For decades, the marketing of watches has been quite different for men’s models and women’s models. Men were sold on features and complications; women were sold on precious metals and gemstones.
If you went to the Website of companies that sold watches for both men and women, you’d see watches for men in manually wound and automatic mechanicaql models with chronograph features, world time, moon phases, or a tourbillon.
Then you’d go over to the women’s models and you’d see lots of petite watches with gold and diamonds, usually powered by quartz movements.
This wasn’t an oversight; Swiss maker IWC Schaffhausen used to promote their products as being “engineered for men.”
Women’s models were simply an afterthought, because most watch sales are made to men, so that’s where the marketing and design efforts went. It’s true that men do have an oversized part of the market; women’s watches currently only comprise about 25% of sales.
But that doesn’t mean that women aren’t interested in mechanical watches or in watches with complications. They haven’t been buying them because there haven’t been any available.
That is changing, and we’re starting to see more companies develop mechanical movements especially for women’s models. We’re also starting to see watchmakers introduce some interesting complications in their models for women, as well.
Jaeger LeCoultre recently introduced a watch for women called the Sonatina Large that included an alarm complication. You can adjust a small star on the watch face to align with the time that you’d like the chime to sound. True, it’s essentially an alarm, which wouldn’t ordinarily be that exciting, but it’s interesting to note that this function is not available on any men’s watch that the company offers for sale.
The watch is also quite attractive in gold with diamonds surrounding the dial. At $28,000, it’s hardly a bargain, but then again, Jaeger isn’t a bargain brand.
Montblanc has also taken a positive step in women’s watches with their Boheme Exotourbillon Slim, which is one of the few watches for women that features a tourbillon.
The tourbillon isn’t new; they’ve been around for more than 200 years and represent an early attempt by watchmakers to counter the effects of gravity on their watches. These days, luxury watches are pretty accurate with or without a tourbillon, and the complication is mostly an attempt to say “look what we can do!”
However, the complication isn’t rare at all in men’s watches. Dozens of manufacturers offer them in a variety of models. What’s rare is to find one in a women’s model and Montblanc has finally done that. The watch is also quite attractive, and thin, as the movement is just 4.5 mm thick. Like the Jaeger above, you’ll find it adorned with diamonds, and the watch face is also quite elegant, with just a hint of an Art Deco vibe.
Of course, the tourbillon takes away a bit from the looks, but if you’re going to put this complication on a watch, the watchmaker is going to make sure that you can see it.
We’re also seeing a lot of fascinating, one of a kind complications in watches from the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels, and those are pretty fascinating. They’re super-limited and very expensive, but it’s great to see that women are finally being regarded as something approaching equal in the watch market.