The Classy, Feminine Digital Watch

professional digital watchesSomeone wrote to us recently wondering about a nice digital watch.

I do not like analog. Yes, I know this makes me an outlier, but there it is. My problem is finding pretty, classy, feminine digital watches. It seems either you get a huge clunky “athletic” watch or a huge clunky “techie” Casio-style watch. I’ve looked online and everytime I happen by a jewelry store (I even checked out the stores in Switzerland for heaven’s sake), but couldn’t find very much.

Here’s my little secret: I don’t actually like analog that much either. Apparently I was absent that day of kindergarten? When I bought my nice watch I figured I’d sort it out eventually — I’m a smart lady, right? — but it still hasn’t become second nature to me. So now, whenever someone asks me the time I either a) punt and say “Quarter after!”, b) change the subject, or c) check my cell phone or my computer screen.  (Pictured: GUCCI Men’s YA114212 I-GUCCI Watch, available at Amazon for $775 (was $1295).)

It should also be noted that digital watches aren’t necessarily a bad thing — they tend to lend a sporty “I like to run” and/or “I am all about precision” vibe to your persona.  If those options don’t appeal to you, however, there are some attractive digital watches out there.  We’ve rounded up some options…

digital watches for womenGo for an almost transparent band, such as the Baby-G.  Casio Women’s BG169R-7B Baby-G Clear Whale Digital Sport Watch, available at Amazon for $69.  Another option would be to go for the most unobtrusive strap you can find, such as a traditional Ironman one, available at Amazon for $38.48.  Timex Ironman 50-Lap Sleek Watch – Mid-Size
professional digital watches for women Go for the I-wear-men’s-watches look, which can be a great look.  One of the things we really like about this Suunto watch is that the strap is leather — a lot of times the plastic straps that come with digital watches can get really dirty; this is a great, classy option.  Suunto – X-Lander (Aluminum / Leather Negative Face) – Jewelry The National Museum of the Marine Corps Museum Store has a nice Digital Field Watch for $25.95 that might convey a nice patriotic sentiment, also.
digital watches for work 2Go for a futuristic watch. For example, MOMA’s “Never Too Late” watch displays the time in 12/24 format as well as the phrase “Never Too Late.”  (Never Too Late Watch, $89.50 (was $125)).  Other options here include the International Spy Museum’s Digital Hour Watch with Leather Band for $185 or o.d.m. Unisex MDD99B-1 Mr. Metallic Series Black and Silver Programmable Digital Watch (available at Amazon for $89).  eBay also has a number of fun options, such as LED light watches.
digital watches for work 1Go for color. Yeah, you’re wearing a digital watch — what of it?  Go for a really noticeable, fun color such as this tomato red G-shock watch (G-Shock – Ltd. Edition Mirrored Metallics (Red) – Jewelry, available at Zappos for $104).  Other options: G-Shock – Baby-G BGD110 (Purple) – Jewelry(available at Zappos for $94).
digital watches for women 2Go designer. A few designers do offer digital watches which might be worth checking out, as well — for example, GUCCI Women’s YA114403 i-gucci Digital White Watch is available at Amazon for $695 (was $1195).  Other options include the Prada Link (a Bluetooth watch that works with your Prada cellphone).  Nina Ricci also makes them, although they can be hard to find — eBay may be your best option.

Readers, for those of you prefer digital watches, what brands have you found? For those of you who don’t wear digital watches — do you think any less of people who wear digital watches at the office?


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  1. “So now, whenever someone asks me the time I either a) punt and say “Quarter after!”, b) change the subject, or c) check my cell phone or my computer screen. ”

    Change the subject? I bet this drives people nuts! It’s not like people are asking the time as a vehicle for conversation … they probably actually want to know what time it is.

    On the topic, I’m surprised to find I like a lot of these suggestions. I’d be careful with the Baby G though, for me it falls way too far in the “trendy” category instead of classic. The MOMA watch is great!

    • AnneCatherine :

      Yeah I had to LOL at “change the subject.” That cracked me up, picturing it. “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?” “Look! Over there! Is that Snuffaluffagus out in public?!?!?!”

  2. I don’t think any of the listed watches work in a professional environment. There’s such a disconnect between a person in a nice suit wearing a plastic watch. It doesn’t lend an “I like to run” vibe to your personality — it’s wearing workout gear. Either learn how to read a clock face or don’t depend on a watch to tell time. Checking your cell phone is far less tacky than an inappropriate watch, I think.

    • I hate digital watches and this post just reminded me why!!

