Professional Watches for Women

Which are the best watches for professional women? Is it still worth investing in a quality watch, even though everyone uses their cell phone or computer to check time? Reader L wrote in to ask about watches:

I searched your site and found the post on digital watches, but I would love your (and your readers’) opinions on non-digital wrist watches. It would be useful to hear suggestions at various price points.

This is a great question. I’ve written before about how I think watches are still status symbols. Not only do men’s magazines all still advise men to go out and spend money on a watch, but I’ve often been at a lunch with high-achieving women, looked around, and noticed that 8 of the 10 women there were wearing Cartier watches.  In New York — at least among the legal and banking set — Cartier is kind of the first and last word, at least in my experience. My 30th birthday gift to myself was a Cartier Tank Francaise watch, though, so perhaps my perception is a bit biased! (It was a huuuuge splurge for this Midwestern girl.)

What to Look For: If you’re spending money on something, I think you absolutely have to love it. So first and foremost, look for something you really love. Other considerations: look for a watch that will wear well with your daily activities — if you’re a chef and washing your hands every two seconds, for example, you want a fairly waterproof watch.  Consider how the watch keeps time, also — for example, if you may not wear the watch daily, you may want to avoid a “perpetual motion” watch that stays wound through your body’s motions.  The word on the street is you can wear gold jewelry with a stainless steel watch — but if that will make you feel awkward (like I always do!) then consider getting a watch with both gold and silver elements.  Finally, diamonds and other jewels: I think this is more of a “know your region” kind of thing.  Here in New York, I would think that a watch with diamonds on it was only for going out — but I have another friend in Miami who wears her bejeweled watch everywhere, including to court.

How to Buy It. I started noticing Cartier watches (and really wanting one) sometime in my late 20s. So I started thinking of it as, “every time I see one and want one, I’m mentally putting $5 into my “watch fund jar,” which helped mitigate the purchase a bit when I plunked down the money. The other thing to know is that you can often haggle, especially at good watch stores. I bought my Cartier at Tourneau, and got somewhere between 15%-20% off the list price.  (I don’t remember exactly how much it was now, but I remember that it was a very quick purchase because I had done so much legwork before I decided to actually purchase the watch, so I think it helped that the salesperson knew she had a fast and easy commission.)  These days, you frequently see Cartier and other watches on flash sale sites like Rue La La — a quick web search even shows Cartier watches for sale on Overstock! (Whenever you buy a watch from a secondary retailer, though, be very careful, and know what little things to look for. For example, on a real Cartier watch, the one of the bars on the V in the “VII” is actually the word “Cartier.”) I know one good friend who confided in me that her parents bought her graduation watch — a Michele — at Costco.

Looking at some previous reader discussions (including this great comment from a reader who has a ton of great advice and confesses that “watches are my thing,”) readers have also mentioned these brands: Omega, Baume & Mercier, Tag Hauer, and Movado.  FabSugar also recently did a roundup of 10 watches to wear forever.

Do I really have to buy a $3000-$5000 watch to fit in?   Nope.  Not at all.  Before I got my Cartier, I wore a variety of watches — most often, though, I wore my digital Timex.  Learn from my mistakes, ladies — a digital sports watch almost never looks good with a suit.  Beyond that, though, I don’t think people notice what watch you’re wearing.  (To clarify:  Watch people will notice if it’s a Rolex or a Cartier or whatever they have, but I don’t think they’ll mentally “ding” you for having a less expensive watch or even notice the absence of a “good” watch.)  So for my money, at least, I would stick with inexpensive watches unless and until you were ready to make a “big” purchase.  (But if you fall in love with a $500 watch, go for it!)

Readers, do you wear a watch — and if so, what kind is it?  How much did you spend on it?  Do you notice which watches men and women at your office are wearing (or if they’re wearing one)?  


  1. Cornellian :

    I wear a simple movado that was about 500 dollars, and it has served me well. It was a bit of a concession to adulthood, as I hate jewely (on myself). I think there are great watches to be had at the $500 ish price point.

    • Anonymous :

      I also have a Movado- the strap is about 1/4 in thick and it has a plain black face. It was an engagement present from my in-laws and symbolized that they recognized me as part of the family, as they both wear Movado watches and have them to their kids as college gradation presents. It was quite thoughtful of them, not only for the symbolism but also because I did not have a proper watch that would work with a sur.

      I must say that I’ve never paid attention to anyone’s watch, so would have a hard time considering paying for a more expensive one.

    • I love my Movado and wear it almost every day.
      I also have a more casual Burberry watch that I received for our first anniversary: similar to this but with a red leather band. I don’t think I’d get another Burberry watch. My husband’s band has broken several times, once 2 weeks after replacement, and we learned the hard way that Burberry does not guarantee the bands.

