Cover The moon featured in Blancpain’s women’s moonphase watches sports a beauty mark, just like the one screen legend Marilyn Monroe had on her left cheek

A recently unveiled vintage timepiece showcases the luxury brand's remarkable expertise in women’s watches as well as its unexpected connection to Marilyn Monroe

Dainty, sparkly and exquisitely made, the 1930s diamond‑studded, art deco‑inspired cocktail watch once graced the wrist of Hollywood’s most famous blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe. It is hardly a surprise as one would naturally assume that she is used to receiving such precious gifts of fine jewellery and watches. Instead, what makes this beautiful timepiece unusual is that it was made by Blancpain, a brand not known for producing watches as feminine as this delicate piece.

That was why the storied Swiss watchmaker chose to showcase this watch as part of the Timeless Elegance exhibition held at its boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue late last year, giving the public a rare opportunity to catch sight of this treasure. It served as a demonstration of the watchmaker’s expertise in making women’s watches, and is a highlight among the display of objects that also included items on loan from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, as well as a curated selection of photographs of the American actress.

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“We're particularly proud to present, for the very first time, this cocktail watch owned by Marilyn Monroe,” said Marc A. Hayek, president and CEO of Blancpain. “Especially since Marilyn Monroe had very few pieces of jewellery, despite her memorable singing performance in Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

The watch, said to have been a gift to Monroe from her third husband, author Arthur Miller, was acquired by Blancpain at an auction in 2016. The ornately engraved platinum case is set with 71 round-cut diamonds and two marquise-cut diamonds. It also bears Blancpain’s insignia on its white rectangular dial as well as an inscription of the words “Rayville Watch Co 17 Jewels” on its tiny mechanical FHF 59 movement.

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The brains behind Blancpain's achievements

Today, Blancpain is known for its many wonderfully complicated mechanical creations, among which the Fifty Fathoms dive watches are particularly well-loved by the cognoscenti. What is seldom publicised, however, is that the manufacture was a pioneer in the design and production of women’s timepieces decades ago.

In 1930, Blancpain introduced the Rolls—the world’s first self-winding ladies’ wristwatch—and subsequently in 1956, the Ladybird, which boasted the smallest round movement of the time. The brains behind Blancpain’s spectacular achievements in female watch creation was Betty Fiechter who, in 1933, became the world’s first woman to head a watchmaking company. The brand credits her intelligence and visionary spirit for its success in the field, as well as its fine reputation in jewellery watches.

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Today, the spirit of both Fiechter and Monroe lives on in Blancpain’s modern creations. The former’s innovative approach and elegant aesthetic are still evident in the women’s watches it makes, while tribute has been paid to the latter in a charming way. If you take a closer look at the face of Blancpain’s ladies’ models with the moon phase function, you will notice that the smiling moon carries a little secret—a star-shaped beauty mark that is a cheeky nod to the famous actress’ most identifiable trademark. 

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