Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

men’s watches con­sis­tently grew more in­no­va­tive and ex­cit­ing.

But the sit­u­a­tion wasn’t all bad; there are a hand­ful of very le­git­i­mate she­watches that of­fer her­itage, qual­ity and a dis­tinct identity. Breguet’s Queen of Naples comes to mind. Bul­gari’s Tubo­gas and Ser­penti as well are ex­cep­tion­ally es­teemed women’s time­pieces. Chopard’s Happy Sport, Chanel’s J12 and Patek Philippe’s Twenty-4 are all strong icons in their own right—and peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar among the ladies.

To­wards the end of the 2000s and into the early 2010s, hav­ing stud­ied the mar­ket, brands re­alised that it was not enough to make women’s watches by dumb­ing down a men’s watch.

So it’s clear that sim­ply launch­ing a line ded­i­cated to women isn’t the sil­ver bul­let that brand ex­ec­u­tives might have thought it was. Ulysse Nardin is a clas­sic case study. As a highly tech­ni­cal man­u­fac­ture with such awe-strik­ing watches and in­ven­tions as Freak, Sonata, Moon­struck, Ulysse An­chor Tour­bil­lon and so many more, how it man­aged to pro­duce such a mil­que­toast as Jade is beyond com­pre­hen­sion.

Per­haps it should take a leaf from the play­books of brands such as IWC and Pan­erai, which have never been es­pe­cially big on fem­i­nine time­pieces but are see­ing rapid suc­cess from this seg­ment lately. IWC’s new Mid-Size mod­els span the Pi­lot’s Watch, Da Vinci and Portofino lines—note how the brand clev­erly avoids fixed gen­der norms. The Lu­mi­nor Due in 38mm from Pan­erai comes with colour­ful in­ter­change­able straps and a slim­mer case pro­file that’s per­fect for slen­der wrists. Again, the brand has not la­belled it as a woman’s watch.

In both cases, the un­der­ly­ing force ma­jeure is how, rather than cre­ate some­thing com­pletely new and for­eign, the brands have used their most hotly de­sired at­tributes as the build­ing blocks of the col­lec­tions. Both men and women are en­cour­aged to nav­i­gate the brand uni­verse through the same prod­uct fam­i­lies. Th­ese gen­der-neu­tral watches come nat­u­rally to their man­u­fac­tures and, given how pa­tri­ar­chal the in­dus­try is, could be a vi­able di­rec­tion for other brands look­ing to achieve the same re­sults.

It’s al­ready hap­pen­ing in fash­ion, so why not watches? Gen­der-neu­tral time­pieces could cer­tainly co-ex­ist with, rather than re­place, the archety­pal over­sized men’s and dainty women’s watches. Is this go­ing to be the fu­ture? We may not know, but it’s def­i­nitely part of the present.

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