When we say wristwatch, it is quite common to think about men. For a very long time, this has been the case. Timepieces were deemed to be male-exclusive back then in the form of pocket watches. You probably have heard or watched it in movies where the father always gives a pocket watch heirloom to the son and not the daughter. But, did you know that women also played a vital role in the history of watches? They are pivotal in the evolution of wristwatches.
In 1810, the first watch in history was crafted by Abraham-Louis Breguet and was exclusively made for a woman - Queen of Naples Caroline Murat. Another moment in horological history proved that women were a big part of the evolution of watches when Countess Koscowicz of Hungary was presented with a wristwatch made by Patek Philippe himself. This was intended for the respective aristocrat.
However, it was only during the start of the twentieth century that the use of wristwatches by women began to magnify. From pleasing the royalties to offering the masses something they can use to complete their outfits and enhance their fashion, we have seen many decades of changes and improvements.
Despite the fact that the first-ever watch for men was made in 1904 by Cartier for Alberto Santos-Dumont, almost all men remained dedicated to the use of pocket watches back then as they visualized wristwatches worn by women as a mere adornment of their wrists. It was only in the 50s that men began to transition from pocket watches to wristwatches. This is when the world of horology and fashion started to get more color.
As the wristwatches began to intrigue many people, more and more women from all walks of life (including queens) loved the trend even more and they view timepieces as something not only confined to telling time.
Women’s Wristwatches: Down the Evolution Lane
The beginning of the Art Deco era and the emergence of timepieces started in the 1920s. This is when blocky sensibilities and rectangular-like designs were carried throughout this horological timeline. The ornate decorative styles and aesthetic appeal were reflected in the late 19th century to the early 20th Art Nouveau era.
The watchmakers in this era leaned on elegance, for the most part, to cater to the sophistication and finesses of a woman. Alongside the opulence of Great Gatsby, nothing was chunky back then and they kept the designs as small as possible with enough space for stones and other embellishments.
The most remarkable part of this history was the creation of the infamous Calibre 101 by Jaeger-LeCoultre which watchmakers still make use of. Ergonomic comfort was also at the heart of this era.
This is when watchmakers started to get extra playful with the designs for women’s watches. Along with elegance, sophistication, and ergonomic comfort, they decided to add vibrant details to the designs. The watches for women became fancier with beautiful dials, cases, bracelets, hands, and even numerals.
These designs later became the most-loved collectibles because of their intricate and creative designs.
Contrary to the creative pursuits of watchmaking in the 1930s, the 1940s leaned more on simplicity and minimalistic elegance. It was all because of the sense of sobriety caused by the effects of World War 2. There were also fewer watches made during this era as expected.
This era paved the way for the rise of cocktail watches with delicate designs to catch up after WW2 and pick up where they left off. It was also the time when more feminine jewelry watches grew in demand. In 1953, automatic movements were also introduced and became a hit for both men and women.
Wristwatches became a real necessity during this time.
The 1960s to the 1980s
A lot of things happened during this time in the world of horology. The design for women’s watches became even more elegant, professional, functional, aesthetic, and refined. The creativity during this timeline returned to the industry and artisan watchmakers expressed their artistic prowess boldly. Experimentations also took place which significantly helped in the designs that we have today.
The 1990s - Today
The watches for women, even after several transformations, continue to evolve with a focus on versatility, functionality, and style.