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…
I play well with boys.
Let me reiterate: I grew up the youngest child and only girl in a house full of males. I played hockey, baseball, and football in my youth (and occasionally still do – just ask the Baselworld crew at the Shinola booth). I’m currently raising a soccer-and-ultimate-Frisbee-loving ten-year-old son, prefer my scotch from the Highlands (neat), was pre-accepted into the Philadelphia Police Academy at eighteen because of my skills at the firing range, have been known to hold my own in a game or two of D&D, and can name the majority of the 1986 Philadelphia Flyers starting lineup while also telling you their jersey numbers and most of their averages.
So as previously stated, don’t let the stilettos, pencil skirts, or deftly applied winged eyeliner fool you…
I play well with boys.
What this often means, however, is that I’m outnumbered in my preferred groups when it comes time to talk about things for women. Case in point: women’s watches. And while this year’s Baselworld could be considered The Year of the Woman (as I stated in a previous post) we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that women’s timepieces aren’t exactly on the lips (or fingertips) of every well-read watch journalist out there. Were there plenty of spectacular watches for *her* in Basel this year? Sure there were, and I will continue to talk about those down the road, but I thought it would be cool to also play the double standard game for a change and highlight some of the men’s watches from the show that were made nicely enough, and well enough, for a successful woman to wear. This doesn’t mean that the watches needed to have diamonds, or a floral pattern, or a brightly-colored crocodile strap. On the contrary, it means the watches needed to have personality, be beautiful on the inside (though the outside couldn’t hurt), and have, above all else, character. If my choices below were men, I’d be looking for certain qualities within them, which is how I’m choosing to describe them each in order to make this piece a little more fun.
First up, the Angelus U20 Ultra Skeleton Tourbillon.
If transparency is yo thang, then this is the watch for you. I regrettably didn’t have a ton of time to spend with this piece or the other Angelus watches I got to see but what little I did have was filled with amazement and awe. If I were speaking of this watch like I were speaking to my best friend about, say, a man I recently went on a first date with, I’d describe it this way:
“Well, let’s just say he had nothing to hide. I mean, he was meticulously on time, incredibly interesting, well-built, and he left everything out in the open. I liked these things about him. I wouldn’t call him overly ostentatious, but believe me, he definitely had an attention-getting quality. And no, we didn’t have enough time to get to *know one another better,* nosey.”
In order to give the U20 its unique “floating movement” appearance, the bridges have been made in skeletonized blue titanium for increased transparency, with the components being satin-finished and hand-polished. To give the wearer more visibility into the case (thus greatly increasing the three-dimensional effect) a sapphire crystal dome is used in lieu of a bezel, allowing the movement to be viewed from the side as well. The case is made of carbon fiber and uses titanium lugs, but even without the aesthetical description, the Ultra Skeleton Tourbillon stands on its own as one of the coolest dudes watches seen at Baselworld this year, in my opinion.
Next, if you’re a woman who is into complex humans or objects (men, watches, etc.) the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ should be right up your alley. One of the most original pieces I laid eyes on in Basel, the hours and minutes of the watch’s local time zone are represented via peripheral hands that rotate around a raised, centrally placed dome. However, its coolness factor has only just begun, as the Visionnaire DTZ also exhibits a second, remote time zone which can be seen through an aperture – amplified by a magnifying element – located in the dome’s center. That second time zone can only be seen, however, when looking at the watch straight on, which adds to its appeal and gives it sort of a quirky feel (something I’m really learning to love about Fabergé). Upon inspecting the watch at our meeting, my colleague Craig Danforth looked at me with glee in his eyes and said, “Do you think [super well-known watch journalist] has seen this yet?!”
Now I’m going to break down some of the watch’s additional characteristics by giving you a definition for each as if I were describing to my mother a guy I was seeing.
- 43mm diameter = “He’s got broad shoulders, Mom, but he’s not overly muscular.”
- DLC-treated Titanium and 18K white gold case = “Yes, he comes from a well-adjusted family. Both sides.”
- AGH 6924 Caliber self-winding movement = “Well, he’s known around his office as the ‘self-starter.’”
- Black alligator strap = “Did I mention how good he looks in leather? He looks really good in leather.”
