In Shanghai for the launch of Omega's 2018 Constellation "Manhattan" collection, Nicole Kidman shares her thoughts on female empowerment and precious family time.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

In Shanghai for the launch of Omega's 2018 Constellation "Manhattan" collection, Nicole Kidman shares her thoughts on female empowerment and precious family time.

Clockwise from left: The launch was held at Shanghai's Expo I–Pavilion. A historical Constellation watch from 1952. Nicole Kidman’s style shows her love for vintage. Steel, gold and diamond Constellation (28mm) watch, $10,800, Omega

There's an air of anticipation at The Peninsula Shanghai. Somewhere within the walls of the hotel are four beautiful and highly accomplished women, with an international bevy of journalists waiting patiently for a few precious moments with them. Omega brand ambassadors Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman (with whom I’m slated to speak with in a few moments), supermodel Cindy Crawford, Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio and Chinese actress Liu Shishi have flown into Shanghai for the unveiling of the brand’s 2018 Constellation “Manhattan” collection and it looks like the event is going to be quite epic.

For one, the launch event later this evening is to be held at the Expo-I Pavilion, a cavernous location that has been completely transformed for the occasion. Then, there’s the fact that an impressive 101 new models are entering the Omega universe, each carefully nurtured to perfect precision, and bearing several distinctive hallmarks that have made the Constellation line an icon of a generation. 

First introduced in 1952, the Constellation has undergone multiple makeovers over the decades, but one thing has always remained—the diminutive Constellation star, only ever deviating from its six o’clock position on the dial for very special edition designs. Then, in 1982, Omega introduced the Constellation “Manhattan” with its iconic four-claw design on its case, and gave the world a version that is still instantly recognisable even 25 years later. 

The new incarnations this year flaunt the subtlest refinements that women with a supreme love for detail will appreciate. From its bevelled edges and bezels to the claws and crown, the finer elements of the timepiece have been further refined to more gracefully drape a woman’s wrist. Even the hands and indexes have been given the slimline treatment, with the former updated in the shape of a skeletonised leaf, while the new indexes are inspired by the Manhattan skyline; their slender, trilateral facets mirroring the prismatic façade of the Freedom Tower.

It is this devotion to detail and excellent craftsmanship that Kidman especially loves about Omega watches, of which she owns five. 

“I wear the Constellation most of the time because it’s very chic, very streamlined; I can wear it with a t-shirt, I can wear it with an evening gown, and I can even wear it with a suit,” she says when we speak. 

On the red carpet, however, its Omega’s earliest pieces that Kidman favours. “If I’m going to the Oscars or the Golden Globes, I’ll wear the vintage watches. I remember when I first discovered that Omega had these beautiful jewellery watches from the ’20s and ’30s. They’re handcrafted and they have all these exquisite little diamonds. It’s really lovely to wear something that has history; and that is then carried on through the times. I keep trying to get them to do an exclusive line of vintage watches because they’re so tiny, fine and delicate, but so beautifully made,” she explains. 

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Clockwise from left: The gilded dinner setting at the event. Kidman has been an Omega ambassador since 2005. Sedna gold and diamond Constellation Manhattan (29mm) watch, $34,500, Omega. Brand ambassadors Liu Shishi, Alessandra Ambrosio, Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman. Steel, Sedna gold and diamond Constellation Manhattan (28mm) watch, $7,050, Omega. British singer and YouTube sensation Stephen Ridley gave an energetic performance

This love of vintage is carried through in Kidman’s ensemble today. She exudes Old Hollywood glamour in a coral chiffon dress, replete with flowy, pleated sleeves and a laced bodice accented with floral motifs buttoned all the way up to its Peter Pan collar. Her long, blonde hair is neatly and loosely pulled back, completing Kidman’s sophisticated yet understated sense of style.

“I like to have a little bit of old-fashioned, old-school charm about me,” she muses, eyes sparkling with feminine allure.

Indeed, Kidman is the epitome of elegance, grace and poise. Charmingly delicate as she is self-assured, Kidman radiates a quiet confidence as her enchanting gaze draws you into her world. It is an inimitable brand of seduction that is hers alone—and it is a rare man, or woman, who stands invulnerable to her magnetism. It is also what makes her such a timeless style icon.

She loves rocking that classic—and slightly androgynous—combination of a black blazer, white shirt and jeans. “I also love men’s trousers with a t-shirt, a gorgeous watch and a fedora,” she adds. These days, though, Kidman’s two young daughters with second husband Keith Urban dictate what she wears.

“I have two little girls who are really girly girls. Part of their rules for when picking them up from school is that I wear a dress,” Kidman confides. “Once, I showed up in my workout gear and they were just mortified.” 

Time is especially precious for the actress, who appears to have mastered the art of balancing filming with family. “It takes a lot of effort to balance my time and knowing what to say ‘no’ to. It’s something I take very seriously. 

So when I’m putting my life together, we’ll have family meetings about what we’re all doing with our time.” 

This included the decision to take on a second season of the hugely successful HBO series Big Little Lies, in which Kidman will reprise her role alongside Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, with news of Meryl Streep joining the stellar cast. 

“It was incredibly empowering [for us] as women; to be the actresses and also the producers. It was so nice to be in control of our destiny and not rely on other people to give us a job, and to be able to support and carve pathways for other women,” Kidman affirms. 

This notion of women-supporting-women is a key topic that Kidman champions, and it is clear that motherhood and family ultimately take centrestage in her life. Describing herself as “passionate, sensitive and curious”, Kidman relishes the family time when she’s off work and back home, where you’ll mostly find her outdoors hiking or gardening, and pampering their two cats in between. 

It is the simple life Kidman most enjoys, as it is so rare for her. And she fiercely guards her time with family as well as time for herself with well-established boundaries. “Whenever you give up your time to somebody else, that’s a huge gift,” she offers thoughtfully.

Speaking of the gift of time, which Omega would we find on her husband’s wrist? “He loves the [Speedmaster Moonwatch] Dark Side of the Moon. He’s a huge fan of watches and he’s so affiliated with the brand because of me. It’s sort of like, if you get me, you get him—we’re a double act,” she quips.