Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
Fashion has always been about challenging norms. Take the “boyfriend look,” for example. Loose-fitting jeans and sweatshirts are often a breath of fresh air for many women, not to mention how comfortable they are! However, the desire for a more traditionally masculine look goes beyond attire alone. Accessories, including watches, are also part of the trend. While it’s quite rare to see a man wearing a watch designed specifically for women, more and more women are turning to timepieces usually associated with men. This opens up a whole new world of watches for women to explore.
Without getting too political here, I’d like to quickly note that, in keeping with modern society, the line between what’s considered masculine or feminine is becoming ever more blurry in the watch industry. Of course, there are still brands like Chanel that specialize in collections specifically for women. As we saw at this year’s Baselworld, however, even some traditionally female timepieces are gaining more masculine or unisex characteristics in terms of size, shape, and materials.
As is often the case, prominent figures are behind some of these trends. Several actresses, such as Cameron Diaz and Charlize Theron, have been spotted with “unconventional” watches on their wrists. The latter was photographed at a Los Angeles Lakers game wearing a 44-mm Rolex Sea-Dweller, putting her on equal footing with other Sea-Dweller fans like David Beckham. Ellen DeGeneres is another well-known female watch aficionado. Her collection is impressive and includes everything from a Yacht-Master and Paul Newman Daytona to a Patek Philippe Nautilus. Any search for a more traditional women’s watch, such as a Cartier Ballon Bleu or Lady Datejust, on her wrist will be in vain. One thing is for sure: DeGeneres isn’t afraid of making a statement with her timepieces.
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The beautiful actress Cameron Diaz (@camerondiaz) was spotted wearing the Rolex Submariner 16610 on the film set of Knight and Day back in 2010. Any fans out here? 🤔😜 ~ 📸 @truewatchclub ➖➖➖➖ . . Turn on the post notifications! ✅ . . #truewatchclub #audemarspiguet #orologio #patekphilippe #ifuckinglovewatches #rolexworld #watch #watchaddict #watchnerd #vintagewatch #vintagerolex #expensive #watches #watchblog #followus #rolexero #actress #hollywood #dailywatch #rolexaholics #timepiece #camerondiaz #luxury #watchlover #knightandday #watchfreak #watchesofinstagram #submariner #16610
The Swiss watch industry is slowly but surely coming around to these developments. Some brands no longer produce explicitly men’s and women’s lines; instead, they’re focusing on releasing unisex models. Audemars Piguet and their Code 11.59 series is one example of this approach. Other brands, such as Tudor, have enlisted a new generation of brand ambassadors and outfitted them with unconventional selections. Lady Gaga, for example, has been seen wearing a 41-mm Tudor Heritage Black Bay on a textile strap but has yet to wear any timepieces from Tudor’s women’s collection (as far as I know). While we know for sure that more women than ever are wearing “men’s” watches, are there any models or brands that seem to be particularly popular with women? Quick disclaimer: I tried to seek out less-obvious choices than the Rolex Submariner and Day-Date.
Size is obviously a major consideration when it comes to buying a watch, regardless of one’s gender. Based on our recent marketplace listings and sales, the most popular women’s watches were either 31 or 36 mm in diameter. The bestselling women’s model on Chrono24, the Rolex Datejust, is available in both of these sizes. If we look at the data from the past three years, it’s obvious that sales are increasing for watches larger than 36 mm. Moreover, women are increasingly going for stainless steel models.
The Tudor Black Bay ticks all of these boxes. Tudor has clearly taken note of the public’s evolving tastes. At Baselworld 2018, they released a smaller, flatter version of the beloved Heritage Black Bay. This newer version is 39 mm, as opposed to the previous 41 mm, making it 3 mm larger than the popular Tudor Black Bay 36 model. Even so, the newer model is less heavy on the wrist. In addition to the smaller size, the Black Bay 58 also has several design details that may make it more attractive to women.
This Tudor boasts a certain vintage charm with its gold indices and red details, all while maintaining a connection to its roots as a sporty diving watch. At just 12 mm thick (down from 15 mm) and with smaller lugs, the Black Bay 58 looks fantastic on narrower wrists. While it’s certainly more masculine and less ornate than a Datejust, it’s not quite on par with Charlize Theron’s massive Sea-Dweller. The in-house MT5402 caliber has a power reserve of 70 hours, meaning you can leave the watch behind when an evening calls for something a bit more demure and not have to reset the time when you put it back on. All in all, this Heritage Black Bay the perfect choice for any woman looking for a sporty timepiece with a vintage touch!
I’ve personally seen the NOMOS Metro Neomatik on many women’s wrists. Now, I don’t mean the 35-mm Neomatik with a champagne-colored dial. I’m talking about the Neomatik 39 with a stainless steel case. This watch seems to have quite the following among women. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering few brands can hold a candle to NOMOS when it comes to unique, modern watch design. The Metro Neomatik has made inroads into the business world in particular. Paired with a blazer or evening attire, this automatic watch is truly in its element. It measures just 8 mm thick and exudes a classic, understated charm. A sapphire glass case back offers a clear view of the beautiful in-house caliber DUW 3001 at work. The movement features NOMOS’ proprietary Swing System, which provides the timepiece with a steady beat and 43-hour power reserve. Technically speaking, this watch leaves little to be desired. The Metro comes on a black leather strap that is perfect for almost any occasion but can be easily exchanged as needed.
NOMOS markets a number of their models using work and fashion settings. The Metro is made out to be a worldly and cool statement piece. As stated on NOMOS’ website, “It’s easy to be better dressed than the boss.” It may be a bold statement, but it’s likely a true one if you have a Metro on your wrist!
When most people hear “women’s watch,” their mind goes to a gold timepiece encrusted with diamonds and outfitted with a quartz caliber. This certainly describes the beloved Cartier Tank, which is an absolute treasure to be sure, but I doubt as many people think of the Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38. While this watch would hardly be described as “flashy” or delicate, it certainly adds contrasts with most feminine fashion thanks to its sharp corners and edges. A watch like the Navitimer doesn’t just look more robust than many women’s watches, it actually is more robust.
In 2018, Breitling released a 38-mm version of the Navitimer, which is relatively tiny next to most comparable watches on the market. This naturally drew in a more diverse audience, including women. Despite the smaller size, this Navitimer boasts everything that the larger models have to offer: the characteristic slide rule, alligator leather strap, and a full-on aviation vibe. While some fans complained about the smaller size, lack of chronograph function, and more elegant look of this version, others don’t consider these drawbacks at all. The Caliber 17, based on the ETA 2824-2, is a solid movement, if not groundbreaking. It has a 40-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 30 m (98 ft), making it absolutely ideal for everyday use.
Let’s talk Speedmasters. We’ve already touched on the fact that many brands have been expanding their marketing efforts in hopes of reaching a larger target audience. One of the most powerful stories the watch industry has to offer comes from Omega: the Speedmaster, a.k.a. the first watch on the Moon. In addition to its astonishing history, many buyers value another aspect of this watch: It’s high value retention. This is typically less important for women’s watches since men’s models are generally more highly coveted and have more stable prices.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, ref. 3570.50 is the perfect example. It offers a unique history, the perfect design for everyday wear, and is a beloved collector’s item. This 42-mm watch certainly makes a statement on any wrist, but it stands out particularly prominently when worn by women. It also comes with added functionality in the form of a chronograph, a complication rarely found on traditional women’s watches. This reference was manufactured by Omega from 1996 to 2014 and is considered a “traditional” Speedmaster with its hesalite crystal watch glass.
We now come to a watch that is a favorite among prominent female figures. Any watch fan could easily identify this model in photos or in person: the AP Royal Oak. This unmistakeable watch has an iconic, octagonal shape and sharp corners. While there is a women’s version available, the 39-mm “Jumbo” Royal Oak is certainly more of a statement piece. In addition to its integrated stainless steel bracelet, the “Petite Tapisserie” texture of the dial and eight screws around the bezel make this watch truly distinct and give it its hardy look.
This makes sense, considering that Gérald Genta was inspired by an old-fashioned diving helmet when designing this timepiece. The clean lines of the Royal Oak look particularly striking with casual wear. The watch is available in stainless steel and precious metals, such as yellow and rose gold. There are also various dials available, ranging from blue, white, and yellow gold to champagne-colored. One of the Royal Oak’s biggest selling points is its height. You can barely feel this watch on your wrist, especially the three-hand editions. Despite its rugged look, the integrated bracelet rests lightly on the wrist. The Royal Oak is powered by the legendary caliber 2121, which is based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920. Women who use this as an everyday watch will likely find that it’s a scratch magnet, but that will only add to its edgy look.
Of course, there are a few women’s watches out there that will likely never lose their icon status: think the Cartier Tank and the two-tone Lady Datejust. However, there is nothing keeping women from venturing into the world of men’s watches and enjoying their robustness, history, and desirability. Increased interest from across the aisle is leading to interesting developments in the watch industry, which could also have positive outcomes for male collectors. I personally find it intriguing when I see an unexpected men’s watch on a women’s wrist – it’s the ideal conversation starter!