Men’s watches vs. Ladies watches. Do watches have sex? On the face of it, the question is absurd. An inanimate object doesn’t have a gender identity. And if it does, who cares? East Texas aside, we live in a world where men are free to wear “girly” watches, women are free to wear “manly” watches and gender fluid folks are free to double wrist. And yet…
Most – but not all – watch-selling websites separate their inventory into “men’s watches” and “ladies watches.”
No surprise there. Commercial reality trumps political correctness. Sales stats tell us that men like particular types and sizes of watches. Women prefer others.
The traditional rule of thumb: men wear big bold timepieces with adventure themed complications (e.g., chronographs, rotating diving bezels). Women wear smaller timepieces with blingy bits (e.g., diamonds).
That’s said, the lines between the two types of timepieces are getting blurred, as are the “rules” about who wears what. Once again, African Americans are leading the way to a cultural shift.
Horological gender norms got the goodbye look when rappers embraced wrist bling like Supergirl embraces, well, everyone.
Movie stars, professional soccer players, plaza bosses and other limelight lovers followed suit, trading understated elegance for in-your-face excess. For some a “feminine” watch was a gateway drug to a more expressive style. For others, it was the one place they could – or would – cut loose.
But the trend is far from universally accepted or projected . . .
The majority of macho male celebs (e.g., Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Conor Benn) wear “masculine” watches (Patek Philippe Nautilus, Breitling Superocean Heritage II Chronograph and Rolex Submariner respectively).
Hang on. Back up. Are those blingy rapperific watches really feminine, or are they just men’s watches modified to say look at me I’m a rich mother f’cker!
I’ve never seen a single ad or IG image of a man – celebrity of otherwise – wearing the kind of small, thin, bracelet-style woman’s watch that brands create and sell to the double-XX chromosome set. Used to sell?
Just as men’s watches bulked up since Sylvester Stallone’s Panerai shamed men who wore [what suddenly became] smaller timepieces, more and more women’s watches are now scaled down versions of men’s watches.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there are unisex timepieces that make a mockery of the entire men’s watches vs. women’s watches debate. Watches like . . . every dress watch made before Stallone’s Italian diver embiggened the entire industry.
Is the Apple Watch unisex? The Cartier Tank qualifies as a he/she/it/they/them watch. And Jaeger-leCoultre’s iconic Reverso – which started as a manly man’s polo protecting product. Here’s how JLC pitches it:
Timeless in its face surrounded by its three emblematic gadroons [ED: nothing to do with Roman soldiers], the Reverso has been enchanting both men and women with an eye for beauty since its creation. Often androgynous, it knows how to show off its femininity in jeweled models or affirm its masculinity by pronounced complexities and a marked Art Déco aesthetic.
See what I mean about horological gender stereotypes? Not only does JLC play the bedazzled for babes, toys for men card, the webpage’s “quick filter” offers a choice between “for her” and “for him.” The latter presents a large size Reverso (47mm X 28.3mm, above) to lure the male of the species. Presumably.
Ultimately, society (via the free market) controls the gender-typing of watches. We seem to be headed to better place, where both sexes feel free to wear any type of watch that makes them happy without worrying what “message” it sends.