Wrist Takers
L'OFFICIEL Singapore|August 2020
Wrist Takers
Watches of different sizes and styles are a must, but are special designs for men and women really necessary? We look at contemporary examples of brands trying something different
Ashok Soman

In the non-binary world that we are lurching headlong towards, it seems the wristwatch is once again out of step with the times. This is a strange position for timepieces to (repeatedly) find themselves, being that they are meant to move in lockstep with the passage of time. From a purely functional perspective, watches are meant to reliably track the motion of our little blue orb as it turns on its axis and spins around the class G star that we vaingloriously call the sun. Whatever our cultural or societal proclivities, the watch has been on the job for centuries now – today a new class of tools called wearables is also making its mark here.

Some think these devices might even make wearing time on one’s wrist relevant again, after the era of the smartphone put time back into people’s pockets. Unfortunately, even new technology cannot keep things from going pear-shaped.

At issue here is whether there is really such a thing as gendered watches – watches meant for one sex or the other. This first problem is “sex” versus “gender” of course, but thankfully, this is not exactly relevant here, because this is not that kind of story. What is a recurring issue is the matter of timepieces made and marketed specifically to one sex or the other. Leaving aside aesthetics, the main question is about the size of the watch in relation to the size of the wearer’s wrist. Since sexual dimorphism is not that extreme in humans, the size issue (to address attendant differences in men and women) is not that relevant. In other words, watch brands might as well offer products in small, medium and large sizes rather than target males or females.

Indeed, for brands as diverse as Apple and IWC, that has been the response for the most part. In the case of the Apple watch Series 5, there are only two sizes, and the implication is that one might be better suited for bigger wrists. Where Apple goes, others are sure to follow, and most such wearables do not distinguish between the sexes – when they do, they often stumble into the same traps that watch brands do. That aside, while there are certainly sociological and perhaps even psychological perspectives that could be relevant here, everything starts with the user experience. A larger person – including a person with bigger hands and wrists – might have a better experience handling a bigger watch where everything is scaled up appropriately.


Not for nothing, a small watch looks positively ridiculous on a big wrist – imagine Dwayne Johnson rocking a 34mm ticker with a leather strap. On the other end of the spectrum, think Timothée Chalamet or everyone’s favourite cantankerous nebbish Larry David pushing boundaries by wearing the Audemars Piguet Survivor model. Now think of how those two would look wearing any one of the Richard Mille Bonbon watches.


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August 2020