      • Elizabeth :

        Also a Movado here. It has a pinkish mother of pearl face, and a very thin jewelry-like bracelet band in stainless steel (Kara). The face is surrounded by diamonds, but I do wear it every day for work/to court. I think whether the “bling” is appropriate also depends on your personality (we’re not corporate drones), but who am I to say…

        I actually started my search exclusively looking at Rolex/Cartier/Omega, but as a small woman with very bony wrists, they all looked so huge!

  2. Silver tank watch, by Fossil, and it was a gift. The idea of spending $3-5,000 on a watch blows my mind.

    • I’ve been wearing a slim silver Fossil with a rectangular black dial since my 18th birthday, when I bought it as a “grown up” gift to myself (it was a splurge at the time). It has served me well, though I do have a gold-tone bangle watch and just ordered a white ceramic watch. I wear the gold maybe one or two days a year, so the Fossil really is pulling more than its fair share of the weight.

  3. momentsofabsurdity :

    This brings to mind my sad watch story. When I was 16, my dad got me and my mother matching Gucci bangle watches – I think they were about $1K each, so not a Cartier, but still a HUGE splurge and major gift. My mother still wears hers every day.

    Mine, I decided when I went to college, was too valuable to bring across the country and I didn’t trust myself to keep it safe and not break it. So I put in my medicine cabinet (stupid, stupid) and headed off to university. The next time I thought of it (the following summer) I checked the medicine cabinet and it was gone. I asked everyone in my family, and none of them have it, so our only conclusion is that it must have been stolen by someone who had access to my bathroom.

    I’m still sad. It was so pretty!

    • transition :

      since your mom has hers, are you able to see if Gucci still makes it or can find it or if it’s on ebay? it’s obviously not the same but it would allow the tradition and thought to continue

    • Can;t you narrow down who it was? I would be awful curious to find out who it could’ve been, esp if it’s a family friend!

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        It’s hard to tell who it could have been since my bathroom is a hall bathroom, rather than connected to my room, and it was shared with my sisters and (when they visited) their friends, and was accessible to almost anyone. It’s also possible it was the cleaning ladies (who were really sweet and I’d hate to believe that) or a repairman or almost anyone. I talked about it with my family members but it’s hard to get a sense of exactly who has come through your home over the course of a couple of years, and really I should have given it to my parents for safekeeping in their locking jewelry box or something, so it’s partially my own fault.

        During that same time frame, my mom’s Burberry trench also “mysteriously disappeared” from the downstairs closet and my dad’s unused money clip also disappeared (we only put all this together later on when we were trying to figure out what happened to the watch). Fooey on them though – my dad’s money clip wasn’t real gold! So probably someone who had regular access to the house was pilfering things here and there.

  4. I have a tank watch from Emporio Armani. It has silver hardware and a black leather band. I love it. I got it at Nordstrom some years ago.

    I, too, can’t understand spending thousands of dollars on a watch, but I am lost without one.

  5. transition :

    Does anyone know of a website that pairs house or pet sitting with people who are willing to do such? I just got an amazing offer to volunteer as a part of an off-Broadway show full of big names but I’ll need somewhere to stay for the days of 7/27-8/5 and hotels and even hostels are too expensive for this still-unemployed gal. I also posted on the couch surfers website but so far, nada. I’m so afraid I’m going to have to choose between subway sleeping and not being able to take this awesome opportunity :(

    • Anon Analyst :

      I have heard of housecarers dot com, but have never used the site myself. Good luck!

    • Kontraktor :

      Can you try to find some friends of friends or something to stay with? Ask any of the people you’d be volunteering with if you could stay with them?

      • transition :

        am trying but not having any luck… the people I’m volunteering to help are actors and seem to either be people with families and thus no room or they’re crashing on someone else’s couches, so they can’t. going to keep looking but if I don’t find something in the next day or two, I’ll have to turn it down :(

        • Cornellian :

          try universities’ websites. When I’ve housesat it’s been for travelling professors. Also, FWIW it’s worth, I’m on couchsurfing and have received literally more than 200 requests for that week alone. It’s really overwhelming being a host in NYC on that site, adn I would maybe look elsewhere.

        • K, i have a few friends in NYC still, i’ll check around to see if anyone has a couch open. You should post again on the coffee break thread here, I’m sure there are a lot of us here who don’t mind looking around to see if we can find a friend for you to stay with!

    • HotChildintheCity :

      Try airbnb dot com or vrbo dot com. People post everything from spare rooms or couches to their entire houses/apartments for rent. Although not free, the prices are much cheaper than most hotel – I found accommodations for a month trip across Europe using airbnb and had only positive experiences – the places I rented were even much cheaper than hostel rates (and they were much nicer!).

