Trendspotting: Watches Are Making a Comeback

Jul 21, 2011

During the past decade, the cell phone became the undisputed champion of the timekeeping world.  We stopped wearing watches.  We stopped buying alarm clocks.  And “Do you have the time?,” was removed from the pickup-line dictionary lest we be asked in response, “Don’t you own a cell phone?” 

Recently, I started thinking that I should buy a real watch (I own a PixelModa sportwatch for the pool and the plane).  And I’m not the only one.  

According to the Seattle Times, a lot of fashion-forward people are turning back time and taking their watches out of mothballs.   It seems that, like a B-movie villain, the wristwatch has come back from the dead.

The immediate difficulty with buying a watch is how to choose one that compliments any outfit.  (Yes, I think this is more important than whether it keeps good time.)  Of course, I could buy a couple of watches in different metals and materials, but that would be getting ahead of myself.  Perhaps something with an interchangeable strap or made from a neutral material would be best?

I also have a personal issue to consider, my tiny wrists.  Chicken wrists, my Brother calls them.  They’re barely 5.5 inches around.  I’ve seen curling irons with more circumference.  So I need a watch that doesn’t have a huge face. And I need something that is fully adjustable or at least, something that won’t look misshapen when I remove half the links.  

The final issue for me is how much to spend.  I’m looking for a watch that I can wear everyday, something nice but not ostentatious.  Thanks to my Father’s watch obsession, I know that a good watch is an investment piece.  But I’m looking for something more like a Treasury bill than a 401k.  

Philip Stein Limited Edition Oprah Watch in Gunmetal (Saks, $730)

(I’m ignoring the Oprah connection. You wouldn’t even know it was there if you weren’t looking for it.)

I like this Philip Stein watch because it’s modern and sophisticated.  The interchangeable, leather strap is a nice feature.  The face isn’t too big and it has numbers instead of dashes or dots.  I hate when a watch looks good but is difficult to read, form and function should not be mutual exclusive.

I love this watch, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to drop seven bills on one just yet.  Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs both have accessory lines that make nice watches.  I’ve been looking at this tortoise shell one since our old Scheduler bought one a couple of years back.  It’s versatile and stylish, and it’s certainly a more reasonable price.

Michael Kors Tortoise Watch (Zappos, $250)

So what do you ladies think?  Is this just a temporary respite from their long-forgotten grave or are watches back in vogue?  And if you wear a watch, do you have a favorite style or brand?


share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I looovee teeny, tiny watches. I have a Skagen one I like with a very small face, but have been having a hard time finding others.

  2. Kelsey says:

    I have been wearing a watch since I was 14 (no cell phones in school and the teachers hated it when we would stare at the wall clock longingly).

    I wear a Rolex Datejust with a mother of pearl face and a white gold and stainless steal bracelet. I got it for my 18th birthday and it never leaves my wrist, except when playing rugby.

  3. Ali says:

    I have a gold brera chronograph watch that I never fail to receive compliments on. If you are a fan of the MIchael Kors watches, the Nordstrom sale going on right now has a bunch on sale. (this is quite rare for this brand) They have a silver one with a rolex feel that I am thinking of snagging. It is definitely worth checking out! $250 down to $160.

  4. MBC says:

    Belle- Try Lou Lou's in Metro Center or Dupont for inexpensive watches. I just got mine there for under $30!

  5. LM says:

    I love Michael Kors and wear mine every day. I recently discovered that Nordstrom Rack in Chevy Chase has a good selection at discounted prices (depending on the week and when a recent delivery was made). The only downside is that you have to go to an official Nordstrom location to get them sized.

  6. R says:

    I also wear a Skagen, in rose gold with a mother of pearl face. I think the clean styling makes it extremely versatile, and the face is smaller than the Michael Kors pictured.

