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Radley Stories

Style Notes

All about Watches: A Guide to Finding the Best Iconic Women’s Watch

11 May 2022

History of the Watch

Back in the days when we would ask ‘what is a watch’, we relied on other means for our timekeeping. The earliest way we were able to keep time was by tracking the sun with a sundial. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the first mechanical clock was invented in England. This impressive piece of engineering can still be seen today at Salisbury Cathedral. 

It’s believed that the first miniature clock, or pocket watch, was crafted around 1530 by a German man named Peter Henlein. As watches were shaped to suit the fashion of the era, many early watches were slim and flat so could fit snugly in the pocket of men’s waistcoats. 

Abraham-Louis Breguet was thought to be the first to invent the iconic women’s watch when he made one for the Queen of Naples in 1810. The wristwatch style was regarded as a women’s accessory until military pilots found that they were more practical for telling the time while keeping both hands on their controls. Louis Cartier, whose grandfather founded the luxury jewellery brand Cartier, and his watchmaker, Edmond Jaeger, developed the Santos wristwatch for aviator Santos-Dumont – an intricate piece that is still produced today. 

Watch Components

Don’t be fooled by the simple elegance of a watch. Inside, you’ll find meticulous inner mechanisms that ensure accurate timekeeping. Find out all about watches and their intricacies with our women’s watch guide.


What is a watch case? A case holds the watch’s interior mechanism and is typically crafted in gold, titanium, or sterling silver.


Detailed with hourly numerals, hands, and possibly a date display and sub dials, the dial is the outer-facing part of the watch that is used to tell time. 


The hands move around the dial to indicate the time. Watch hands can take many different shapes and sizes, but most are delicate, thin and finished with a point. 


This is a ring that sits around the watch dial as part of the watch’s case. It is often the part of the watch that is embellished.


The crown sits at the side of the case and bezel, and is used to wind the watch, change the time and, if there is one, the date display. To use, it is pulled out, twisted and pushed back in once the correct time is set. The crown might also be embellished on luxury watches. 


Leather, rubber, nylon, crocodile leather and more. The strap of a watch can be crafted in many different fabrics, but the most typical material is a leather watch strap. The strap is responsible for wrapping around the wrist to secure the watch in place. 


The watch strap will be fitted with a clasp of some sort. Most typically a buckle, fastenings can also come in the form of a deployment clasp or folding security clasp. 


This describes the way the interior watch mechanism works – how it powers the hands, date dial and any other sub dials. The most popular watch movements are quartz, mechanical and automatic. 

Optional watch features:

  • Moon phase indicator – tracks the lunar cycle through a sub dial.

  • Chronograph stopwatch functionality – with second and minute sub dials and buttons that sit alongside the watch’s crown.

  • AM/PM indicator – displays a sun or moon to indicate the time of day.

  • Date window – displays a number and may display a month to indicate the day’s date. 

  • Tourbillon – part of the watch’s mechanism that ensures precise timekeeping despite the effects of gravity.

Watch Trends

Watches now come in all shapes, sizes and designs. Differences can be seen in the size of the dial and case, the fabric of the watch strap, the features on the watch face, embellishments, hourly numerals and the watch strap clasp.

All About Watches for Women

Women’s watches often have smaller cases and dials because women’s wrists tend to be smaller, which often means there is less room for extras on the face. Women’s watch straps also tend to be slimmer compared with men’s designs, are often made from metal or leather and commonly come in a range of colours - both smart and vibrant.

It is also common for luxury watch brands to embellish iconic women’s watches. These exquisite pieces might be encrusted with diamonds or other gemstones around the bezel, on the crown and even in place of numeral hour markers. 

How to Choose a Watch For a Woman

As there are so many different watch styles, there are a few things to think about before buying one. While it’s important to think about the appearance of the watch, it’s worth considering the features that you want your watch to have. Find out how to find the perfect watch for you with our women’s watch guide. 


Do you want your watch dial to tell you the date, as well as the time, or are you looking for something simple and classic? While there are many watches that come with intricate extra features, there are also watches designed to make it clear and easy to see the time quickly. These watches might have simple dials with easy to read numerals at each hour and easily located hands, or you might want a digital watch without a dial at all. 


When will you be wearing your watch? If you are looking for a watch to wear on a daily basis, you’ll want one that will suit any outfit and can be paired with all types of jewellery. In this case, a watch with a simple leather strap might be the most suitable. However, if you’re looking for a more luxurious timepiece to wear with dresses or work attire, you may want an elegant option with exquisite details and perhaps a metal strap. 


When buying anything, it’s important to establish your budget. Also consider how often you will be wearing your watch – if you’re going to be wearing it every day, you might want to spend a little extra on a timepiece that is designed to withstand general wear and tear. Or, if you’ll be wearing your watch for messy activities, like dog walking or painting, you might not want to spend money investing in a timepiece that will get dirty. 

Radley London Watches for Women 

Now you’ve found out all about watches and how to choose a watch for a woman, you can discover and shop iconic women’s watches at Radley London - from classic styles with leather or bracelets straps to more modern activity trackers like our women's smart watches.

You can also find out all about different jewellery pieces with our Radley London guides, including Buying a Necklace. Have a read over on Radley Stories.