I have been very interested in ladies’ watches for the past few years.
After I had been collecting for a while, my wife started to want a quality watch. She doesn’t really care about watches, but she started to feel left out when we went out and everybody else had nice watches. So I decided to buy her a really good watch for our anniversary. I spent months looking at ladies’ watches and realised right away that there are very few mechanical watches for women. And Caroline definitely wanted a mechanical piece- otherwise, what’s the point? She already had a few quartz.
On the big day, I took Caroline to our local AD of fine watches. I wanted her to choose, although I gave her a few suggestions. It came to down to a choice between the Cartier Ballon Bleu and the Rolex Lady Datejust 31mm with floral rhodium dial. Caroline chose the Rolex and I still think this is the BEST ladies watch ever made — its beauty, quality and versatility is off the charts. It is just a sensation example of quality watchmaking with a feminine touch. It is perfection, in my opinion.
But how do you build a collection for a lady? Can you find less expensive watches for women? I certainly won’t be buying a Rolex every year! What options does a lady have if she wants to buy a nice watch?
Most ladies watches have quartz movements. This seems to make sense because very few ladies are interested in winding or setting a mechanical movement. Male watch nerds LOVE adjusting their watches and playing with the movements. But women generally don’t care much about mechanics. Caroline relies on me to set her Rolex and this is true for other couples I know. Also, ladies don’t seem to wear their watches all the time, so mechanical movements are less practical for them as they stop ticking without winding. There is no shortage of quartz watches for ladies, I even added a Tissot Danica Patrick racing quartz chronograph to Caroline’s collection. But what about the woman who wants a proper timepiece?
Tissot answered the call recently with the Ballade Ladies Watch — a gorgeous and affordable mechanical watch with a COSC-certified movement. This new ladies piece is available in different colours and I think Tissot really knocked it out of the park with this one. I would totally buy one for my wife. The Ballade Ladies Watch offers everything cool about mechanical timekeeping at a price that makes it a great candidate for Christmas stockings.
But wait, it gets better. Oris, who only make mechanical watches, offer some ladies models. They have ladies divers as well as really dressy watches. Oris has always been good at delivering value, and if you wear an Oris yourself, you could buy one for your wife. Another brand that does a few cool things for ladies is Hamilton. They offer a few candidates for your wife’s wrist. So you have Tissot, Hamilton and Oris, but that’s still not a huge selection compared to men’s watches. Perhaps that’s why women started smaller men’s watches. I bought a TAG Heuer Monaco (37 mm) 5 years ago and I later noticed it on TAG’s website… as part of the women’s collection! The fact remains that women have fewer choices of mechanical watches than men.
If your wife is fine with a quartz, then you have no problem because there are tonnes of battery-powered watches for ladies. Even very high-end watchmakers choose quartz for ladies: Patek Philippe, JLC and others charge fortunes for a ladies’ quartz. The Cartier Ballon Bleu quartz is cool because, with no seconds hand, nobody can even tell it’s not automatic.
You can find more affordable quartz from many brands. Consider Rado, their quartz models offer cool and innovative materials, which add a cool element to a quartz engine. They recently launched a Coupole Mini collection that is worth a look. Or the Longines Dolce Vita, a beautiful ladies’ quartz with a classic design. It’s not a bad thing for a woman to own a few quartz. Caroline will grab one of her quartz when she needs a watch and I am not around to set her Rolex. But when we go out somewhere, she prefers to wear her Rolex. She enjoys the style, but she also feels better wearing a proper mechanical movement. I guess she feels like she’s “in the club” when she has such a masterpiece on her wrist. Whereas I buy, sell and trade watches every month, Caroline will probably only ever own one high-end watch, so it made sense to go for a Rolex.
One great aspect of being married to a woman who wants a real watch is that it gives your hobby a second life. First of all, I enjoy fiddling with and setting Caroline’s Rolex. And I enjoy seeing it on her wrist. I also enjoy researching watches for her and shopping for them. With her Tissot chrono, I found it on sale just as I was shopping for her birthday present. Maybe for some occasion in the future, I would look for another watch for Caroline’s collection. I enjoy seeing what ladies models are out there. It sort of adds to my own aspirations.
What I would like to see for ladies is a manually wound watch, much like my own Montblanc. I would love to find a watch that I could just wind and set for Caroline, with no date, and head out for the evening. Caroline, for example, will not wear her Rolex much during the week. But she wants it for Saturday night dinner or a Friday rendezvous with friends. Having a manual movement and no date would be perfect, she could probably do it herself: wind it, set it and strap it on for a big evening out.
If your wife would like to wear a mechanical timepiece, you won’t find a huge selection, but there ARE some cool options. I hope that more watchmakers will continue to develop mechanical models for ladies. Have you exceeded your watch quota for the year? Would you like to scratch your itch without getting grief from your wife? Start shopping for a watch for HER! As always, the fun is in the search…