There is no denying that the world of watches is very much a man’s world. We at Anytime Watches do acknowledge that. Men buy more watches than do women, advertising seems to be predominantly about men’s watches, and watches for men generally dominate the horological landscape. Wristwatches for men really took off in the 1920s and 1930s and, since then, it is for them that watchmaking has been mostly focused. It could be argued that for many decades the women’s watch market was sidelined, a sideshow almost. Many women’s watches were too often merely downsized versions of men’s watches, with perhaps some diamonds or semi-precious stones thrown in to make them more ‘feminine’.
It’s good to know that this huge male bias in the industry is evolving and has changed somewhat, even if rather slowly. Anytime Watches has seen how women have become far more discerning about the watches they buy, more women are doing so and there are increasing numbers of female watch collectors. There are also rapidly increasing numbers of women designers in the industry, which is only good for women and the watches available to them. This has resulted in female-centric and intuitive design that produces watches that speak to women and that women actually want.
Even more exciting for women who love watches is that, in recent years, watchmaking has entered into an era of contemporary, often even quite complex watches for women. Today, a woman can choose from a range of complicated mechanical watches, including a world time, a travel time, chronographs, a skeletonised movement and an annual calendar. Women are getting more complicated...about watches!
This topic was explored in a 2014 article by the New York Times, entitled “Women & Watches: It’s Complicated”. The Times can be quoted as saying that, “Watchmakers are aiming to satisfy women who are intrigued by complications as much as those attracted by appearance. A wave of new models combines function with fashion”. The article noted how women’s tastes and needs in watches have changed, especially women in Asia, who are said to be especially passionate about mechanical timepieces, for example. Daniel Chang, a managing director of a luxury brand in China, has noted how women are increasingly attending master classes that his brand hosts on how to take apart and reassemble watches with a mechanical movement.
Roanne Orlebar, a fine watch buyer for Harrods in London, is of the opinion that, “With less emphasis on specific roles within the home and work, this also translates into horology”. He adds, “We have certainly seen a trend in ladies interested in complications, with brands reacting to this demand by launching ladies’ complications”. The moon-phase complication watch seems particularly popular with women.
For women, even complications are more about the beauty and poetic allure that they possess. It seems to be an emotional journey and experience for many women who love complications. This point is made by a Parisian watch specialist, Béatrice Rouhier, who stresses that women are actually looking for poetry in the watches they buy. Rouhier states how, “For women, the point is, yes, it is a technical watch...but it is a watch that [also] tells a story”. For example, when asked why she loved her moon-phase watch, Eva Malmstrom Shivdasani, the creative director of Soneva Resorts, Residences and Spas in Bangkok, had this to say: “I love the look of it, and the movement of the moon. It’s a stunning watch, so beautiful. I don’t use it for the function - I just like the beauty of it.”
There are some truisms or universal truths that need to be remembered when buying a women’s watch. For example, a well-known watch brand is not everything. Some high-end luxury watches may just not be to the liking (or even needed) by a given woman. On the other hand, not all designer watches are bad watches, with a case in point being the wide range of Calvin Klein watches that Anytime Watches offers for ladies. They are well-made, high-quality watches. But care needs to be taken with the kind of fashion watch that a woman buys. James Lamdin is a watch collector and expert who had this to say about expensive fashion watches: “In the women’s watch market, it’s even easier to get caught up in buying something that’s really overvalued. Because they don’t believe their consumers are going to pay as much attention, [designer brands] are more likely to rip you off with a junk watch for a ton of money”.
Choosing the style or a case shape for a woman’s watch is important. The classic shape continues to be round, but some women do prefer the more bold, possibly more ‘masculine’ square-shaped watch. Rectangular watches can be very chic, whilst watches in curvy or other extraordinary shapes can also be a lot of fun, and certainly make a statement with their eye-catching lines. The different watch types can vary from casual / daily wear watches for women, to more functional sports timepieces. Active women-on-the-go have a tendency to favour these two types of watches. Casual watches have medium-sized to larger dials that are easy to read, are usually without jewels or obvious adornments and are ideal for everyday wear or offices and workplaces that have a casual dress code. Sports watches will have large dials, again for ease of reading, and are obviously favoured by sporty, physically active women.
On the other hand, jewellery watches can often feature gold or platinum, diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and other gems or semi-precious stones, including amber, and are usually far more formal and can be (sometimes, very) pricey and exclusive in design and appeal. Dial decorations tend to be more beautiful and ornate in these watches, very often with mother-of-pearl effects, which can be very fetching and add a patina of elegance to the watch. These more upscale watches are also not surprisingly referred to as formal watches. Finally, there are fashion watches (also sometimes called dress watches), which tend to be trendy and often released by well-known high fashion brands. These watches can be for both casual / daily use and more dressy, formal occasions. The emphasis with these watches is on trendiness, visual appeal and brand name recognition.
