If we’re honest, most talk about watches tends to be centred around men’s watches. That said, it’s important to look at the options out there for women. After all, women are a significant part of the watch-buying public, and many brands create beautiful women’s timepieces. In the last decade or so, watch options for women have grown immensely. The offerings have shifted from mostly petite, feminine watches to a wide variety of styles and sizes, including unisex watches. Let’s dive a little deeper into the world of women’s watches and look at five mechanical timepieces that cost less than $1,800.
Role of the Timepiece: Men vs. Women
Chances are we will inevitably run into a few generalizations and stereotypes in this article, but we by no means wish to offend anyone in the process. Finding the right watch is a very personal experience. So much depends on individual tastes and preferences, and not necessarily on gender. However, there are some distinct differences between men’s and women’s watches that are useful to know about from a historical and cultural point of view.
As we all know, the functional relevance of wristwatches has become more and more obsolete with the advent of mobile devices over the past few decades. Today, more people look at their phones to check the time rather than using a watch. This shift has led to a change in the motivations behind buying watches, especially mechanical ones. Today more than ever before, watches are symbols of luxury and personal statements of style and success.
In addition to the overall change in how we view watches, there is a difference in how men’s and women’s watches are perceived. You often hear that a watch is one of the few pieces of men’s jewelry out there, next to cufflinks and a wedding band, of course. This is quite a traditional statement nowadays considering the array of men’s jewelry available, but all can agree that a timepiece remains a very visible piece of men’s jewelry.
It’s a completely different story for women. A women’s watch can either blend in to a woman’s outfit and be outshined by her other jewelry, or it can be the focal point of her outfit and accessories. The latter approach has become more commonplace in the last 10-15 years as the overall size of watches has been increasing. Many women deliberately choose to wear men’s watches instead of women’s.
Watches Continue to Grow
Historically, there have always been differences in the sizes of men’s and women’s watches. The reason for this is obviously because women’s wrists are generally smaller than men’s. So, in order to wear a watch comfortably, women’s watches have to be slightly smaller. Another reason that is often cited is the historic differences between the size of men’s pocket watches and women’s pendant watches. Before men and women started wearing wristwatches, their timepieces already differed in size due to differences in how they were carried. Thus, there have historically been differences in size between men’s and women’s watches. In more recent times, however, the size of all watches has increased, bringing men’s and women’s sizes closer together. Likewise, it is now more fashionable and culturally acceptable for women to wear larger watches.
Iconic Ladies’ Watches
Size aside, the range of aesthetic styles of women’s watches is generally more diverse than men’s. There are some conventional women’s watches that look very similar to men’s models only smaller, but there is also a huge selection of timepieces that look more like pieces of jewelry. The latter range is where watch conventions get broken and works of art are made. Over the past decades, centuries even, there have been a number of watch brands that have catered to women with their incredible timepieces. Some of these are more conventional and others are beautiful pieces of jewelry that happen to tell the time. Let’s take a look at three famous brands that have created some of the most iconic women’s watches ever produced.
The top brand for beautiful ladies’ watches is without a doubt Cartier. Cartier has introduced several iconic watch collections for women, including the Tank, Panthère de Cartier, Santos de Cartier, and the remarkable Crash, each of which is famous for its elegance, craftsmanship, and incredible style.
Another brand that has created exceptional watch collections for women is Hermès. This brand is famous for creating a wide range of stylish and iconic products such as bags, jewelry, belts, and watches. The Hermès Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Heure H lines all feature spectacular watches for women, many of which have become true icons in the industry.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Rolex. The Genevan brand has an incredible collection of women’s watches, including the Lady-Datejust, Date, and Oyster Perpetual – all made specifically for women. Moreover, Rolex also produces watches like the Datejust 36, or even the Explorer I, that were initially intended for men but suit women just as well.
In addition to these three iconic brands, there are many others producing ladies’ watches. An undeniable fact is that a lot of women’s watches are produced with quartz movements. This comes down to several reasons. Firstly, it’s much more difficult and expensive to produce small mechanical movements to fit in a women’s watch. Secondly, women generally see their watches as fashion accessories that will be updated when styles change, while men see their mechanical watches as companions for life. Thirdly, some women genuinely aren’t interested in the technical details of a watch and choose their timepiece based solely on looks, whereas many men are drawn to the technical aspects of a watch. The magic for many male watch enthusiasts lies in the movement, whereas women find magic in a watch’s style and design. All of this considered, brands have tended to outfit their women’s collections with quartz movements. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t find beautiful mechanical ladies’ watches for less than $1,800. Let’s see what options are out there.
Top 5 Mechanical Women’s Watches for Less Than $1,800
1. Hamilton Boulton Mechanical – $895
Hamilton is an American brand that creates some incredibly stylish pieces for both men and women. The Hamilton Boulton Mechanical is a unisex Art Deco timepiece with a rectangular case and Roman numerals. This model was introduced in 1940 and has since become a true American classic.
2. Longines Flagship Ladies – approx. $1,400
The Longines Flagship is this brand’s iconic collection. It features a wide variety of watches for both men and women. The Flagship comes in a variety of sizes, starting at 26 mm. This is an incredibly elegant timepiece that is outfitted with a very small but powerful automatic movement – the perfect combination of technology and style.
3. NOMOS Tangente 101 – approx. $1,600
Speaking of style, the NOMOS Tangente 101 has become one of the most iconic Bauhaus-inspired watches to date. The watch is perfect for both men and women. The 35-mm model will likely attract more women, while the 38-mm version is popular among men. Either way, the impeccable style and in-house movement make this a beautiful watch for anyone to wear.
4. Seiko Presage Cocktail Time – approx. $550
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time started out as a men’s collection with a style reminiscent of classic cocktail bars. In time, the Japanese brand also added a smaller ladies’ version. The Cocktail Time boasts retro looks and a beautiful, eye-catching dial. If you want an affordable mechanical watch that has been crafted with an incredible eye for detail, look no further.
5. Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Date 40 mm – approx. $1,550
The last watch on our list is from Maurice Lacroix. This famous Swiss brand creates watches for both men and women in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The brand tends to target larger watches at all genders. The Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Date makes a statement at 40 mm, a size that is typically associated with men’s watches. In recent years, however, more and more women have been wearing larger watches, and Maurice Lacroix has certainly marketed this classically-styled timepiece to both men and women.
These are just five timepieces out of countless options that are available to women. If you are interested in buying a women’s mechanical watch, there is a whole world to discover. Find out what style fits your personality, try on different sizes to see what feels comfortable, and look for something you would like to keep for a long time. After all, a watch has so much more potential than just telling the time; it tells your own personal story.