    • anon - chi :

      FWIW, I don’t think the one with a leather band reads as “I’m on my way to the gym” or is otherwise inappropriate.

  3. To me, there’s just no real need for a watch anymore; we constantly either have cell phones or computers at our fingertips. Just wear an analog one (or none at all) and use the digital. I have one with no numbers at all, and yeah, it’s nearly impossible to read, but I hardly notice that because I almost never use it.

  4. Sort of thread jack?
    Does anyone know of a good digital sports/running watch? I’ve recently started running and really need something comfortable and reliable with a stop watch, that’s also water resistant. A lot of reviews I’ve found online have said that many sports watches that say they are water resistant (timex!) actually are not. Oh, and reasonably priced. Any advice or help would be much appreciated!

    • If you want a heart rate monitor too (which I highly recommend), I love Polar. They are simple, streamlined, and work well.

    • Since you just started running, I would suggest buying a junk sports watch. If you use it regularly and continue to run (e.g. are still running regularly 6 months from now) then I would invest in a high end waterproof Timex or BabyG. Most runners get a watch when they are starting out, but then find it is not practical or useful – or it is just uncomfortable.

      The Baby G is definitely water proof, I use it in the pool. Be sure to get something water proof (not resistant) b/c of sweat and rain.

    • Anonymous :

      Agree with mk – since you’re just starting, get something cheap. Once you have continued for 6 months or so, you’ll have a better idea of what you need (and you’ll know whether it will be a continuing thing for you). I personallyuse the Garmin GPS watch for running, so I can get my mileage, pace, heart rate – everything. But I wouldn’t invest in that until you know for sure.

      • I agree with getting a lower-end sports watch. I have been a runner for 10 years now and I use a Timex Ironman. It is relatively inexpensive, and it has a lap counter for when you want to do intervals. I swim with it too and I’ve never had a problem with it not being water proof. Also, I am in no way afflilated with Timex, just a loyal customer.

        I like Polar heart rate monitors too. I don’t think it is completely necessary to use one as a new runner. Enjoy yourself, and good luck!

      • I love, love, love, love my Garmin GPS watch!! Best birthday present ever from the hubby.

    • I’m relatively new to running and I use a Garmin Forerunner 305. It has GPS and a heart rate monitor, and all of the data is stored and uploadable to your computer. I love it. They are pricier (about $200) – perhaps use it as a “reward” after you’ve committed to running for a few months. (I got mine after 3 months. I use it 6 days a week so I feel like it is a worthwhile investment.) It is really fun and rewarding to be able to track mileage, heart rate, pace, etc., and to be able to see all of the progress you’re making. I don’t have the newest Garmin model (405 — smaller, priced at about $300), but what I have works very well for my needs.

      • I will second the forerunner suggestion–I have a 205, which is basically the 305 w/o the heart-rate monitor and is about $100 cheaper.

        W/ the GPS capability, you can see your pace in real time, and you can also save “courses” and then “race” against yourself later, which I find motivating.

      • Chicago K :

        How does the 305 fit? Is it gigantic? I was all set to order it and then looking at some pics I got turned off by the size. I saw it for $150 on Amazon.

        • It’s kind of big – not nearly as sleek as the 405 seems to be, but the size doesn’t bother me. You could probably take a look in person in a running shop to see if it is too big for your preferences.

          • Chicago K :

            Thanks for the info. I’ve been meaning to check it out at Fleet Feet. I don’t think I can justify the $400 for the newer (smaller) version, and from the reviews on Amazon, peeps tend to like the 205 and 305 much better anyway.

          • I’ve always wondered about the Garmin heart rate monitors – they include a strap you must wear across your chest, right? How do they fit, and do they stay in place through a fairly bouncy run? Are they comfortable? This is what’s holding me back from getting a heart rate monitor instead of just a watch!

          • Chicago K :

            @BD – I can’t speak to the Garmin, but I had a Polar heart rate monitor for years and the strap fit just fine. It was a hard material (similar to the material used in a watch band) and then the back part was stretchy and hooked in the back. It sits right under your breasts, similar to the band on your bra (and actually in that exact same area) so it was pretty comfortable for me and went as unnoticed as my bra would.

          • The Garmin strap is not really noticeable once it’s on. The strap has a 6-inch plastic piece that fits in the front, and the rest is adjustable soft elastic fabric. It fits right along the lower bra line, and stays put so long as you make sure to keep the elastic adjusted. I keep the strap on my nightstand and it’s the first thing I reach for when I wake up in the morning.

