The wristwatch is a timeless accessory, and there’s a watch to fit any style and budget
Watches mean different things to different people. For some, they’re a perfect accent piece to complement a fashionable outfit. Some collect them in the way that others collect art. For some, a watch is a symbol of status and luxury, and a way to display a high-end brand name.
Whatever your reason for wanting a watch, there’s a vast array to choose from. Some cost tens of thousands of pounds; others connect to your phone; and some are budget options that nonetheless complement favourite outfits.
Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favourite women’s watches, which we’ve chosen to suit a variety of styles and budgets. Read on to find which watch works best for you.
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Best women’s watches: At a glance
- Best high-end women’s watch: Cartier Tank Must | Buy now
- Best bracelet watch: Citizen Ladies Eco-Drive | Buy now
- Best budget watch: Sekonda 2136.27 | Buy now
- Best fitness watch: Garmin Vivoactive 4S | Buy now
- Best strap watch: Junghans Max Bill Automatic | Buy now
- Best manual movement watch: Norman Glashütte Orion 33 | Buy now
How to choose the best women’s watch
There are several characteristics and design options to consider when you’re shopping for a women’s watch.
Quartz vs mechanical
At the heart of any watch, you’ll find a mechanism called a calibre, or movement, which makes the hands move. There are three main types of movement in a watch: quartz, automatic and manual.
Quartz movement: This is the most common type of movement in modern watches, where it’s powered by a battery so doesn’t need winding. Typically, the battery lasts for about one to two years, during which it sends energy to a quartz crystal. The quartz vibrates, which powers the stepping motor that sends an electrical pulse to the dial train, ultimately moving the watch’s hands.
Automatic movement: Also known as self-winding, this kind of watch doesn’t need to be wound while it’s being worn. However, if you stop wearing the watch for a while, it will stop and need to be wound manually. A watch of this variety is powered by a rotor and mainspring. The rotor uses wrist movement to turn, and in doing so winds the mainspring. This transfers energy to the balance wheel, which provides regulated energy to the hands.
Manual movement: This style is also called a hand-wound movement. As the name suggests, a watch of this kind needs to be wound daily by hand. The movement dates back centuries, but is no longer common. The watch must be taken off your wrist before winding to avoid damage. To wind it, you turn the crown (the cog on the side) to tighten the mainspring which, as with the automatic movement, transfers energy to the balance wheel, giving regulated energy to the hands.
Strap vs bracelet
This is as much a question of comfort as it is of style. A strap is typically made of leather, rubber or fabric, while bracelets are composed of metallic materials such as stainless steel or gold. You’ll want to consider what will be most comfortable on your wrist, as well as what suits your style. Some watch manufacturers have started offering interchangeable options.
Fashion vs function
We wouldn’t suggest that you have to sacrifice one for the other, but you should think carefully whether fashion or function are more important factors. If you want a smartwatch or fitness watch, it may be harder to find an attractive analogue face, so if this is a priority it may limit your choices.
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The best women’s watches to buy in 2022
1. Cartier Tank Must: The best high-end women’s watch
Price: £2,400 | Buy now from Cartier
The Cartier name is renowned in the world of watches. It has signified luxury since the brand’s founding in 1847, and the Cartier Tank, first launched in 1919, is a classic. It was a favourite of the late Princess Diana. While Cartier has increased the models in the Tank family over the years, it retains the timeless elegance for which it’s known.
The Tank Must boasts a black calfskin strap with a textured pattern, and a steel case with a black and white analogue face. The watch has two pops of colour: the sword-shaped steel hands are a brilliant shade of blue, and the beaded crown includes a blue synthetic spinel. The watch is water resistant up to 30 metres, and can be engraved on the back.
Ultimately, while it’s not the most expensive watch available, the Cartier Tank Must is an enduring symbol of haute couture. It’s one of many Cartier Tank options, which has graced the wrists of several celebrities through the years.
Key specs – Movement: Quartz; Materials: Steel, spinel, calfskin leather
2. Citizen Ladies Eco-Drive: The best bracelet watch
Price: £110 | Buy now from Argos
For many, the interlocking metal parts of a watch bracelet bring a sense of elegance and sophistication to an outfit. The Citizen Ladies Eco-Drive does the job well with its two-toned stainless steel bracelet. The gold-coloured links, bezel and crown stand boldly against the pale silver of the steel. This also gives the white analogue face a sharper appearance.
