There are several timepieces out there that we automatically associate with certain individuals. This includes watches that became icons after having been worn by prominent figures in decades gone by. For men, you think of timeless pairings like Steve McQueen and the TAG Heuer Monaco, Paul Newman and the Rolex Daytona, and Cary Grant and the Cartier Tank. So, what are three equivalent women’s watches that everyone should know about?
Jackie O and the Cartier Tank
This timepiece has found its way onto many famous wrists. In addition to Cary Grant, both Diana, Princess of Wales and Jackie Kennedy wore a Cartier Tank. When designing the Tank, Louis Cartier drew on the design of the Cartier Santos Dumont, a watch he created for the pilot Alberto Santos Dumont in the early 20th century. The Santos Dumont is considered the first men’s watch (and pilot’s watch, for that matter) to go into series production. The Tank is the epitome of Art Deco style with its angular case, Roman numerals, and railroad minute track.
As its name suggests, the Cartier Tank has its roots in the military. The original watch was gifted to General John Pershing in 1917 as a thank-you for his role in WWI. Cartier took their inspiration for the design from the famous American wartime vehicles. Little has changed about the watch since the very first prototypes. At the time, the watch was a symbol of change and new beginnings. It stood out with its clean lines and relatively simple shape. Rather than shrinking a pocket watch model and mounting it on a strap – as was commonplace at the time – Louis Cartier and Edmond Jaeger developed a completely new design. The case edge was made to resemble the tracks of a tank, and the bracelet was attached directly to the rectangular case. In typical Cartier fashion, the crown featured a sapphire cabochon. In short, this watch has always had the makings of a true classic: a minimalist, elegant, and unmistakable design that has remained untouched for decades.
The Tank’s looks and the Cartier name, which has become synonymous with elegance and sophistication, made the watch an attractive choice for the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The former First Lady was known the world over for her confident demeanor and timeless style. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Jackie O wore a yellow gold Cartier Tank. In 2017, her watch was sold at auction for a sum of $379,000.
Grace Kelly and the Rolex Lady-Datejust
Let’s now turn our gaze to Grace Kelly, the beloved Hollywood star and Princess of Monaco. What watch could have done her justice other than a Rolex Lady-Datejust? The Datejust originally debuted in 1945, in celebration of the brand’s 40th anniversary. To this day, the Datejust – the quintessential luxury watch – represents the best Rolex has to offer. Fans seem to agree, considering the Datejust is the bestselling watch on Chrono24.
The Lady-Datejust was introduced in 1957. At 24-34 mm, this timepiece has a very comfortable size for slimmer wrists. Although current women’s trends are moving towards unisex and men’s timepieces, the Lady-Datejust remains incredibly popular. Similar to the Cartier Tank, this is largely due to its consistent, timeless design. The fluted bezel and Jubilee bracelet are two of the most refined design elements in the industry. The watch is available in silver, gold, and as a two-tone edition, meaning there is a watch to suit every style and coordinate with any type of jewelry. Moreover, thanks to the automatic movement and water-resistant Oyster case, the watch is extremely practical and can be worn on a weekend getaway to the beach without worry. The Rolex Lady-Datejust is a piece of jewelry that can handle just about anything.
Grace Kelly wore a 26-mm Lady-Datejust in 18-karat yellow gold. Famous for her elegant style, she looked as good in formal attire as she did in casual beachwear. Grace Kelly wore her Lady-Datejust on many occasions, including at a swimming competition at Palm Beach in Monte Carlo. She paired the watch with a colorful Pucci dress and beach bag – after all, she could have ended up in the water at some point. From the famous Hermès Kelly Bag and silk scarves to swinging skirts and watches, Princess Grace, as she was officially known after her marriage to Prince Rainier III, was a true fashion icon. Even now, long after her untimely passing in 1982, she still sets the world alight with the legacy of her talent, philanthropic work, and timeless elegance.
Elizabeth Taylor and the Bvlgari Serpenti
Compared to the Rolex, the Bvlgari Serpenti is seen much more as a piece of jewelry than a timekeeper. This is in large part due to the brand; after all, Bvlgari is one of the world’s biggest names in jewelry. That said, this Italian firm has made serious headway in the world of luxury watches in recent years and is drawing more and more enthusiasts to their line-up. One of their most famous watches to date is the Octo Finissimo. Its success has drawn more attention to the rest of the Bvlgari catalog.
Of course, it’s debatable whether or not the Serpenti ever suffered from a lack of attention in the first place. This timepiece has been considered a classic women’s watch for several decades now. The watch has no trouble standing out with its unmistakable serpentine design. Animal-inspired jewelry has been popular since antiquity, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Today, companies like Bvlgari, Gucci, and more embrace the use of animal motifs. The Serpenti has roots dating back to the 1940s, but it wasn’t until 1962 that the design took off. This was all thanks to Elizabeth Taylor, who wore a Serpenti timepiece on her wrist in the film Cleopatra– a successful marketing measure on the part of Bvlgari.
While Taylor’s style may not have been as modest and understated as that of Grace Kelly or Jackie Kennedy, it certainly wasn’t lacking in glamour. She exuded a confident femininity that fit well with the zeitgeist, as women were gaining more and more influence in politics and society. The Serpenti was, thus, the perfect match for the Hollywood star. Today, this watch remains a powerful statement piece for any woman bold enough to wear it. The timepiece stands out with its signature winding bracelet and is available in a number of variations. You can choose between a model with a metal bracelet or leather strap, quartz or mechanical movement, adorned with precious stones, or even a watch with a tourbillon.
Whichever of these timepieces you choose, you can rest assured that each represents a milestone in the history of women’s watches. No matter the current trends, these watches will remain timeless classics for years to come. It’s not without reason that these models are linked to iconic women from history. Each watch has a unique style and character that has appealed to different women over the years. Perhaps one suits you?