The first wristwatches were essentially bracelets that told the time. In fact, the very first wristwatch, made in 1868 by Patek Philippe, was sold to a woman, Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, in 1876. Men came to wristwatches much later, around World War I. Until then, men mostly carried pocket watches.

By design, ladies' wristwatches were small, which meant they generally lacked the physical space inside to support features we associate with men’s wristwatches, including chronographs and chronometers. Instead, vintage and antique ladies' wristwatches were essentially functional pieces of jewelry. These petite timepieces had small dials and stretchy bands, which were sometimes as encrusted with diamonds and gemstones as the cases and covers that framed and protected the dials.

Companies that have manufactured ladies wristwatches include Bulova, Elgin, Gruen, Hamilton, Jaeger LeCoultre, Omega, Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Vacheron & Constantin. Of the jewelers who purchased watch movements from Swiss manufacturers, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels were important players, but Cartier was probably the most influential.

Cartier has been making wristwatches for ladies since the mid-1890s, but it was the development of a wristwatch for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, beginning in 1904, that would eventually lead to the Santos, a breakthrough brand for Cartier in 1911. Though designed for male pilots, these handsome wristwatches were quickly embraced by women, who were already fans of Cartier for its 1906 Tonneau.

After World War I, Cartier introduced the Tank, whose case mimicked the parallel metal tracks of the Renault tanks that had helped the Allies with the war. Again, women claimed this seemingly male object of adornment as their own, encouraged, of course, by Cartier designers, who decorated the device with diamonds and eventually elongated and curved its rectangular shape to make it more comfortable (and fashionable) on the wrist. Indeed, Cartier’s Tanks seemed to presage the Art Deco Baguette wristwatches that followed later in the 1920s, and were often difficult to make out amid their brilliant bands.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rolex Datejust Ladies Vintage 18k Solid Gold 6917 Watch Circa 1974Dkny Ladies Ceramic & Gold Tone Crystal Set Chronograph Watch Model Ny8182Ladies Cartier Santos 18k Yellow Gold & Stainless Steel Quartz WatchVintage Ladies 17 Jewel Manual Wind Cartier Tank Watch Running Strong Nice NrLadies Solid 18k Cartier Tank Watch Box And Manuals No ReserveArt Deco Platinum Diamond Ladies Wristwatch In Box Working OrderLadies Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch W/white Mop Diamond & BezelDkny Ladies Rose Gold Plated Crystal Set Mother Of Pearl Dial Watch Model Ny8508Ladies Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual 18k Yg/ss Champagne Diamond WatchVintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Automatic Steel Ladies Watch Rare Aqua Green DialVintage Cartier Tank Manual Wind White Dial Ladies 18k Electroplated Gold WatchCartier Chronoscaph 21 2996 Ss Chronograph White Quartz Ladies Watch W/b&pDkny Ladies Ceramic & Rose Gold Crystal Set Dress Watch Model Ny8141Womens Rolex President 18k Gold *** Diamonds / Sapphires Everywhere *** DisplayMichael Kors Ladies 'bradshaw' Chronograph Bronze & Gold Tone Watch Model Mk5630Genuine Ladies Bark 18k Gold President With Diamond Bezel Dial Watch 6927Lady Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch White Mop Diamond Oyster BraceletLadies Hermes H Hour 18kgp & St.steel Gold Dial Quartz Ref Hhi,201Chopard Happy Diamonds 18k Gold Ladies WatchMichael Kors Ladies Gold 40mm Parker Chronograph Glitz Bracelet Watch Mk5632Nwt!!! Michael Kors Women's Runway Tortoise Acetate Gold-tone Mk5864 WatchNwt Michael Kors Women's Chrono Camille Gold Bracelet Watch Mk5756 W/ Swarovski Ladies Rolex 2tone 18k Yellow Gold/stainless Steel Date Watch W/blue Dial 6917Nwt! Michael Kors Mk3220 Darci Glitz Rose Gold Designer Women WatchLadies Rolex Datejust President 18k Solid Gold Pink Mop Diamond WatchVintage Rolex Ladies 18k Solid Yellow Gold 6619 Non Date With 26jewels Cal 1130Michael Kors Mk5691 Women's Cameron Gold W/ Swarovski Crystal Glitz Watch $275Beautiful Ref.3138 Cal.8-85 18k Solid Gold Vintage Patek Philippe LadiesArt Deco Platinum Diamond Ladies Wrist Watch In Original BoxDkny Ny8139 Ladies White Ceramic 30mm Stainless Steel Case Mineral Glass WatchGenuine 69173 Ladies Rolex Datejust 18k Gold Ss Watch Tiffany Co$250+ Michael Kors Mk5385 Swarovski Crystal Glitz Silver Chronograph Women WatchMichael Kors Ladies Espresso Chronograph 38mm Designer Watch Mk5492Nwt!!! Michael Kors Everest Quartz Gold Dial Women's Chronograph Watch Mk5874Van Cleef & Arpels Heavy 18k Gold Fancy 1.11ct Vs1/g Diamond Quartz Ladies WatchJaeger Lecoultre Vintage 1950s 18k Wg 1.49ct Vs Diamond Backwinder Ladies WatchMichael Kors Mk5691 Women's Cameron Gold W/ Swarovski Crystal Glitz Watch $275Rolex 9ct Glasgow Import 1926 Ladies Wristwatch Head. Rwc (rolex Watch Co.) CaseEstate $20,000 18k Yellow Gold Ladies Rolex 1ct Vs G Diamond President WatchMichele Csx Diamond Chronograph Ladies Watch Mw03c01Rare 18k Audemars Piguet Hidden Dial Backwind Ladies Watch Diamonds Emeralds!Womens Vintage Lecoultre 490 14k Solid Gold Bracelet Watch, 17 Jewel,runsMichael Kors Ladies White 42mm Designer Bracelet Silver Watch Mk5816Nwt!! Michael Kors Cameron Mk5692 Rose Gold Chronograph Ladies Women Watch $275Michael Kors Mk5410 Women Chronograph Dylan Rose Gold Stainless Steel Watch $275Chanel J12 33mm Chromatic Ceramic Diamond Ladies Quartz Watch H2565 No Reserve!Ladies Rolex Datejust 18k White Gold/ss Silver Diamond Dial WatchLadies Rolex Solid 18k Yellow Gold Cellini Manual Wind Gold Dial 1988 #a2113Tag Heuer Women's "aquaracer" Stainless Steel Sport WatchBeautiful Ladies 9ct Solid Gold Omega Bracelet Watch Dated 1970.Vintage Mens And Ladies Pulsar Led Watches.Rolex 69174 Diamonds Sapphire Bezel Automatic Women's Watch!Cartier Ladies Panthere Steel With Diamonds On Bezel-case-lugs Mint ConditionLadies Cartier Panthere Stainless Steel W/ Diamond Bezel Ref. 1320Ladies Hermes Kelly 18k Gold Plated White Dial & Black Hermes Band WristwatchMichael Kors Oversized Rose Gold Navy/blue Blair Pave Chorono Women Watch Mk5410Vintage Lady's 18ct White Gold & Diamond Girard Perregaux 17 Jewel WristwatchLadies Chopard Imperiale Chronograph Watch With Diamonds - 384211Luxurious Hermes Medor All Original Band,buckle,crown,box,guarantee Card LadiesRare!! Omega Constellation 18k Yellow Gold /st.steel Two Tone Ladies Watch Swiss