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According to a luxury watch market report via Mordor Intelligence, “the use of accessories to improve one’s looks is a common fashion trend…therefore, contributing toward the growth of the luxury watch market.” Reading this earnest sentence in the context of a serious analytical report left me giggling. Of course the best watch brands are used to elevate one’s image—that couldn’t be more obvious.
But if you think about it in gendered terms, you realize why high-end watches have been so coveted amongst men, specifically. Guys couldn’t exactly rock a designer tote bag or Manolo heels to signify their status, so they took to Rolexes and Pateks. Now, it’s not uncommon to see a man toting a handbag (I’m thinking of Jacob Elordi and his little Bottega purse), but, traditionally, men had their watches, and women had their pick of everything else.
This wasn’t always the case. Did you know that the first wristwatches were actually worn by women? In 1868, Countess Koscowicz of Hungary commissioned Patek Philippe to create a piece of jewelry that doubled as a watch, setting a female-forward trend for timepieces that were simultaneously ornamental and functional. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that men started to ditch their pocket watches for wristwatches. (There’s a lot of debate around who manufactured the first official wristwatch for men, but for this story, let’s go with Louis Cartier, who designed the Cartier Santos-Dumont in 1904 for his pilot friend, offering them at a larger scale to the public in 1911.)
It’s difficult to believe that wristwatches were never not en vogue for guys, considering how rampantly drooled over they are