Truth be told, it’s pretty hard to find a decent ladies’ watch for under $10,000. It should then come as no surprise that women have turned to wearing men’s watches instead (cue the world’s smallest violin, I know). Your typical “ladies'” watch tends to be covered in diamond chips, contain a quartz movement, and cost many times more than it should. But there are a few options out there that prove otherwise. This is one of those watches.
The Villeret Date Moonphase is the latest from Blancpain, currently best known for making dive watches such as the Fifty Fathoms the complete opposite of this watch. But unlike many of its competitors, this little ladies’ watch makes a strong argument with its steel case and in-house automatic movement, all for under $13,000. It is available in red gold with or without diamonds, with or without a bracelet, and stainless steel with or without diamonds. I went with the stainless steel version without diamonds as it was the least expensive model and the most practical.
In case you missed it, earlier this year I fell back in love with smaller ladies’ watches. That’s not to say I don’t like to wear bigger watches anymore, I just think there is a time and place for a lady to wear a watch that measures less than 30mm. The Villeret Date Moonphase, which was released earlier this year at Baselworld, measures 29.2mm. The stainless steel version you see here is $12,200 (yes, I know, it’ still expensive) and is a watch that I would gladly wear.
First of all, the case of this watch is really nice. While this sounds like something that is to be expected, in women’s watches, it’s not! The case of the Blancpain doesn’t feel cheap, or like an afterthought, and feels good in the palm of your hand or on your wrist. It features a stepped bezel, which adds nice depth, and traditional downturned lugs. As I mention before, it measures 29.2mm in diameter and is 10.36mm thick, which ends up feeling a little chunkier than it should. But when you flip the watch over you notice that it not only has a sapphire crystal caseback (woop!) but also an automatic movement (woop woop!). I can’t tell you how exciting this watch is to see. After years of solid casebacks hiding quartz movements, it was a relief to find a real mechanical movement staring back at me.
And what about that movement? It is the brand new in-house caliber 913QL, which is automatic with a full-sized rotor. The movement itself is attractive and nicely finished, with a 40-hour power reserve too. While not a full calendar watch like its counterpart, the Quantime Complet, the Villeret Date Moonphase displays the time with center seconds, moonphase indicator, and a central hand that points to the date.
The matte white dial is laid out with nice balance. It has applied steel Roman numerals (in the signature Villeret style) with a matching feuille handset. The best part about the dial is the date display, however strange that might sound. The date is displayed by a fourth hand with red crescent-shaped tip that frames the Arabic numerals on the interior edge of the dial, just inside the hour markers. This is an elegant, classic, and understated way to show the date, and a nice departure from the typical date window (though I know more of you like that than we thought). The moonphase display is nicely tucked away at six o’clock in a familiar spot, however this particular moonphase has eyelashes and a beauty mark which is quite unnecessary if you ask me.
On the wrist, this watch wears really well and feels substantial without being overbearing or ostentatious. As mentioned before, the case is smaller than in watches I usually wear. However, earlier this year I took a spin with a smaller Bulgari watch from the 1990s (they are back, in case you didn’t know) and much to my surprise I loved it! This Blancpain has a similar feeling, it’s understated and comfortable and feels (for lack of a better word) ladylike! While this size is obviously not for everyone (probably most of you reading this), the watch shouldn’t be dismissed just for its size alone.
The watch comes with quick release spring bars, which allows for easy strap-changing. As a purist, this isn’t something I generally support, but if you are most people then the quick change spring bar makes sense and is a lot safer if you do not know how to change a strap. (Lord knows I have scratched a watch or three.)
While I don’t usually pay too much attention to the little extras that often come with a watch, I would be remiss for not talking about them here. This watch comes with five additional straps: three alligator, one ostrich leather, and one in black satin. While this might seem frivolous, I look at it as pure added value. When an alligator strap from a manufacturer can cost you upwards of $400, receiving five straps with purchase seems like a luxury but then again the watch does cost $12,200.
Overall, I really enjoyed wearing the Villeret Date Moonphase. I think that in a sea of frivolous and overpriced ladies’ watches, this one felt restrained, practical, and appropriately priced. Don’t get me wrong, $12,200 is still a lot of money for the average buyer, but I think the real takeaway is that you get a quality movement, five additional straps, and a solid everyday watch that will satisfy someone who doesn’t want to sport a 40mm dive watch.
Pricing for the Blancpain Date Moonphase:
Stainless steel without diamonds: $12,200; Stainless steel with diamonds: $16,500; Red gold on strap with diamonds: $19,000; Red gold on strap without diamonds: $14,800; Red gold on bracelet with diamonds: $30,800; Red gold on bracelet without diamonds: $27,600.