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    

Cartier Paris Tank 18k Gold Vermeil Roman Women's Men Watch!Cartier Lady Panthere 18k Watch Mother-of-pearl Dial Diamond Bezel & BraceletRolex Lady Oyster Perpetual Datejust 179173 18k Gold & Stainless Steel Watch Gorgeous 18k Yellow Gold Ladies Cartier Panther Cougar Quartz Wrist Watch E1239Estate ~ Rolex 18k Gold Diamond Bezel & Mop Dial Oyster Jubilee Ladies WatchCartier 18k White Gold Ladies Tank Francaise Diamonds Blue Dial. We1002s3. Mint$7000 Genuine Rolex 18k Gold Ss Ladies Datejust 1ct Emerald Diamond Watch & BoxGenuine Ladies' Rolex Steel & Gold Datejust Rubies & Diamonds 6917Rare Heavy 18k Gold Genuine Triple Signed Cartier 1950s Ladies Watch W BraceletBreguet Heritage 18k White Gold Automatic Ladies Watch.Audemars Piguet Deva 18k Wg Ladies Jewelry Watch Diamond Bezel & Lugs WarrantyLadies Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Two-tone 18k Yellow Gold & Steel DiamondsRolex Datejust Stainless Steel 18k Yellow Gold Z Serial 179173 26mm Ladies WatchCartier Roadster W62016v3 Wrist Watch For WomenLadies Piaget Diamond Dial 18k Yellow Gold Quartz Wrist Watch 8131 K61Very Slightly Used Cartier Tank Solo Ladies Stainless Steel W5200013Ladies 18k Yellow Gold Concord Diamond Bezel Date Quartz Box & Papers Wristwatch$7000 1ct Diamond 18k Gold Ss Ladies Genuine Datejust Rolex Pink Mop WatchGenuine Ladies Rolex President 18k Gold W Rolex Papers $18900 Retail Box Tags Rolex President Datejust 26mm 69178 18kt 750 Yellow Gold Diamond Womens E SerialRolex Datejust Ladies Steel + 18ct Yelow Gold Retro Watch 1994 69173 ServicedChopard 18k Wg Happy Diamond Spirit Oval Ladies Watch W/ Floating Train. RareRolex Stainless & Gold Womens Automatic Datejust Watch Silver Sapphire Dial C'85Vintage Original Ladies Piaget 18k Gold Bracelet WatchTag Heuer Carrera Diamind Bezel Ladies Watch War1315 Ba0778Ladies 69173 Genuine Rolex 18k Gold Ss Quickset Watch Vintage Estate $6000 Pink Mop Emerald Diamond Genuine Rolex Ladies Ss Oyster Watch & BoxChopard Happy Diamonds 18k Gold .66ct Vs1/e Floating Diamond Quartz Ladies WatchTiffany & Co - Ct60 Women's Watch (case Set In Diamonds/gray Soleil Dial)An Amazing Mother's Day Gift. Chopard "happy Diamonds" Ladies 18ct. Yellow GoldHeavy 18k Gold Fine Diamond Concord Ladies Wrist Watch1983 Rolex Ladies "date" Watch, Ss & 18k, Ref. 6917, Jubilee Band, Runs WellCustomized 18k Solid Gold Datejust After Market's Ladies 26mm Quick Set SapphirRare Rolex Two Tone Oyster Perpetual 6619 Jubilee Ladies Original Box & Papers!Ladies Tag Heuer Link Cjf1314 Diamond Dial & Bezel Mop Steel Date Quartz WatchCartier Santos Model 1564 Stainless Size Large Men's Or Women'sRolex Heavy 14k Gold Elegant .72ct Vs1/g Diamond Mechanical Ladies WatchLadies Omega Constellation 18k Gold & Ss Watch - Mop Diamond And Diamond DialLadies Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Two-tone Diamond Dial Gorgeous Concord 18k Yellow Gold & Factory Diamonds Ladies Quartz Wrist WatchAuthentic Rolex1400 Precision Ladies Manual 18k-white Gp Silver Dial Diamonds WaCartier Pasha Automatic Women's Stainless Steel Watch Date Rare Ladies 38mm CaseChopard Happy Sport Five Diamonds Ladies Watch Ref.8245. Estate ~ Rolex Diamond Datejust 2 Tone 18k Gold & Ss Ladies Watch~ Just ServicedRolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Ref.6619 Automatic Carl F. Bucherer Patravi T-24 Power Reserve Dual Time Ladies Diamonds AutomaticMichele Signature Deco Diamond Ladies Watch, Box, Papers., Cloth. Mw06a0009556Omega Ladymatic Antique 18k Wg .50ct Vs1/g Diamond Automatic Ladies WatchBaume& Mercier Vintage 14k Yellow Gold Ladies Watch 33.8 Grams $3000 NrGucci Pantheon Chronograph Mother Of Pearl & Diamonds Women's Watch $5,890Bedat No. 3 Diamond Steel Ladies Watch Bedat And Co. Collection No. 3 Model 304Tag Heuer Formula 1 Ceramic & Stainless Steel Ladies 37mm' Watch Wah1211.ba0861Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date 18k Two Toned Gold Women's Watch 51.3 Grams NrTag Heuer Ladies Wj131c Link Diamond Pink Mop Dial Stainless Beautiful ConditionEstate Rolex Vintage 14k Yellow Gold Ladies WatchLadies Rolex 76233 Datejust St Steel & 18kt Combined A Series Circa 1999Heuer Tag Aquaracer Way1312.ba0915 Wrist Watch For WomenLadies Stainless Tag Heuer Mop Dia Dial Wjf-1317 Watch W PaperworkAuth Hermes Cape Cod Pm Cc1.210 Double Tour Ladies WatchMichele Womens Urban Coquette 2 Tone Diamond Watch Orig Price $2195 & Overheads