While there have been countless articles highlighting some of the best tool watches for men, there isn’t close to as much content around women’s tool watches. Diamond watches for women? Sure. Gold watches for women? Plenty. But tool watches for women? Not so much. So it’s time to remedy that! I’m sure fellow female watch enthusiasts will agree; we all need at least one strong and durable timepiece that can keep up with our active lifestyles too.
Although it was originally designed for men, the classic 36mm Rolex Explorer is a highly versatile tool watch that works well on almost every wrist size.
Tudor Black Bay 32
Tudor has a long history of manufacturing tool watches, and their Black Bay collection now has a size for every wrist (Image: Tudor).
Simple, clean, legible, and well made, the Tudor Black Bay 32 has everything I want in a tool watch. As its name suggests, it sports a 32mm case in stainless steel, complete with contrasting polished and satin finishing. The time-only dial is lacquered and is available in blue or black – blue is my preference for this particular watch. The lume-filled indexes are nice and big for easy reading, as are the signature ‘snowflake’ hands at center. The 150-meter water resistance of the Tudor Black Bay 32 means that you can keep the watch on pretty much all the time, whether in the shower, at the gym, or swimming with the kids.
But the best part for me is the automatic manufacture mechanical movement powering the watch. It’s no secret that most women’s watches – even the high-end ones – typically run on battery-operated quartz movements. So to wear a women’s watch that not only has a mechanical movement, but an in-house made one is refreshing. The power reserve is a little low at just 38 hours, meaning you can’t have the watch off for two days without it running out of juice, but I can overlook that. Another great touch is the choice of bands offered with the Tudor Black Bay 32 women’s watch, which includes a satin finished steel bracelet, a brown leather strap, or a black fabric strap.
Rolex Explorer 36
The classic 36mm Rolex Explorer is the original tool watch.
For a slightly larger three-handed tool watch for women, there’s the Rolex Explorer. I like the classic 36mm size of the discontinued Explorer ref. 114270 over the 39mm size of the current Explorer ref. 214270. The steel Oyster case houses the now iconic, Explorer-style dial layout with the oversized Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9, accompanied by luminous baton indexes and an inverted luminous triangle at 12 o’clock. The Mercedes-style hands also shine bright green in the dark and the lollipop style seconds hands has a circular luminescent accent. The black dial is straightforward to read but the mix of indices lends design interest. From school drop-offs to date night, this is a Rolex watch that effortlessly pairs with almost any outfit.
The steel Oyster bracelet is comfortable to wear and if you need a smaller fit, removing a link is a relatively easy affair. Thanks to the Oyster case construction comprised of a screw-down caseback and a screw-down winding crown, the Explorer is water-resistant to 100 meters. This being Rolex, inside the watch is an ultra-dependable in-house automatic movement with a respectable 48-hour power reserve.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five Bronze Bezel 36
The Oris Divers Sixty-Five collection is full of vintage-inspired fun, and the bronze bezel version adds a personalized touch due to the patina that it will acquire (Image: Oris).
I don’t know about you but I’m a fan of mixing metals. At any given time, I wear stacks of bracelets in different gold tones like yellow, white, and rose (my mother would be horrified) because I’m not into matchy-matchy. So, I’m naturally drawn to the mix of the stainless steel case, bronze bezel, and PVD rose gold dial details of the Oris Divers Sixty-Five Bronze Bezel 36.
Design wise, vintage-inspired dive watches are fun to wear, and this Oris looks particularly good. You know how your Louis Vuitton purse developed its own unique patina over the years? Bronze undergoes a similar process – its color transforms with age, and no two bronze watches look the same. The 60-minute marked bezel adds a sporty edge to the watch, but it can also be used to measure things like dive times (this is a divers’ watch, after all) to nailing that perfect six-minute jammy egg. The black dial has the addition of the date window at 3 o’clock sitting alongside the center hands, all driven by an automatic movement. You can opt for a brown leather strap, black rubber strap, or a steel bracelet; but for this type of retro style tool watch, I would go for the brown leather.
Rolex Yacht-Master 37
While the bezel may be crafted from platinum, this stainless steel Yacht-Master 37 is more than tough enough to be called a tool watch.
Although the Rolex Yacht-Master collection was originally intended to be more of a luxury-oriented tool watch, it still possess the same legendary quality and durability as the rest of the watches in the Rolex catalog. At 37mm in diameter, the modern Yacht-Master 37 is a fantastic size that is noticeably smaller than the standard 40mm version, yet large enough to feel like a proper tool watch on the wrist.
Additionally, the solid gold or Rolesor (two-tone) examples might not qualify as a proper ‘tool watch’ but the Rolesium (all stainless steel with a platinum bezel) versions like the ref. 268622 are certainly a big step in the right direction. Plus, a rotating timing bezel is a highly practical feature that is not available on any watches under 40mm in the Rolex catalog, outside of the Yacht-Master collection. A platinum bezel may be slightly non-traditional for a tool watch; however these are luxury tool watches after all, so a little bit of platinum seems perfectly fine here!