The interesting thing about this Citizen watch is that while it uses quartz movement, it’s light-powered. According to Citizen, the watch can use any means of light energy to charge, as well as storing any surplus in a power cell. It works even in low light, and when charged it can run in the dark. This eliminates the need for battery replacements, and reduces ecologically harmful waste.
The Citizen Ladies Eco-Drive watch is ultimately as good for the environment as it is for your style – and, with a classically elegant bracelet, it’s sure to make you feel high-end without the high price tag.
Key specs – Movement: Quartz; Material: Stainless steel
3. Sekonda 2136.27: The best budget watch
Price: £30 | Buy now from John Lewis
Some people want a fashionable watch without breaking the bank – and that is certainly possible. The Sekonda 2136.27 is a contemporary and beautiful watch without a hefty price tag, which is perfect for both everyday wear and pairing with your fanciest outfits. It has a round face with three hands, and the number 12 at the top of the face.
The watch strap has a leather appearance, and both it and the face are a marvellous shade of navy blue. The bezel, crown, hands and hour markers are a striking shade of rose gold, meanwhile, which stands out brightly against the navy. The pin and buckle clasp, a traditional fastening choice for straps, is also rose gold.
All in all, this Sekonda watch is the perfect choice if you’re looking to add a stylish watch to your wardrobe at an affordable price. It serves up sophistication at a reasonable price.
Key specs – Movement: Quartz; Materials: Polyurethane, stainless steel
4. Garmin Vivoactive 4S: The best fitness watch
Price: £259 | Buy now from John Lewis
If you want a fitness watch but refuse to compromise on style, the Garmin Vivoactive 4S is one of the best options available. Many fitness watches tend to be oversized and very bulky, but here the round face is a similar size to some larger ordinary watches, and it has a rose gold bezel to add a touch of fashionable flare. The strap is white silicone, with a rose gold pin and buckle clasp.
This Garmin watch has a number of excellent wellness features. The Garmin Coach features helps you while training for any length of race, and it has animated workouts preloaded, including for yoga, strength training and cardio. It tracks your hydration, sleep, heart rate and stress, and you can receive text and email notifications directly to your wrist.
When not being used for fitness, you can set the face to an analogue-style clock screen. Not all fitness watches can also work as a fashion staple, but the Garmin Vivoactive 4S does just that, while keeping you up to date on your health.
Key specs – Movement: Digital; Materials: Stainless steel, silicone
5. Junghans Max Bill Automatic: The best strap watch
Price: £685 | Buy now from John Lewis
If you’re looking for timeless elegance, a simple black leather strap is a perfect choice. It’s breathable, strong, flexible, long-lasting and beautiful in its simplicity. And that’s the basic inspiration of the Junghans Max Bill Automatic watch, which has a minimalist look and a white face to contrast the black strap.
Simple black lines mark the hours, which are indicated using thin, stainless steel hands that complement the steel of the bezel, crown and pin, and buckle clasp. The face displays the date as well as the time, and the glass is sapphire crystal and has an anti-reflective coating. The watch itself is water resistant up to 50 metres, and is self-winding.
Overall, the Junghans Max Bill Automatic presents a clean and understated image that complements any outfit. It’s the kind of watch that will last a very long time, and never go out of style.
Key specs – Movement: Automatic; Materials: Stainless steel, leather
6. Nomos Glashütte Orion 33: The best manual movement watch
Price: £1,460 | Buy now from Berry’s Jewellers
Manual movement watches are far less common these days, since quartz and automatic watches are more practical and reliable. At this point, a manual watch is more of a statement piece, particularly for those who collect watches, but no less stylish than their more convenient counterparts. On the contrary, because they use such an uncommon movement, you’ll typically find them to be high-end options.
Such is the case with the Nomos Glashütte Orion 33. This brand name is synonymous with luxury, and this watch is no exception. The Orion 33 includes a grey, velour leather strap; the crown, case and bezel are stainless steel, and the face is a lavish champagne gold. The face also includes a seconds sub-dial, and is encased in domed sapphire crystal glass.
Manufactured in Germany, and designed to meet incredibly high standards, the Nomos Glashütte Orion 33 may not be the simplest watch on the list, but it gives you a piece of horological history, along with rich colours and a sophisticated design.
Key specs – Movement: Manual; Material: Stainless steel, leather