  7. Dakota says:

    Ha ha, i never knew watches went out of style. I have a Pixel Moda sport watch for the gym and swimming, and a gold and silver DKNY watch for weekdays. On the weekends I like to play around and have some other fun ones. Lou Lou in Dupont Circle has some fun, more accessory-type ones. A brand called Tokyo Boy has really cool leather wristband watches with unexpected textures and colors. I have a black one that just looks like a black leather wristband but is has a small watch face.

  8. Emily says:

    Funny that you should write this as I've just recently been in the market for a watch as well. I haven't had one for a couple years – and I miss them! I've been liking some of the menswear-inspired watches. My mom has always worn delicate, bracelet types – but lately I'm very attracted to the ones that remind me of my dads. (the Michael Kors at Nordstrom are awesome – love your tortoise one too) What do you think is on-trend for watches now? Is there a certain look that's becoming popular or is it to each her own?

  9. CynthiaW says:

    I always wear a watch – it's so much more convenient than pulling out my phone to check the time. I have a silver Fossil for everyday and several other watches to mix it up for evening wear or fun. I also have small wrists and have to take out several links – it makes it harder to find an attractive watch, but not impossible.

  10. Ellie says:

    Love my watch. I wear it every day I don't have a bracelet on. It's a Seiko and the band has gold and silver hardware so it matches both colors in my other jewelry and handbags. The face is huge, but I have huge wrists (can't wear most standard bracelets) and it works well for me. Gilt and Rue la la often have sales on watches, I would keep an eye out there.

  11. Katie says:

    I bought a MK watch last summer and had to send it back – i too have tiny wrists and the face was larger than my boyfriend's watch and looked completely ridiculous (even on him). Good luck finding one!

  12. Michelle says:

    I saved up and bought a Longines watch a year ago. While I was a bit apprehensive on spending $1,300 on a watch, I couldn't have made a better decision. It's a very slim watch that works on my tiny wrists; it's classic with 12 small diamonds where each number should go (so not over the top either). I plan to wear this watch until I'm in my 40s or 50s (because it will never go out of style); by then I figure I can afford another treat.

    On a side note, I think it is rude to pull out a cell phone to check the time in a business setting. If you're not on the Blackberry checking work e-mails, the phone should not be out. A quick look at your wrist is polite; digging a phone out of a bag and lighting up the screen is not.

  13. Allyson says:

    Oh lord! I am obsessed with MK watches.

  14. alex says:

    I have a Fossil watch that I am obsessed with. I wear it everyday and feel lost without it if I don't wear it. But I too have tiny wrists. I looked at the Michael Kors watch but the face on it was too big which was sad because I looked forward to buying it. After that I went on a hunt for a rose gold watch that would look right on my tiny wrist and I stumbled upon Fossil. They have great watches and come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

  15. Jamie says:

    I have 2 watches that I wear depending on my outfit. A rose gold (LOVE this trend) Marc Jacobs with a large mens-wear face, and a small Kenneth Cole with a black leather strap and silver face. I have smaller wrists, and the Kenneth Cole works really well as a classic, every day watch.

  16. Amanda says:

    I wear a watch every day- I have two Michael Kors watches, one in gold and one in silver. I love most of Michael Kors watches, but the Marc Jacobs ones are cute as well. You might want to check out a Nordstroms Rack or Off 5th, that's where I got my silver watch.

  17. Lauren says:

    I have a Philip Stein watch that I got when I started my first “real” job. While it was expensive, I've never regretted getting it. The interchangeable straps make it great for any outfit: brown crocodile when I'm feeling fancy, white ostrich for when I'm feeling preppy, and orange lizard for when it's game day (Go Hokies!) While I understand the apprehension on spending a lot on a watch, that's definitely one worth looking into. They're great! Good luck with your search!

  18. CapHillTexan says:

    A tip on the Michael Kors watch… check out the Fossil webpage, they have almost the exact same watch for much cheaper. AND, because I used to work for Fossil HQ, I can tell you they are the same quality… Fossil makes Michael Kors' watches.

