Editorial What Do Men Want?
The question we never think to ask…
I get asked a lot of watch-related questions as the editor in chief of a horological website. And you know the thing they say, that there are no stupid questions? That’s not true at all. There are stupid questions. And by “stupid questions” I don’t mean questions that arise from a lack of knowledge; I mean questions that arise from a lack of thinking. Rather than saying that there are no stupid questions, let’s say rather that there are no useless questions. All questions are useful, even if they're stupid.
Number one example of a useful question that is too frequently asked without sufficient thought behind it — What Do Women Want In A Watch?
My response to this usually falls into two categories, depending on my energy levels at the time of asking. If I’m feeling particularly energetic (or patient), I’ll generally explain that women are not a monolithic group with one specific set of likes and dislikes; they are individuals with individual needs, wants and preferences. As a whole, however, women want to be respected as consumers. They want to be seen and heard and addressed with intelligence and subtlety. They want the same variety, creativity and sensitivity that goes into making timepieces directed at men.
If I’m short on time, or if I just don’t feel like spoon-feeding obvious answers to people who clearly have the brains to arrive at the same conclusions themselves, my response often comes in the form of another question: What Do Men Want In A Watch?
No one ever asks this question. Poor men! Why isn’t anyone concerned about what they want? Is it because most of us think that we already know the answer? Or that we don’t need to ask it because men are already the main purchasers of fine timepieces? Or that it’s an impossible question to answer because (drumroll…) men are not one monolithic group with one specific set of likes and dislikes; they are individuals with individual needs, wants and preferences?
One man could like sporty timepieces while another favours classic elegance. (Same goes for women.) One man likes oversized watches while another prefers old-school case diameters of 38mm and below. (Same goes for women.) One man likes low-key steel pieces while another likes rose-gold cases with exuberantly coloured straps. (Same goes for women.)
If you’re a watch brand asking yourself how you can better serve your female clientele, just start by asking yourself how you serve your male clientele.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been presented with a new feminine watch collection and been told things like “women love diamonds” or “women love mother-of-pearl dials” or “women love soft colours like white and pink”. I don’t love any of those things, so I suppose I should head down to the local population office and have the “F” on my ID card changed to “M”.
And not to repeat an earlier point, but why does no one ever tell me “men love this” or “men love that”? Why are we comfortable making generalised assumptions about women as consumers but not men?
Here’s where I correct myself and say, actually, we do assume things about men and how they buy timepieces — we assume one thing in particular. And it’s a big assumption. We assume that men prefer mechanical timepieces. Is that necessarily true? Do they really prefer mechanical timepieces, or do many of them simply like being perceived as the kind of man who likes and understands mechanical timepieces? Isn’t it time we allowed all men to be honest about what they really want in a watch?
Alpiner Quartz Chronograph © Alpina
There are far more quartz watches in the feminine timepiece segment than in the masculine (or unisex) watch segment. I’ve been told that women like quartz watches because it offers them convenience in their busy lifestyles. This makes me wonder, do men not have busy lifestyles too? Do men not appreciate convenient options? Based on my limited observations in the domestic, social and professional spheres, rare is the man who (even with an abundance of time at his disposal) consistently chooses the option that offers less convenience and requires more effort. In the spirit of celebrating the right of men to choose convenience without losing credibility as watch lovers, I applaud brands that offer quartz timepieces in larger case diameters. Let men wear quartz watches! And let’s not trivialise them as consumers when they do! (Because doing that would be narrow and judgemental, and it’s not cool.)
Here at WorldTempus, we mean what we say. If you click over to our monthly watch giveaway, you’ll find a 42mm quartz-driven chronograph by Alpina up for grabs. It’s clearly a unisex watch, but if you end up winning it and you happen to be a guy, I’d like to offer my congratulations in advance for breaking through the peer pressure surrounding men in the watch collecting community. Women can like quartz timepieces. Men can too. Any other questions?
Established in 1883, Alpina is recongised as the inventor of the sports watch as we know it today, having presented its Alpina 4 model back in 1938.Find out more >
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