    • I have this watch for running
      It has a built in pedometer so is great for running in the city and at $54 is not ridiculously overpriced like some running watches.

    • I’ve been running for about 15 years and Timex Ironman is my long-standing favourite. I wear it in the shower every day and I’ve never had one that stopped working, other than b/c of a dead battery (though the straps tend to wear out after a couple of years of daily use). It’s inexpensive and I prefer its timing features for running over other digitals I’ve tried. (I am guilty of wearing it at work but try to remember to take it off if I’m not wearing long sleeves).

      • when I first started running, I used the Nike sport watch which I really liked (and still wear on weekends). It’s a stop watch and can do laps too (though I never really figured that out). I think they are run around $50. After running for about 8 months or so, my husband gave me a Garmin – one of the older models (probably a 205) because he felt its reviews were better than the newer ones. I thought I would hate it – it IS big – but I love it. And you get used to wearing it. I love knowing exactly how far I’ve gone. It does a lot of fancy stuff that I don’t really appreciate. and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t get the heart rate monitor. I’m not athletic enough to really understand how to use it to train. and it drove me crazy to wear it (I’m relatively big-chested, so that may make a difference). Good luck!

  5. I think all of these look childish and too casual. If OP wants to know the time, she should look at her cell phone. Or perhaps get one of those analog watch faces on a carabiner that she can clip to the inside of her purse in an accessible place.

  6. I hate when I ask someone the time and they flash their wrist at me to show me instead of tell me. I wonder if that is because they can’t read their own watch! Then I have to awkwardly squint and bend over them to read it.

  7. personal shopper :

    suggestions (skip the Baby G; so Baby Spice):

    Suunto Lumi

    AcmeStudio Finestra

    Lexon neo 8

    Alessi Daytimer Digital

    • That Suunto one is perfect!! The most professional featured on here.

      • personal shopper :

        I pre-ordered a Lumi (their first for-women model) when they first came out a few years ago & I love mine. It’s basically a wrist-top computer–probably more machine than most of us need–but it’s got all the features of their other watches and is (in my opinion) better looking.

      • personal shopper :

        fwiw I only wear my Rolex in the office.

    • That suunto lumi is fantastic! Its the only one I’ve seen that I could possibly imagine wearing in a professional environment.

  8. If you want me to count my billable hours in minute increments, I need to know what time it is and it is not always feasible to check your computer (in meetings with partners discussing various matters) or your cell phone (is there anything tackier than checking your blackberry during a meeting?). I wear a very simple, black-banded digital watch from target. Its fine with long sleeves. Of course, I do not wear it to court, but around the office, its fine, and I am pretty sure no one even notices. In this world, “guesstimating” a few minutes one way or another can cost your client $30. Its better to know what time it is.

    • Its not cheap (about $330) but this could be a great answer–

    • This is why I got a watch as well. I’d rarely worn one before but I found that there are many situations, such as meetings, where I feel that pulling out my cell phone to check the time is rude and makes me look either disinterested or like I’m checking my messages while someone’s talking to me. So much easier to just glance quickly at the watch on my wrist.

    • I also find that people tend to set analog watches a few minutes ahead, so I feel like the only reliable time is digital.

      • If it’s your own watch … who are the “people” setting it ahead for you?

        • I wondered that, too, Chi. And what’s to stop “people” from setting a digital watch a few minutes ahead?

  9. I’m going to be extremely unhelpful to all the lawyers out there but any of these would be AWESOME in an engineering business casual/professional workplace. Any of these watches would show personality, especially since female engineers wind up dressing very drab (we’re heavily “brainwashed” by our male counterparts, unfortunately). For a woman on the rise in engineering (through management and beyond), a watch like this would definitely endear her to us in the engineering backrooms.

    I kind of really want that blue MOMA watch……

    • This whole discussion reminds me of the intro to “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” when they dismiss Earth as being a planet where the inhabitants still think digital watches are pretty cool. ;>

  10. I am so attached to my cell that I pretty much always have it in reach to see the time. I still wear a watch (analog) sometimes, but use my cell if I want to know what time it is (more accurate anyway). I am just not sure what the big deal is about analog? Is it really that hard to tell time with an analog watch? I am not being snarky, it’s a genuine question. The OP didn’t say why she dislikes analog watches and I am just curious why that would be.

    • I believe she said she didnt know how to read a analog watch, i.e. tell time!! I am sorry if this sounds snarky, but really, you can’t learn how to read a watch or clock- and you are in the business world with a college degree? Am I the only one that read it that way?

