Like the oversized boyfriend shirt, men’s watches have been adopted by women and incorporated into their ensembles for the longest time. The reasons for doing so differ. For some, the larger references of a timepiece such as the Rolex Datejust (available in four sizes from 28mm to 41mm) are simply more visually arresting. For others, a men’s watch is preferred if it comes fitted with a mechanical movement, which arguably presents a better value proposition vis-à-vis the quartz calibre in the ladies’ equivalent. Sometimes, there’s simply no choice in the matter – some of the most iconic timepieces today, from the Submersible to the Speedmaster, are strictly men’s only.
The look du jour for such a pairing has remained largely unchanged since the 2000s, and involves an aesthetic that purposely – and purposefully – straps an oversized men’s watch to a feminine wrist. This doesn’t just call attention to the watch itself, but also speaks to the confidence of its wearer, proportions be damned.
Stylistically, however, a chunky timepiece isn’t the be-all and end-all for women. In lieu of yet another RM 11-03, there are slimmer, more elegant, yet equally masculine options available, with which a lady can project a different sort of vibe. Here are some of them.
When it comes to technical feats, world’s firsts and new watchmaking records, it’s almost always men’s timepieces that are featured. Part of this stems from the perception that women simply aren’t interested in this aspect of horology. The other concerns space: Men’s watches are larger by design, which affords more internal volume in which movement complications can be built.
All bets are off when it comes to records for ultra-thin timepieces though, which makes the new Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT such a compelling option for women. The watch’s 42mm case may seem large, but the Octo’s short lugs make the watch wear smaller than its dimensions suggest. More importantly, its 6.9mm-thick case makes it the current world record holder for the world’s thinnest mechanical chronograph. A piece of watchmaking history and a world record on one’s wrist, anyone?
Horological significance aside, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT offers a stark industrial aesthetic with its sandblasted titanium surfaces. For the modern woman who wants something different from the usual steel, gold and platinum watches, this may be it.
The Monsieur de Chanel was introduced in 2016 to much fanfare, and marked a watershed moment for Chanel as it led the greater public to start taking its watchmaking ambitions seriously. The brand achieved this by combining a strikingly symmetrical design with an unconventional in-house movement to display the time with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. Interestingly, the watch was conceived as a men’s watch from the start, which explains its 42mm case size.
Originally offered in either beige or white gold with an off-white grained dial, the Monsieur de Chanel was overtly masculine. The Monsieur de Chanel Édition Noire unveiled this year, however, mixes things up with a steel and matte black ceramic case with a dial and alligator strap that are also matte black. This treatment doesn’t just minimise the perceived size of the timepiece, but also gives it a mysterious air, albeit at a slight cost to legibility.
The bottom line is clear: This isn’t just a quietly self-assured timepiece with a strong design backed by a technical movement, but also an accessory that instantly adds a touch of cool to an outfit.
Touch of class
Although it’s usually sports watches and tool watches that are associated with confident, masculine timepieces, the same can be said of a well-thought-out dress watch. Appropriating such an item for a black-tie event in lieu of yet another diamond-pavéd women’s watch could be an interesting styling exercise that opens up other sartorial possibilities.
Our choice for this is the new Grand Seiko Elegance collection, specifically the SBGK002 model in rose gold with a red urushi (Japanese lacquer) dial. Fitted with the new manually wound Calibre 9S63, the watch has a somewhat symmetrical layout with its power reserve indicator at three o’clock and the small seconds display at nine o’clock. This, in turn, allows it to present its dial in full glory. In the SBGK002, the dial sports an urushi surface displaying a textured pattern that radiates outwards from the centre, in what Grand Seiko calls the “Mt. Iwate pattern”. This contrasts greatly with the polished hands set against it. The kicker here is the domed dial surface, which is matched by bent minute and power reserve indicator hands that follow its contour.
At 39mm wide but just under 12mm high, the watch offers presence without significant heft, which makes it a classy option that’s equally at home under the cuff of a man’s shirt and on the wrist of a lady.