  19. annie says:

    i saved up for a tag heuer and absolutely love it. i wear it everyday and think it's lovely; it's timeless and looks fantastic with suits and equally nice with casual wear. a watch is certainly an investment piece, but if you're looking for something to match different outfits or a bit trendier (like the tortoiseshell), then perhaps steer away from an investment.

    and i think it's obscenely rude to pull out a cell phone in the middle of a meeting or a conversation with a friend. it's distracting and suggests you'd rather be elsewhere, which is far from a good impression.

  20. Karen says:

    I wear a very simple stainless steel Coach bracelet watch that my husband got for me. It works for both casual and dressy and I understand that Movado is their watch manufacturer so I know it's of good quality. He snagged it for me when one of those 25% off coupons showed up in the mail. I feel naked without a watch on and never fell into the habit of relying on my phone as a clock.

    As a side note I've never shopped for a watch on Rue La La but I feel like I see a lot of different types of watch boutiques pop up on there.

  21. Elyse G. says:

    Another great option is a Michele watch. You can buy different straps that are easily interchangeable allowing you to mix it up on a regular basis.

  22. Meghan says:

    your “trend spots” are always so far behind the actual trends…snooooze.

  23. E says:

    I just purchased a men's Tag Aquaracer. It is stainless and yellow gold with a white face. I am OBSESSED with this watch. I too have a small wrist, but love the look of a slightly loose, large men's watch. It goes with everything, gives all my outfits a touch of elegance and makes me feel like a real adult. Yes, paying the amex bill stung a bit, but I know that this watch will last a lifetime and the style is classic enough that I hope my daughter (or son!) would be happy to have it passed down to them. I plan on wearing this watch for at least another 5 years, or until I'm ready to upgrade to the rolex I've been lusting over (30th bday present maybe??)

  24. CMF says:

    Just purchased a Movado wrist watch from the two-tone Museum collection- I love that it is silver and gold, therefore very versatile. I, too, have tiny wrists, so the smaller face works well. While pricey, it will last forever and will always be apropriate. I think a watch is a much classier alternative to checking your cell phone for the time- and it certainly looks more professional!

  25. Sarah says:

    I wear a watch every day as well- I have a few different styles. The one I love most is a Seiko that I bought on Rue La La for $75, marked down from $575- very thin & shiny silver, with a mother of pearl face, and tiny diamonds at 12, 3, 6, and 9. I have small wrists, but the Seiko outlet adjusted it at no charge. I also have a gold watch with a thicker strap and a brown face, gold numbers that I bought on discount at Steinmart years ago, and it's in perfect condition, scratch resistant.

    Kenneth Cole watches are great too- very comfortable, face sizes are proportionate to the band- mine is green faux snakeskin, something I would never have put together for myself, but I fell in love with at the outlet- for $25!

  26. Rose says:

    Never ever stopped wearing my watch. I wore a Movado bracelet-style for years – silver with a black face, but switched to a rose gold Skagen with mother-of-of pearl face recently. It was very affordable off of Amazon, and I wanted a change – LOVE it. And I also have tiny wrists – my friend works for Movado (hence my daily watch for the last 5 years), and when she was sizing it she said it was the most links she's ever taken out for an adult.

  27. amy b.s. says:

    i have always been a watch fan for some reason and am loving my big men's watch right now. it makes me feel like i'm wearing a huge statement bracelet, but that has a function.

  28. Belle says:

    Meghan- Then feel free to read another blog that's more on top of things. I'm sure another blog would be happy to have you as a reader, or better yet, you could start your own site.

  29. TA says:

    I just got a MK watch and I love it! It's silver with a mother of pearl face and with crystals. I actually really like the entire MK line; if I could I would buy more watches.

    I also have a Gucci bracelet watch that I got when I was 16. It was originally $450 but my parents got for $175 because the jewerly store was going out of business. I haven't worn it in nearly 2 years because I haven't changed the battery–it costs $80-90 to have it replaced. Yikes!

  30. Laura says:

    I'm fortunate to own a Cartier tank which really does go with everything. I also have a military Timex which is great when I want to be casual.

