The 6 Rules For Watch-Buying French Women Swear By

There’s no denying that at Who What Wear we love the French women style. French women have mastered effortless elegance like no other–and whilst the clichè pieces such a breton tops, berets and red lipstick are all staples, there are others things in their arsenal that we look to too. Neat blazers, cute cardigans and expensive-looking denim (that always somehow seems to fit as if it was made for the very person wearing it) are other must-have wardrobe essentials. But there’s one small addition that people often overlook: Watches. 

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671199249623-main

(Image credit: @melodiebance and @leasy_inparis)

I’ve been looking to invest in a watch for a while as I have a big birthday coming up and thought this would be the perfect excuse to treat myself. The thing is though, it’s a tough decision to make, because whilst I may change a coat, a pair of shoes or a bag depending on my outfit, the occasion or the weather, the watch I buy really needs to pair with everything. Also, despite being a shopping expert, I’m admittedly a bit of a watch novice.

Which is why I’m looking to the style set that are known for their timeless capsule wardrobes as a guide. I don’t want a statement piece or a fleeting accessory ‘du jour,’ I want a forever timepiece that will go with everything. So, from Camille Charrière to Julie Berard, I paid close attention to the wrists of some of the French girls whose style I admire the most and collated some key style lessons when watch shopping. 

1. In France, Cartier is King. 

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671194005071-main

(Image credit: @leasy_inparis )

Style Notes: When considering French-made watches, the brand that always comes to mind is Cartier. In fact, this isn't limited to France or with French women–with Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, Gwyneth Paltrow and many, many more having be known to sport the Cartier Panthère, Tank and Ballon Bleu styles over the years. 

2. Classic Metals Rule

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671194324716-main

(Image credit: @aida.bdji)

Style Notes: Don't have a Cartier budget? Perhaps you want to try a new style but don't want to invest too heavily? No problem–there are so many affordable brands offering elegant designer-looking watches that have the same traditional silver/gold setting. From Citizen to Rotary and Tissot, to Instagram favourites, Charlie Paris and Daniel Wellington, there are plenty out there that prove you don't have to break the bank to stay on time.

3. Parisians Love Vintage

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671194220219-main

(Image credit: camillecharriere)

Style Notes: It's certainly no secret that Paris is home to some of the best vintage shops, and Parisians are some of the most experienced when it comes to second-hand sourcing. If you're looking for something unique, vintage may be the best option. From designer to lesser-known brands, Goldsmiths have an excellent vintage selection, and what's more is it's sustainable too!

4. Think Less Statement, More Understated

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671194153938-main

(Image credit: @erinoffduty)

Style Notes: When it comes to French style–and I really can't stress this enough–less is always more. This same rule applies for watches. A timepiece doesn't need to be encrusted with diamonds to shine, nor does it a coloured face and pattern. Don't go too oversized, rather something that fits your wrist well and compliments your skin tone. The idea is to own something that blends in, or really ties together, everything else you're wearing. 

5. Plain Leather Straps Are Cute Too

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671194128883-main

(Image credit: @melodiebance)

Style Notes: Whilst many look to silver, gold and stainless steel link straps, leather is also a popular choice, and one I personally think is more classic. Black leather with gold hardware is a favourite, but silver and tan leather are equally chic. Again, we're talking dainty rather than chunky.

6. For More Fashion-Forward Pieces, Look to Designer Names

classic-watches-for-women-304533-1671196240629-main

(Image credit: @annelauremais)

Style Notes: With luxury watches, you can either opt for brands that specialise in timepieces, or high-end designers that offer them as part of their wider accessories collection. Whilst some will tell you those that specialise in watches will have better accuracy, quality and technology, and luxury houses will offer have the fashion-forward 'look', nowadays you can expect the same level of accuracy and quality of material anywhere with a high price tag. And if you want to go all out on the French style, then it makes sense to invest in French brands– so look to Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Breguet and so on. 

Next Up: Trust Me: These Are the Luxury Accessories That Are Actually Worth the Money

Rebecca Rhys-Evans is the branded content editor at Who What Wear UK, where she leads the editorial side to commercial projects. Previously a freelance writer and content consultant, she has written for a variety of publications and brands such as Polyester, Screenshot, Marie Claire and Culture Trip, reporting on everything from fashion NFTs and internet culture to sustainability and sex work, and held editor positions at Buro, Koibird and Shop Magazine.

Having got her taste for luxury fashion (as a very green graduate) in her first position as content editor at Flannels.com, she was quickly promoted to managing the company's e-commerce and content teams. Since then, Rebecca has moved to East London with her partner and cocker spaniel Joni Mitchell and has also delved into styling, copywriting, art directing and social media consultancy, where she loves helping brands carve out their tone of voice, strategy and aesthetic. Fully immersed in the contemporary fashion landscape—the one with TikTok, Y2K and the Metaverse—she is enthusiastic about personal style, pop culture and digital trends.