For this post we will be concentrating on the 10 best mechanical/automatic Swiss watches for women. This will cover all price points and we'll do another post later on focusing on quartz models. For brands that offer various ladies' watches in mechanical or automatic, we've picked the most popular or the most iconic model, but will also mention in the text in regards to the other models.
So, here we are, in no particular order... Well, that's not really true. They're in order of "what comes to mind", ie, the first watch is the first one that comes to mind, etc etc. By the 8th we were grasping at straws simply because a lot of watches for women seems to be quartz only...
1. Rolex Lady Datejust Automatic
Well this one is a no-brainer. It's not the prettiest watch in the list but it is classic, and reliable, and a proven workhorse of a watch. Like its male counterpart, these will withstand pretty much anything you throw at it. Rolex watches are over-engineered and are of course, designed first and foremost to be tool watches. So if you are tough on your watches, you really can't go wrong with the Rolex. They also come in a huge variety of colour/material/dial combos, making it easy (or tough) for you to choose one the exact version that's best suited to you.
2. Omega Ladymatic
This is a fairly new addition to the Omega range, although the name Ladymatic has been used in the past. The current Ladymatic, as modeled by Nicole Kidman, is designed purely for women, rather than a scaled-down men's model. The watch is extremely elegant, comes in a biggish size, perfectly on-trend and powered by an in-house movement. Like the Rolex, there are quite a number of dial/material combinations to choose from. The Ladymatic might be new, but it's proved to be very popular and fast becoming a classic for Omega. They've certainly developed a winner here. (Honourable mention: the Ladies Constellation, but these do sell more in the quartz model)
3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Lady Manual
We debated long and hard on this one, and finally settled on the Reverso Lady. The cause of the debate is the new Rendez-Vous range, which is just on 2 years old and doing extremely well for Jaeger-LeCoultre. However, our reasoning was that if you were to only get one Jaeger-LeCoultre, it would have to be the Reverso, as it is iconic for JLC, and no one else makes anything like it. (ie, reversible case) So here we are. Our pick of the litter would be the Duetto model, simply because you get two watches for the price of one. There's the daytime (front) side and the evening (reverse) side, powered by the same mechanical movement. (Honourable mention: Reverso with a single side and plain case back for personalisation, or, if you must have a round watch, the Rendez-Vous)
4. Chanel J12 Automatic
I'm sure this watch needs no introduction. Chanel has done an amazing job with this model, and in a relatively short time, created an instantly recognisable icon that has possible brought about the renaissance of the use of ceramic as a case material and the style copied ad nauseum (Much like the Datejust). These are so popular in fact that they're commanding extremely high resale prices, and in some cases, higher than the original list price.
5. Cartier Tank Francaise auto
Cartier has a number of classic watch models, from the Tank, to Santos, to the more current Ballon Bleu... and even within the Tank and Santos range, there are numerous sub-ranges to choose from... but the watch we keep coming back to is the Tank Francaise. To be honest these probably sell more in the quartz version, but the automatic is right up there.
6. Tag Heuer Lady Link Auto (34.5mm)
The Lady Link comes in different sizes and the automatic movement powers the 34.5mm size version. Like the Ladymatic and the Rendez-Vous, this is a series designed especially for ladies. Ok you might argue that there IS a Link series for gents, but at the very least the Lady Link isn't a pre-shrunk Gents version. Beautifully modelled by Cameron Diaz, the Lady Link is classy with a hint of sportiness. Just like Cameron herself. Tag could not have chosen a better ambassador for this range.
7. Breguet Reine de Naples
Personally, not a big fan of this piece. However, it is quite popular and apparently doing quite well for Breguet. There is just something not quite right to my eyes about an egg-shaped watch. But you can't ignore the pedigree. Breguet is a genunine watchmaker and respected by all. I... just can't get past the styling. But you have to give credit where it's due. It certainly is distinctive.
8. Girard Perregaux Cat’s eye
The Cat's Eye collection was launched in 2004, and is available from a simple three-handed watch to something with complications.The oval shape allows for this without being too large to fit on feminine wrists. It is also quite heartwarming to see complication watches for women, and you'd expect nothing less from another brand with rich watchmaking history.
9. Patek Philippe Nautilus Ladies Automatic
The first Patek ladies watch that came to mind was actually the Twenty4, then we realised that you'd have to spend the equivalent of a nice apartment to get it with a mechanical movement (along with carats of diamonds). So the Nautilus is out next choice and it would seem that this range is probably the default women's watch for women who appreciates the watchmaking craftsmanship. Granted it is a pre-shrunk gents watch and gussied up a bit with diamonds, mother-of -pearl and pastel colours, but they have managed to make the range quite feminine and attractive.
10. Piaget Altiplano (34mm)
The whole Altiplano range trades on one exquisite feature - being ridiculously thin. They're classy and feminine, powered by an ultra-thin mechanical movement... there is nothing not to like with this range. Don't forget that although Piaget seems to be just as well known for their jewellery, they do have a proper watchmaking history and do lay claim to the world's thinnest automatic movement, so these watches aren't just pretty faces!