The Life Hacker blog makes valid suggestions regarding the size of a woman’s wrist when choosing a timepiece. Women’s wrists usually range from 5 inches to 7 inches (roughly 12 to 17cm) in circumference, and women’s watches usually have diameters anywhere from 22 to 34mm, depending on the style and watchmaker. A smaller watch diameter of 22 to 28mm is more suitable for a petite wrist of 5 to 6 inches (12 to 14cm), for example, whilst a watch diameter of 28 to 34mm is more suitable for an average woman’s wrist of 6 to 7 inches (14 to 17cm). It should also be stressed that the watch size might also depend on whether the watch is being treated as a flashy jewellery or accessory item or as a wristwatch for daily or even special use. As noted, sports and, to a lesser extent, casual watches tend to have larger, wider dials, whilst higher-end jewellery watches tend to have smaller, more elegant-looking dials and designs. Fashion watches run the gamut from really small dials to outsized, huge-looking dials.
As with the buying of any watch, one of the first things to decide is whether to go mechanical or quartz. A mechanical movement involves careful engineering and are watches as we traditionally know them. However, they can lose time and are not as precise as a quartz watch, which is an innovation that took the watchmaking world by storm in the 1970s. Quartz watches are indeed more practical, reliable, usually cost less and require less maintenance. However, many women today, like men, continue to choose watches with a mechanical movement, due to their enormous appeal owing to their tradition and craftsmanship.
The look of a woman’s watch is critically important, of course. Central to this look is what materials have been used for the watch. Gold watches continue to be highly in demand, and the use of gold is possibly more common in watches for women than it is in men’s watches. There are different shades of gold used in women’s watches, which include the much-loved and classic yellow gold, as well as rose gold, white gold and pink gold. Platinum is also used, often in combination with one of the shades of gold, so as to give a stunning ‘two-tone’ effect. Stainless steel is also widely used by watchmakers, but that is mostly to give the watch a more masculine and solid look to the watch. Ceramic has been increasingly used in modern designs for women’s watches. Ceramic is more practical to wear, it doesn’t scratch and gives a polished and spectacular look to the ladies watch. It is also, like stainless steel, hypoallergenic, which can be very helpful.
There are different types of bracelets used in women’s watches. These can be in a single band, such as stainless steel, or linked, as is often the case with bracelets made of gold or combinations of gold and platinum. Bracelets are the norm with jewellery / formal watches, as well as quite often the preferred choice of fashion watches. Straps are usually in leather, and can be undeniably stylish. Their various colors often match dials or can be utterly exotic. Casual / daily wear watches usually have a strap, as do some fashion watches. Finally, there are rubber straps, which are long-lasting, easily cleaned and, valuably, shouldn’t be damaged by perfumes. Sports watches invariably use a rubber strap, as do some fashion watches. They also come in a variety of colours and designs, of course.
However, it may be a good idea when choosing a women’s watch to choose one that has an interchangeable watch band. This means that the watch has a watchcase that can fit with different types of bands for different occasions. For example, a leather band can give the watch a more casual, daily wear look, whilst a metal band can make the same watch appear dressier and more ‘elegant’. This provides a woman with versatility and more choices - and what lady doesn’t love to have more choices in life?!
More than do men, women not only know the power of colour, but will very often accessorise accordingly. The colour of a watch can be very important for the wearer. For example, and almost paradoxically, a white watch may look better on a woman with a fair skin-complexion or on one who often wears light-colored clothing. Black watches, on the other hand, complement darker coloured (or tanned) skin, as well as women with bolder physical features. A more neutral tone, such as silver or beige, can go well with a variety of different skin tones and physical characteristics of women. Gold and platinum also tend to be quite versatile in this regard - which is just as well, given how many expensive watches come in those colours! These colours, however, do tend to be more subtle and demure than do the more ‘extreme’ colours like black and white, not to mention even more vibrant colours such as red, pink and blue. Colour is very personal, even emotional and mood-related - something of which many women are well aware.
A watch is a thing of beauty. And it’s okay to view a woman’s watch as an accessory. There is too much snobbery and intimidating technical jargon in the world of watches, and that is no different for the female watch market. Buying a watch for a certain look or even for a certain outfit or event is perfectly acceptable, if that is your intent. After all, accessories are what make every woman have their own unique look and style. And fine luxury watches should be no exception. A beautiful watch, whether elaborate or minimalist, can create a distinctive look for the wearer. It is (and it should be) the very personification of that woman.
Some women will love their watches to be bold and exciting and eye-catching. They may be inspired by this iconic designer:
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. Coco Chanel
Then there are these words by none other than Leonardo for those women who may prefer their watches simple and subtle:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci