For too many years, watchmakers created women’s watches that were little more than fashion items with their movements and complications coming as an afterthought. No more is this the case (excuse the pun). In-house movements are becoming more common and watches are becoming less about jewellery and more about mechanical genius. Look no further than Baselworld 2017, when Omega brought out the Omega Speedmaster 38mm, a professional and understated women’s watch, free from diamonds and moonphase indicators.
That being said, mechanical innovations in these watches often still revolve around an aesthetic trait – such as the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate – and quartz movements remain a common feature. But things are moving in the right direction and Fine Watch brands are realising that women appreciate a bi-axial tourbillon as much as a man does.
To keep things simple, we won’t be differentiating between new/older models of timepieces, so for example a Rolex Datejust will simply be classed as that, irrespective of dial colour, material or type of strap. As the hashtag has been used over 100,000 times and each image must be reviewed individually, we will be taking a small sample size of 2,500 images, calculating the percentage from this to decide which watch is the most popular across the whole hashtag. We have only included watches defined within the Fine Watchmaking Perimeter. So without further ado, in ascending order, here is the most popular #ladieswatch on Instagram.
Percentage of total: 12.36
History: The Datejust was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a small window at 3 o’clock on the dial. The unique Cyclops lens was added several years later to increase legibility and soon became a recognised Rolex standard.
Why: The Lady Datejust, which launched in the 1950s, was the first female-specific version of the Rolex date Chronometer. It has everything its male counterpart does, but inside a smaller case. The joy of the Lady Datejust is the size of its range: whatever you want, from a diamond paved bezel to a simple platinum piece, it can be found. This means that whether it’s being donned for a wedding or a business meeting, the right watch will be out there.
Percentage of total: 8.32
History: The Day-Date was patented in 1955 and released in 1956 (the concealed clasp was an addition in 1969). Worn by the likes of Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Reagan, Nixon and Roosevelt, it became popularly known as the “President”.
Why: The Day-Date was the first wristwatch to indicate both the date and the day of the week (spelt out in full) on its dial, in a choice of 26 languages. Its elegance is unrivalled and it has been seen upon the wrist of many powerful women in the world – Hillary Clinton has one in her collection.
Percentage of total: 6.20
History: The Tank dates all the way back to the early 1900s, and there are very few models that have been continuously produced for that length of time. When designing the timepiece, Louis Cartier took inspiration from the Renault tanks that were deployed on the Western Front.
Why: The joy of the Cartier Tank is its complete androgyny. A lot of watches are worn by both male and female, but none are so difficult to set apart as the Tank. This was Cartier reaching into the future and realising that practical, sleek watches weren’t just for men – women yearned for them also. Think Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and more recently Michelle Obama. The Tank is a true icon among women’s watches. Oh, and did we mention it’s the Tank’s 100th anniversary this year, meaning everyone is talking about it anyway.
Percentage of total: 3.24
History: The Portofino was launched in 1984 and, as one of a raft of Fine Watchmakers pushing the boundaries, the brand recognised the demand for classic, stylish timepieces. What made the original so pioneering was the unusual placement of the small seconds and the moonphase display at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock respectively.
Why: The Portofino taps into a trend that has been emerging in Fine Watchmaking for quite a while: minimalism. Not only that, the Portofino is following several SIHH / Baselworld trends in which practical complications are taking precedence, and women’s watches are becoming a more serious business.
Percentage of total: 2.84
History: Originally introduced as part of the Seamaster line, this watch was the first to have the now standard layout of three counters and the timing scale on the bezel, thus ensuring its place as one of the most iconic chronographs ever created… not to mention its history of space exploration, earning it the nickname of the ‘Moonwatch’.
Why: The limited edition “Speedy Tuesday” sold out within hours of being released to the public on Instagram. If there is any concrete proof that women are no longer just after diamonds, the women’s Speedmaster is exactly that. Smaller cases compared with their male counterparts and subtle changes turn them from simply a professional watch to a ‘wear anywhere’ classic timepiece.