At the beginning of the Edwardian era, it was widely considered rude for a woman to check her watch in public, as it might imply she was bored. Last night, sitting in front of Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber at the Planet Omega exhibition in New York, I watched Gerber glance down at her Omega Mini Trésor watch looking anything but. Shortly after, she told me, “Women weren't always allowed to wear watches—but some of the first watches that were made for women were made by Omega!”
The mother-daughter duo, representing two generations of Omega ambassadors, were set to talk on a panel at the Chelsea Factory exhibition, which traces Omega’s history—like being the first (and only!) watch to ever make it to the moon or the Mariana Trench. It hadn't even started yet, and already Gerber was casually schooling me.
She was right. Omega was one of the first brands to make wristwatches for women, and to do it with pride. Other watchmakers might have hidden their women's timepieces with clasps that made them look like jewelry, but Omega just produced smaller versions of its diamond-studded men’s watches. Now, decades later, the bands has found a home on supermodels' wrists everywhere.
“I've worked with Omega for almost 30 years,” Crawford said. “And I think Omega really understands that the way women wear watches is different from the way in which men wear watches. For women, it's jewelry! And for men, it's more about status. I wear a watch every day, even though I never look at it for time, layered with other chain bracelets…it's a way to accessorize that feels super easy.”
Gerber, who is 22, chimed in, “I have never lived at a time when a watch was a necessity, so I think I have a very different relationship to them. For me, they feel super timeless and classic, in the way that people don't read physical copies of books or listen to records on record players. There's something really special about the sentiment of a watch, especially now because you don't really need them anymore.”
Wearing a luxury watch in 2023 is a choice, one that has, surprisingly, become popular with Gerber’s generation. Gen Z has always carried information about the world in the palm of their hands, but they still seem eager to wear the time on their wrists.
“It's the same thing as when you see people walking around with Walkmans,” Gerber said. “People are just very into vintage things right now. As our world moves forward and more towards digital, I think people tend to crave these vintage things. That's what it is. It's why you see people with the headphones with the wires even though there are AirPods!”
“I love my wired headphones!” Crawford quipped, before adding: “I guess every generation always comes back to what the generation before did. And watches are truly sustainable in that sense because they can be passed down for generations. Sometimes you pull it out 20 or 30 years later and it's new again—even though it's actually old.”
At this point Gerber’s eyes lit up as she leaned forward, the gold band of her Mini Trésor adjusted tightly around the sleeve of her black top, to tell me, “In a world of so much unnecessary waste, buying a watch that’ll last you a lifetime is one of the most sustainable things you can do.” And just like that, she was right again.
When I left the event, I looked down at my own watch, only to remember that I need to take it in to get the time correctly set. But maybe that doesn't even matter. As Gerber and Crawford reminded me, watches are about more than the numbers the dial point to. These days, women wear watches because they can, not because they need to.
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