It's my first post here, and frankly I registered precisely to ask this question.
I'd like to buy my wife her first mechanical watch, but after much research I'm at a loss.
If money was no object the choice would be easy: Van Cleef & Arpels Pont des Amoureux Watch
I am, however, trying to stay under $5,000 (I'd say $3k is the sweet spot). Ideally the movement would be proprietary, or at least decorated. I also want the watch to have some complications and/or a unique design. The "look" should be playful, whimsical and romantic (the VC&A above exemplifies that ideal perfectly, IMO). A few diamonds and a mother of pearl dial wouldn't hurt of course. My wife is rather petite so the case should be under 36mm. I understand this is a tall order, but I'm hopeful that the members of this forum can help!
Here is what I found so far (hopefully this will serve as a reference to those in the same boat as me):
Frederique Constant - Double Heart
- It's actually quite attractive until you turn it over and see the ugly ETA movement in the back.
Maurice Lacroix Phase De Lune Dame
- ML is one of my favorite independents and this is a great watch. So far it's in the front running. I especially love this variant: MP6066-SD501-37E
Longines Master Collection Moonphase
- Similar to the above, but not as well executed.
Zenith Baby Star (and the many variants)
- Great movement, generally attractive. Another solid contender at this point.
Thank you all for your help!