Caroline S. from San Diego, California asks:
Why are so many ladies' watches made with quartz movements? I love automatic watches but many of the designs I like are available in with quartz movements only. Is it just a size thing? Can they not make small watches with automatic movements? Or do watch companies think that women care only about looks and not about the mechanics of a watch?
That is a really good question and one that we hear a lot. There is really no simple answer but it is a combination of market reality and economics. While there are many mechanical watch loving women, most of the current female buyers of watches are seen as being more interested in the fashion/accessory or jewelry element of timepieces - as opposed to the movements inside of them.
Further, major brands such as Patek Philippe make most of their money by selling quartz-movement equipped ladies watches with diamonds. The margins on these timepieces are much higher than mechanical ones and if the female watch buyer market is perceived as wanting the simplicity and convenience of a quartz movement over a mechanical movement... brands will continue to rely on the income from these higher margin products.
To a degree, it is also a matter of size, but there are plenty of very small mechanical movements (even automatics). Though, very thin mechanical movements tend to be more difficult to produce than thicker ones. And brands believe women want thin watches, because they are seen as delicate and feminine. So, there is a reason why smaller women's watches have quartz movements. Having said that, today's woman's watch sizes are yesterday's men's watch sizes so there are plenty of available movements.
It is true that women's watches have less mechanical options but this is changing, especially as many of the major luxury watch brands are keen to attract the female buying demographic. Many of the major luxury watch brands have mechanical movement-based women's watches and more will come in the future if they are successful selling them.
It has been found that with both men and women, the interest in buying a mechanical watch is based on a degree of exposure and education. Watch brands struggle with this educational element of their marketing plans. They are good at creating awareness and brand recognition, but they are pretty poor at educating consumers. They more or less rely on media such as aBlogtoWatch and other titles for that.
It has been known that women make purchase decisions very differently from men. Women tend to "hunt" for objects more than men, but men are thought to "research" more than women. So, while brands are able to reach women slightly more easily when it comes to initial product discovery, the educational element is still easier with male demographics. Of course, these are not universal truths, as everyone is different, but general statistical trends. We aren't trying to say that no women are interested in movements or that all men are tireless researchers.
As long as brands continue to be successful in marketing their names and designs to women, they have an opportunity to focus less on the movements inside of the watches. The interest in getting more women into mechanical watches is mostly about being able to sell them much more expensive watches. While most quartz women's watches are $5,000 and under, many of the new mechanical women's watches are $5,000 and up. Inexpensive, high-quality mechanical watches for women are quite rare.
We have sympathy for the many watch loving women who are looking for more mechanical timepiece options and tend to only see men's models. Having said that, the watch industry has also noticed that many women who like mechanical watches are now buying men's watches to wear.