Celebrating Women in Watchmaking

The Female Gaze: Celebrating Women in Watchmaking

The following women are but five of thousands who make the horological world go round.

By Rhonda Riche

For International Women’s Day on March 8th, we wanted to do something to commemorate the ladies who help make watchmaking great. After all, women have played an important role in the industry for centuries (Marie Perregaux co-founded Girard-Perregaux in 1856, for example).

Women also make up a significant percentage of the unsung heroes of the production line. For instance, the régleuses (or “balance-spring fitters”) – the people responsible for fine-tuning a movement’s tiny hairspring – are (and have historically always been) almost entirely women.

In 2021, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported that 32,536 men and 25,014 women worked in the watchmaking industry. Still, the sisters are underrepresented in many aspects of watchmaking. For example, the same study showed that of the executive class, 1,338 were men while only 278 were women.

We’re optimistic that the business will become more equitable. At the same time, we’d like to take this opportunity to hurry the process along by highlighting five women who are making the watchmaking world more exciting!



( @vanessalecciatelier)




Grand feu enameling is one of the most incredible elements of high-end watchmaking. This delicate, artisanal skill is used to embellish dials and cases, creating miniature works of fine art.

One of the most in-demand enamellers is Vanessa Lecci (@vanessalecciatelier). She is the artist behind such one-of-a-kind pieces as the L’Amoriale pocket watch, created for Michel Parmigiani’s birthday, and the Parmigiani Fleurier Rosa Mystica.

“I readily apply myself to thinking about things that I think others don’t think about,” says Lecci of the perspective she brings to haute horology. So, while her work combines visual and sculptural elements (as enamel is often defined by elaborate engravings), the Italian-born Lecci sees herself more as a storyteller: “The poet must leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Only the traces make you dream.”



( @rebecca_struthers)




As the only practicing watchmaker in the United Kingdom with a Ph.D. in horology and winner of the Heritage Crafts Award in 2021, presented by King Charles III, we’ve been following the English watchmaker and historian Rebecca Struthers on Instagram (@rebecca_struthers) for many years now.

She is also a compelling storyteller, and her first tome, “The Hands of Time: A Watchmaker’s History,” published in the summer of 2023, crossed over from being a niche book for watch nerds to an engrossing overview of culture as told through history’s most important timepieces.

Actor and writer Stephen Fry called it “an exquisite book, as beautifully put together as one of the watches whose mechanisms Rebecca describes.”



( @girardperregaux)




Appointed Girard-Perregaux’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer in 2020, Clémence Dubois graduated from HEC Lausanne and Paris in 2011 and joined the brand as a Trainee Communication Coordinator shortly after. Passionate about fine watchmaking and dedicated to her first (and only) employer, she steadfastly worked her way up the ranks, including a stint as the youngest member of the brand’s Executive Committee when she was appointed Head of Product in 2019.

For instance, she plays an instrumental role in not only setting the strategy for new product launches (like the Neo Constant Escapement) and establishing partnerships (like those with Aston Martin) but also overseeing and coordinating the team dedicated to all timepiece development (including designers, R&D, project managers, and more), making her pivotal to advancing each watch from brief to prototype to production.

So, while Dubois is not involved in the assembly or decoration of watches, she still has a crucial role in bringing timepieces to life – especially when it comes to forging connections between the brand and its buyers, with the best example of this being her advocacy for gender equity in product lines. Specifically, she wants the brand to create exquisite timepieces, like the Laureato 38mm Copper Dial, and have consumers decide how to wear them.



( @theabingdonco)




Abingdon Mullin is an adventurer in life and watchmaking. A pilot and SCUBA diver, she founded the Abingdon Co. in 2006 to produce functional and cool-looking dive, aviation, motoring, and tactical watches, specifically for other women, using US, Swiss, as well as Japanese mechanisms.

The Las Vegas-based Mullin is also a strong proponent of bringing everyone along on her adventures. In fact, Abingdon also produces YouTube videos to show people how best to use its watches. For example, one video explains how to adjust the slide rule bezel on the brand’s Amelia model so that the wearer can convert measurements from the Imperial or US system to the metric system.

Last summer, Mullin also held a series of workshops at the Women’s Motorcycle Show in Los Angeles to help more women get hooked on tool watches.



( @its.cara.time)




Last but certainly not least is Cara Barrett. It’s impossible to describe Cara’s place in the horological pantheon. She’s a former Hodinkee writer, an Instagram influencer (@its.cara.time), and the founder of the children’s watch brand Parchie.

Yet, despite her many talents, perhaps her greatest skill set is her ability to bring things together. For example, in June 2023, Cara collaborated with Timex on a gorgeous stainless steel watch with a pale blue dial and Breguet numerals.

In short, her goal was to create a “watch for everyone” by mixing vintage and modern aesthetics. We’d say she succeeded and then some!


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