    • Let me rephrase your question in a way that you were too polite to put it.

      ATTENTION NYC READERS: K… in transition needs a place to stay from 7/27-8/5. Who wants to host her?

    • I don’t know who is going to let a perfect stranger into their home to house or pet sit, especially when it’s clear they’re just looking for a place to stay.

      This is what I did when I moved here… go on Craigslist and find people that are looking for short term roommates. That’s probably the cheapest thing you’re going to find, and there are a ton of people looking to rent out their extra bedrooms or couches for a week or so to make some extra money.

    • This may be too late for you to see but have you tried the couch surfers site? It’s not quite what you’re looking for but I know it’s fairly popular with the backpacking crowd.

  6. Anonymous :

    Skagen. Complimented and never seems like too much or too little. Purchased at Lord & Taylor with a coupon. There are other places (i.e., kids’ education) where thousands of dollars would be much better spent.

    • Hah, we posted at the same time, see below.

    • I am a banana. :

      Another one on the Skagen wagon. I get compliments on mine all the time. Skagen is great about repairs, too – I broke the clasp by slamming my wrist down on a table once and they put a whole new strap on it for like $20, shipping included.

      For those of you on a budget, there is a Groupon deal for Skagen watches today in the SF Goods section.

    • My mom recently bought me a Skagen watch. I like it a lot, although I’ve had some trouble with the clasp. Before that I wore a gold Citizen watch (which is also nice but I don’t otherwise wear gold). I don’t pay a lot of attention to watches on other people, so I probably would not be inclined to spend $3-5k on one.

    • Anonymous :

      I Love Skagen. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad (both, prolly) that Fossil bought them. Better deals to be had in future, perhaps? Or will Skagen now be “Skagen”? It doesn’t really matter, likely, just as fashion houses change designers and owners, it’s the vibe of the thing that counts. That, and telling time. I doubt those’ll change. Love Skagen.

      • Fossil bought them?! Ugh. I hope Skagen retains its value and vibe stays the same.

        • Anonymous :

          Yep, but Fossi’s my second face, solid and cute where Skagen is solid and sleek. A good fit. Fingers crossed.

    • I love love LOVE my Skagen watch. I think they look so much more high quality than what they actually cost.

    • I’m another Skagen lover. I have several of them. I like watches with adjustable straps, but don’t always want leather, so I love their mesh straps with the adjustable clasp (though I have a couple of Skagens with leather straps as well). Even the blingiest of my Skagen watches, with lots of metal and rhinestones, is thin and light, which I also love — I don’t want a heavy watch. And they’re reasonably priced, between $100 and $200.

      • Christina :

        Love Skagen – probably the only watch I found that isn’t insanely expensive and has that slim profile I need to not get irritated by a watch. I used to wear chunky watches because it was comfortable and I like the weight, but as I transitioned into a working schedule with computers 24/7 instead of just being a college student with little typing, it was harder to keep the chunky watch and not develop wrist problems. I love mine – got it on Overstock.

  7. I spent $70 on a nice stainless-steel watch, quite classy and professional-looking, after many years of cheap $20 Timexes.

    And then discovered that my allergy to nickel had gotten worse, and now I can’t wear any of my watches. And searching for nickel-free watches on Amazon gets me yet more stainless-steel watches (and most stainless steel contains nickel).

    So, does anyone else with a nickel allergy have a recommendation for a nice nickel-free watch which is appropriate for a professional environment, and doesn’t cost more than $150?

    • transition :

      that’s why I don’t/can’t wear them either… I stick with the clock on my cell phone

    • The only ones I’ve had luck with are Fossil; I don’t react to their watches at all, for whatever reason.

      • Ditto. I’m terribly allergic to nickel and other non-precious metals (can’t even wear 14K gold), but for whatever reason, Fossil watches never, ever irritate my skin.

    • Anon NY Bar :

      Same prob.. I’ve been told that *higher end* watches (ie, Gucci, Armani, Rado etc) that use surgical steel contain little to no nickel, depending on the grade. I haven’t seen surgical steel available for less than $150..

    • Most low-nickle stainless steel alloys are magnetic. If you’re shopping at retail, take a small magnet with you. If the magnet will stick to the back of a watch body, you might have a watch that won’t bother you even if it’s not marketed as low nickle.

      • I wear a Skagen, and it’s the second I’ve owned of the brand. Love it. I’m also allergic to nickel and it’s one of the few hypoallergenic brands I’ve found that makes fashionable, affordable ($100ish) watches. In 3+ years wearing the brand I’ve never had a reaction it.

