The wristwatch is truly an adaptive piece that serves the most basic of functions: timekeeping. The staying power of the wristwatch—even in the time of Zoom, and when many use their phone as a clock—speaks volumes. Nestled among bracelets or solo as your stand-alone piece, the best watches for women are an expertly utilitarian piece of jewelry. “Wearing a watch is much more than telling the time,” says jewelry designer Carolina Bucci, who designed the Frosted Royal Oak watch in collaboration with Audemars Piguet. “In general, my life is so filled with emails and being chained to a smartphone, that I take great pleasure in the analogue parts of my day.”
A watch face is a lot less anxiety-inducing to look at than a cellphone. Not to mention they’re very good-looking and incredibly varied. For all intents and purposes, they’re also easier to wear than a white T-shirt (arguably the easiest wardrobing item). Petite evening watches are as elegant as a diamond bracelet; chunkier models have informed heft that can instantly inspire an I’ve arrived attitude.
When it comes to the purchase of a watch, there’s something to investing in special, lasting pieces that can be markers of anniversaries, birthdays, or (quite simply) time. And as Bucci adds, “Of course, alongside all of it is the aesthetic side of things—some designs…are truly iconic additions to any outfit or style.” Here are our recommendations for the best watches for women at any point of life.
The quintessential women’s watch is petite and demure. Though an evening watch isn’t always required, the dimensions and hallmarks of one (slim, a tad sparkly, and often with an exotic-leather strap) look just as well with a white T-shirt as with a gown.
Cartier Tank Must stainless steel watch
Tiffany & Co Cocktail gold watch
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse platinum watch
Hermès Cape Cod stainless steel watch
Longines stainless steel watch
Shinola Derby 30mm two tone watch
Borrowed from the Boys
There’s no limit to the pieces that women borrow from men’s closets. Just like the tuxedo, a men’s watch on a woman is a tried-and-true stylish move. As more and more women have adopted traditional men’s watches, companies have scaled back the bulk on the dials while keeping all the other details the same.
Tag Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 5 stainless steel watch
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony rose gold watch
Rolex Datejust 36 stainless steel watch
Grand Seiko Mechanical Automatic 3-Day stainless steel watch
Audemars Piquet Royal Oak Frosted gold watch
Gucci 25H stainless steel watch
Watches as Jewelry
Disguised as a bracelet, these watches are the most obvious bridge between the worlds of jewelry and timepiece. Each is a statement on its own or an over-the-top addition to a wrist of bracelets.
Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée gold watch
Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas stainless steel watch
Cartier Coussin de Cartier rose gold watch
Hermès Faubourg Polka rose gold watch
Cartier Panthere de Cartier small rose gold watch
Sporty doesn’t have to mean a running watch—although the Apple Watch has the technology to help with that. These options have functions that may have traditionally been used for divers, or the tracking of laps on the race course, but look just as good on the wrist regardless of if you’re using them that way or not.
Tom Ford 002 Ocean Plastics Watch
Tag Heuer Aquaracer stainless steel watch
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce stainless steel watch