Suddenly, Everyone's Wearing Watches Again—4 Styles That Make Me Look Classy

There was a time not so long ago when watches were a rare sight in the fashion world, or, you could argue, on women at all. In fact, you might assume that a wristwatch is traditionally a men's accessory, but this isn't the case. Whilst pocket watches were a popular item for a man to carry, it wasn't until 1810 when the first ever wristwatch was created for the Queen of Naples that the watch as we've come to know it today was born. Fast forward to the invention of the mobile phone and you could say that watches became, well, not entirely obsolete, but hardly essential. I must confess, I haven't worn a watch since the day I unwrapped my Nokia 3210 in 2000

With a surge in technology came the smartwatch—wristwear you could sync to your even smarter phone, which in one way or another, put watches back on the map for many of us. Of course, people have always been buying watches, but the focus (unless housing microchips) swiftly switched from function to form. Those who wore "un-smart" watches did so for aesthetics and status, and so the market for appeasing styles grew.


(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

Catalogued alongside Tiffany diamonds, Louis Vuitton bags and other peak-luxury items, many watches have become status symbols in their own right. Rolex, Cartier, IWC, Omega—owners of such timepieces belong to a very exclusive club, which makes them all the more desirable. I remember reading an article about how the purchase of fine jewellery soared during and immediately after the pandemic, as those with the budget to play with found themselves looking to make key investments rather than frivolous designer purchases. This has made the luxury watch market—and subsequent resale market—all the more buoyant. 

The wider effect of this? Watches are very much back in fashion, and for the first time in my life, I would really like to own one myself. This sentiment is one shared by others within the fashion industry. A couple of years ago, I would have been hard-pressed to find anyone of stylish note wearing a watch in plain sight (at least not without their Instagram caption being finished with "#ad"). Now, my feed is full of editors and influencers who have made the watch an integral part of their signature style. The quiet-luxury, old-money and Birkin mom aesthetics all speak to the desire not just to be wealthy, but to look wealthy. And a watch? It has a big part to play here. A watch can be a whisper of wealth, or in some instances, a mirage of wealth.

You see, choosing an expensive-looking watch doesn't immediately equate to spending a fortune. Of course, if you have the means to invest in one of the aforementioned watch brands then if I were in your shoes, I likely would, too. However, I do believe that there are four 2024 watch trends for women that give high luxury, even if you're working with a tighter budget.

Scroll on to see the watch trends that fashion people are currently wearing to make themselves look more polished, then browse the chicest watches per category at every price point. 



(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

Style Notes: At one point in my life I would have considered a gold watch gaudy, and they definitely can be. But with an otherwise pared-back outfit, a neutral manicure and some general style flair, they can look incredibly luxe. 


(Image credit: @jastookes)

Cartier's iconic Panthère De Cartier watch comes in silver tones, mixed metals and yellow gold, the latter of which you can see here. Pairing it with soft fabrics such as satin and silk will give a gold watch more gravitas. Look for bracelet straps for an especially elegant option. 

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(Image credit: @deborabrosa)

Style Notes: When you picture a watch, you'll likely conjure a style with a round face. That's no surprise—they are the most common type. However, over the years, square watches have gained more of a following thanks to both heritage brands that have become known for the shape, as well as new brands looking to make their mark.


(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

Arguably more recognisable because of their less common face, most of the square-dial watches I'm seeing usually come with a polished leather strap, though there are metal options, too. Why not tick off two 2024 watch trends in one swoop with a gold face? 

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(Image credit: @iliridakrasniqi)

Style Notes: Gone are the days when dainty watches were a woman's only option. Now, I'd argue that some of the coolest watches out there are those with cumbersome straps and big, round dials, like the sort your dad might own. Silver is the colour to consider here—watches of this size in gold would run the risk of looking ostentatious, which is the last thing you want to achieve. 


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

One of Who What Wear's U.S. editors, Eliza Huber, regularly wears a watch of such ilk. "One trick to styling a men's[-style] watch is to stick with cases that are 40 millimetres or below," she advises. "Anything larger than that tends to be overly showy; a trait that's best avoided, especially for an everyday watch." Agreed. 

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(Image credit: @tylynnnguyen)

Style Notes: I've already pinpointed the fact that leather-strap watches are a recurring theme this season, but they aren't mutually exclusive to square dials. Perhaps more "wearable" than a full metal style, leather straps are generally subtler in nature and won't pull focus from the rest of your look. 


(Image credit: @thecarolinelin)

Whether you opt for a mock croc, glossy or aged leather finish, look for watches with minimal detailing on the dial to further push their elegant narrative. 

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Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.