    • You might try painting the back of the watch you have with clear nail polish; that works for many people with metal allergies.

      • Oddly enough, it’s the buckle on the band that’s the problem, not the watch case itself. No, I don’t know why…

    • Anonymous :

      Put a pretty piece of ribbon on as a band, like a NATO strap but more feminine.

  8. In the under $100 range, but I love my skagen watch.

    • I absolutely love my skagen. I feel like I’m educating people about skagen value every time they compliment and ask what brand it is.

  9. Wish list- Rado. One of the most fabulous women I know (and a good friend), has a Rado, and it’s the classiest thing I’ve ever seen, outside of Cartier. Have wanted one ever since.

    For now, I have an Anne Klein on my wrist, and I occassionally steal the fiance’s menswear watches to go with particular outfits.

  10. It’s only in the $200 range so not comparable to Cartier, but I love my Citizen, a birthday present from my SO. It’s classy and looks great at work but I can still wear it with casual clothes too.

    • I also love my Citizen watch…..this is the one I have.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Another Citizen fan. I have this one:

      It’s funny because I spent something like $250 on it and that seemed very expensive at the time! I love many of the multi-thousand-dollar watches but can’t imagine pulling the trigger on one!

    • just Karen :

      I love my Citizen as well – my graduation present from my parents. It’s stainless with a totally plain mother of pearl dial, and I think it goes with everything.

    • I have a Citizen Eco-Drive, slim silver with a rectangular mother-of-pearl face and diamond accents, and I LOVE it. It was a graduation present from my aunt and cost $300-ish. I was looking for a delicate silver stainless steel watch with 12 numbers on the face–because I actually use my watch every day to tell time, instead of my phone–and it’s perfect.

      • I LOVE my solar powered extra thin Citizen Ec0-Drive–my husband got it for me as a birthday present when we were dating so I’d think about him every time I look at it. That was 5 years ago and it still looks great (a little gold plating has come off the band at the wrist/clasp, but the watch comes with extra gold band links and I haven’t taken the time to have them replaced). I think it cost him $300+. I just put it under a lamp when I take it off and it’s right on time! The manual says, “After your basic analog Eco-Drive timepiece is fully charged, it will run for a minimum of six (6) months without further charging.” Here it is:

  11. Spending this kind of money blows my mind, too. I get in the abstract that a watch is something you wear every day, and to some, it’s a status symbol of sorts, and, thus, worth spending money on. Several coworkers have Rolexes that are awfully pretty. But, I seriously doubt I could stomach paying this much for a watch.

    I wear a Citizen Eco Drive (probably less that $200) that I received as a gift at least 5 years ago, after a couple Fossils in a row. I am terrible at replacing watch batteries, which is why I first was drawn to the Eco Drive. It has held up really well.

    • anonymous anonymous :

      Yeah. I’m not against making money or flaunting money, or whatever, but it seems difficult to justify in this day and age (computers tell time, phones tell time, and there’s a clock in every conference room). At least imported cars are fun – watches are not. It’s safe to say that Kat spent at least $3,000 dollars on her watch. Occupy Wall Street, anyone?

    • Business, Not Law :

      I wear a Citizen Eco Drive too and I love it. Received as a gift 5-6 years ago and has held up incredibly well. It’s not flashy but it goes with everything and though I’ve thought of looking for something in a slightly higher price point (not Cartier $$ though), it’s hard to justify given that I’ve been really happy with this watch.

    • Maine Associate :

      I also have a Citizen Eco Drive watch. I love not having to change the battery and I think it looks just fine with my suits. I don’t wear a watch when I am not working, so I’d rather spend my money on handbags.

    • The Eco Drive is SO nice. I’ve only had mine for two years and I’m just now appreciating the fact that I DON’T have to get the battery changed. I wear my watch every single day (I use it to tell time), so having to get it “fixed” every two years is a serious inconvenience.

      • Another fan of the Citizen Eco Drive. I actually love how the watch looks, too, but not having to change the battery, ever, is pretty much the best thing in the world. I’ve had the watch for 5 years now, and have no inclination to replace it, but if I did I would get another Citizen EcoDrive one.

  12. Maple League Admin formerly Anon Canadian :

    I spent years wearing cheap (under $20) watches or only timex with indiglo, bracelet style watches. This year my DH decided that it was time for me to up grade and get something a little more sophisticated. So for Christmas he got me a Citizen Eco Drive Silhouette Crystal Bangle. It was about $250, and I would’ve never considered spending that much on a watch for myself before but I love it. It’s very me in style and it’s very obviously a better quality watch then what I used to wear, it makes me feel very grown up, lol.

