Vacheron Constantin's Egerie watch

PARIS — Vacheron Constantin is launching a women’s line of automatic watches called Égérie — “muse” in French — in a first for the high-end Swiss watch label in recent times as it targets luxury consumers seeking prestige with a feminine flavor.

The Égérie watch styles, which will hit the market next month, come in pink or white gold, or steel, with diamonds, and an offset crown — located between one o’clock and two o’clock. The dial features a textured, pleated effect, making use of the house’s historic “tapestry” technique. For luxury watch fans hankering after complications, there is also a moon phase model. Prices range from $21,100 to $52,000.

“We see more and more interest from ladies in fine watchmaking,” said Christian Selmoni, director of style and heritage for the label. The longtime executive — who joined the brand  in 1990, rising up the ranks from sales to manufacturing before taking up design at the house — described the move as reconnecting with the past. The company made more watches for women than men in the first half of the 20th century, he said.

“Even if we have quite a masculine and technical image, we have been doing ladies’ watches for centuries,” noted Selmoni, who estimates that around 25 percent to 30 percent of its timepieces are geared to women. 

The executive likened the feminine side of watchmaking to the jewelry business. 

“We have to think about the influence of jewelry in the field of feminine watchmaking — so I think that for women, the notion of having a jewel on the wrist is still something which is very important,” he added. 

“Our point was really to encapsulate, incorporate femininity in the design aspect and in the collection of the line,” he said.

As for the blurring of gender lines — so prevalent in fashion — executives at the historic brand are aware of the trend, but are also seeing the development of certain niches.

“Androgynous fashion is very interesting — we are going in this direction as well,” he said. But as men might wear a sporty style of watch on the weekend, they might also want a very sophisticated timepiece for a special event, he suggested. 

“It is very interesting to see this evolution of, let’s say, fine watchmaking, which is developing more in niche trends,” he said. 

The executive cited offset crown, and the textured, pleated effect as interesting design features on the new ladies’ watch. 

“We love the kind of classic with a twist….We love our traditions but we also love to do modern watches,” he added. 

Vacheron Constantin, which belongs to Compagnie Financière Richemont, is planning to move next spring to a new flagship store in New York on East 57th Street between Madison and Park Avenues to expand from its current 64th Street and Madison Avenue address. The new store will cover 4,500 square feet on two floors. The aim is to offer “exclusive services and amazing experiences,” to watch consumers, noted chief executive officer Louis Ferla, in a statement.

Faced with competition from connected timepieces — Strategy Analytics estimates the Apple Watch outpaced shipments from the entire Swiss watch industry throughout 2019, selling 31 million units compared to 21.1 million units from Swiss labels — high-end watchmakers have been doubling down on traditional expertise in a bid to woo luxury consumers.