Intricate Ingénue: Patek Philippe Ladies First Perpetual Calendar Ref. 7140

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“The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”  –Sigmund Freud, Life and Works, Ernest Jones

For most of the history of watchmaking, the answer to Freud’s question, at least in horological terms, was that what women wanted was in many respects irrelevant. Exceptions like Caroline Murat (onetime Queen of Naples and one of the utmost patrons of the greatest of watchmakers, Abraham Breguet) notwithstanding, women were not expected to concern themselves with time as a serious matter of everyday life, and women’s watches, such as they were, were designed accordingly.

Small, decorative, often indifferently poor timekeepers and certainly not (by and large) mechanically distinguished, a watch designed for a woman has historically been designed to be as indistinguishable from jewelry as possible, with its capacities as a timekeeper more or less an afterthought. That much of the watch industry still considers women’s watches to be primarily jewelry, intended for a market which cares little for fine mechanics and disdains complicated mechanisms, is borne out by the overwhelming number of watches for women, even from haute horlogerie houses, that are powered by undistinguished quartz movements, the better (one presumes) to avoid troubling the impractical feminine mind with the intricacies of a sophisticated machine.

Kudos, then, to Patek Philippe for recognizing that times change and that today’s female client for fine watchmaking expects just as much haute in her horlogerie as her male counterpart. In evidence we present one of the most elegantly executed watches for men or women we’ve seen in years: the Patek Philippe “Ladies First” Perpetual Calendar reference 7140.


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