  13. anon for this :

    Omega Constellation, gold and stainless with diamond markers. I wear it every day.

    This was my birthday gift this year (many years there are none, so the extravagance was a surprise). SO picked it out himself knowing how much I wanted a watch, and actually did a great job. I love it, and the gold and stainless is great as my rings are gold and platinum. Definitely a ‘grownup’ watch, but not so fancy that I feel funny wearing it for weekend errands. (FWIW, I love the Tank also.)

    And yes, there are probably better uses for the money, but it’s so pretty, and one day one of my children will get it, so…

    • I have (and love) this watch. We picked it out in honor of the birth of our child. I don’t regret spending the money either for something that I love and will wear for decades to come.
      My prior watch was a Raymond Weil. I had good luck with it holding up as well.

    • Another omega girl here. It was my husband’s gift to me on my 30th birthday and has the tiniest diamonds where the numerals would be. It is two toned and goes with everything I wear. The time diamonds make it a bit dressy but not flashy.

      Love it. I wear it everywhere.

      I recently splurged on a franck mueller as I got an unexpectedly large bonus that year. It is unique and fabulous but not everyone may fancy his designs.

    • Omega Constellation is my “When I´ve Made It”-watch.

      Right now I wear a $250-ish Tissot in a similar style in “gold” and a white face. It looks reasonably classy for my current circumstances, and I´ve got a few compliments for it. When I was younger I wore dirt cheap watches because I banged them up on stuff all the time. What I wear on my arm is very much a reflection of where I am in life, and judging from the other stories here I think I´m not alone. Can´t wait to join the ranks of ladies who wear the Constellation!

    • Angiolytic :

      I have the 24mm Omega Constellation in gold and silver, mother of pearl face, diamond hour markers … and I adore it (! There are a number of less expensive, colourful “fun” watches in my closet, but my Omega is my go-to. Totally agree with anon on the mixed metals being perfect for pairing easily with other jewelry.

      Never would I have dropped the cash for this watch at this point in my career (mid-twenties, two years out of undergrad, interning as part of my grad school program), but my SO has a penchant for nice watches and he chose it as a timeless piece as a birthday gift. In his opinion, a luxury watch is an accessory a professional should wear (he loves his Rolex and Tag watches, wears them whenever he’s not in the operating room), and he wanted me to have something of similar quality to enjoy! One day I’d like to purchase him an Omega (maybe when he finishes residency?) – any opinions on the couples luxury watch sets?

  14. For me, Cartier is just too “showy”, like driving a ferrari. Even if I had all the money in the world, I’d much rather drive a vintage cadillac or beetle than a ferrari. Same goes with Cartier watches, it just screams to me (especially on biglaw types), TRYING SOOOO HARD TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONES.

    • well. at least you’re not judgmental about it.

      • LOL – and if we’re being judgmental, I’d say I feel that way more about Rolex than I do Cartier. I love Cartier.

        • anonymous anonymous :

          you love a BRAND? you are a marketer’s wet dream.

          • ? Is it odd to love a brand? Sometimes the anti-elitism elitism is so confusing and I have such a hard time keeping up.

          • Ms. Manners :

            Lol @ “anti-elitism elitisim.” So true.

  15. soulfusion :

    I love watches and feel naked without one but I just cannot justify spending more than a couple hundred dollars on one, especially since I like to have a few different ones to rotate as accessories. Currently I have a round face gold Kenneth Cole and a square face, oversized silver Invicta I wear for work and a more casual silver men’s Kenneth Cole I have worn for years and years that needs a battery replaced. I have a Baby G I wear for working out and outdoor activities. There was a discussion a few days ago about watches that still has me really tempted to buy a turtoise shell Michael Kors watch . . . . my iphone just can’t replace the convenience and look of a watch. I don’t think you need one to look professional but if you like wearing a watch, you definitely do not *need* to spend thousands of dollars on one. Oh, and my judge wore her bright red Baby G on the bench all the time and she was always impeccably dressed and I didn’t view the watch as detracting from her professionalism, but that’s just me.

  16. I’m not too much of a watch person, so I don’t see myself spending too much $$ on a watch. Right now I either wear a Yurman bangle or my chunky rose gold Kenneth Cole watch (purchased for $50 on Rue La La) to work. When I initially bought the rose gold watch I wasn’t sure I could “pull it off” and was afraid it would be out of style soon, so I didn’t want to spend too much money on it–but I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it and really like it!

