Lipstick, powder, room key – three essentials, according to stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, that any female celebrity needs on the red carpet, and there’s always a publicist at hand to help with those. No one ever said anything about needing a watch. After all, checking the time at any high-profile event isn’t a good look.

What’s acceptable dress code for the men – Girard-Perregaux, Cartier, Omega and Patek Philippe were all notable presences on male wrists at the Oscars in 2021 – has traditionally not been so for women. But the times are changing, with Chopard a notable leader of the pack. 

Hikari Mori in a Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 Feuille at the 2019 Venice Film Festival
Hikari Mori in a Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 Feuille at the 2019 Venice Film Festival © Getty Images
Elle Fanning in a Chopard at Cannes, 2019
Elle Fanning in a Chopard at Cannes, 2019 © Getty Images
Charlize Theron wearing a Chopard at Cannes, 2017
Charlize Theron wearing a Chopard at Cannes, 2017 © Getty Images
Rihanna wearing a Chopard Happy Sport watch, 2019
Rihanna wearing a Chopard Happy Sport watch, 2019 © Getty Images

The brand has been synonymous with the Cannes red carpet since 2007, when it launched its first Haute Joaillerie Red Carpet collection. (Its artistic director and co-president Caroline Scheufele redesigned the Cannes Palme d’Or trophy in 1998.) Marion Cotillard was spotted at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2013 wearing an elegant Chopard L’Heure du Diamant, and as Scheufele says: “Jewellery watches are increasingly becoming a must-have on the red carpet – every year we include them in our Haute Joaillerie sets. Elle Fanning wore a gorgeous diamond and sapphire watch from the Red Carpet collection at the Cannes Festival in 2019, and Rihanna often stepped out with an all-diamond watch from our Happy Sport Joaillerie line.”

Louis Vuitton white-gold and diamond Mini Malle, £299,999

Louis Vuitton white-gold and diamond Mini Malle, £299,999

Vacheron Constantin white-gold and diamond Heures Créatives Heure Romantique, £49,600

Vacheron Constantin white-gold and diamond Heures Créatives Heure Romantique, £49,600

Chanel steel and diamond Boy.Friend, £6,300

Chanel steel and diamond Boy.Friend, £6,300

Omega diamond and steel De Ville Prestige Dewdrop, £6,130

Omega diamond and steel De Ville Prestige Dewdrop, £6,130

Boucheron white-gold and diamond Reflet Pompon, £263,000

Boucheron white-gold and diamond Reflet Pompon, £263,000

Likewise Charlize Theron at Cannes in 2017, whom Scheufele furnished with the Queen of Kalahari, “Chopard’s most precious jewellery suite of them all”, which includes a secret watch. The D-flawless, pear-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds of the watch perfectly complemented Theron’s Christian Dior gown. More recently, the maison’s pink-sapphire and diamond Flower Power, from its latest Red Carpet collection, won one of the highest accolades at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. 

Isabelle Huppert wore a Boucheron Reflet Large at Cannes 2019 for her daytime photocall for Frankie; ratchet it up a notch or two, set the Reflet with baguette and round diamonds, and the Reflet Pompon takes day into evening. The classic styling of this high-jewellery timepiece doesn’t age. Meanwhile, at last year’s Met Gala, actress Regina King wore a Harry Winston Emerald quartz timepiece as part of her gilded Michael Kors ensemble; singer Kehlani went full Hublot with her Big Bang One Click Rainbow; and model and actress Kaia Gerber, an official brand ambassador for Omega, completed her Met look with a simple De Ville Prestige Dewdrop in stainless-steel case with a diamond-paved bezel. One omission, however, had to be Chanel’s Camélia secret cuff watch, which would have performed spectacularly with Margaret Qualley’s Chanel ensemble. Another time, another place, perhaps.

Isabelle Huppert in a Boucheron at Cannes, 2019
Isabelle Huppert in a Boucheron at Cannes, 2019 © Getty Images
Regina King with Michael Kors at the 2021 Met Gala; she wears a Harry Winston Emerald quartz timepiece
Regina King with Michael Kors at the 2021 Met Gala; she wears a Harry Winston Emerald quartz timepiece © Getty Images
Angelina Jolie sports a Panthère de Cartier to the 2021 Eternals premiere in London
Angelina Jolie sports a Panthère de Cartier to the 2021 Eternals premiere in London © Getty Images
Zita Hanrot wearing a Chanel watch at the 2020 Deauville American Film Festival
Zita Hanrot wearing a Chanel watch at the 2020 Deauville American Film Festival © Getty Images

While high-jewellery watches have a natural place among the finery of big red-carpet events, understated timepieces are perfect for premieres. Laura Dern added a Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Romantique in white gold at the recent premiere of West Side Story; Angelina Jolie hit the Eternals red carpet with a Panthère de Cartier. Zita Harnot finished off her sheer black Chanel organza dress with the house’s Boy.Friend watch for the 46th Deauville American Film Festival.

Cartier gold Panthère de Cartier, £21,100

Cartier gold Panthère de Cartier, £21,100

Harry Winston gold and diamond Emerald, £18,000

Harry Winston gold and diamond Emerald, £18,000

Jaeger-LeCoultre rose-gold and diamond 101 Snowdrop, €300,500

Jaeger-LeCoultre rose-gold and diamond 101 Snowdrop, €300,500

Chopard white-gold, diamond and pink-sapphire Flower Power, £437,000

Chopard white-gold, diamond and pink-sapphire Flower Power, £437,000

Jaeger-LeCoultre has long been associated with the Venice film festival and recent times have seen its delicately feminine 101 Reine and 101 Feuille high-jewellery watches on the red carpet. Its pieces have sparkled on the wrists of Catherine Deneuve (the Reine) and Amanda Seyfried (the secret Feuille), as well as Hikari Mori and Italian actress Cristiana Capotondi. And this year will undoubtedly see outings for the latest 101 models: the sensuous Bangle watch, with echoes of the geometric forms of art deco; and the delicious delicacy of the 101 Snowdrop with its 904 diamonds.

But a watch can also have an impact even when not worn as a watch, as demonstrated by Salma Hayek at the Golden Globes. Hayek wore Harry Winston’s Ultimate Emerald Signature timepiece – 331 brilliant-cut, 38 baguette-cut, 24 marquise-cut and one emerald-cut diamond – as a brooch to accent her red Alexander McQueen gown.

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