Dior VIII Grand Bal Fête du Printemps, limited edition of 88, price on request
Dior VIII Grand Bal Fête du Printemps, limited edition of 88, price on request
Image: Supplied

For the spring 2018 haute couture collection, Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri took inspiration from her archival research on the work of Surrealist artist Leonor Fini, who was known for her portrayal of powerful women.

“Activist”, “feminist”, and “revolution” are words regularly used by the fashion press when they speak about Chiuri and the path she is on. Chiuri is the first woman at the helm of Dior, and although she clearly has a new vision of tailored suits and floor-length coat dresses for the modern Dior woman, the Surrealist metaphors, optical prints, broderie anglaise, and feathered butterflies indicated that fantasy is still very much a part of the world of dreams curated by this couturier.

In fact, it was Christian Dior himself who said: “A ball gown is your dream, and it must make you a dream. I think it is just as necessary in a women’s wardrobe as a suit. And it is wonderful for morale.”

And this vision has been translated to the brand’s watch-making, too. The Dior VIII Grand Bal Fête du Printemps (Spring Festival) features an oscillating rotor, uniquely placed on its dial side, with a movement that reproduces the swirl of a ball gown or the splaying of a fan. The yellow-gold rotor, which powers the Dior Inversé 11 1/2 calibre automatic movement, is adorned with mother-of-pearl and an orchid-blossom pattern set with rubies and diamonds.

Together with sunglasses, perfumes, and jewellery, watches are an obvious brand extension for fashion houses. When it comes to haute couture, it is to be expected that an extra level of sophistication and attention to detail applies. As more women are shopping for mechanical watches, often with higher complications, many high-end brands have taken note, and have had well-established manufactures and research facilities in Switzerland for some time already.

From the choice of cars and watches to the #MeToo movement, women are driving change

This Grand Bal is a tribute to the Chinese New Year, and joins the numerous exquisite iterations of the collection since its launch in 2011, which has featured a variety of materials, including feathers, woven silk and gold thread, and lots of diamonds, of course.

The 36mm-diameter, stainless-steel case features a mother-of-pearl dial and bezel set with 71 diamonds, finished with a yellow-gold ring. The marquetry alone on each oscillating weight requires more than 50 hours of workmanship. The shiny, red alligator strap has a steel-prong buckle set with diamonds. The Dior Inversé 11 1/2 calibre was developed by Les Ateliers Horlogers Dior in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in association with the Soprod manufacture. It is used exclusively for Dior VIII and Chiffre Rouge collections.

The Grand Bal, although only 36mm, is still a substantial piece, and yet this fine watch sits very comfortably on the wrist. Swiss quartz movements have traditionally featured in women’s watches, mostly for reasons of price and practicality, but with a 42-hour power reserve, such as offered by the Grand Bal, and mechanical movements getting even smaller, we are seeing far more complications being introduced into women’s watches from many of the luxury fashion brands that are working to keep themselves relevant. From the choice of cars and watches to the #MeToo movement, women are driving change.

Boutique Haute Horlogerie, 021 418 1889; dior.com

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