Ladies Watches – The Historical Transformation from Jewelry Item to Tool

ladies watches in historyLadies were the first living beings to have adorned their wrists with timepieces and history has evidence to prove it.

However, during the 1800s when ladies began wearing wrist watches they were not considered to be time pieces; instead they were treated more like other pieces of jewelry adorning women’s wrists. The wrist watches crafted for ladies were known as wristlets at that time.


The first ever wrist watch designed for a woman was in the form of a jewelry piece crafted by a male watch maker and looked somewhat bigger than usual ladies watches. This wrist watch was made for the Queen of Naples by Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) and was given to her on 8th June, 1810. This was a celebrated event and was well-documented in history. Followed by Abraham, Patek Phillippe Co. manufactured a beautiful wristwatch in 1869 for the Countess of Koscowiz in Hungary. For the next century wrist watches came to be associated with women’s adornments. They were considered to be jewelry items worn only by women. Men would carry watches in their waist coat pockets instead of wearing them on their wrists.


It was during the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902) that men took notice of the obvious advantages of wrist watches. Soldiers started wearing small pocket watches on their wrists which then took the form of wrist watches. Soldiers during the World War I made use of wrist watches. However, wrist watches for women still remained associated with fashion while the ones for men were considered useful for keeping time. Women continued to wear wrist watches, their designs remaining markedly different from those worn by men.


During 1920’s and 1930’s Rolex manufactured women’s wrist watches which were water proof. This was an important development for swimmers. In fact, Mercedes Gleitze is known to have worn a Rolex when she entered the English Channel. In fact, Rolex’s product line during the 1930’s included 79 wrist watches for women while only 23 pocket watches for men. Rolex made, marketed and sold one of their most expensive watches in history, the Princess wrist watch during the same time. It was known for its brilliant design and accuracy in time and carried a Kew A Certificate.

Rolex continued to rule the watch making industry and also promoted the concept of ‘tool watch’ for the first time.

This blog post provided by, online distributor of Landstroms lady’s and men’s Black Hills Gold watches.

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