Today, it is not unusual to see a man wearing a timepiece embellished with diamonds, or a woman wearing a watch with a large dial. Both the watch aficionado as well as the casual wearer refuse to be confined to the expectations of what watches are suitable for them. Many female watch lovers, including celebrities like Charlize Theron and Megan Thee Stallion, have shown that they do not necessarily want to wear delicate, ladylike timepieces. Yet it has taken some time for the watch and jewellery houses to catch up to the genderless aesthetic that has taken the fashion world by storm. Today, there is a growing movement towards classifying timepieces by their size rather than presenting as men’s or women’s watches. At the inaugural Singapore edition of the LVMH Watch Week that took place in January this year, Zenith presented a new 36mm compact size sits well on women—and men—who appreciate its clean and sporty lines but found its predecessor too clunky. Last year, the brand also discontinued all gender-based search functions on their official website, removing terms like “men”, “women” and “unisex”. It might seem like a small step, but this revolutionary approach in the watch world will only open up the options for its customers even further. Zenith has already observed a growing interest in larger pieces among their female customers, while more men were buying their smaller, diamond-set watches.
When In Doubt, Go Timeless
One of the best examples of a gender-neutral timepiece is the Tank, created by Cartier in the early 20th century. Originally intended as an elegant men’s dress watch, it has captured the hearts of fans across genders and generations. Cartier has given one of its most popular Tank models, the Tank Française, several subtle design updates, including a new dial finish, an integrated and more streamlined crown design, and silver Roman numerals for the steel models. As gorgeous as this revamped version looks on Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek, as well as on the male model in this spread, the Tank Française has historically been one of the most popular models with women. It was worn by former US First Lady Michelle Obama for her first official White House portrait, and the late Princess Diana owned one which was subsequently gifted to Meghan Markle by Prince Harry.
Related article: Man For All Seasons: Rami Malek Is The Face Of Cartier’s New Tank Française Campaign
Slimmer Proportions Just Work
This trend for gender neutrality has also revived dial sizes that used to be popular in the past, which now strike the ideal middle ground for both men and women. There has been a resurgence of mid-sized men’s dress watches, with many brands introducing or re-issuing models measuring between 34mm and 38mm. Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony collection, whose design is rooted in the men’s watches of the Fifties, has become one of the brand’s most sought-after creations since it was launched in 2004. The 36.5mm Patrimony models, initially targeted at women who are partial to technical watches, include versions with discreet diamonds, which appeal to men who like a little bling in their timepieces. In a similar vein, the current iteration of the Piaget Polo, which made its first appearance in 1979, is presented in larger sizes that are more in tune with current preferences. It is exceptionally well suited to both women and men, thanks to its clean lines and refined silhouette. The latest edition of the Piaget Polo Date—in rose gold with a green guilloché dial— measures a sizeable 42mm, but its cushion-shaped case and sleeker proportions suit slimmer wrists as well.
Everything In Moderation
Big watches were massively popular in the early 2000s, with several reaching gargantuan dimensions of 45mm or more. But today, many brands are presenting smaller, more wearable models that suit a wider clientele. One of the brands spearheading the trend was Panerai, originally known for making military timekeeping instruments for the Italian Royal Navy. Yet despite its military roots, Panerai has attracted high-profile female fans such as Salma Hayek. In recent years, Panerai began downsizing its watches, with the Luminor Due in 38mm, released in 2018, being the brand’s most petite model to date. The move captured a new audience, who favoured the brand’s minimalist and androgynous aesthetic, but were put off by the bulky and admittedly less practical size of the earlier models.
Not That Complicated
Complication watches are typically larger, as the more horological functions there are, the more parts are needed, resulting in a thicker case to accommodate them. However, watch makers like IWC have redesigned some emblematic complications to cater to petite wrists. Its Portofino Chronograph 39mm is not only a stylish, practical everyday watch for both sexes, but its quick-change interchangeable strap system also makes it highly versatile. The slimmed-down proportions is good news for women who appreciate these technical marvels but were daunted by their size.
Photographed by Gan
Creative direction by Windy Aulia
Styled by Gracia Phang
Models: Ying Guo/Ave Management, Silas/Mannequin Makeup: Rina Sim using M.A.C
Hair: Colin Yeo & Dorene Low/ Tress & Curvy
Producer: Navin Pillay
Stylist’s assistant: Isabella Low