It’s official: big watches are no longer just a man’s game, and women worldwide—from celebrities to millennials—are proving it to delightfully sexy ends. No longer limited to traditionally dainty designs, we’re seeing an enduring trend not only of women’s watches becoming larger, but women making a confident grab for the bold, beefy tickers ostensibly designed for men. “Statement jewelry” has long been a staple in the female fashion toolkit, and a 41mm gold watch is a fine way to make a statement—for a man or a woman.
According to Digital Luxury Group’s World Watch Report, women’s haute horology rose 21% between 2013 and 2014, with Vacheron Constantin leading the way at a 66.2% increase. Panerai, who doesn’t even make a women’s model, has reported that over 15% of their UK customer base is female. It seems that after years of keeping time via iPhone, the traditional timepiece is reemerging as both a practical accessory and a glamorous heirloom across the gender lines.
The rise in horological interest among women has also given way to unique complications never before seen in men’s watches—and a decrease in demureness. While this year’s Baselworld and SIHH saw a trimmed-down trend among men’s watches, many of the women’s standouts displayed a whole lotta bling and a notable increase in case diameter. TAG Heuer, Blancpain, Hublot, and Ulysse Nardin all debuted iced-up editions that either met or surpassed the 40mm mark (with the latter’s Marine Chronometer Manufacture hitting a respectable 43mm).
But even if bling ain’t your thing, a bold, powerful watch is still a decidedly badass way for a broad to break free from fine jewelry as the provenance of romantic gifts. As the song goes, sisters are doin’ it for themselves, and just as men enjoy the experience of a high-end ticker, so, too, do women relish the status, elegance, and power they denote. Lisa Butcher, a 6′ model and host of Britain’s “What Not to Wear” told The Independent smaller watches “get lost” on her lengthy limbs. “I think [women] are going more for men’s chunky watches because you can make more of a statement with it,” she added.
With Rolex’s unrivaled brand recognition, it’s no surprise that they are ever-present on all manner of female celebrities. The undeniably eye-catching Daytona is a favorite gender-crossing watch that’s been spotted on wrists from Sofia Vergara to Bar Rafaeli to any number of Kardashians, with the Submariner and Day-Date also top showers among brand loyalists like Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Cameron Diaz, and Sharon Stone.
As Marc Jacobs told Vogue “I don’t believe in gender when it comes to accessories … I’d like women to sport the most determinedly masculine model and vice versa.”
Are you a lady eyeballing that gentlemanly timepiece? Here are a few styling tips to get you on your way.
The marvelous thing about a classic design from a brand like Rolex or A. Lange & Söhne is that it can truly do anything—it can tie the bow of a carefully-styled ensemble, or it can do all the heavy lifting of an otherwise casual getup, making you look like a million bucks even if your jeans-and-tee tease otherwise. So start by going classic to get the most wear out of your watch.
As with shoes, leather goes a long way toward warming up an otherwise neutral outfit or contrasting a bold block of color. Pair your brightest blues and rosiest pinks with a brown leather watch strap for a subtle contrast that’s effortlessly chic.
Make a design-savvy statement with a rectangular watch. In addition to having an elegant, elongating effect, these eye-catching numbers can create geometric synergy with other pieces in your outfit, like structured, boxy coats or rectangular clutches. They also make great conversation pieces, so they’re perfect for social affairs.
Feeling rosy? The warm, champagne tones of rose gold are a near-universal compliment to all skin tones and blend well with other metals. So you can layer on silver, stainless steel, or other shades of gold jewelry to create a festive, shimmery effect, or let the watch stand on its own for a singularly glowy look that pairs great with other natural tones, like tan and burgundy.
Most importantly, a fine timepiece should be an investment in your own sense of personal style. Keep it traditional and simple and you can wear it every day, making it a trademark of your own style brand; or go bold and adventurous, and let that watch make a style statement that feels quintessentially you, even if you don’t wear it every day. Most importantly, the watch should give you a thrill every time you fasten that strap and behold it on your wrist—and that’s horological magic that knows no gender.