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    

Calvin Klein 4 Genuine Diamonds + Cert Ladies 100% Swiss Made Watch - K0353102Calvin Klein Disco Ladies Black Dial Sapphire Swiss Water Resistant K4023102Ladies Cartier Panthere 8057915 18k Yellow Gold Watch With Diamonds W21Ladies Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual 18k White Gold/ss M.o.p. Diamond WatchCartier La Dona 2835 Elegant High Fashion Ss Quartz Ladies WatchGenuine 18k Gold Sterling Silver 2 Tone David Yurman Diamond Bezel Ladies WatchEbel Beluga 18k Gold 1.28ct Vs1/f Diamond/mop Dial Quartz Ladies WatchCartier Paris 18k Yellow Gold Model 1480 Ladies WristwatchVintage Antique Bulova Diamond 14k White Gold Ladies Art Deco Wrist WatchLadies Rolex 67198 Oyster Perpetual 18k Gold Champagne Dial Fluted Bezel Watch Ladies Hermes H Hour St.steel Light-pink Pattern Dial Quartz Ref Hhi,210Ladies Rare Vintage Rolex Precision Diamond 18k Gold & Stainless #a2345Genuine Ladies Rolex Datejust Diamond Dial Diamond Bezel Q.s. 69173 WatchStunning Ladies Vintage Omega 14kt W/gold 48 Diamond W/watch 2cts Tdw Wt 15grAuthentic 1960s Ladies Rolex 6517 Oyster Perpetual Date 14k Gold Steel AutomaticLadies Rolex Datejust Two Tone 18k Yellow Gold/ss Ice Blue Diamond WatchHamilton Vintage Platinum 14k Gold 2.75 Tcw Diamond Ladies Wrist Watch Nr272Lady Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch White Mop Diamond Oyster BraceletAuthentic Tag Heuer Diamond Link Quartz Ladies Watch Waf1415 Valuation$3250Ladies Rare Vintage Rolex Precision Diamond 18k Gold & Stainless #a23481970s Rolex Oyster Perpetual 2-tone Gold Steel All Original Signed Ladies WatchPatek Philippe 4512-1 Heavy 18k Gold Ladies Watch W/ Pristine Guilloche DialGenuine Ladies Rolex Oyster Perpetual Automatic 1960s Watch Solid Steel BraceletLadies Michele .65 Carat 116 Diamond Two Tone Mini Urban Watch Mw02a01c5001Ladies Rolex Datejust 18k White Gold/ss Vignette Blue Diamond WatchTag Heuer 2000 Aquaracer Women's Ss Watch In Its Tag Box! Gents/ladies Raymond Weil Geneve Parsifal 9590 Steel & 18k Solid Gold Elegant Rotary 15 Jewels Wind-up Ladies .375 9ct Gold Watch, 19.02g - Xx R24Omega Vintage Lady 18k Gold Automatic Constellation Date....circa 1960sLadies Luxury Omega Constellation 18k Yg & Stainless Steel Quartz Wrist WatchMassive 18k Gold 3ct Fine Diamond Genuine Vintage Ladies Rolex Cocktail WatchRolex Oyster Perpetual Stainless Steel Automatic Women's Watch! 76080Ladies Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual 18k Gold/ss Salmon Diamond WatchRolex Lady Datejust Yellow Gold / Ss With Slate Grey Dial & Diamond BezelLadies Tiffany Atlas 18k Solid Gold / Gold Dial Roman Bezel QuartzWomen's Michele Mini Urban Diamond Watch Mw02a01a2001 W/ Leather Patent StrapRolex Ford Award Ladies Oyster Diamond Dial 18k Solid Gold Date 67198 President Vintage Cartier Santos Automatic Ladies Steel & Gold Wrist Watch No Reserve!Michael Kors Women's WatchMarc By Marc Jacobs Women Black Silicone Chronograph Rock Rosegold Watch Mbm2553Michael Kors Baguette-bezel Mk5412 Wrist Watch For WomenOriginal Ladies Rolex Oyster Date Ref 6517 Automatic Ss Gold Bezel Vintage WatchGenuine Omega Ladies Seamaster Watch Ref 566.0088 Cal 684 For Spares Or RepairRolex Lady Gold Two Tone Oyster Perpetual Diamond Dial BezelMichael Kors Mk5870 'everest' Silver Rose Gold Crystal Bezel Glitz Women WatchLadies Vintage 9ct Gold Rolex Watch For Restoration.signed On Dial,case And Mvt.Rolex Solid Gold Ladies TimepieceNo Reserve!! Authentic Tag Heuer Professional 200 Meters Ss Quartz Women's WatchOmega Vintage Lady 9k Gold Automatic Date.....circa 1960sRare 1990 Lady's Rolex 69178 President Solid 18k Gold Diamond Dial, Box & PapersIwc Schaffhausen 18k Yellow Gold Ladies WristwatchAuthentic Swiss Womens Ladies Omega Seamaster Automatic Date Black Dial WatchTag Heuer Professional Wk1311-1 High Fashion Ss Ladies Quartz Diving WatchMichael Kors Ladies Rose Gold Parker Swarovski 40mm Bracelet Watch Mk5784Ladies Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch W/white Mop Diamond & BezelRolex Ladies Ss Oyster Perpetual No Date - Mop Diamond Dial - 76080 W/ PapersGenuine Ladies Rolex Oyster Precision 6410 Manual Wind 14k Gold/ss Vintage WatchMust De Cartier Vermeil Quartz Ladies Watch, Blue DialLadies Carrera Y Carrera Sculptured Titanium & Solid 18k Gold Horse WatchTag Heuer 1000 Series Stainless Steel Quartz Ladies Diver Watch