Carolina Bucci

A Luxury Women's Watch That's - Gasp! - Not Diamond Encrusted

Luxury women’s watches are often miniaturized and predictably covered in diamonds, but this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak sparkles more simply

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published December 27, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

FOR TOO MANY YEARS, marketers have taken the simplistic “shrink it and pink it” approach when creating products for women, with everything from razors to computers becoming diminutive and rosy. The luxury watch world’s similarly reductive way of designing for women? Winnow a timepiece into a delicate bracelet-ish style and bathe the bezels in diamonds. 

“It’s a bit of a lazy approach,” said the Italian jewelry designer and watch collector Carolina Bucci. “Everything is just made smaller, with diamonds or a pink strap and labeled for ladies and everybody should be happy.” Everybody, that is, except Ms. Bucci, who recently collaborated with Swiss brand Audemars Piguet on a women’s watch that rejects that boring trope. 

The designer—who was given a vintage men’s Royal Oak watch from Audemars Piguet for her 35th birthday—caught the attention of the brand’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias when a mutual friend introduced the two in 2014. “He wanted to know why the hell I was wearing an old man’s watch,” she said. When she explained to him why she didn’t care for his brand’s diamond-encrusted women’s watches, he challenged her to create something better. The result: a 37-millimeter Royal Oak in a yellow-gold Florentine finish, Ms. Bucci’s signature. Though intended for women, it has the heft of a traditional men’s watch.

To achieve the glittery Florentine texture, the gold is hand-hammered with a diamond to create facets in the metal and a surface that sparkles, especially when the watch is in motion. “It’s not meant to sit in a box and look pretty,” Ms. Bucci explained. “It needs to be used and loved, and it needs to interact. That’s how it really comes to life.” First conceived as a watch for active people, the Royal Oak is as suitable for swimming as it is for running to the office and happy hour-ing, a lifestyle most modern women can relate to. Perhaps other watch brands will soon realize that small and diamond-y is not one-size-fits-all.

ROUGH MAGIC Audemars Piguet & Carolina Bucci Watch, $53,600, 212-688-6644 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANITA SALERNO

ROUGH MAGIC Audemars Piguet & Carolina Bucci Watch, $53,600, 212-688-6644 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANITA SALERNO