The Ring Watch Makes Its Latest Comeback

The adage “everything old becomes new again” is central to the fashion industry’s trend cycle, and the ring watch is perhaps the latest accessory to fit into that mold.

The vintage accessory, which dates back as early as the 1700s, is the latest antique style to regain popularity, especially among younger consumers who are looking for novelty accessories.

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According to Ashley Davis, the jewelry director at timepiece retailer Wrist Aficionado, the ring watch has had waves of popularity from the early 1900s until now, with Rolex producing many ring watches in the 1930s and 1940s, and the style becoming popular again in the ’90s and early 2000s.

“With a new generation discovering the trends — the early 2000s or the ‘90s — and embracing that really playful mood towards fashion, I think that has influenced the ring watch coming back and it’s been interesting to see across fashion,” Davis said. “What’s really interesting is it’s not really the watch collector or the typical watch-obsessive community that’s embracing the ring watch. It’s more a consumer that is interested in subverting the fashion norms and just leaning into the novelty of having a timepiece that’s not a wristwatch. That seems to be embracing the trend and creating the demand for it.”

In today’s market, Fossil is arguably leading the trend of ring watches with its assortment. The brand officially launched the style in 2019 and has quickly grown its assortment to offer roughly 15 different iterations with various face shapes and materials. Fossil has also debuted new ring watch versions in its many collaborations, including recent partnerships with Barbie and Disney.

Ring watches are gaining popularity again among younger customers
A Fossil ring watch.

“We were inspired by a nod to vintage watch rings, as well as the growing trend of timepieces as jewelry, which is something that we’re seeing a lot,” said Melissa Lowenkron, chief brand officer at Fossil. “Both timepieces and jewelry are something that we celebrate as a brand, so we loved the opportunity to be able to merge the two together in one item and have it be something that’s both iconic and nostalgic.”

Besides Fossil, other players in the ring watch market include contemporary watch brand Breda and jewelry brand Pascal, as well as independent sellers on Amazon and Etsy.

The ring watch’s current popularity can be credited to younger customers’ continued embrace of ’90s and Y2K trends, which are still impacting the accessories market as a whole. Davis highlighted the popularity of miniature handbags as another trend similar to the popularity of ring watches.

“There’s a lot of things that make it innovative — the smaller size, the shapes we’ve been able to create, the versatility in the sizing based on the expandable link construction and the ability that anyone can wear it with any outfit because regardless of what you’re wearing, it goes on your hand,” Lowenkron said. “It’s both a nod to ‘90s fashion, which has been trending, and then also just that idea of the unexpected. People are yearning for something new and exciting that’s fun to buy and fun to wear. This has gotten some great traction because of the novelty of it.”

Davis also explained ring watches fall in line with the trend of consumers using timepieces “in a totally different manner than just using them to mark time,” such as wearing them as jewelry pieces. Last year, Rihanna, for one, famously wore a custom Jacob & Co. diamond-encrusted watch choker valued at $670,000.

At Fossil, the brand is planning to continue the momentum around the ring watch with new launches, both new styles and as part of collaborations, in the near future.

While the trend is still burgeoning in comparison to others on the jewelry market, the ring watch’s novelty feel and accessibility at contemporary labels will likely continue its appeal among young customers.

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