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 6 minutes

From Elegant to Sporty: Hand-Wound Watches for Women

By Barbara Korp

Quartz or automatic? We often ask this question when purchasing a watch, sometimes forgetting there’s a third alternative: a hand-wound timepiece. Even if these might offer a little less practicality than the other two movements, they still have the potential to touch us on an emotional level through the daily ritual of winding the crown to keep the watch ticking. In other words, our energy gives it energy. It may be a simple process, but once it’s become part of our daily routine, we start to understand what it cultivates within us: a brief but special moment of awareness and mindfulness, a daily meditation, which at the same time opens the way toward a passion for watches.

There’s also pragmatic reasons for a hand-wound watch. The movement requires fewer components, making the watch not only more affordable, but also less prone to malfunction. A watch caliber without a rotor also allows a better view of the movement itself, truly a dream for watch lovers. And no rotor means a thinner case, something you’re very likely to want on an elegant watch for ladies. We love hand-wound watches. Read on to find out our favorites.


With its Tangente, NOMOS undoubtedly created one of the most popular hand-wound watches out there. However, some of us just aren’t into round watches – or we’re simply looking for something different, a bit edgier, you might say. If that’s you, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the NOMOS Tetra – the iconic Tangente in square form, so to speak. Like the Tangente, the hand-wound models of the Tetra are powered by NOMOS’ in-house Alpha caliber, a movement that helped make the watchmaker famous. It has 43 hours of power reserve, and is a mere (and unbelievable) 2.6 mm thick. The watch also offers 30 meters (3 bar, 98 feet) of water resistance. If given the choice, select a Tetra with a display case back to get a view of this head-turning caliber at work.

Although the Tetra clearly takes its design cues from the Tangente, it’s still a unique watch in and of itself: classic, minimalistic, and with clean angles, in full keeping with typical Bauhaus style. The Tetra catches the eye with its square shape. Select a model with a colorful dial, and you’ve got a statement piece on your wrist that does so much more than just tell the time. Although the affordable price for the Tetra make them a great option for getting started in mechanical watches, they’re in my opinion also for experienced watch enthusiasts. Regardless of whether you’re looking for an elegant, extra-thin watch, or you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, the NOMOS Tetra is truly a design classic created for us women.

NOMOS Tetra – die Quadratur des Kreises
Square the circle – the NOMOS Tetra

Omega Speedmaster Trilogy 60th Anniversary

Full disclosure: this is not the watch for women looking for an elegant, thin timepiece. It is however the watch for those casting envious glances at the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch donning the wrists of their male watch enthusiast counterparts. We’re talking about women like myself. I mean, sure, we like bigger watches, but 42-mm case sizes sometimes are just too big for our wrists. And sure, there are a few amazing 38-mm Omega Speedmasters…with automatic calibers. I mean, the true legendary Moonwatch is after all hand-wound, as we all know. And for a long time, it looked like this model would never be an option for women – until the release of the Omega Speedmaster Trilogy 60th Anniversary.

Limited to 3,557 pieces, this watch commemorated the 60th birthday of the Speedmaster. Just like the original, the hands are very prominent, and there’s a tachymeter scale on the bezel. Although 38.6 mm in size, this watch wears a little bigger on its steel bracelet or a NATO strap, although it will in fact hug a smaller wrist quite nicely on a leather strap. It’s ultimately up to you to figure out what look you like best, while at the same time discovering all the fascinating details on this model. I can definitely tell you that, with this watch, you’ll be the one attracting yearning looks from other watch enthusiasts!

Omega Speedmaster Trilogy 60th Anniversary – für Sammlerinnen und Liebhaberinnen
Omega Speedmaster Trilogy 60th Anniversary – for women watch lovers and collectors.