      • She said it wasn’t automatic, which is a big difference. You want to be able to glance at your watch and know the time in a fraction of a second, not to have to think about it at all.

      • I have a Ph.D. and a JD, yet telling time on an analog clock is not second nature to me. In fact, I do not wear a watch precisely because I am afraid someone will ask me the time. Last time I checked I wasn’t stupid, so I just figure that people have different strengths and weaknesses, one of my weaknesses happens to be reading an analog clock. What’s yours?

        • Left and right, I am horrible at that. Directions from me will be along the lines of make a left, no the other left LOL

          • I confess this is one of my limitations. Also north-south-east-west, and converting a right or left direction to the appropriate cardinal direction. I remember one time trying to give a male coworker directions to a meeting and him getting incredibly frustrated because I couldn’t say whether “turn left” meant going north or going south. And I’ve lived in our city for over 10 years, and the directions are really easy to remember because certain major landmarks are in a given direction from the center of town. So viewing it through that lens, I can totally understand wanting a digital watch.

          • I’m another directionally-challenged person. Finally learned left and right when I started to wear a watch on my left wrist.
            North-south-east-west completely defeat me.

            And a lot of the women in my family are this way, too. So none of us ever get offended when we give each other driving directions that begin along the lines of “Back out of the driveway and turn toward the mailbox.”

        • Chicago S :

          I am almost clueless in working with color, what coordinates with what. When I purchased my most recent home, I did not think twice about hiring a decorator to advise me on what colors to paint the walls. It took me over 10 years to get comfortable with the fact this is just not something I do well, but I make good money doing what I do well (finance, I am a CPA) to pay someone to do what I am suboptimal at. I still refuse to say I can’t do it, just someone else can do it better.

          • Chicago S, you have a kindred spirit out here in CA. So glad to hear I’m not the only one!!! :)

        • anon - chi :

          Cursive. Can’t write in it, except to sign my own name, and getting my signature to look like an adult’s and not an 8-year-old’s took years of practice!

      • I think a lot of us have little quirks that make us seem dumb in isolation. I’m bad with spacial coordination – I find it very difficult to make a bed properly, pack a suitcase, figure out where to put furniture, etc. If you saw me turning the fitted sheet around six times and still putting the edges on the wrong corners of the bed you’d think I was a moron, but I have 2 doctoral-level degrees.

        • Haha I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the fitted-sheet problem. My striped sheets are my favorite, because I can just remember the way the stripes are supposed to run. (Multiple degrees here as well.)

  11. the Baby G reminds me of the mall when I was 13. Anyone else have similar flashbacks?

  12. It’s funny how our minds work so differently — I can’t handle digital clocks! I think it’s because when I look at an analog clock, it’s easier for me to visualize where I “am” in the hour, how much time has passed, how much time I have left, etc. With digital, I just can’t visualize! Does anyone else experience this?

    • AnneCatherine :

      Yes, I do this, too, but I am a very visually-oriented person. I do the same thing to alphabetize (picture myself among the alphabet, in a line). Sounds trippier than it is. I much prefer to picture where I “am” on a watch/clock face, than to have some abstract number I can’t process.

      Also, from far away, and maybe it’s my near-sightedness, I tend to misread nines for eights, and twos for and fives, which all sort of use the same “grid” on an LCD digital clock.

      • I have to face north to figure out directions. My mind can’t find west unless it’s to my left.

        • For many years, I had to picture in my mind my kindergarten class, with the flag and chalkboard up front, to “see” left and right. If I felt that the chalkboard was behind me, I would spin around to figure out the two directions.

        • Here in Honolulu we have 4 easy directions: makai (towards the sea); mauka (towards the palis – “mountains”); Diamond head; and its opposite, Ewa. So, my office, for example, is located on the makai Ewa part of Punchbowl Street.

          As to not being able to immediately comprehend an analog watch, (previously known as “a watch”), my son has that problem, and we were informed that is a feature of his dyslexia.

      • I never thought about it that way! I’m in the category of not being able to tell the time on an analog clock automatically – I mean, I can figure it out it just doesn’t come naturally. But when you said that about seeing where you *are* in the hour that really connected to me…maybe I should give the analog another shot…

    • Chicago K :

      I prefer analog to digital hands down, all though I believe it is because I am not keen on something glowing and analog generally only light up when you press a button. I even have an analog alarm clock! It’s so nice to hear it “ticking” next to the bed.

      I guess I am old school…

    • Yes, I have the same thing. I have a sense of time with an analog that I don’t get with a digital. But to each her own.

  13. I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum – I have not ever really had use for digital watches, and have my desktop widget clock that I refer to more than the time in the corner.