  17. I love my Skagen (about $100), although I just broke a link in the band, which is a pain.

  18. Texas Attorney :

    My husband is a watch guy. So after we got married, me made fun of my Timex. Said a “real” attorney would wear a nice watch. So we bought me an Omega. We bought it about a week before my son was born so I assosiate it with that great event. I wear it every day. It is one of the more “sporty” looking ones. All I have every had to do is put a battery in it from time to time. I like it. It has been a good investment.

  19. research lawyer in SV :

    I’m putting my two cents in for a Citizen eco-drive. I now have two of them, one with a simple gold face and a brown leather band and a dressier SS tank style with a smattering of bling.

    They are solar powered and I love that they always work with nary a battery change. Just find someplace better to keep it than your dark jewelry box (I have a small jewelry stand next to the window in my bathroom) if you don’t wear it regularly.

    • I second this. Love that it’s pretty and low-maintenance.

    • Thirded. Love the Eco Drive. Today’s thread actually inspired me to see if any new Eco Drives strike my fancy. Something completely different than my current plain round stainless steel with gray face. I think I might pull the trigger and get a second one one that’s completely different – either a gold band, or a square face, or maybe some diamonds!

  20. SoCal Gator :

    I love my watch — got it last year for Christmas from Nordstrom. The Burberry Ladies’ Diamond Bracelet Watch, $495. Gorgeous, practical, goes with everything.

    • I have the same, minus the diamonds. Think it was just under $400 at Macy’s 5 years ago. I absolutely adore it and it’s worn remarkably well.

    • anonymous :

      I have the square one, minus diamonds. Love it and it’s held up so well – not a scratch after 3 years!

  21. This gal is terrible at losing jewelry (it took me less than 3 months to lose my engagement ring) so I would always opt for something a little less expensive. A nice Festina or Michael Kors watch runs you about 100-300 bucks and goes well with classic suits. When my father-in-law passed, my MIL gave me access to his watch collection and lets me borrow the less expensive ones for a couple of months at a time. I adore the look of a classic old men’s watch and I cherish having this sentimental piece of my father in law, especially since I knew him only for a few years before he passed. Maybe before you go out an buy a Cartier, you could dig around your mother’s or grandma’s jewelry drawer and have an old one restored? Though I am sure your future grandkids would be happy if you bought one for yourself and passed it on to them.

  22. karenpadi :

    I love the way watches look on other people. For the first 4 years of my career, I tried to wear watches but never got used to the feeling. I really liked Cole Haan and Fossil watches during that time.

    Watches are jewelry. It makes sense to try out a bunch of cheaper watches until you know what you love and what just isn’t your thing. What features are most important to you? Do you like a big face (trendy) or a more normal-sized face? What color face do you like (I surprised myself–I feel in love with black faces). Do you want a second hand? Do you want a watch that makes a small “click” every minute? What size band is most comfortable?

    Find a watch you know you love and then the splurge will be worth it.

    • No Problem :

      Totally agree! I got a Movado watch from my parents for my 18th birthday (~$150) that I wore daily for 10 years until I gained weight and the band stopped fitting (NB: don’t lose the extra links). Then I briefly wore a cheap and very basic Citizen watch that I got for my 5 year anniversary with my company. I promised myself that I would buy a nice watch as a grad school graduation present this spring with a budget of around $500. Then my parents decided that they would buy me a watch as a graduation present with a budget of $2,500. I initially fell in love with a Longines watch but ended up getting a Raymond Weil (Noemia) that retailed for about $1,500 and was then discounted around 15% by the store. My mom and I shopped this watch to death, I love it, and plan to wear it for several decades. Watches can be beautiful and professional pieces of jewelry and if you plan to wear one every day, or even most days, for 10 years or more, $3,000 is absolutely not too much to spend.

  23. I got a Tag Heuer as a graduation gift from law school and wear it every day. I love it!

    I do like Cartier watches as well, and may take the plunge if my Tag ever bites the dust.

  24. I bought myself a 31mm Rolex Datejust after my first big settlement as an “I’ve arrived” gift to myself. I did my homework and bought it pre-owned. I wear it every single day. I would never judge someone by the watch that they wear, but really wanted a classic wristwatch to wear on a daily basis. I considered a Cartier Tank Francais because I love how they look, but didn’t want a battery.

  25. I have and wear a Rolex. I received it as a college graduation gift. It’s pretty, but it keeps terrible time (it loses at least 10 minutes a month… and I wear it constantly).

    I consider it more jewelry than timepiece. I never really notice it unless someone comments on it, though — I’m not a watch person and never would have shelled out for a Rolex myself.

    • SoCalAtty :

      Me too – my family gave me my grandmother’s rolex from the 1950s when I graduated law school, but if I had to choose and pay for it myself I would maybe go with one of the Fossil watches, or maybe something featured on Athleta or Title Nine. I like the more sporty stuff that can cross over to office.