- German silver hands with TC1 luminescent coating = “Oh, and he has the NICEST hands.”
- Slim bezel = “He keeps himself very fit, yes. He’s mindful of his calories, for sure.”
- Water resistant to 30M = “He’s *so* into snorkeling.”
- 50-hour power reserve = “Um… that’s really not something I feel comfortable discussing with you.”
ANYWAAAAAAAAAY… let’s move on to the third watch in this piece, the Manero Flyback by Carl F. Bucherer.
Now THIS is a watch worthy of wrapping itself around a woman’s wrist if I’ve ever seen one. I practically squealed when I got my hands on it so I’m pretty happy to get to talk about it on the blog. I’d consider this the “Romantic” of the group for more than one appropriate reason.
There is a wearable sleekness to the watches in the Manero series that makes them different than the other CFB collections. They’re suit watches, yet jeans watches; they’re your dress watch and your casual watch and likely no one would question their appearance on your wrist either way. This year’s Flyback Chronograph was pretty popular amongst both the retailers I spoke with as well as some of my fellow writers. The watch features the caliber CFB 1970 automatic movement which is controlled by a gearwheel while also providing a flyback function, allowing multiple time intervals to be measured in quick succession. But for me, as superficial as it will sound, the true beauty of the piece is in its face. The rose gold version was what I got to toy around with at my appointment in Basel and the contrast of the silver dial against the blush-hued, irregular tetrahedron-shaped raised indexes (thank you, tenth grade geometry class. [#nailedit]) gave me that “love at first sight” feeling that I hadn’t felt since, well, probably meeting my tenth grade geometry teacher. If this watch were a man sitting in my favorite coffee shop he’d likely be wearing a tan corduroy blazer over his perfectly fitted lightweight sweater and impeccably worn dark-toned jeans. And if it were a man, I’d likely make eye contact with him and hold that gaze until he looked away. I would then walk over to him and tell him that I found him incredibly attractive before turning and strutting toward the door. Then, naturally, I’d get my foot caught in someone’s computer bag strap while simultaneously dropping my skinny chai latte because that’s always what happens to me when I try to be sexy which is why I usually stick with humor.
And last but not least, we come to a watch specifically designed for the U.S. market by Laurent Ferrier, The Galet Traveller US Enamel Dial.
Many of you reading this may think to yourself, “I don’t understand. I live in the U.S. and this watch is made for the U.S. market, so why did they use two ‘l’s to spell the word, ‘traveler?’ (And many others of you reading this may think, “What did I eat for lunch yesterday?” because you’re not very good at spelling or foreign languages and you didn’t catch that there was a difference.) But the answer to the former of those questions is this: Laurent Ferrier has instead chosen to focus on the U.S. market in the literal sense by creating a new enameled dial that, according to the brand, “gives the entire North American continent pride of place.”
My appointment with Jessica Gasser, Laurent Ferrier’s head of Marketing and Communication, went extraordinarily well, partly because she was incredibly kind and patient with me and partly because the CEO of Laurent Ferrier, Vanessa Monestal, took part in our meeting. Here we were, just three girls hanging out and talking nail polish tourbillons, the Kardashians the Besançon Observatory, and Jimmy Choos Assegai-shaped hour and minute hands. I learned as much in that meeting as I think I learned in total for the entire trip and I was OBSESSED with the fact that Vanessa is at this wonderful company’s helm.
To round out my manly descriptions of the watches in this post, if I had to categorize the Galet Traveller US Enamel Dial, I’d say it would be my “Nerd Crush.” It has a self-winding Calibre LF230.01 chronometer, off-centered micro-rotor with pawl-fitted unidirectional winding, is equipped with a “silent bloc” shock-absorbing system, front and back domed sapphire crystals, has an 80-hour power reserve, “teardrop” hour markers, and Champlevé enameled dial depicting the Earth with North America in the center. The watch (and the company) is smart; it knows a thing or two about science, a thing or two about history, and a thing or two about design. It may not be for everyone, and I’m sure it’s certainly not for every woman, but for me, it was the Mary Poppins of timepieces… practically perfect in every way.
That concludes my little “double-standard” experiment with some of the men’s watches I had the pleasure of seeing at Baselworld. Hope you’ll stick around. I’m only just getting started.