Can men wear women's watches? And if so: What, where and when?
Here I want to explore if there are any watches for women that a man could wear, and by “wearing” I mean wearing with intact self-esteem and looking good while doing it!
The reverse is quite common: women wearing Rolex Submariners or Panerais are seen as fashionable, and men wearing the same watch don't seem to feel threatened in their manliness by it.
Reverse the situation and you get a completely different reaction, mostly from men.
The power of unisex
Clever watch makers sidestep this topic completely by not stating whether they created a watch as part of a men's or women's collection.
This technically makes every watch unisex, as it should be: manufacturers can let customers decide what's right for them instead of trying to think for them. And that way, they're not purposely limiting their own sales.
In the world of exclusive perfumes, almost all perfumes are unisex. Still, there aren't many men who prefer heavy floral notes – nor women who want a deep musk scent – so the choices are very natural; again, they come from the consumer and not from the manufacturer.
This allows customers to get a product that suits them without having to cross any social boundaries set by the product's manufacturers - such as "intended for" gender rather than a clear male/female binary.
A matter of size and diamonds
The difference between a men's watch and a women's watch often lies in the size.
There seems to be a social rule that women's watches should be smaller than men's watches. The further you go on either side of the size spectrum, the more likely people are to agree with you – with a whole gray area in the middle.
However, it also depends on the type of watch: a 34mm dress watch is considered a stylish choice for a man, while a new 34mm diver's watch would be ridiculously small (and useless underwater).
The cultural perspective also plays an important role: while in one market the setting of diamonds instantly and indisputably makes a watch for a woman (or a misstep for a man), in another market it may indicate that the man was very successful in his craft (see How, When, and Why Men's Diamond Watches Gained Common Acceptance and the Prominence America Played).
Watches for women that a man can wear
Are there any watches marketed specifically for women that might also be suitable for men?
Yes, there are.
Of course, we are not talking here about the reduced size of a model which happens to be aimed at the female population while the larger models are found in the men's collection. No, we are talking here about a line or an entire collection marketed for women, but which contains models that are also suitable for men.
A Chopard sales manager told me one day, while I was admiring one of the brand's latest Imperiale watches, that certain models in this line are split almost 50/50 between the men and women who wear them. buy to wear them themselves, although they are marketed as part of the brand's ladies' collection.
Another fact came out of this discussion: not all the references of the few ladies' watches that make the transition to a men's wrist can go. It often has to do with color: the Imperiale comes in a version with pink sapphires and a purple strap in a 29mm case, and it's those watches that obviously have a lot more trouble making the transition to the opposite sex than the stainless steel chronograph or even the diamond-set versions.
In the latter case, the client's cultural background plays an important role, as diamonds are not equally well accepted for men in all markets.
When FP Journe presented the Élégante, it caused a stir: not only was it the brand's first collection for women, but it was also equipped with a quartz movement!
It was quite shocking for a master watchmaker who is considered one of the best of his generation. The same goes for the Élégante à pile he created with its Vagabondage-style case and hibernating quartz movement with a solid rose gold bridge; it's a day after all!
has a number of features that should appeal to men, but the 40mm case set with diamonds and available with cloisonné inserts and a rubber strap in colors like dusty pink and baby blue was probably enough to scare off most of them.
Francois-Paul Journe must have realized that too, because the 48mm Oversized Elegante ticks all the boxes that most men like to see ticked. Perhaps the only thing they have to live with is the name.
The same can be said of the Chanel Boy.Friend.
That name alone would normally be enough to put most men off, even though the watch has a very strong design and its angular lines have a masculine quality to it, especially in the larger version.
I consider it to be the haute couture version of Cartier's Tank, which is a compliment, as the latter is one of the most important dress watches in history.
The larger version of the Boyfriend measures 37 x 28.6 x 7.7 mm. It's still not a very big watch, but since it's rectangular it has a certain presence on the wrist. It's even fitted with a hand-wound mechanical movement, and the dial features a subtle guilloché pattern with a small seconds in a subdial.
This is actually a perfect watch for men who like their dress watches a bit more modern and with a touch of Parisian flair.
Chanel says the Boy.Friend blurs the lines between masculine and feminine style. Which it is - except in the name.
These are just three examples of watches aimed specifically at ladies that men could also wear, although FP Journe has now given men their own version.
But the question remains: would men wear them?
It mainly depends on the ability of the man in question to "assume himself" because, just as women already do, nothing prevents us from claiming a watch of the opposite sex like ours! Interestingly, almost all men's watches are suitable for women...
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