    • LilacWine :

      If your Rolex is losing that much time, you might want to take it into a dealer to see if it needs repairs or servicing. A well-wound watch from a reputable brand like Rolex should not be losing any time.

      • Actually, automatic/mechanical watches tend to lose a little more time than quartz watches. But, we’re talking seconds and *maybe* a couple minutes over days. I do agree that ten minutes is out of the ordinary and it likely needs to be serviced.

        • LilacWine :

          Sorry, yes you’re totally right. The Rolex shouldn’t be losing any perceptible time over the month.

  26. for as long as i can remember, i have always always always worn a watch. when i finished school and started working full-time, i treated myself to a michael kors watch that i pretty much never take off. people actually do notice it fairly often and comment on it, even “non watch” people. i could actually see myself spending a chunk of money on a watch though, seeing as how i consider them to be indispensable. i don’t notice what the other attorneys in the office are wearing, but i do know this – all of them are wearing watches.

  27. TurtleWexler :

    I have a Citizen chronograph and, even though I don’t wear it all the time, I really love it. I probably should wear it more often but just forget to put it on in the morning. Anyway, I saw it on their website and was browsing around stores in the mall to see if I could find one to try on, and when I did it happened to be marked 50% off. So I got a $500 watch for $250 and it was the exact model i was looking for — I was thrilled! While I think that more expensive watches have their place, it’s not on my wrist…I just couldn’t justify it when I don’t have the right kind of job, friends, or lifestyle for it.

  28. SoCalAtty :

    I just wanted to thank everyone that chimed in on my TTC/renovate house/pay off debt dilemma. I’m putting off TTC until we have broken ground on the project, if it actually is going to happen, and I will have the answer to that in about 60 days and then it would be 30 days to ground breaking. That way, even if I got insta-pregnant I will still have a year to pay off debt and save, which is enough time for me to pay down the cc debt and sock about 4 months worth of living expenses away (goal is 12, but I can’t wait forever). The financial advisor, the husband and I all had a discussion this weekend that even though new house will stretch the budget, it is too good a deal to pass up and is worth a year of living on a shoestring budget. I still have to see if I can find a contractor willing to build for my budget, so it may not even happen – but at least I have a plan now and can relax about it.

    • I didn’t chime in on the original discussion, but I’m happy for you. If you can make the finances work, the house sounds like a great decision long-term and you have a plan for paying off the CC debt and saving for emergencies, so that’s great.

    • Congrats! I’m glad you were able to come up with a plan that works for you and your family. Good luck with everything.

  29. SF Bay Associate :

    I have a Coach Madison that I got during Macy’s Friends and Family at a discount. Simple, classic, no logos, no flash, and a small face and band for my tiny wrist. Love it.

    • I have this too and love it! My wrists are definitely the only thing still tiny about me, but this is a perfect size.

  30. I love the Cartier Tank Francaise as well as the Santos Demoiselle, but they are well outside my price range. I received a nice Timex as a college graduation present (~$200?) but about a year ago it stopped working and I never got around to getting it repaired (I tried changing the battery; that wasn’t the problem). Although I sometimes take it off throughout the day (irritates my wrist when typing), I feel naked if I leave the house without a watch. So, my current watch is a $12 beauty from Target – and I get a surprising number of compliments on it!

    • And by Timex, I mean Citizen.

      On a semi-related note, does anyone else have an amazing long-term memory (e.g., remember events from preschool like they happened yesterday) but a spotty short-term memory (e.g., why did I walk into this room?)

      • I have the exact same problem.

        Recently, I’ve been forgetting what I’m saying in the middle of a sentence. I can remember everything in vivid detail from years ago, but can’t remember what I’m saying to carry on a conversation. Frustrating.

      • Yes…and glad I’m not the only one! It drives me nuts!

  31. LilacWine :

    I LOVE my IWC Ingenieur midsize watch (link to photo below). I also got a dark blue nylon band for it for when I need it to look casual/sporty. It’s definitely on the Cartier price side, but I think it was worth it. I bought it when I worked in Hong Kong, and Asian business people are very brand conscious about watches. I like that it’s small enough for a women’s watch, but not too small, so it still makes a statment. I am also really fascinated by the perpetual motion aspect of it, even though it does go dead when I don’t wear it for a few days.

    • LilacWine :

      It’s the smaller one on the right. I also wanted to add that it’s not showy unless you really know your watch brands. Most people that I work with in the U.S. have never noticed it, but I’ve had several people in Asia comment on it (positively).

      • I LOVE this! My dad has a few IWCs, so I always associate them with leather bands. I never knew that watches like the Ingenieur existed within the brand!

