The men’s watches that women want to steal

Originally designed for men, smaller-sized cases mean these unisex watches offer even richer pickings for women.

IWC Pilot's 36mm watch

It’s not the first time watch brands have entered the arena of unisex watches. A couple of years ago, we witnessed IWC’s refusal to attribute a male or female gender descriptor to its Portofino Midsize 37mm watch collection, brandished by an all-star cast including Cate Blanchett and Ewan McGregor. 

With the resurgence of more restrained watch diameters, ideal for men with smaller wrists and, naturally, women, the clearly drawn lines between men’s and ladies’ watches are blurring, creating even richer pickings for both sexes. Let’s take a look at some men’s watches that women with a sporty, action-packed lifestyle might be tempted to wear.

36mm Pilot’s Automatic watch
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic comes with a blue dial and matching blue Santoni alligator leather strap (£3,190).

IWC has been making pilot watches since 1936 and deployed a squadron of them in 2016, ranging from vintage aviator to contemporary Top Gun models. Usually associated with XXL case diameters, the big surprise this year was the introduction of IWC watches in remarkably small cases measuring just 36mm. Designed for “women and men with slimmer wrists”, the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 with a blue dial and matching blue Santoni alligator leather strap features three hands and a date window, and its movement - like original pilot watches - is housed in a soft-iron inner case to counter the noxious effects of mechanical fields.  

BR S 39mm Desert Type watch
From the cockpit to the wrist, this cool 39.5mm camouflage watch from Bell & Ross also looks great on women (£1,900).

While still airborne, this cool camouflage pilot’s watch from Bell & Ross looks great on women’s wrists. Designed to meet the spec of pilots on desert missions, this BR S Desert Type model comes in a 39mm matte black ceramic case with a contrasting sand-coloured dial. The perforations on the numerals and indices expose the highly effective black luminescent material painted on the inferior dial and on the tips of the hands. Powered with a quartz movement, these Bell & Ross watches are water-resistant to 100 metres and come on a matching beige calfskin strap.

36mm Heritage Black Bay watch
The Heritage Black Bay model comes in a 36mm case, reminiscent of Tudor's original dive watches of the 1950s (£1,730).

Tudor has adopted a similar strategy with the popular Heritage Black Bay watches re-edited in a unisex 36mm case. Fashionable and sporty, the Black Bay features a dial inspired by the brand’s dive watches of the 1950s and replicates the angular hands known to collectors as “snowflake” hands. Riding the wave of the interchangeable strap trend, this watch comes with two options: a distressed beige leather strap and an urban camouflage woven fabric strap. Great for everyday wear and tear, these Tudor watches are water-resistant to 150 metres and come with an unbeatable price tag of £1,730.

39.5mm Seamaster Planet Ocean watch
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean watch has green, white and blue Super-LumiNova for resolution in the dark (£14,200).

Blue may be the new black, but who can resist the temptation of plunging into a sea of chocolate? The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, presented in a luxurious 39.5mm gold case with a rich chocolatey-brown ceramic bezel and dial, is a seriously professional dive watch with water-resistance to 600 metres. Sporty, yet elegant, these Omega watches are treated with green, white and blue Super-LumiNova luminescence for spectacular resolution in the dark, and come with a superior mechanical movement that can resist magnetic fields of 15,000 Gauss. Mighty strong and very attractive, the price tag on the gold model is £14,200.

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