Which are the best watches for professional women? Is it still worth investing in a quality watch, even though everyone uses their cell phone or computer to check time? Reader L wrote in to ask about watches:
I searched your site and found the post on digital watches, but I would love your (and your readers’) opinions on non-digital wrist watches. It would be useful to hear suggestions at various price points.
This is a great question. I’ve written before about how I think watches are still status symbols. Not only do men’s magazines all still advise men to go out and spend money on a watch, but I’ve often been at a lunch with high-achieving women, looked around, and noticed that 8 of the 10 women there were wearing Cartier watches. In New York — at least among the legal and banking set — Cartier is kind of the first and last word, at least in my experience. My 30th birthday gift to myself was a Cartier Tank Francaise watch, though, so perhaps my perception is a bit biased! (It was a huuuuge splurge for this Midwestern girl.)
What to Look For: If you’re spending money on something, I think you absolutely have to love it. So first and foremost, look for something you really love. Other considerations: look for a watch that will wear well with your daily activities — if you’re a chef and washing your hands every two seconds, for example, you want a fairly waterproof watch. Consider how the watch keeps time, also — for example, if you may not wear the watch daily, you may want to avoid a “perpetual motion” watch that stays wound through your body’s motions. The word on the street is you can wear gold jewelry with a stainless steel watch — but if that will make you feel awkward (like I always do!) then consider getting a watch with both gold and silver elements. Finally, diamonds and other jewels: I think this is more of a “know your region” kind of thing. Here in New York, I would think that a watch with diamonds on it was only for going out — but I have another friend in Miami who wears her bejeweled watch everywhere, including to court.
How to Buy It: I started noticing Cartier watches (and really wanting one) sometime in my late 20s. So I started thinking of it as, “every time I see one and want one, I’m mentally putting $5 into my “watch fund jar,” which helped mitigate the purchase a bit when I plunked down the money. The other thing to know is that you can often haggle, especially at good watch stores. I bought my Cartier at Tourneau, and got somewhere between 15%-20% off the list price. (I don’t remember exactly how much it was now, but I remember that it was a very quick purchase because I had done so much legwork before I decided to actually purchase the watch, so I think it helped that the salesperson knew she had a fast and easy commission.) These days, you frequently see Cartier and other watches on flash sale sites like Rue La La — a quick web search even shows Cartier watches for sale on Overstock! (Whenever you buy a watch from a secondary retailer, though, be very careful, and know what little things to look for. For example, on a real Cartier watch, the one of the bars on the V in the “VII” is actually the word “Cartier.”) I know one good friend who confided in me that her parents bought her graduation watch — a Michele — at Costco.