The Unlikely Watch Collector: Catherine Deneuve
Unlikely Watch Collector

The Unlikely Watch Collector: Catherine Deneuve

This cinematic goddess has an enviable assortment of watches.

By Rhonda Riche

Catherine Deneuve is the quintessential French star. In the 1960s, she collaborated with the great directors of the New Wave, including Jacques Demy, Luis Buñuel, and François Truffaut.

In the 1980s and ’90s, she won awards for her work in such movies as The Last Metro (1980) and Indochine (1992). In pop culture, she was a muse for Yves Saint Laurent, an ambassador for Chanel, and the face of Marianne (France’s symbol of liberty). Even today, you can feel the impact of Deneuve’s aloof presence in shows like “Emily In Paris.”

Of course, we were très excited to learn that Deneuve is also a watch enthusiast. Here’s a timeline of her most alluring timepieces.

Cartier Baignoire

In 1965, Deneuve starred as a detached and disturbed manicurist in Roman Polanski’s first English language film, Repulsion. The thriller introduced Deneuve to international audiences, and the actor soon became a red carpet staple. Also, in photo from that time, she is frequently pictured wearing a Cartier Bagnoire.

The story of the Baignoire goes back to 1912, when Louis Cartier stretched the traditional watch case shape from round until it took on the silhouette more reminiscent of a bathtub (which translates to “baignoire” in French). Eventually, the Cartier Baignoire’s oversized case and graphic typography became a favorite of the swinging 1960s scene in London. And it was also the 1960s when Deneuve married British fashion photographer David Bailey, who gifted her the watch.

Patek Philippe Bracelet Watch Ref. 4321-2

In the 1970s, Deneuve became the face of Chanel No. 5. As soon as she began appearing in ads for the perfume, sales soared in the United States. The American press at the time even hailed her as “the world’s most elegant woman.”

And with a title like that, it should come as no surprise that this Patek Philippe was probably the most exquisite in Deneuve’s watch collection. First produced in 1976, this Ref. 4321-2 features a yellow gold case and a bracelet set with 154 diamonds, 8 onyx cabochons, and 11 chrysoprase gemstones.

Unfortunately this timepiece is no longer in her collection as it was sold for CHF 35,000 at Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: NINE in 2019.

Cartier Tank

While still married to Bailey, the actress was invited to meet Queen Elizabeth II. So, Deneuve asked Yves Saint Laurent to design her a dress for the occasion. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as Deneuve even got Saint Laurent to create her costumes for 1967’s Belle de Jour.

Saint Laurent was also a big fan of the Cartier Tank. In most photos, you can see him sporting a Must de Cartier from the 1960s. Likewise, throughout the 1980s, Deneuve was frequently photographed wearing her own. In fact, we like to picture the two friends and collaborators sipping champagne by the Seine reminiscing about good times.

Chanel J12

Nominated for an Academy Award for Indochine in the 1990s, Deneuve also found further fame as a model in midlife. Indeed, since turning 50, she has starred in campaigns for Louis Vuitton, MAC, and L’Oreal and was named one of the fifty best-dressed over 50 by The Guardian in March 2013.

Even after she stopped appearing in Chanel No. 5 ads, Deneuve remains a longtime supporter of the brand (and French fashion houses in general, So you know Deneuve is going to sport some Chanel swag. Here she is pictured wearing a white ceramic J-12 watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso “Grande Automatique”

Deneuve is not just a film star; she is also a benefactor to filmmakers and conservationists. In 2007, Jaeger-LeCoultre honored Deneuve with the Reverso “Grande Automatique” Ref. 3038420.

Sold at auction in 2007 to raise money for Funds for Cinema – a project that works to preserve old movies at risk of being lost forever – this stainless steel Reverso features a large date display, day-night indicator, and dual time zone indication. Plus, Deneuve’s signature is engraved on the caseback.

Jaeger-LeCoultre 101 Etrier

Deneuve also appreciates horological history and can often be seen wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Joaillerie 101 Etrier. This minuscule watch ran on the world’s smallest mechanical movement when it debuted in 1929. Moreover, it is still the tiniest watch mechanism in production.

Fun Fact: The modern Calibre 101 contains a whopping 98 parts in its 14mm long, 4.8mm wide, and 3.4mm thick case.

The 101 Etrier is also a stunning example of the artistry of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s haute joaillerie atelier. The case and bracelet of Deneuve’s model are made of 18K white gold and set with 212 square-cut diamonds for approximately 12.52 carats of stones.

(Photography licensed by Getty Images, other sources mentioned)

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