  32. I have a Tissot that I love (it was probably around $200). I’ve been wearing it almost every day for about 8 years now, and it is still awesome. Also, I bought a watch battery at Jared once, and now I get free watch batteries at any Jared in the country, which is very helpful.

  33. After I passed the Bar, I did a ton of research and bought a beautiful Victorinox Swiss Army Women’s 241458 Officers XS Mother-Of-Pearl Dial Watch. It was just over $300, so “inexpensive” in terms of nice watches, but as someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time around fancy watch people, it does really well in terms of being professional and making a decent impression.

  34. eastbaybanker :

    I’ve lusted after a Cartier tank watch for a couple years, but there’s no way I can justify spending that kind of money until my student loans are paid off. Truthfully, though, I think it might be my baser keeping up with the Joneses self that craves one.

    As far as watches I’ve owned and loved: in college, a stainless steel Swiss army watch, lost and replaced again when I got my first job in my 20s; post-grad school, a Tag Heuer Aquaracer with no bling (like Em, an “I’ve arrived” purchase); most recently, a fun gold Kate Spade watch which I adore wearing as much as my fancier watch.

    A note on Overstock: I’m a bargain shopper and never pay retail for anything. I bought my Tag on Overstock, and subsequently had it authenticated just to be sure. I thinks it’s always good to be wary of online discount retailers, but my experience with Overstock was legit.


  35. I have a Rolex that my mother gifted me for my 18th birthday. My father gave her the watch on their wedding day, then gave her a new one for their 20th anniversary so I got the old one.
    It means so much to me that I actually barely wear it because I’d hate for something to happen to it. It’s also a little too showy for my career/friends.

  36. Kontraktor :

    I don’t really wear watches. Mostly because if I did, then I would have to be a ‘watch person’ and have one other accessory/thing to worry about to coordinate my outfit with. I have two watches. One is Anne Klein- it’s a chunky, silver chain link bracelet and the watch is actually on a lock charm. I don’t wear that all too often. The other one I have I wear sometimes if it goes with my outfit- it’s also more of a bracelet style, Badgley Mischka. It has crystal bows all over it and more crystal bows surrouding the face. I love it. I love that it’s girly and dainty and a little over the top for a watch. I have worn it to interviews. I think it’s sort of a fun way to make a statement.

  37. a passion for fashion :

    this is an interesting topic and made me realize how many watches i have that i rarely ever wear. i have an anne klien silver watch (about $100) that my husband got me for christmas about 11 years ago. wore it for about 2 years. I have a burberry watch with a burberry plaid band (about $500) that my husband got me for christmas about 6 years ago. wore it every day for about a year. then he got me a tiffany watch with a plain black leather band (about $2000) maybe 4 years ago for christmas. wore that one every day for about 2.5 years. then he got me a michael kors white ceramic watch (about $450) for christmas in 2010. wear that off and on. i’m noticing a trend here . . . .

    They are all good watches in various price points. i would still wear all of them, but hurt my left arm about 2 years ago, which is the arm i wear a watch on, and cant wear one anymore. I can get the white ceramic one on my right wrist by myself, so thats why i wear that one once in a while.

  38. Erm, I have two watches that function: A $12 watch I bought for my “Flo” Halloween costume last year (brown fake leather band, small plain face); and a bright yellow, rubber-watchband, stainless-steel-faced number that I got a few weeks ago at Payless. I’m rocking the latter today, because I am a classy lady.

  39. My parents told me when I graduated from law school I could pick out any watch I liked. They both always wore (classic, understated) Rolex’s so after much deliberation between a Rolex, a Baume & Mercier & a Cartier tank watch, I went with a simple Rolex. Steel and white gold, no diamonds, navy blue face. It is gorgeous and it has appreciated in the five years I’ve had it- worth the investment.

    • ChristinaMD :

      This is the watch I want! The Rolex steel LadyDate Just with the blue face and beveled edge – no diamonds. Can I ask, if you’ve ever had issues with the blue face? I love the little splash of color, and want to make sure before I pull the plug that I’m not going to regret getting it.

      I’m holding out for bonus time next Spring, I call it Purse & Jewelry Day.

      I have the same situation – my parents have had matching dual-metal Rolex’s as long as I can remember, and honestly with the current price of gold, could possibly sell them now for more than they originally purchased them for.

      • ChristinaMD :

        And by bevel, I of course meant bezel…. Sigh.. it’s still only Tuesday, right?

  40. Blonde Lawyer :

    I have an ESQ and love it. It was my 30th birthday present from my husband.

    • anon in tejas :

      I have one too! Although I need to get some links taken out so that I can start wearing it regularly again!

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