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I thought it should be “vous pouvez elle acheter une montre”.

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It would be nice to have some historical explanation about that. For example in Italian the lui counterpart are lui/gli and lei/le which are different for masculine and feminine. – Paolo Dec 13 '11 at 10:59
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Non, parce que lui est ici un pronom personnel des deux genres, qui signifie à lui ou à elle.

Tu ne peux pas dire

Vous pouvez elle acheter une montre. (incorrect)

Parce qu'il manque le à. Par exemple, on doit dire

C'est à elle que vous pouvez acheter une montre.

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