Mens, Ladies, or Unisex Watches? Should Timepieces Have Labels?
When Mr. Journe of FP Journe watch brand was asked, “What makes a woman's watch?” his answer was concise and definitive: “A woman,” he replied.
So, if we can agree with Mr. Journe that a woman makes a “women’s” watch and a man makes a “men’s” watch, we might start to wonder why companies are still branding watches by their sex. In today's day and age, do we still need “women's” watches and “men’s watches” or can we just have watches? Sure a woman’s wrist tends to be smaller than a mans, but not always. But is size the only factor?
There are plenty of women who love wearing big watches and plenty of men who feel quite comfortable wearing a watch at 32 or 34mm. It’s all about personal tastes and style preferences, in addition to wrist size. I’ve heard many stories of women desperately trying to buy watches such as Rolex Submariners for themselves, but constantly being redirected over to the case of dainty, diamond-encrusted 28mm Datejusts by their ADs, despite being very clear in their requests. I’ve heard just as many disparaging tales from men who love a smaller watch, constantly being directed to the Subs and GMT-Masters.
As we approach the end of 2020, it feels like it’s long past time for watch brands to begin to eliminate the labels of “ladies” and “mens” watches and just embrace the more inclusive idea that watches can be unisex. Watches, especially luxury ones are a bit like fancy cars. No one is saying, “Wow, she looks great driving that ‘men’s’ Porsche” or “Is he driving a ‘women’s’ Honda?” or “Can you direct me to the ‘ladies’ car section please?” People don’t buy a car because it’s masculine or feminine--they buy it for the look, functionality, curves, lines, technology, engine, heritage, to show status, and for many other reasons. Watches are much the same.
Should watch brands go the unisex way of cars, or are watches more like clothing where is branding toward a specific sex still mostly applicable? A writer from A Blog To Watch had a hot take on the concept of unisex watches, and it created a lot of a stir in the comments. Read his except below:
In a 2016 article by Ariel Adams of ABlogToWatch, he wrote: After women’s watches and unisex watches, we predictably have ‘men’s watches.’ What makes this group distinct is that even if a woman wears this watch it remains utterly masculine in its appeal, without any perceived ‘macho loss’ from a woman wearing it. This is very important to consider because a men’s watch is still a men’s watch on a woman’s wrist, but a unisex watch becomes a women’s watch when on a woman’s wrist. Each of these timepieces have appeal to women, but for different reasons that I think men should actually think about if only to not be turned off to certain timepieces….
He then wrote:
Men don’t want to wear women’s watches even if women want to wear men’s watches. An important facet of masculinity is that pure masculine things cannot be diluted into anything less. The point here is that if a man sees a woman wearing a man’s watch and it appears feminine on her, he will often no longer wish to wear it.
Later in the article the writer mentioned that he knows a lot of men who stopped wearing their Rolex Daytonas because women had started to wear them. He wrote:
I don’t consider the Daytona to be a men’s watch any longer...When I see a woman wearing a Daytona, I don’t see her as wearing a men’s watch; I see her as wearing a traditionally men’s watch that she has now appropriated and lent femininity too. The fact that so many women look good in a Rolex Daytona is a major reason why so many men have admitted to wearing their Daytona watches less.
When speaking with the Everest team about this topic, it was overwhelmingly unanimous that we don’t feel threatened at all when women (or men) wear watches outside of their gender norm. We wholeheartedly feel that people should wear what they want, what fits their wrist and style, and what makes them happy.
Several of our female staff members wear larger Rolexes and Panerais, and some of our male staff members enjoy a smaller vintage look on their wrists. One of our male staff writers said, “I wanted pink sneakers, so I bought pink sneakers. I couldn’t care less if they were intended for women. I bought them because I liked them.”
Our staff also agreed that they would never be turned off to a watch model (such as the Rolex Daytona) just because women wore it and therefore “feminized” it. If you like a watch, it generally isn’t because it’s masculine or feminine--it’s because you like the look, the functionality, the history, the prestige, because it’s comfortable, because you want to show you accomplished something, etc. Oh, and for the record we’d GLADLY take any of those girly Daytonas (the ones that the guys are not comfortable wearing any longer).
On the BlogToWatch article, a commenter named Benjamin Ramos wrote this:
My wife and I swap out our watches regularly, she may wear my Patek 5127 (37 mm) and I might wear her 36mm explorer 1, they look great on both of us. Even my pam 512 looks great on her and that's the largest watch I would wear at 42mm… Size is not the only aspect of men's vs women's watches. How about precious medals? Does the new RO in YG or RG look better on John Mayer or Ellen Degeneris? I like my 36 mm datejust and vintage 36 mm military Iwc as much as my pam or submariner.
We agree with the sentiments of Benjamin and think there are lots of great watches you can share with your significant other. With lots of conflicting opinions on the topic, who do you tend to agree with?
Ultimately as the world evolves and young leaders continually seek equality and inclusiveness, brands will likely follow suit. Now more than ever the gender lines are blurred, and the world is headed toward a more inclusive place where everyone’s individual choices are accepted. In the end, should it really be up to brands to decide what is masculine and what is feminine?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is short and you never know what can happen. People should wear what they want to wear in clothing and in watches. We are in the business of customizing your watches and celebrating your personal style. We believe you should wear what makes you happy. Check out the 5-star reviews of nearly 3,000 happy Everest customers, and head to the site to find the perfect strap combo or watch accessory for you. Have strong opinions about this topic? Leave comments below!
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