Highlighting the influential women who are shaping the future of the watch industry!

According to Boston Consulting Group, the second-hand market for luxury watches is expected to grow by 9% between now and 2026. A shift in watch trends and style is, in part, to show for it. Not to be forgotten however women and their role in the industry too! Allow me to explain as we start at the beginning... 

Pioneering Women in the History of Watchmaking            

In 1810, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister Caroline Murat commissioned Breguet to create a watch mounted on a bracelet, one of the earliest records of a wristwatch design. The latest Reine de Naples watch by Breguet whose design reproduces the description of the watch commissioned by Caroline Murat in 1810.

Pioneering Women in the History of Watchmaking

The first women’s watch was undoubtedly worn by royalty – none other than Elizabeth I herself. Intimately gifted to her by the Earl of Leicester, it sparked a huge trend for jewel-encrusted watches for women.

The first wristwatches for women can be traced back to the early 19th Century. In 1810, prestigious watch manufacturer Breguet created a stunning oblong-shaped minute repeater for Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples. She fell under the spell of Breguet’s compelling designs, collecting no less than 34 in her lifetime. The watch went down in history as one of the most iconic watches of all time and even had a collection named after it – the Reine de Naples.

Queen Marie-Antoinette of France also had a passion for watches. She played an important role in promoting Breguet’s work to the Royal Court and to many of her overseas contacts. Suffice to say, women’s watches and royalty have been intrinsically linked ever since, setting trends that have lasted for hundreds of years.

Pioneering Women in the History of Watchmaking 

The first wristwatch made by Patek Philippe was actually commissioned by Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868 as a piece of jewellery for her to wear.

In 1868, Patek Philippe released a bracelet watch for the Countess of Koscowicz of Hungary. From that moment onwards, delicate and dainty bracelet watches for women became a fashion trend that only the wealthy were lucky enough to indulge in. 

In the early 20th Century, the market for luxury watches had seemed very male-driven; however, women were setting trends too. By the 1920s, the Art Deco style had arrived. At that time, manufacturers were experimenting with technical advances.

Pioneering Women in the History of Watchmaking 

One of the leaders in the industry during this time was Jaeger-LeCoultre with its micro-mechanically engineered movement – the Calibre 101. It is still one of the smallest movements in the history of horology and has featured in many dainty wristwatches.

Women’s watches are still enjoyed as fashion statements and symbols of luxury today, but they’re also tokens of success and power. Many manufacturers are continually innovating women’s watches, keeping the practice of luxury watch collecting fresh and fun. While some women prefer bulkier wristwatches with plenty of functional elements, others prefer petite, vintage designs. It’s fair to say, there has never been a better time to buy or sell a vintage women’s watch than now. The market is booming and an abundance of designs from yesteryear are widely available. 

Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid, for example, is not the first iconic female to fall in love with the Cartier Panthere

The Impact of Women on Watch Design and Innovation

Sales of women’s watches have been rising significantly for the past four years. Females moving into more powerful positions within the industry has led to a complete overhaul of female watch styles in general. The very notion of modern women wearing watches has revolutionised the market. Watches are representative of an individual’s personality and taste. However, the relationship between female celebrities and luxury watch brands adds yet another layer of complexity to understanding how consumer preferences are influenced.

People are fascinated by the watches worn by celebrities. The endorsement lies in the aspirational lifestyle led by these celebrities and the desire to emulate the lives of those we admire the most. Bella Hadid, for example, is not the first iconic female to fall in love with the Cartier Panthere. Dua Lipa, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are all partial to this elaborately crafted French timepiece.


Rihanna has been spotted with a white gold diamond-set Chopard watch adorned on her wrist, while Mia Regan opts for something a little sportier with the TAG Heuer Aquaracer. Of course, when you think of the Rolex Day-date, you may envision Jennifer Lopez, sporting her favourite timepiece when she returned from her honeymoon back in 2022. 

Contemporary Female Watchmakers and Industry Leaders

Female celebrities are not the only ones influencing the luxury watch industry right now. Here are just a handful of names you should know. 

Ilaria Resta

Ilaria Resta

Earlier last year, Audemars Piguet welcomed a female CEO to its family, Ilaria Resta. The move made her one of the industry’s most successful women in watchmaking. The Chairman of Audemars Piguet, Allesandro Bogliolo explains:

“Ilaria is a visionary leader with a passion for craftsmanship who will take Audemars Piguet into the future... Her proven record of delivering results through clear strategic thinking based on deep consumer insights will keep AP’s legacy relevant for generations to come and ensure long-lasting growth”.

Ilaria believes that the empowerment of teams and her accomplishments have led to her success as an inspirational leader in corporate sustainability. These values fully align with Audemars Piguet as an independent family-owned company.

Malaika Crawford

Malaika Crawford

Malaika Crawford is another name you may have noticed emerging on the watch scene. Having assisted Rihanna as a stylist - she has spent many hours sourcing unique timepieces for A-list stars. She later joined the influential online watch magazine Hodinkee, securing a journalist role (having worked on the online streetwear website Highsnobiety), promoting and researching timepieces.

Her mission to overcome what is often considered a male-centric and conservative watch environment became more prominent as she explored the industry more, meeting empowering women along the way.

Carolina Bucci

Most recently, she met jewellery designer Caroline Bucci, who has designed several watches with Audemars Piguet, including a rainbow dial version of the Royal Oak. 

“When you come from somewhere where you’re allowed to speak your own opinion, and oftentimes being radical is celebrated, being in the watch space sometimes feels like a minefield”, she says. 

Amanda Mille

Amanda Mille

Amanda Mille joined forces with her father’s Swiss Brand Richard Mille to engage more private clients in the Middle East. She moved to Dubai having left a career behind in the airline, beauty and catering industry. After spending four years in Dubai, she returned to France where she now manages the brand’s partnerships and ambassadorial roles, including the brand’s links to tennis with 22-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal. She sports the RM-016 on her wrist, dressed on a striking pink strap that was personally gifted to her by her father. 


It would seem that, even though women’s role in the watchmaking industry has previously been largely underrepresented in management positions, the balance of power is certainly shifting. Watches purchased by women are now outstripping the sales of men’s watches. According to Allied Market Research, in 2019, women’s watches totalled 54.5% of the wider market. A figure that is estimated to grow further over the next few years. As women lean into more powerful positions in the industry, so do the watches they choose to wear. Above all, some of the first wristwatches in history were made for women and today we see more and more female creators leading the way forward in haute horology.

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