International Women’s Day 2019: Stories from a woman in watch journalism

The Struggle Is Real

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It’s not easy being a woman in any male dominated industry, and it’s the same for luxury watch journalism, if not worse. All the clichés are true and then some. “You know a lot about watches,” said one dude to me. “For a lady.” He added.

Wow. He really felt the need to add that final point.

I’d like to think that some people do it without even realising it – but I suspect a few are just straight up rude. I’ve met men as well as women who are surprised to meet a female watch journalist. It’s not as bad now, but this kind of workplace bias still rears its ugly head from time to time.

On at least one occasion in a previous job, people have assumed that a subordinate, who’s male and a fair bit younger than me, is my boss. Also, I’ve constantly had to endure people giving male co-workers way more credit for nothing while the likes of me have got to scratch and claw my way up the stupid corporate ladder working twice as hard than men for half the credit.

Such bullshit.

The mansplaining happens so often it’s not even funny. “No, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” this idiot said to me once. “What you mean is this…” Wow. Thanks for taking my words and rearranging them so that now they exist in a sequence that you can understand. Hello, I have been in watch journalism for 13 years and been to the Swiss watch fairs more times than you have fingers on both your hands. So if you’d excuse me, I’m going to say whatever I want about timepieces, thank you very much.

“People have assumed that a subordinate, who’s male and a fair bit younger than me, is my boss”

And that’s not even the half of it. So I have a type when it comes to watches. I like men’s sports watches. Whenever I make an inquiry on a new watch, the first response I always get is: “Are you getting it for your husband? He’s such a lucky guy!” What. The. Actual??? Erm, no, the watch is for me! My husband is totally not a watch guy and yet people assume he’s the watch connoisseur in our marriage. Why? Because he’s the guy, and I’m the… whatever.

You know, it’s bad when you’re a woman in this line, and worse when you’re a mom. Once you become a mother, that is literally all people see when they look at you. They forget how you used to be an avid scuba diver; they forget you spent years and years building a solid reputation in the business; they forget you can talk about things other than child-rearing. It’s the worst.

“My husband is totally not a watch guy and yet people assume he’s the watch connoisseur in our marriage. Why? Because he’s the guy, and I’m the… whatever.”

Thankfully I’ve met enough good folk who respect the hell out of me and have openly said so both in front of and behind my back. Once, a female friend was asking for watch advice in a group chat. Out of earnestness I replied with a whole bunch of comments and observations. But it was obvious she doubted at least 50 per cent of what I said, because she then directed her questions specifically to someone else in the group. An older gentleman – of course. His response, however, was completely unexpected but totally heartening. He backed everything I had said with absolutely no sugar-coating. And that was enough.

I’m not looking for recognition or any sort of vindication. I just think that since it’s International Women’s Day, I’d take the opportunity to voice up something that’s been on my chest for a while.

To the male relative who ridiculed my choice of a TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph, calling it a monstrosity, I say up yours. Look at what you’re wearing. A Panerai with the world’s ugliest lime green strap with zigzagging bright orange stitching. It’s ironic that you’re calling anything else a monstrosity.

To the co-worker who kept parroting my words and yet had the gall to criticise my work, I say up yours. For your own good, try and learn something. Form your own opinions and ideas FFS.

To the ex-boss who suggested I go to a male colleague for guidance on how things are done in the watch industry even though I had more experience than him, I say up yours. You do not deserve me.

To all the women who have faced gender discrimination in their careers, I wanted to say encouraging words like “don’t give up” or “ignore those idiots.” But then I realised that in all likelihood, you would have fought back and done yourself justice one way or another because women are simply not pushovers anymore. It’s 2019, guys.