Old advertising images can be jarring, with their outdated depictions. For example, historical advertisements for women’s watches almost always highlighted the sexist assumption that husbands would be the ones buying for their wives. But even if today’s ad campaigns have been updated, it doesn’t mean sexism has disappeared from this sector. Most luxury watchmakers continue to rely in sexualized images in their advertising of women’s watches, whereas ads for men’s watches highlight functionality. Beyond the images in popular media, the assortments also reflect gender-based boundaries. Watches targeted at women tend to be more ornate and decorative, as well as smaller. There are fewer varieties available, especially from famous name brands such as Patek Philippe or Hublot. But female watch collectors reject these limitations, such that many seek out vintage styles and embrace massive formats. Both men and women also might prefer smaller watchfaces but would like a simpler, less ornate style. Blog and social media chatrooms dedicated to watch collectors increasingly focus on the gender-based discrimination, including a widely read online column entitled “All Watches Should be Unisex.” For the watch brands, a reconsideration of their segmentation strategy thus might be in line. For those that consider doing so, a relevant example from another industry already exists: Just as cars and trucks can be classified as sporty or classic or rugged, so could watches be, such that consumers of any gender who appreciate those offerings can seek out the watch that best meets their needs and self-image.
Source: Victoria Gomelsky, “Forget ‘Ladies’ Collections.’ Women Watch Buyers Want More Options,” The New York Times, March 8, 2021