Watches for him and her – his and hers watches, couples watches or pairing watches – have been an important trend in Asia – above all China, Korea and Japan – for many years, and there are signs that it is gradually moving westwards. As purchases by tourists visiting Europe are increasingly important in boutiques’ business, watch brands are introducing watch pairs throughout their retail structure. In most cases, the matching watches in different sizes were already part of the collection: what is new is the use of pairing watches in marketing. For brands, it’s great: one sale, two watches.
The origin of the trend has distant roots. In Chinese culture, symmetry is greatly appreciated, and so even numbers (except four, which is a number that is avoided) are a favourite theme. The Chinese believe that good things come in pairs, and so gifts are often given in that way, as pairs, especially for occasions such as weddings and anniversaries. In addition, couples themselves like to buy “his and hers” watches to symbolize their bond. In Asia, watches can symbolize wealth, and so they are often diamond-set in both women’s and men’s models as a way of attracting luck and fortune. Eight is the other number particularly appreciated in China, because the word for it sounds similar to another that means wealth or prosperity, and yet other words in regional dialects that mean fortune. The fact that the symbol for the figure 8 also represents infinity gives extra weight to the number’s auspicious significance. Put two watches close together, and you have a figure eight. Jaquet Droz is a brand that uses the figure-eight motif a lot in its watches.
The question of size is interesting. In the West, after years of men’s watch sizes expanding to 43 mm and beyond, there is a gradual move back towards the region of 39/40 mm. At the same time, women are increasingly opting for men’s size watches, at around the same size. For the Asian market, men generally prefer watches around 38-39 mm, while for women, typical sizes are 28 or 33 mm.
Some brands have collections that already cater for customers who want to buy matching watches. Tiffany’s new CT60 collection is one example: as the watches are all based on the same design, it’s easy to compose a matching couple. The same is true of the Jeanrichard Terrascope, with 39 and 44 mm models, and Cartier’s Clé de Cartier available in 40, 35 and 31 mm versions.
The Portofino by IWC Schaffhausen offers lots of pairing possibilities, and the brand is now specifically marketing the range in this way. The pair highlighted in the photo below comprises the Portofino Automatic, reference 3565, and the Portofino Automatic 37, reference 4581, which, even though sharing the unmistakable family characteristics, are not exactly the same (you can’t help thinking of Kahlil Gibran’s advice on marriage, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness […] Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup”). Both watches have red gold cases, and they share the same movement, the automatic calibre 35111 providing 42 hours power reserve. The girl also gets a Santoni strap with contrasting orange inner surface: the guy’s is a plain dark brown alligator strap.
The Portofino Automatic comes in many different versions, in stainless steel or red gold, with or without diamond gemsetting on the bezel, and so many pairs are possible. Another is shown below, the same Portofino Automatic references 3565 and 4581, but in this case, in stainless steel case, with hers having a diamond-set bezel. More info from http://www.iwc.com/
Salvatore Ferragamo is more explicit in its latest pair watch set, the Ferragamo 1898 Pair Watch collection (the name 1898 is a reference to the Italian fashion designer’s year of birth), in which exactly the same design is applied to 40 and 33 mm sizes, the only difference being 12 diamonds on the bezel in the women’s version. The case is in steel with IP gold finish, in a two-tone colour scheme, steel and gold, that is enhanced by the blue sunray dial with guilloche finish. The watch is powered by a Swiss quartz movement. The women’s watch, reference FF3260015, costs US$ 1,995, the men’s version, reference FF3240015, costs US$ 1,395. More info from http://www.ferragamotimepieces.com/