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Editorial - The question of sex

Editorial The question of sex

Do certain watches belong only with a certain gender?

Ok, confession time: I chose that title just to get your attention. That said, it’s a topic that deserves your attention, and it’s been on my mind for some time (years, in fact). The thing that brought it to my mind again recently was a completely unrelated question by a friend, someone who’s just picked up an interest in horology. 

He asked, “What if I don’t like round watches?”

It’s a legitimate question. This is someone who was previously most comfortable with wearing an Apple Watch, and appreciated the functionality of its form. A mechanical watch serves a different purpose, of course, and the round dial is best adapted to the radial motion of hands on a central axis. 

When I started recommending a range of form watches for his consideration, however, an issue that came up quite frequently was that these were watches perceived to be for women. Now, I disagree quite fundamentally with this sentiment. It’s true that one of the brands I suggested, Cartier, which also happens to have one of the largest and most refined selection of iconic form watch designs — the Tank, the Tortue, the Santos, the Baignoire, just to name a few — also happens to have a strong female clientele. Its watches, however, have also adorned the wrists of some of the most elegant and respected men in history, from US presidents (John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman) to artists (Andy Warhol) and writers (Truman Capote). 

We ended up having quite a strong discussion about gender perceptions and consumer culture (in the end he settled on a Reverso), but it occurred to me that this is a conversation that I have far too often.

This led me to a topic dear to my heart. Why do we still differentiate between watches for men and watches for women? I understand the need for some type of categorisation, when it comes to backroom inventory work, when it comes to the nuts and bolts of product development, but why should any of this be visible to the consumer or affect the watches available to them?

As a woman, if I walked into a multi-brand boutique and was presented only with the watches that are classified as “women’s watches”, chances are I would leave without making a purchase. Why is buying a timepiece something that is codified by gender when it ought to be an issue of personality?

Men’s watches can have diamonds. Women’s watches can be sporty. The 38mm Piaget Altiplano could be considered more feminine than the Richard Mille RM 51-01 Tourbillon Tiger And Dragon, which is ostensibly a ladies’ watch. What is the point of these categories when no one really pays any attention to them and they end up artificially restricting the people who actually want to buy them?

 

I’ll stop my rant here, but my inbox is open. Let’s hear what you have to say about it.

Lecture 1 Comment(s)

27 August 2019
Leur Mieu
Disons simplement que c'est une non-question. Comme pour les habits, il y a des genres définis de manière assez claire et rien ni personne n'empêche un homme d'acheter une robe ni une femme un gilet de costume si le coeur leur en dit. Le client achète la pièce qui lui convient le mieux. Simplement comme en boutique de mode, le/la vendeur-euse oriente le client vers des produits communément destiné à son genre ce qui reste quand même dans la plupart des cas assez pertinent. On évite ainsi de vexer d'emblée l'acheteur potentiel. Puis en analysant ses envies, on peux orienter les propositions vers des modèles moins évidents.