Yes, it is.
I don’t mean that people in the watch industry are prone to inappropriate innuendo and spend their time pinching bums around the office, it’s a different, more subtle sexism that isn’t perhaps quite as offensive but does represent the dangerous subtleties of sexism and needs to change. In a world historically dominated by men, it’s all about size. And some other stuff too, but mainly size. Let me explain…
Used watch fanatics will know this one all too well: you’re trawling a watch site and you keep seeing these total, ‘must have’ bargains but every time you click on one and read the title properly you see that word almost subliminally slipped between ‘Tudor’ and ‘Submariner’: LADIES. Your heart sinks. The search continues.
‘Ladies’ (or lady’s, for the pedants among you) usually refers to a ‘mini’ version of the man’s watch. Sometimes the two were released together, sometimes the Ladies’ one is an afterthought. Sometimes it’s not only smaller but also covered in jewels, because well…girls like pretty things, right? Crucially, they’re always different. The women’s version is also usually a fraction of the price.
I had thought for a long time that women were just not as bothered about watches as men. I think I got it wrong. Maybe it’s just because watches are now a big part of my world but I regularly have conversations with women about watches and you know what? They don’t want your ‘ladies’, teeny tiny, diamond encrusted crap, they want a proper watch. They want 39mm plus. They want chunky, usable, sturdy, readable, fantastic watches that are perhaps more ‘handsome’ than ‘pretty’ (I’m now trying to work out if that last bit in itself was sexist. Maybe). Women keep telling me they want ‘men’s’ watches. And that’s the word they use.
I think there will always be a market for small, ‘pretty’ watches but they will never fetch (generally speaking) the same cash as a ‘man’s’ watch because the demand just isn’t there; not because women aren’t bothered about watches but because they’re buying the big ones. And for me, a woman wearing a full-size Sub…is it wrong that I find that incredibly sexy?
By the same rules I think anyone who is not a woman should feel just as comfortable going for the jewels. We like what we like, right? Crazily, Etsy - where I currently sell my own watches - forces you to pick a gender category when adding a new listing. For watches!!!!!! Utterly fucking insane.
You’ll have seen in my other posts that I think it’s likely men’s watches will shrink back to the classic days of the 34mm (for a while anyway), does that mean there will be a moment when men are wearing smaller watches than women? I kinda hope so. Why not? I take variety - freedom - over rules, any day.
To wrap up: there are changes afoot. There are more women coming to power in the watch industry and there are more people shining the spotlight on women’s watches. I listen to a brilliant - wholly irreverent - podcast called Two Broke Watch Snobs (an affordable watch review show) where they’ve done a few episodes solely on women’s watches and are forthright in their view that we need to talk about them a whole lot more. Here’s the thing for me though…why do we have ‘men’s watches’ and ‘women’s watches’ at all?!! It will always seem crazy to me. It’s your life; surround yourself with as many big, small, plain, sparkly things as you want to.
Photos courtesy of a-l-l-e-f-v-i-n-i-c-i-u-s and Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash.com