I first became interested in watches through my Dad and his extensive collection. Then extended my watch knowledge through my partner. It’s pretty uncommon for women to collect watches, and those who do were probably, like me, introduced to the joy of watches through a male figure in their lives.
Female Icons and Their Watches
That’s not always been the case. Watches are tools for women as well as men. There have been lots of famous women who have used watches as they achieved amazing things. Amelia Earhart wore a Longines when she flew across the Atlantic. Mercedes Gleitze wore a Rolex Oyster as she became the first British woman to swim the channel. The marketing that resulted from this feat helped popularise the Rolex Oyster, and started Rolex’s long association with watches designed for adventurers.
However, nowadays it makes sense for watch brands to focus their marketing on men, as two thirds of Swiss watch sales are made to men.
MODERN LADIES' WATCH DESIGNS
One of the reasons for this is the current style of ladies watches. There is not much variety in women’s watch designs. They are often small, many will have diamonds, they often don’t have any additional features, and they are almost always powered by a battery, rather than an automatic movement. There is nothing wrong with these features, but the lack of variety makes it difficult to build an interesting collection.
MY FIRST WATCH
My first watch was a Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso – I still love it to this day. One of the reasons I bought this watch (other than the fantastic service and welcoming environment of the JLC boutique at Harrods), was that it was one of the first women’s watches I found that looked different. It was a manual wind watch, with a pretty plain dial. The rectangular case can be flipped over, so that the dial is protected. This feature was designed in the 1930s for polo players, to stop their watches being damaged. The design has been so successful that it has not changed since.
This was the first, and only watch that I have bought brand new. I struggle to find watches that are the right size for me, and that don’t need the battery replacing every five years.
BUYING SECOND-HAND WATCHES FOR LADIES
I stumbled across an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak on Cara Barrett’s Instagram page and fell in love. She has also inspired my next 3 watch purchases and is definitely worth following.
My wrist is very small (as was my budget) so I couldn’t buy the watch new. When I found my watch on the Watchfinder, I was overjoyed. It’s 33mm in diameter, and it is stainless steel. It feels indestructible, and the bracelet hugs my wrist perfectly. The face is plain and very easy to read. My watch is from the early noughties, with an automatic movement.
Audemars Piguet stopped making small automatic Royal Oaks shortly after my watch was built, putting a battery-powered movement into the model instead. They have recently listened to their buyers and have just released a new small automatic Royal Oak – which has been very well received.
BUYING VINTAGE WATCHES FOR LADIES
Which brings me on to my final watch. A 30th birthday present from my partner – a gold vintage Omega 30T2.
My second, second-hand watch. My first vintage watch. This again is the perfect size for me, as vintage men’s watches are generally smaller. Like all of my watches, it is really simple and a classic design. It’s also another manual-wind watch.
Unlike the two other watches that I’ve spoken about, this one was not designed to be robust. I have to be careful not to wear it near water, or doing any activity where it might get bashed on something. But as a dress watch, it’s perfect. I can change the leather strap to a variety of colours, with each different colour making it feel like a different watch.
THE FUTURE OF LADIES WATCHES
The watch industry is slowly starting to improve the quality of its offering to women, as more high-profile women are displaying an interest in watches in the public eye. As I mentioned, Audemars Piguet have started to widen their offering to those with smaller wrists. Other brands are starting to launch high-end watches in smaller sizes, targeted at women. A Lange and Sohne have the Little Lange 1, MB&F have the legacy machine, and Patek Philippe have replaced the quartz movement in the Twenty Four range with a new automatic movement, and a round case.
The watch industry could do more to encourage women to buy and enjoy watches. The Watch Collectors Club is for everyone who likes watches, and we want more women to be a part of the club. Please send this on to any women that you know who like watches, or who might like to learn more.