Thanks to Christian Dior and his “New Look,” post-war Paris became a global fashion hub whose lustrous reputation hasn’t waned in the decades since his first revolutionary fashion show in 1947. There, Dior’s wasp-waisted fashions, superb tailoring and new definition of femininity were shared with the world to wide acclaim. But it wasn’t until 1975, long after his death in 1957, when the first Dior watch made its debut, and now under LVMH’s luxury umbrella, the company is turning out some amazing new timepieces for women.
This year, the Dior VIII collection has been augmented by the Dior VIII Montaigne, with slenderized horns and softened angles on the signature pyramid-style bracelet. The collection’s inextricable link to fashion is visible at every turn, from the use of pastel colors like pink and blue (two of Mr. Dior’s favorite colors) to the shot of gray lent by stainless steel used in many of the cases and bracelets. The opinionated Mr. Dior loved gray, calling it “the most elegant neutral color,” and it was used throughout his fashion collections, as well in decorating his Paris boutique where it covered the walls.
The Dior VIII Montaigne is available in three sizes: 25mm, 32mm and 36mm, the smallest being a quartz-driven model. Dials are mostly mother-of-pearl or colorful sun-brushed metal, and a bracelet or alligator strap affixes the timepiece to the wrist. Bi-color versions combine steel and rose gold, while all-rose gold or all-steel versions insure that there is truly something for everyone within the extensive array.
A 36mm automatic Grand Bal version of the collection is perfect for dress-up. First introduced in 2011, the Dior VIII Grand Bal may be recognized by its use of the Dior Inversé 11 ½” caliber as its focal point. The dial-side, fully functioning rotor, meant to conjure the sway of a ball gown as it gently moves, has been elegantly dressed in a variety of materials and stones—including feathers, which Mr. Dior incorporated into his clothing designs. This year’s rendition, the limited edition Grand Bal Plissé Soleil, features mother-of-pearl on the oscillating weight in a pleated design recalling the sun pleats used in Dior frocks.
There are two versions of the Grand Bal Plissé Soleil in steel—with or without diamonds—and one in pink gold with diamonds, and each has the option of a leather strap or metal bracelet. The exhibition case back allows a glimpse of the well-constructed caliber and its in-house, hand-finished details. The subtle palette of pinks and blues and yellows used throughout the collection complement the steel or rose gold cases, and the tinted pearl marquetry is a true mark of Dior’s artisanal expertise and attention to every detail.
So where did the name of the collection come from? Interestingly, Christian Dior, in addition to being a brilliant man, was also a superstitious one. He purportedly consulted his clairvoyant before every major decision, and he considered everything a sign, characteristics he inherited from his grandmother’s interest in divination, fortunetellers, premonitions and signs of destiny. The number eight became particularly magical: his House was situated in the eighth arrondissement of Paris and it was an eight-floor building with eight workshops, he noted in his memoires. It was also the name he chose for his first couture collection, “En Huit.” Montaigne, of course, is the name of the famous street where his inimitable House took root.