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Calatrava – could any name be more quintessentially Patek Philippe? The watch is after all named after the Calatrava cross adorning Patek Philippe’s company logo. Originally a medieval symbol of a Spanish order of knighthood, the Calatrava cross would also later adorn the coat of arms of the Eure-et-Loir department where Jean Adrien Philippe was born. The Calatrava is a watch that embodies this kind of legacy. Introduced in 1932, it’s not only one of the oldest watch models still being made, but nothing less than everything a wristwatch should be.

At the same time, the Calatrava embodies what Patek Philippe style is all about. Even though you’ll find a model or two in this collection with elaborate complications, it’s the simpler, three-hand models that have become iconic. Clear angles and timeless elegance, and impressive technology – that’s Patek Philippe’s DNA. Us ladies can of course purchase the models made specifically for us, traditionally with diamonds or elaborately decorated dials. But thanks to their smaller case sizes, the vintage models are also going to look stunning on our wrists…maybe even a little more so than on those of the gents. As an heirloom, or brand-new, the Calatrava is not only a dress watch that’s been loved for generations. It’s also one of the few watches ever that has been pure perfection.

Patek Philippe Calatrava – DIE runde Armbanduhr
The wristwatch – the Patek Philippe Calatrava.

Cartier Révélation d’une Panthère

Is this a watch, or a piece of fine jewelry? Well, that’s hard to say. What we can say however is that the Cartier Révélation d’une Panthère combines the two traditions of the house of Cartier: haute horlogerie and haute joaillerie. Its 430 MC caliber is super-flat, making it ideal for use in elegant watches. Its thinness however doesn’t keep it from delivering 38 hours of power reserve, or the precision we’ve come to expect from Cartier. Believe it or not, though, it’s neither the movement nor the bezel’s diamonds that steal the show here, but instead the magic happening on the watch’s dial.

Hold the Révélation d’une Panthère upright, and 900 tiny gold beads cascade down the dial to form/reveal the face of panther in passing. Hold the watch flat (and with a little accuracy), to keep the panther face complete and in place. Now, this face is actually between the dial and crystal, and appears to float. This was made possible through five years of development and two patents: one for the liquid that keeps the beads in motion, as well as a special glass encapsulating this liquid and the beads. This liquid does not tarnish the gold in the beads, and guarantees their consistent flow at any temperature, allowing this watch to do what it was created for: being on your wrist for life’s most unforgettable moments.

Cartier Révélation d’une Panthère – noch Uhr oder schon Schmuckstück?
The Cartier Révélation d’une Panthère – a watch, or jewelry?

Hand-Wound Watches – What to Keep In Mind

This list could go on and on. Whether with the classic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso or the sporty Hamilton Khaki Field – it really is hard to pick just one. Before we wrap things up, I want to just touch on a main feature of these timepieces – their winding. This is after all what makes them so special – and requires a bit more of your focus and attention. Assuming you don’t wind a hand-wound watch over and over, the tension on the mainspring will decrease throughout the day, meaning that accuracy will deviate accordingly. A watch you just wound will probably run a bit faster, while as it gets to the end of its power reserve, it will probably run a little slower. To keep your hand-wound watch running with consistent accuracy, wind it every day at around the same time.

How do you properly wind a hand-wound watch?

Never wind a watch when it’s on your wrist. Always take the time to remove it, and hold it in one hand while you wind it with the other. This will prevent you from bending the crown upward. Wind the crown clockwise between your thumb and index finger. There’s not much that can really go wrong here, so no need to worry about breaking your timepiece. At some point, you’ll feel resistance, and when you can’t turn the crown anymore, that tells you the watch is fully wound. My recommendation: always take your time when doing this. Winding a watch isn’t a chore. It’s a ritual, and there for you to enjoy, day in and day out.

About the Author

Barbara Korp

The moment I learned that watches were a lot more than just simple jewelry, I was hooked; I become enamored with the elegance of timekeeping. But there was one small hitch: most models were just too big for me to wear! That didn't discourage me, however. In fact, I developed quite a niche interest.

Read more

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