in the watch industry, and women who take their watches very seriously.
Women. Watches. Words.
That’s the tagline for this – my new blog – aptly named, What’s On Her Wrist. As you can see, “women” come first, which is why I chose today – International Women’s Day – to introduce it to the world.
It is my opinion that the jewelry and watch sectors of our industry will become more and more integrated in the near future, and with this, we’ll be seeing more female faces in varying genres within the field. Last year the Women’s Jewelry Association added a watch category to their Awards for Excellence. This year, Jewelers of America also added a watch category at the GEM Awards. As I type this, a Watches & Women advisory group is being formed ahead of Baselworld. These are all good things that signify good change, and hopefully this blog will not only play its part, but also a significant role in the continuing developments we hope to see down the road, as well as in the present.
As part of this inaugural post I reached out to six strong, powerful, successful, and well-known women with some connection to the jewelry world and asked them what was on their wrists. I’m honored to say that all six were happy not only to share what they wear, but also to share with me images of their watches.
Ruth was given this Rolex 18K Everose gold and diamond Oyster Perpetual DATEJUST by her husband as a gift this year after announcing that she would be retiring from her executive position at the AGS. When I saw her at the GEM Awards she said to me, “I have GOT to show you my new watch,” which is why she was the first person I thought to ask about appearing in this piece.
Kara purchased this vintage Bulgari Serpenti in 18K yellow gold, enamel, and diamonds for herself at an auction and wears the watch at least once per week. The watch has inspired some of the pieces in Kara’s new Diamonds Unleashed collection, which donates 100% of its net profits to the women’s empowerment initiatives, “Girls Who Code” and “She’s the First.” The diamonds used in that collection are responsibly mined by CanadaMark in the Northwest Territories, and are tracked from place of origin to polished stone.
Marie Helene wears what only Marie Helene can wear: a Hello Kitty watch! When I contacted her about this post, she said, “I have to figure out which one to choose. I go from Apple, to Cartier, Corum, Rolex and Kitty” and promised to get back me to in a couple of days with the one she chose to highlight. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw this picture. It brightened my day just as the woman’s words do, daily.
I remembered seeing an Instagram picture of Marion in a watch, so I reached out to her to tell her about this project and see if she’d be willing to talk about what she wears. Marion replied with, “The one and only watch I wear is my Bulgari Serpenti. To me the timepiece is a statement jewel with the added bonus of telling time. When I put it on, suddenly I feel like Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra. It does everything a good piece of jewelry should do. It shines. It is a conversation piece. I literally think of the whole history of the design every time I put it on.” For those unaware, Marion wrote a book in 2013 on the history of Bulgari’s Serpenti collection.
My guess was that someone who had been named one of the most powerful people in business by The Financial Times and Fortune Magazine, as well as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes, wore a watch. Thankfully, I was right. Mindy Grossman was kind enough to get back to me with a picture of a stunning Piaget diamond watch bought for her by her husband, Neil, after initially telling me, “My biggest challenge will be deciding which watch to pick. I love watches and agree that a lot of focus is on men.”
I sent Debra a message yesterday letting her know about my new blog and asking her if I could use a picture I had found of her wearing what appeared to be a pretty nice watch. She replied with, “That’s a costume watch. I’d rather it be one of my personal ones.” She then included this picture of herself with her diamond Maurice Lacroix. When I thanked her for taking the time to send it she said, “I love watches. An obsession of mine. Wanting a deGrisogono with the stingray strap next!”
I hope you enjoyed what you just read. Stay with me as I travel to Baselworld next week to bring you the best in women’s watches with a little side of fun. This may prove to not be your typical watch blog, and the technical details that are found on other sites might initially take a back seat to my quirky world view, but I promise it will at least fill a void and hope that you’ll join me as I learn more on this journey.
As one of my favorite literary characters exclaimed…
“I’m going on an adventure!”