  31. mala1 says:

    I own the Michel Kors watch (in rose gold) and the tortoise shell is going to be my next purchase FOR SURE.

    i recommend going to Amazon and they'll very often have retailers selling the MK watches for no more than $200 with shipping. I got my ($250 at Bloomies) watch on amazon for only $182. It was amazing

  32. Alexa says:

    MICHELE Watches! Love them.. They also have interchangable straps and come in many different classic styles! I love mine and wear it almost any day. You won't regret this watch!!

  33. annalou says:

    I got the second one a few months ago, and I LOVE it. I wear it everyday – it even got it's own blog post (complete with me making a bizarre face):

  34. SenateSider says:

    I am a big fan of Fossil. They are the only watches that I haven't broken the crystal. Fabulous selection of styles. Their outlet stores are great. I usually end up buying three watches for the price of one, which has allowed me to start my collection. I have simple and funky watches. Also their finishes are very durable and beautiful. I have at least one in every finish. My favorite go to watches are a gold funky floating rings and a brownish copper craftsman style.

  35. Christine says:

    I love my citizen two toned eco drive. it has a small band and face for my small wrists, and is extremely well made. The one I have is around $300, and was well worth the cost. I wear it every day as it goes with everything I own.

  36. Libbi says:

    I have the white version of this Michael Kors watch, and absolutely LOVE it – it was a gift for graduation, perfect for my summer internship of beginning a professional career. I sometimes wish it had numbers, I find myself taking an extra half-second the think what the time actually reads, but with all the compliments I get on it and how well it matches almost everything in the summer, it's well worth-it.

    I have never had a “nice” watch before – I would lose them or forget to wear them, or just wore a Nike one because I am a runner, but I'm definitely loving this new trend and hoping it stays for a long, long time!

  37. Sarah says:

    I have a mild obsession with watches. If I leave my house without a watch, I know it'll be a bad day. I have a collection of about 30 watches including some from Michael Kors, Zodiac, Skagen, Nooka, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and DKNY.

  38. Stephanie says:

    LOVE watches. I'm 23 and I don't think watches have ever gone out of style. I own two that I wear frequently: a gold Michael Kors with a mother of pearl face (MK5305) and an older citizen in stainless steel with a dark blue face.

    I have extremely small wrists and most watches I've tried on fit fine after taking out several links (just make sure they take them out from both sides so it doesn't look lopsided).

    This is the one I've been drooling over for a while:

  39. kristi says:

    I wear Michael Kors too- rose gold. And Belle, like you, I have small wrists, but it was just a matter of $10 at my jeweler to get two links taken out.

  40. Maharani says:

    Cartier Tank: very elegant, goes with everything, discreet at work and in meetings. I love mine and ear it daily.

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!


Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twenty-One

This week, the reader mail bag was full of little things. Pajama advice. Jewelry cleaning tips. Small things, but ones you might also be curious about, so let’s get started.



Recent Posts

Bag Week: The Statement Bag

Sometimes your outfit just needs something. Some color. Some sparkle. Something bold, something impactful, a statement. These bags bring that extra.



Add to Cart: Recent Amazon Finds

Bette Midler once famously said, “I want it all, and I want it delivered.” She is my soul sister.




Ask the Edit, Style, Top Posts | May 23, 2024

Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twenty-One

This week, the reader mail bag was full of little things. Pajama advice. Jewelry cleaning tips. Small things, but ones you might also be curious about, so let’s get started.



Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | May 23, 2024

Bag Week: The Statement Bag

Sometimes your outfit just needs something. Some color. Some sparkle. Something bold, something impactful, a statement. These bags bring that extra.



Add to Cart, Features, Posts | May 22, 2024

Add to Cart: Recent Amazon Finds

Bette Midler once famously said, “I want it all, and I want it delivered.” She is my soul sister.



Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | May 22, 2024

Bag Week: Stadium Bags

If you’re headed to a baseball game, a concert, or other stadium event this summer, you need a clear handbag, as most venues have instituted clear bag policies. Here are a few that won’t make your retinas bleed.