    I can vouch for the pluses of wearing a larger watch or a man’s watch – I’m very anal-retentive about the watches I wear and there are some things that are must-haves (clearly delineated minutes, clear numbers, and the day of the month.) I had a Timex I adored and would like to get another just like it at some point – the Fossil watch I picked up in a hurry because the Timex broke is okay, but just not as functional as I would like.

  14. I want a digital watch! It must be a leftover from watching people wear those digital glo in dark watches and not getting one despite begging my mom!

  15. I have one similar to this, though it’s from a few years ago and the band is a little narrower. They come in lots of colors. I like the unique band, it’s a bit of a conversation piece. There are also analog faced in the same Presto style, but with the narrower band, which I personally prefer.

  16. Thread hijack – anyone attend the Nordstrom pre-anniversary sale? I bought a really nice black wool suit from the CE brand. They had lots of good stuff.

    • How do you attend this? I’ve seen the curtains over the years, but have never been invited. I am a cardholder and use the personal shopper service, so I am sort of puzzled by this.

      • if you have to ask, dahling…

      • I shop there constantly and when I was there yesterday to make a return, the salewoman called me over and told me about the pre-sale. She sees me in that store at least every other week or so and I’ve made it a point to get to know her. If you have a personal shopper, I would just call her and ask.

  17. There are some very nice, professional-looking Fossil digital watches here:

    • I second the Fossil watches. I am always on the hunt for professional digital watches, and I have gotten two from Fossil. I have a Fossil Philippe Stark watch (linked to above) and a Fossil Frank Gehry watch.

  18. If the problem is the plastic bands, why not buy a digital watch with a face you like, and then put a leather band on it? You can do this with analog watches, so I bet you can do it with digital ones too. If I was trying to be professional, I’d probably pick out a simple dark watch face with no protruding buttons, then put a black leather or silver metal band on it. You can buy spare bands at any department store with a jewelry counter.

  19. This Kenneth Cole one seems pretty tame to me:

    And probably not office appropriate, but this one is kinda funky:

  20. I have never understood how people can say “I don’t need a watch, I have a mobile phone”. Uh-huh – a mobile phone which is somewhere in the bottom of your bag or, in the best-case scenario, a pocket. Why on earth would you want to simply glance at your wrist when you have *that* model of efficiency not-quite-to-hand?

    I too hate analog watches. My Casio, no longer on sale, it seems, has a small face and a classy chrome metal strap. I feel extremely comfortable wearing it to formal events with an expensive dress as well as to meet a client in my best suit.

  21. Ruelala has some Kenneth Cole watches on sale….one day left. There are a couple classy digital watches that would be perfect for the office. One in particular had a pretty silver band. Unfortunately, it is sold out but worth noting the style so you can search for one on your own.

  22. lawyergrrl :

    I could have missed it, but would Love a similar post / thread (or link) regarding analog watches. (I should change my handle to old-fashioned grrl.)


  23. Am I a freak that I convert digital time to analog in my head? It’s a better visual of where we are in the hour.

  24. @ Ru – I totally agree! A female engineering manager would move 3 steps up the coolness ladder if she wore one of theses watches. Make one of these pink and throw in an atomic clock that runs on solar power, and the wearer would be the envy of the entire office. My friend says that we engineers are a special breed that no one else understands. I think he’s right!

    • Haha, yes! It’s all good – us women engineers can keep the female digital watch trend well and strong ;)

  25. Of all the things that we worry about, digital watches are now a no? Please. It will only send the “wrong” message if you are otherwise sending a wrong message. If you are otherwise dressed and acting appropriately, the fact that you’re wearing a watch will hardly count against you. No more that wearing a classic Cartier will make you seem “right” if you’re wearing a too short skirt and a ratty blazer.

    • Agreed. Does a metal or leather banded analog watch match with your skirt suit better than a plastic banded sports watch? Sure, to an extent. But at the end of the day…’s a WATCH. As long as it’s not a hot pink Hello Kitty watch, nobody in your office cares about or even notices your watch.

      • Yeah. I was just thinking that I only own one watch and I wonder if people notice that I always wear the same one even though it doesn’t always go with the rest of my jewelry. And then I thought about it, and I realized that I couldn’t tell you what kind of watch a single one of my coworkers wear, or even if they wear one – and I can tell you exactly what necklaces they normally wear, or shoes, or whether they wear nail polish, etc. I think watches are just something we don’t really notice, probably because basically everyone wears one and they’re more functional than decorative.

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