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    

Dkny Ladies Ceramic & Gold Tone Crystal Set Chronograph Watch Model Ny8182Tiffany & Co. Platinum/14k Gold Elegant .62ct Vs1/g Diamond Custom Ladies WatchVacheron & Constantin Turler Heavy 18k Wg .90ct Vs1/g Diamond Ladies WatchVintage Rolex Precision 18k Gold Ladies Watch 42.0 Grams NrBreitling Ladies Cockpit .44ctw Diamond Mother Of Pearl Dial Steel Wrist WatchLadies Rolex President 69178 18k Yellow Gold Black Diamond Dial & Bezel WatchRolex Datejust Ladies Vintage 18k Solid Gold 6917 Watch Circa 1974Ladies Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual 18k Yg/ss Champagne Diamond WatchRolex 8379 Heavy Vintage 14k Gold .84ct Vs Diamond Bezel Mechanical Ladies WatchLadies Cartier Santos 18k Yellow Gold & Stainless Steel Quartz WatchLadies Rolex 3 Ct Diamond White Mop Dial Watch Stainless Steel Art Deco Platinum Diamond Ladies Wristwatch In Box Working OrderRolex Heavy Vintage 14k Gold Fancy Elegant Mechanical Ladies Watch W/ Mesh BandVintage Ladies 17 Jewel Manual Wind Cartier Tank Watch Running Strong Nice Nr1920's Vintage Rolex 9k Solid Gold 15 Jewels Manual Swiss Made Ladies WatchLadies Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch W/white Mop Diamond & BezelSwiss Longines Flagship Womens Ladies Quartz 18k Gold Plated Black Dial WatchMichael Kors Runway Gold Tone Women's Watch Chronograph Mk-5055Mens / Womens Cartier Santos *** Diamonds Everywhere *** !!!Vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Automatic Steel Ladies Watch Rare Aqua Green DialGenuine Ladies Bark 18k Gold President With Diamond Bezel Dial Watch 6927Vintage Cartier Tank Manual Wind White Dial Ladies 18k Electroplated Gold WatchLadies Rolex 2tone 18k Gold/stainless Steel Oyster Perpetual W/silver Dial 67193Michael Kors Ladies Gold 40mm Parker Chronograph Glitz Bracelet Watch Mk5632Dkny Ladies Ceramic & Rose Gold Crystal Set Dress Watch Model Ny8141Michael Kors Ladies 'bradshaw' Chronograph Bronze & Gold Tone Watch Model Mk5630Womens Rolex President 18k Gold *** Diamonds / Sapphires Everywhere *** DisplayRare Classic Ladies Cartier Santos Quartz 18k Gold & Ss Immaculate # A628Nwt!!! Michael Kors Women's Runway Tortoise Acetate Gold-tone Mk5864 WatchLadies Hermes H Hour 18kgp & St.steel Gold Dial Quartz Ref Hhi,201Ladies Solid 18k Cartier Tank Watch Box And Manuals No ReserveMichael Kors Ladies White 42mm Designer Bracelet Silver Watch Mk5816Beautiful Ref.3138 Cal.8-85 18k Solid Gold Vintage Patek Philippe LadiesVintage Rolex Ladies 18k Solid Yellow Gold 6619 Non Date With 26jewels Cal 1130Lady Rolex Stainless Steel Datejust Date Watch White Mop Diamond Oyster BraceletArt Deco Platinum Diamond Ladies Wrist Watch In Original BoxChopard Happy Diamonds 18k Gold Ladies WatchMichael Kors Mk5691 Women's Cameron Gold W/ Swarovski Crystal Glitz Watch $275Michael Kors Wren Silver Rose Gold Tone Dial Stainless Steel Ladies Watch Mk5837Original Ladies Swiss Cartier Tank Stainless Steel Immaculate Timepiece # A885Hermes Kelly Gold/burgundy Ostrich/authentic Ladies Luxury Dress Watch! (2114)Michael Kors Mk5410 Women Chronograph Dylan Rose Gold Stainless Steel Watch $275Nwt! Michael Kors Mk3220 Darci Glitz Rose Gold Designer Women WatchMichael Kors Women's Watch - White Rubber Strap With Gold Accents - Pre-ownedHeavy 14k Gold Retro .63ct Diamond Spring Flip-top Mechanical Ladies WatchLadies Rolex 2tone 18k Yellow Gold/stainless Steel Date Watch W/blue Dial 6917Nwt!!! Michael Kors Everest Quartz Gold Dial Women's Chronograph Watch Mk5874Ladies Rolex Datejust Watch 2.2 Ct 18 K Gold Steel ,pink Diamond Dial And BezelGenuine 69173 Ladies Rolex Datejust 18k Gold Ss Watch Tiffany CoMichele Csx Diamond Chronograph Ladies Watch Mw03c01Vicence Milor 18k Yellow Gold Quartz Ladies Watch NrMichael Kors Mk-3118 Mother Of Pearl Silver Tone Women's Watch Rolex 9ct Glasgow Import 1926 Ladies Wristwatch Head. Rwc (rolex Watch Co.) CaseLadies Rolex 2tone 18k Gold/stainless Steel Datejust Watch White Diamond 69173Michael Kors Mk5691 Women's Cameron Gold W/ Swarovski Crystal Glitz Watch $275Vicence Italy Diamond 14k Gold Ladies Watch NrNwt Michael Kors Women's Chrono Camille Gold Bracelet Watch Mk5756 W/ Swarovski Michael Kors Women's Petite Rose Gold-tone Stainless Steel Lexington WatcLuxurious Hermes Medor All Original Band,buckle,crown,box,guarantee Card LadiesLadies Omega Solid 18ct Gold Swiss Made Six Jewels Quartz Watch