Removing references to a person’s gender is not without controversy, but Watchfinder is taking the bull by the horns (if that is still an acceptable term) by categorising watches as small, medium or large rather than as men’s or ladies’ pieces.
The move has been welcomed by renowned fashion photographer and America’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker, who has become a brand ambassador for Watchfinder (pictured top).
The Swiss watch industry is notoriously slow to embrace newfangled ideas, but Richemont-owned Watchfinder is ahead of the pack with the removal of gender labeling across its stores, ecommerce site and social media.
The pre-owned watch giant is also urging manufacturers to follow its lead and refer to watches by their size alone and ditch the gender-specific model.
“We feel that categorizing a watch as either men’s or women’s is now both redundant, restrictive and outdated. Everyone should be able to choose whatever style they want, without being dictated as to whether it is suitable for their gender or not,” says Matt Bowling, co-founder of Watchfinder & Co.
“By removing the men’s and women’s categories from our business we are encouraging customers to explore and discover more watches, helping them find the right watch for them. With a large proportion of men’s watches getting smaller and women’s watches getting bigger, we feel that gender categories are now obsolete,” he adds.
Gender-neutral timepieces have been spoken about for several years, but Watchfinder claims to be the first retailer to remove all labels.
The company says some of the world’s biggest stars are embracing the freedom to wear any watch they like.
Kanye West, for example, is regularly spotted wearing a 22mm Cartier Crash, Jay-Z has been seen wearing a 27mm Jaeger Reverso Duo and Harry Styles likes to sport a 32mm Rolex Precision; all of which would traditionally be considered women’s sizes.
The trend is even more advanced with women. Victoria Beckham wears a 40mm Rolex Daytona, Rosie Huntington-Whitely has bagged a 40mm Patek Philippe Nautilus and Charlize Theron (a Breitling brand ambassador) has been known to wear a chunky 44mm Rolex Deepsea diver’s watch.
“I believe fashion is a form of self-expression and that people should be able to wear and express themselves however they want in whatever they feel comfortable in,” says Mr Barker.
“When it comes to watches, I have a variety of sizes and shapes to compliment what I am wearing, how I am feeling and what works with what I am doing. When it comes to watches people should be able to choose whatever they want, as we all have our own style, and that shouldn’t be dictated to us by anyone.”