Heirlooms have cachet like no other object of desire. Especially wedding jewellery. Or a wristwatch that has been passed on from father to son. Now engagement rings have competition from engagement watches, a new trend. On Instagram, the hashtags #engagementwatch and #engagementwatches are quite the rage. In spite of this, watches are a nascent trend, but gaining traction as the institution of marriage undergoes a change; engagement watches seem to be more attractive for LGBT couples and gay men and women who want to tie the knot, er... strap.
Bharat Kumar and Joseph John, a gay couple in advertising and entertainment, decided to get hitched since the pandemic had made life uncertain. “It’s here today, gone tomorrow right? It is better that we don’t keep love waiting,” says John, who presented his partner a pricey green and gold Audemars Piguet. They are thinking of adopting soon, and plan to give their child the watch as a parental legacy. Besides, an engagement watch is less conspicuous than a ring as a sign of marital commitment.
The wedding planning company Knot’s 2019 Jewelry & Engagement study says that engagement by watch is still a minority chic. But the new practice reflects a more realistic approach to married life. Though 96 percent couples still exchange rings, some get engaged with watches, bracelets or gift a vacation. Some have used the price of the ring as an advance on an apartment.
“Engagement cakes have been a motif at traditional Indian weddings, since the early 2000s. But things are changing now. With an increase in interfaith weddings, an elegant set of watches is seen as exciting. It is fast becoming a big craze,” says Vardhaman Jain, wedding and events conceptualiser of Hyderabad-based Shooting-Starz Events & More. Its Creative Director Lokender Jain adds, “Interestingly, people want unisex watches for another great reason—so they can swap it when they like. Add variety.”
Fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell doubts whether engagement watches have enough mojo to replace rings. Then why a watch? A decent solitaire could cost above a lakh, so would a Tag Heuer. For the well-heeled, the seabed is the limit. Besides, a watch is a good investment that appreciates over time. They can also be personalised and customised like rings with special dials and straps. Since few men wear engagement rings, a watch is an additional affirmation of commitment. And designer watches have been considered jewellery for several centuries.
Katie Brownstein, director of marketing at wedding planning company Joy, has been noticing new wedding trends taking shape since 2020. In an interview, she told lifestyle magazine Today, “We all took a moment to reflect and many traditions no longer hold the same weight post-pandemic. I see the rise in trends like engagement watches as a reflection of our values— we are looking for things that hold more meaning. For some couples, an engagement ring does not feel authentic to them, so an alternative like a watch may be a more personal symbol of their commitment.”
Deirdre Clemente, a fashion historian and 20th-century American culture expert at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told TMRW, “Watches have occupied a significant place in the Western wardrobe because they spent most of their existence (say about 300 years) as an elite accessory. They were extremely expensive. Only in the late 19th, early 20th century could regular people even kind of afford one.”
Choose a classic brand, preferably with a steel strap. These watches last for generations and appreciate
Be Special: Choose the watch you think suits your partner’s personality best. If he is a choosy guy (read snob) get him a FP Journe. If she represents timeless beauty, you can’t go wrong with a Cartier Tank watch.
Be practical: But a watch that can be worn most of the time. A Piaget Limited Edition watch with swirls of 276 diamonds can be ardor be worn to a board meeting, can it?
“Watches have occupied a significant place in the Western wardrobe because they spent most of their existence (say about 300 years) as an elite accessory.”
Deirdre Clemente, fashion historian and a 20th-century American culture expert, University of Nevada, Las Vegas