In decades past, watches designed specifically for women were usually small and delicate with tiny cases measuring 22mm or smaller. Legibility seemed like an afterthought as the dainty timepieces were really jewelry that happened to tell time. Over the years, the size of women’s watches has steadily increased. For perspective, consider the Rolex Datejust. When it was introduced in 1945, the men’s Rolex Datejust measured 36mm.
Today, that’s a fairly normal size for a ladies watch. With larger cases come more design and technology options. For example, from the mid-70s forward, most women’s watches were quartz. Today, there are countless automatic options including six of the ten affordable Swiss made watches discussed below.
On the larger side is the automatic Oris Divers Sixty Five Cotton Candy collection. The 38mm bronze case, bezel and bracelet are striking out of the box but over time, they will develop a rich patina that gives them an authentic vintage look. The collection features 3 different colorful pastel dial options – pink, green and blue – each with hand applied indices that glow brightly in low light conditions. Don’t be fooled by the whimsical appearance, though. The Sixty Five is a highly capable 100-meter dive watch equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel, sapphire crystal and screw-down crown and caseback. These watches are bold, functional, easy to read and fun to wear.
Norqain’s Adventure Sport Lady Automatic offers a completely different interpretation of the dive watch theme. The brushed 37mm steel case is topped by a sapphire glass that’s surrounded by a white ceramic insert on the dive bezel. The look is completed with a white carbon-fiber patterned dial, white highlights on the hands and a white rubber strap. An exhibition caseback reveals the copper-colored rotor on the automatic movement. Like all Norqain watches, there is a plaque at 9:00 that can be engraved for a personalized gift or to mark an important moment in time.
White’s not your thing? How about black? The quartz TAG Heuer Formula 1 combines a 35mm black PVD coated steel case with a black sunray dial, black 60-minute bezel and a black leather strap. The gold hands, numbers, markers and applied logo jump off the dial as the white indices and date brighten the look subtly.
TAG Heuer also offers several stainless steel watches in its Link, Aquaracer and Carrera lines. The mother of pearl dial with diamond markers on the 32mm Carrera quartz adds some creamy richness to the polished case and bezel. The smooth bracelet has alternating brushed center links and is contoured for an extremely comfortable fit.
Four watches into the discussion and besides the markers on the TAG F-1, there’s been no mention of gold. Let’s fix that oversight with a couple of watches from Mido. The first is the Mido Baroncelli Heritage. This automatic watch features a classic round dress look that is simple and elegant. The rose gold PVD coating on the steel case and matching hands set on top of an ivory dial give this watch an opulence that far exceeds the $1,090 price tag. There’s also a date window at 3:00 and a blued steel second hand. The blued hand rotates smoothly under the power of the Mido automatic 1192 movement that’s visible behind its see-through caseback.
The Mido Belluna Royal Lady has many of the same attributes as the Baroncelli – high polish rose gold PVD coated steel, automatic movement and a display caseback. What really makes this watch standout, though, is the layering of shapes and textures that give the watch a unique dimensional appearance. While Mido describes the watch as round, the position and shape of the lugs combined with the square sunburst pattern on the center of the dial trick the eye into thinking it is more of a cushion case shape. Small round diamond markers and a larger round date window sitting on the mother of pearl section of the dial add yet another layer, as does the burgundy leather strap. Despite all the textures, it’s a cohesive design with visual elements that make it really hard to stop admiring.
Gold also finds its way into the Tudor 1926, Raymond Weil Noemia and the Longines DolceVita. The automatic Tudor 1926 is a 28mm round steel sporty dress watch with gold applied Arabic numbers on the even hours and gold prong-set diamonds on the odds. A date window is positioned inside the 3:00 marker on the diamond grid patterned dial. The brushed links on the outer edge of the bracelet hide scratches while the polished center links tie in with reflective surfaces on the bezel and case. Tudor’s bracelets feature ceramic bearings on the folding safety clasp. With no metal-to-metal contact, opening and closing the clasp is particularly satisfying.
The Raymond Weil Noemia is a contemporary two-tone quartz everyday watch with a sporty feel. It features a mother of pearl dial, gold Roman numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock, and diamond markers around the perimeter. The bracelet has alternating rose gold PVD coated links that match the watch’s hands and crown.
Longines’ DolceVita injects pink gold center links into the steel bracelet of this rectangular quartz watch. A small seconds sub-dial is a surprising touch that fits well with the tank-style Roman numerals on the dial.
Those same Roman Numerals also appear on the 32mm round Longines Record automatic. Its blued hands pop against the white matte dial, which is framed by a polished bezel. A jubilee-style bracelet with brushed and polished surfaces completes the Record’s classic look.
Each of these brands offers several other models designed specifically for women but the options don’t end there. Depending on your style, oversized watches also make a great. After all, the real definition of a “women’s watch” is simply a watch worn by a woman!
Bobby Frank is a freelance writer and musician based in Nashville. He’s been an avid watch collector since discovering a sample case full of early digital watches at his father’s office in the late 1970s. Current favorites include the Rolex Batman, Zenith Chronomatster and Girard-Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar. A timekeeper to his core, Bobby plays the drums in several bands that perform across the Southeast including Tennessee Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute band.
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