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Iconic Women’s Watches Through History

From Royalty to Hollywood: The Timepieces That Defined Elegance and Style

Throughout history, women’s watches have transcended their primary function of keeping time to become symbols of style, status, and personality. From the elegant wristwatches of the early 20th century to contemporary smartwatches, these timepieces have adorned the wrists of influential women, setting trends and making statements. Here, we highlight some iconic women’s watches and the famous figures who have worn them, tracing the impact they’ve had on watch trends.

1. Queen Elizabeth I and the Armlet Watch

The earliest known wristwatch was crafted in 1571 by Robert Dudley for Queen Elizabeth I. This armlet watch, a blend of luxury and innovation, was encrusted with diamonds and pearls, showcasing the fusion of jewelry and timekeeping. As a trendsetter, Queen Elizabeth I’s watch not only reflected her regal elegance but also paved the way for wristwatches to become a fashion statement for women of high status. Nothing is known about the appearance of this watch, but it was called an ‘arm watch’.

2. Grace Kelly and the Cartier Tank, history of women’s watches

Grace Kelly, the epitome of Hollywood glamour and later Princess of Monaco, was often seen wearing the Cartier Tank. Introduced in 1917, the Cartier Tank’s design was inspired by the Renault tanks used during World War I, characterized by its rectangular face and sleek lines. Grace Kelly’s association with the Tank underscored its allure, blending simplicity with sophistication, and solidified its status as a timeless piece for women who appreciate classic elegance.

3. Jackie Kennedy and the Cartier Tank Cintrée, history of women’s watches

Jackie Kennedy, the iconic First Lady known for her impeccable style, also favored the Cartier Tank. However, her choice was the Tank Cintrée, a variation with a slightly curved case. Jackie Kennedy’s influence on fashion was profound, and her choice of the Tank Cintrée made it a coveted item. Her preference for this watch emphasized the elegance and versatility that have made it a mainstay in women’s luxury watches.

4. Princess Diana and the Patek Philippe Calatrava

Princess Diana’s style was watched and emulated worldwide. Among her collection of exquisite jewelry, she often wore a Patek Philippe Calatrava. Known for its understated elegance, the Calatrava is characterized by its clean lines and timeless design. Princess Diana’s choice highlighted the importance of subtle sophistication and the enduring appeal of minimalist aesthetics in women’s watches.

5. Audrey Hepburn and the Rolex Lady-Datejust

Audrey Hepburn, synonymous with timeless elegance, was a fan of the Rolex Lady-Datejust. The Lady-Datejust, with its signature date window and Cyclops lens, combined functionality with refined aesthetics. Audrey’s association with this watch emphasized the blend of everyday practicality and luxury, reinforcing the idea that a watch could be both beautiful and useful.

6. Elizabeth Taylor and the Bulgari Serpenti

Elizabeth Taylor, known for her love of extravagant jewelry, was frequently seen wearing the Bulgari Serpenti. This watch, coiled like a serpent, encapsulated the opulence and exotic charm that Taylor embodied. The Serpenti’s unique design, featuring a watch face set within the serpent’s head, became an icon of glamour and luxury, reflecting Taylor’s bold personality and her influence on high fashion.

7. Meghan Markle and the Cartier Tank Française

Meghan Markle, modern royalty and a global style icon, often wears the Cartier Tank Française. This modern adaptation of the classic Tank features a more robust case and bracelet, reflecting contemporary tastes while maintaining the elegance of the original design. Meghan’s choice signifies the enduring appeal of Cartier’s design and its adaptability to modern fashion sensibilities.

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