Watch brands and collectors are both enjoying a bit of matchy-matchy action right now as his-and-her looks in timepieces are turning up everywhere.
Piaget plans to celebrate the coming Chinese New Year with a special collection of eight high jewelry and métiers d’art watches — four masculine and four feminine — scheduled to be released in December, with prices on request. The designs nod to the dragon and the phoenix, traditional Chinese symbols for male and female. (And, 2024 also happens to be the Year of the Dragon.)
In October, Ulysse Nardin introduced a pair of matching watches with aventurine dials: the shimmering face of a 39-millimeter Diver Starry Night superimposed a mother-of-pearl dial layer on an aventurine one ($14,700), while the complementary, more masculine 42-millimeter Marine Torpilleur Moonphase Aventurine nodded to the watchmaker’s history in marine chronometers ($13,600).
And the limited-edition Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date Coffret is a trio of 41-millimeter watches — in blue, green and gray dials, decorated with laser engravings of mountains from the Mont Blanc massif. The watchmaker said the pieces are often purchased by couples ($11,900).
In August, Bulgari unveiled a special pair of steel designs from its Bulgari Bulgari collection exclusively for mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in honor of the QiXi Festival, often described as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. With matching lacquered green dials, the men’s 41-millimeter version featured a date display (39,900 renminbi, or $5,465), while the 33-millimeter feminine version had a rose gold bezel and diamond indexes (49,500 renminbi or $6,800).
Why is Asia mentioned often in these descriptions?
In the 18th century, European watchmakers often made matching timepieces for noble and wealthy Chinese. “Chinese customers typically preferred to buy watches in pairs because of their belief in the importance of symmetry, based on the opposing but complementary principles of yin and yang,” Peter Friess, curator of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, wrote in an email.
The museum owns several watch pairs, including one that was displayed in June at its “Watch Art” exhibition in Tokyo. The pair of pearl-set, heart-shape pocket watches play music and have enamel images of Venus and Cupid.
The Swiss watchmaker Bovet also created watch pairs for the Chinese market, beginning in the 1800s. And the trend is still popular, Bovet’s current owner, Pascal Raffy, wrote in an email, with couples buying pairs at retail “quite often.” Among the most popular Bovet pairs, he wrote, are its 19Thirty (starting at $29,000) and Miss Audrey (starting at $31,000) models.
Antoine Pin, managing director of Bulgari’s watch division, noted that young couples in China often like to match. “You see this with very modern items, like sweaters or sneakers,” he said. “Clearly it’s above the traditional way of looking at things.”
It does make a statement, said Kathryn Smerling, a family therapist in New York City. “It’s an announcement to the world,” she said. “It says: ‘We’re a couple. We’re together — and really together.’”
That sentiment infuses how Justin and Linsey Lunny regard their watch choices. The couple, who live in the English county of Surrey, have long been watch lovers: Mrs. Lunny wore Flik Flak and Swatch watches growing up, while Mr. Lunny’s horological interest was passed down from his maternal grandfather, who loved horology. (“I remember so vividly going into his sort of little den and all I could hear was 40 or 50 timepieces ticking away,” Mr. Lunny recalled.)
The Lunnys have purchased three sets of matching watches in the 21 years they have been a couple. “We have gone through a lot in our lives, together,” said Mrs. Lunny, the founder of Hidden Strength, a mental health platform for young people in Britain. “The watches are a representation of a point in our lives — it’s about memory and an achievement, what we’ve been through, where we’ve come from. Hopefully we can pass the watches on to the kids with those memories.”
Mr. Lunny bought the first pair in 2012 for Christmas. The Rolex Daytona models both were 40 millimeters — hers, in rose gold with a golden light pink dial that Rolex calls Sundust; his, in steel with a black dial. The purchase followed a particularly difficult two years of personal and professional trauma for the couple. “It was kind of a ‘We’ve made it,’” Mrs. Lunny recalled. “It was our little way of remembering that we’d come out of it better off.”
In 2017, Mr. and Mrs. Lunny had sold their companies: Mr. Lunny’s was a 10-year-old online fintech payments business; Mrs. Lunny’s, a 12-year-old nurseries and preschools business. To mark the occasions, they got a pair of limited edition Patek Philippe Nautilus chronographs, Ref. 5976/1G, produced for the model’s 40th anniversary.
But Mr. Lunny’s watch was stolen while they were on vacation, and they later decided to sell Mrs. Lunny’s. “We um’ed and ah’ed about what we do with my one,” she said. “I said I couldn’t keep it when he didn’t have his.”
The couple’s latest pair purchase came in 2021 for their 15th wedding anniversary. While the Lunnys’ previous watch purchases had been planned, this one was not — and while it seems hard to believe, they each bought an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch in rose gold for the other. “We both wanted to get the other rose gold, which was very bizarre,” Mrs. Lunny said.
The couple said they would “100 percent” buy more matching watches in the future, and Mr. Lunny added that they like coordinating their timepieces, especially when attending events together.
“Watches are so personal,” said Mr. Lunny, who in 2019 founded Everrati, an automotive company that restores highly prized old car models and turns them into electric vehicles. “You could buy a matching car, but you’re unlikely to go and drive it at the same time.”
Cody and Mojdeh Cutter, who live in New York City, also have matching watches — in their case, Rolex Datejust models. His black dial version is 36 millimeters, while her pink dial one is 31 millimeters.
The watches were a gift from Mrs. Cutter’s father for their wedding, which took place over a video call during December 2020 pandemic restrictions.
“It’s the only tangible memento we have to represent that moment in time,” said Mrs. Cutter, who is head of partnerships and events at the Swiss Institute, a nonprofit contemporary art organization. “We never had a party but we have these really, really special gifts to always remember our Zoom wedding.”
Mr. Cutter, a photographer, said he wears his watch every day. And while the couple doesn’t really coordinate, “it’s always such a pleasant surprise when we walk out the door and just happen to notice that we’re both wearing them,” he said. “It’s a nice little moment between my wife and I.”