International Women's Day Women Want Brains And Beauty When It Comes To Time
With International Women’s Day around the corner, it is a good time to look at how the watch industry is treating today’s women, who are more powerful than ever before
The past six or seven decades have witnessed one of the most revolutionary changes for women. No longer are they the stay-at-home wife and mother for whom the man buys the lavish jewelry and gifts and counts on for a great dinner on the table every night. Instead, today’s women are running large corporations, counting on the men in their lives to help make dinner on alternate nights and investing their own hard-earned dollars into watches and other luxury goods they’ve got their eyes on. Even better, they’re still finding a way to make home and family life work as well.
Skeleton X Sparkling © Ulysse Nardin
The consummate multi-taskers, women rely on fine timepieces to keep them company on their journey, and they are looking for more than just a pretty face. They want brains and beauty from the watch on the wrist. Thankfully, savvy watch brands are striving to do right by women. Some are doing a superb job, others are still just shrinking and pinking their men’s timepieces and hoping women will jump on board.
Do diamonds dummy down the watch?
Especially in America, we hear from women all the time about how they don’t understand why watch brands think that by adding diamonds to a watch, women will flock to buy it. In fact, the majority of female watch collectors in America prefer a non-diamond watch that boasts great mechanics and watchmaking complications. Unfortunately, the woman watch collector is not indicative of the majority of wealthy women in the country. Those women still want diamonds. Maybe not a totally bejeweled piece, but one with a smattering of diamonds that catch the light with the flick of a wrist. I say this knowing that I am going to catch some hell from the collectors, but the truth be told, socialites still want glitz. That’s not to say that diamonds and watchmaking prowess have to be mutually exclusive. They don’t.
Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon Or blanc © Bulgari
Additionally, it is important to note that watch brands are creating timepieces for a global audience and many other world markets, including Asia and the Middle East, can’t wait to get those diamonds on their wrists … men included. Often, the watch brand has to think about the demand globally, not just in a single market. However, those other markets also often demand some complications in their timepieces and brands are doing their best to deliver.
Another important aspect to consider is the fact that many of the jewelry brands got their start in women’s watches by creating jeweled masterpieces. Because they are jewelers first, we expect to see diamonds and gemstones from them, even on their complicated watches. Brands like Bulgari and Chanel created women’s watches long before their men’s counterparts came into being. When they did develop their first men’s collections, though, they didn’t enlarge and darken their women’s watches; they created all-new lines for the men. That is where a lot of today’s watch brands fall down when it comes to creating watches for women. They haven’t found the balance yet of introducing all-new lines instead of releasing their men’s watches in smaller, more colorful versions.
Mademoiselle J12 Acte II © Chanel
Watch collections and complications for women
Of course, some brands have done a really good job of creating watches just for women in the past years. Jaeger-LeCoultre was a leader in the realm when it first released the Rendez-Vous for women. Since the initial collection launched, the brand has branched out and added all sorts of complications for women, including astronomical features, calendars and more.
Rendez-vous © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Similarly, just a couple of years ago, Vacheron Constantin developed a women’s line, Egerie. To do so, it turned to a team of female designers. The result was a beautifully “pleated” dial with small complications such as date indication and moon phase display.
Égérie Automatique © Vacheron Constantin
Still, the majority of these lines boast diamonds. Even when independent brand MB&F unveiled its first women’s complicated watch, the Legacy Machine FlyingT (with tourbillon escapement and marvelous three-dimensional movement architecture), the watch was ensconced in diamonds. Thankfully, the brand has since evolved the FlyingT – releasing some stunning new models that don’t always insist that diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
LM FlyingT © MB&F
On the bright side of the evolution of women’s watches, we are witnessing more complications – whether diamond-adorned or not. As mentioned, calendar functions and astronomical functions are usually the first small complications watch brands endow their women’s timepieces with. However, we continue to see innovation. Chronographs, for instance, are a particular favorite, especially with the active lifestyles today’s women lead. Tourbillon escapements, skeletonized movements and even chiming repeater and automaton watches are beginning to emerge from the finest brands.
Labeling watches as his or hers
Perhaps the other issue important to address on International Women’s Day is the concept of labeling watches at all. With an entire LGBTQ community out there insisting on not labeling their gender, why are watch brands still insisting on calling timepieces men’s and women’s? Additionally, there are many men out there who prefer smaller sized watches and many women who prefer the 45mm and 48mm pieces.
One of the reasons watches have been labeled by sex over the years has to do with tracking sales. It is easier for brands to track what percentage of their watches for women are selling versus their watches for men. However, even with that statistic in mind, they still don’t know which sex is actually buying the watches and if it is a self-purchase of a gift. The area becomes very gray. With all of this in mind, some watch brands are beginning to ease the name-calling practice, labeling their watches unisex or simply going gender neutral and not referencing the male/female issue at all.
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