One of the most thrilling stories in watchmaking is one that isn’t being told enough—how women’s luxury timepieces present an opportunity to stand out in a crowded field.
Historically, the business of status watches has been rooted in men’s timepieces. The most complicated, feature-centric mechanical designs were dedicated to male collectors, while women’s timepiece designs have spent an inordinate part of the last century focused largely on diminutive quartz watches accented with diamonds. Over the past decade, however, many women shifted over to men’s styles to get the size, look, and features they wanted. In recent years many brands began to take notice, positioning watches with 39mm or 40mm cases not solely as men’s pieces, but as unisex—a trend that continues to grow.
As more than one-third of today’s luxury watch purchases are made by women, many brands are increasingly putting an emphasis on the women’s side of their offerings, investing in mechanical designs that are as deeply rooted in features, craft, and tradition as their male counterparts. And no brand is accomplishing that balance as well as OMEGA. Best known for crafting the Speedmaster Moonwatch, the iconic timepiece worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969, OMEGA also has distinguished itself with women’s watches that are equal parts elegant and classic. To further highlight its dedication, OMEGA continues to develop its relationship with brand ambassadors Cindy Crawford, Nicole Kidman, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Liu Shishi—a group that exudes the qualities of today’s modern, accomplished, professional woman.
OMEGA CEO Raynald Aeschlimann took a few moments to speak with the Iconic Collection about the brand’s dedication to women’s timepieces, the role they play in both OMEGA’s heritage and its future, and how brand ambassadors help to tell the story.
Iconic Collection: OMEGA is historically known for its sport watches and the iconic Moonwatch, but what can you tell us about OMEGA’s history with women’s timepieces?
Raynald Aeschlimann: As you say, the Speedmaster Moonwatch often takes the headlines for OMEGA, but our history of women’s watchmaking is really quite impressive, and it’s a story we’re trying to tell more and more—especially through special events and exhibitions. Even when you look back at OMEGA’s early history, you can see how dedicated the company was to women’s timepieces. In fact, between 1894 and 1935, more than 35 percent of our movement production was destined for women’s watches. That was quite high for the time, but it’s a commitment that has lasted throughout the years and has led to some truly iconic watches, such as the Ladymatic and the Constellation. OMEGA has always been proud to celebrate the diverse lifestyles of women, and I think that clearly shows in our heritage as well as today.
IC: How do today’s timepieces for women represent the OMEGA aesthetic?
RA: One of OMEGA’s leading attributes is innovation, not only in terms of precision, but also in terms of pioneering materials and unique features. This is particularly evident in our women’s timepieces, where you can see the use of exclusive alloys such as 18K Sedna™ Gold, our own long-lasting version of rose gold. In some of our more recent collections, such as the Seamaster Aqua Terra, you’ll also find the very best diamonds and gemstones being used. It’s an emphasis on quality and sophisticated refinement, which not only represents OMEGA, but also the women who wear these watches.
IC: OMEGA also does a fantastic job with its group of women ambassadors. What qualities does OMEGA look for in an ideal ambassador?
RA: Cindy Crawford was actually our very first ambassador. She joined us in 1995 and has always been the perfect example of OMEGA’s qualities. But as you say, many other inspirational women have since joined our brand family. In each case, we look for a woman who shares our values of excellence, style, and elegance. Importantly, we also want to support them in their passions—such as their charities, family life, and good causes. We’ve always been proud to support Nicole Kidman, for example, in her push for women’s rights. When you build a mutually beneficial relationship like that, it becomes more about friendship and authenticity. It’s a much more genuine approach that helps us to establish longevity with the women we work with.
IC: Why do you feel your current quartet of female ambassadors—not only Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman, but also supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio and Chinese actress Liu Shishi—are ideal to represent OMEGA?
RA: Cindy, Nicole, Alessandra, and Shishi each has her own individual qualities and personality. Working with them is a true delight and enables us to be quite creative in what we do. In addition to these four accomplished women, OMEGA also partners with many women across other fields, such as space exploration, sport, and entertainment. These are just some of our brand passions, and there are so many incredible women involved in each area. For example, just last year, Kathy Sullivan became the first woman to reach the deepest place on Earth—and OMEGA was right there with her!
IC: The inclusion of Liu Shishi among the group inspires the question: What is the importance of the Asian audience, and Asian women in particular, to OMEGA’s business?
RA: OMEGA has built a really strong history and relationship with its Asian customers. We’ve been in that market for a long time, and I think it has formed a genuine respect and affection that works both ways. Liu Shishi is a leading figure in Chinese entertainment, and she brings so much talent and grace to her work. We’ve been really thrilled with our partnership so far, which has included our ad campaigns and the events we do around the globe. I think she’s a great representation of Asian women, who exude so much strength and elegance all at once.
IC: The luxury watch industry has been heavily skewed toward men, but we are seeing greater attention toward women’s mechanicals among brands in recent years. What’s driving this at the consumer level?
RA: I think in all areas of society, women are rightfully gaining more attention and an equal footing with men. That is being reflected in things such as business, sport, and, of course, fashion. So, on the consumer level, many watch brands are starting to place more emphasis on women’s mechanical pieces. But I’m proud to say that OMEGA has been ahead of the curve for quite some time.
IC: What can you tell us about recent designs that especially represent OMEGA’s dedication to women’s luxury mechanical timepieces?
RA: The Constellation would be the perfect example. We first released the Manhattan model in 1982, with its distinctive claws and faceted case, and the design has really stood the test of time. Today we’ve evolved that classic model with beautiful materials and also given it a more refined, streamlined design. Most importantly, we’ve raised its mechanical quality to the Master Chronometer level, a certification that guarantees the industry’s highest standard of precision, performance, and magnetic resistance. Like our men’s models, Master Chronometer certification is an equally important attribute for our ladies’ collections.
IC: How do you see the women’s side of luxury watches continuing to evolve, and what are your thoughts on the role OMEGA will continue to play in this?
RA: Traditionally, women’s watchmaking was often about being dainty and delicate. But OMEGA has known for a long time that there’s much more to it. Women are more diverse, adventurous, and individual than ever before, so the market is starting to evolve in that direction. For example, we notice that more and more women are choosing the Speedmaster Moonwatch. It has a big and sporty look, but it’s becoming a firm favorite. So, our role now, as watchmakers, is to listen to women’s needs and identify the many diverse passions and interests they have. It’s about offering choice, which is where OMEGA excels.
IC: How will OMEGA continue to highlight the women’s luxury timepieces in its collection, especially via its ambassadors and other programs?
RA: Keep an eye out during all of our upcoming celebrations. For example, the Olympic Games, where OMEGA is the Official Timekeeper, will be coming up later this year. Many of our sporting ambassadors will be competing, such as [track and field athlete] Dalilah Muhammad. The next James Bond film, No Time to Die, will also be out, and our friend Naomie Harris will be onscreen wearing OMEGA once again. So that everyone continues to understand our unrivalled history of women’s watchmaking, we’ll continue to promote our “Her Time” exhibition around the world, wherever possible. Women will always be at the heart of what we do.