The watch industry has always been a bit of a boy’s club. From the very beginning, pocket watches and wristwatches were geared towards men and their designs reflected that theory of thought.
When I started writing about watches, I was surprised at how many women I kept meeting from the industry. The people I turn to for advice regarding watches are women. Even the title of this blog series is called “On Her Watch” – no prizes there for figuring out who is writing, and what the subject matter is. Women, it seems, are genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about watches.
So why is it that half of the world’s population, are still considered a niche market in the watch industry?
It’s got to do with the misguided belief that things have to be sparkly to attract a woman’s attention. Back when wristwatches were relatively new, men’s watches were beautifully rendered and precise. The complications were housed in large cases andaccurate timekeeping was the priority. Women’s watches were more focused on lovely colours and being covered in gemstones.
There’s nothing wrong with that, the problem starts when, for the sole purpose of making space for bling, mechanical movements are passed over in favour of quartz movements.
That’s not to say that we don’t like watches adorned by beautiful, shiny, sparkly things – we do, and there have been many gorgeous ones worth the hole it would burn in your wallet. Chanel presented a beautiful set of secret watches that showed off its savoir-faire and signature quilting motif during Baselworld in 2016.
But talk to any woman and you’ll soon realise that they are equally well-versed in calibres, power reserve and tourbillons as they are in carats or beautiful design. There is demand for watches that are beautiful and smart.
Fortunately, watchmakers have started to take note. Take the Lady Compliquée Peacock from Fabergé, which won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the Oscars of the watch industry, in 2015. The dial features a peacock whose fanning tail feathers are a beautifully engineered feat for the eye, while proving useful as a minute indicator. Also on the dial are a sea of Paraiba tourmalines, diamonds, tsavorites and mother-of-pearl. The calibre is a hand-wound manufacture movement by Agenhor Manufacture, with a 50-hour power reserve.
Richard Mille’s RM 51-02 Tourbillon Diamond Twister boasts a manual winding tourbillon movement with two days of power reserve. It also uses a free-sprung balance for better reliability and shock resistance, as well as a barrel pawl with progressive recoil which helps distribute the mainspring’s tension. Richard Mille produces complicated movements for women and pairs them with beautiful design elements that mix femininity and masculinity, which the RM 51-02 embodies.
A firm favourite among women is the Ladies’ Reverso series from Jaeger-LeCoultre, because of its slim case and minimalist design. The reversible case also appeals to women because you can have two looks with one watch.
The Reverso One Duetto Moon – which comes in three variations – appeals because of the beautiful moonphase featured on one of the dials.
To paraphrase Beyoncé, it’s girls who run the world – and watch companies are finally taking notice.
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