Knowing how to wear a watch properly can make a big difference in your overall style. You might think you can wear the same watch with any type of clothes, but dressing etiquette dictates otherwise. A watch that matches the outfit and type of event segregates the men from the boys. We’ll show you everything you need to know about how to wear a watch to best complement your look.
Choosing Your Watch
There is certainly more than just the looks when choosing a watch. Browsing through stores or online catalogs, the many types of watches to choose from can be overwhelming. Here are some parts of a basic wristwatch that you should pay attention to.
The one thing that matters when it comes to choosing watches is its movements. Movements, also called caliber, is that “engine” that powers the watch. There are three types of calibers: quartz, manual and automatic.
Quartz watches are those that make use of oscillators. As the name itself implies, it is being powered by a battery and a quartz crystal. Most watches these days make use of quartz movements. Not only are they cheap, but they’re exceptionally accurate as well.
Automatic watches are also called self-winding watches. As the name itself implies, it winds itself up using the wearer’s wrist movement. They do not operate on batteries nor are they popular for accuracy. Regardless, whether it’s for aesthetic reasons or some other, automatics are much preferred by most men than quartz.
Mechanical/manual watches require manually winding a spring in the watch to power it. If you’re a fan of vintage watches, this caliber is more commonly used in those watches. They feature a very intricate mechanism, which is what makes them popular collectors’ items until today.
Straps are one of the first things you notice on a watch and can define the whole look of the watch. They come in different materials and colors so it’s important to pick the right kind to suit your style.
Metal straps are extremely neutral and are safe bets that pair well with any outfit. They are also more durable and tough than other materials so you can bet they will last you a long time. Given that most men wear little to no jewelry, metal straps can add some “bling” to your get-up. Match them with your cufflinks and belt buckles and you’ve got a clean-cut look for any occasion.
Leather straps present more options to consider than metal bands. When paired well, they are simpler and more non-obtrusive than metal straps. They give off a “warmth” that contrasts the “coldness” of metal. They can look sleek and sophisticated on formal occasions or have a more comfortable and approachable attitude when worn on casual outings. Similarly, your strap should match with your other leather articles of clothing, like your shoes and belt.
Fabric straps are especially popular for their customizability. They are often interchangeable and come in many colors and designs. Most fabric straps are made with nylon or canvas which are sometimes treated to be water-resistant. Because of their soft texture, wearing a watch with a fabric strap is comfortable and flexible.
Two of the most common strap types in the market are Zulu straps and NATO straps. Both types are often made of nylon but have different designs. Zulus are made of one single piece of fabric with rounder and thicker buckles. NATOs, on the other hand, have an extra layer of fabric and rectangular, thinner buckles. This additional layer serves as another layer of security, which keeps your watch from falling off if one of the spring bars comes loose.
Rubber or silicone straps are another popular choice for casual watches. Just like fabric straps, they have varied color and design options while being comfortable to wear. Their slight elasticity makes them very flexible and durable. They are scratch-resistant and waterproof so they are commonly used in sports and waterproof watches.
The round, visible face where you see the hands move is called the dial. Dials usually come in a multitude of color and design options. Pick a bright color to add a pop to your outfit or go for something more muted and classy. The color of the hour markers usually contrasts with the dials for readability purposes. Keep in mind that in choosing the perfect watch to wear, the less color contrast there is, the more subtle and formal it is.
The case is the outer part that houses the dial and the mechanism that makes the watch tick. Cases are most often round but can come in other shapes too. Round cases are the safest option for most situations, especially for formal or work situations. Other shapes might be worn for an interesting aesthetic or on casual occasions.
While it is common to find cases that are made of metal, a few are made of plastic with a metallic coating. For most men, metal cases are preferred and the type of metal used can vary from stainless steel to more expensive options like white gold, platinum or titanium. On the other ends of the spectrum, cases can come in monochromatic or bold colors as well.
The Watch Genres
Now that we are more aware of how watches work, let’s take a look at their varying kinds. Different watches have some defining features that are unique to their style. No matter the occasion, there will always be a watch that’s fitting.
Dress watches are meant for more formal occasions. They’re simple yet classy and they are not embellished with complicated designs and adornments. Dress watches tend to be on the thinner side so they are more discreet and can be easily concealed under your suit cuff.
Our recommendation: Bulova Aerojet Dress Watch (Model 96B289)
If there’s one thing about field watches, it’s that they’re some of the sturdiest and most accurate watches around. They usually come in a stainless steel case and some may also have PVD coatings or titanium construction. Field watches were originally used in the trenches during World War II so they are made to be readable even in low light or night conditions.
Our recommendation: Citizen Eco-Drive Chandler Military Watch (Model BU2055-16E)
One can never put aviator watches in a box. What we mean is that there will never be that one style that can strictly define aviator watches. In the beginning, aviator watches were originally just repurposed field watches. The requirements were just that it should be accurate and excellent in low-light conditions. Over time, companies developed watches that are specific for aviation.
Our recommendation: IWC Le Petit Prince Chronograph Pilot Watch (Model IW377714)
Dive watches could perhaps be one of the most useful of all men’s watches around. As the name itself implies, dive watches are mostly used in diving. Not only are they very accurate, but they also have superior water resistance. Quality-wise, it has to adhere to ISO 6425 standards. This only means that it can withstand water resistance of up to 100 meters or more. The materials used also have to be tough enough to protect it from damage while diving underwater.
Our recommendation: Invicta Pro-Diver Watch (Model 26970)
Deciding how and when to wear a race watch can be a little less flexible. Compared to other watches, race watches tend to be flashier with playful designs and bright colors, which makes them more suitable for casual events. Most race watches are chronographs, which means it includes a separate stopwatch function and extra subdials to start or stop and reset the second hand. The tachymeter, on the other hand, is to calculate time and distance.
Our recommendation: Tissot’s T-Race Chronograph (Model T0484172705701)
Rules of Wearing a Watch
Honor Your Personal Style
One way to honor your personal style when selecting and wearing a wristwatch is to choose one that best suits your needs. These needs can be for specific occasions or day-to-day usage. Consider what sort of garments you usually wear or prefer to wear, and how your watch can further enhance your overall look. This will ensure that your watch does not look ‘borrowed’ or mismatched with the rest of your outfit.
Check The Fit
The most comfortable way to wear a watch is neither too tight nor too loose. Always ensure that your watch sits comfortably on your wrist with a small gap between the strap and your skin. This will minimize your risk of feeling uncomfortable or claustrophobic when wearing the watch for an extended duration of time.
Attention To Detail is Key
Always pay attention to detail, especially on the face of your watch. Besides being there for aesthetic or mechanical value, many watch enthusiasts believe that the dial of your watch can dictate when and where to wear it. As a simple rule of thumb, remember that it is appropriate to wear a watch with dark dials at night and watch with lighter dials during the day.
How Many Watches Should You Own?
You should already know by now that for every circumstance, certain watches are more appropriate. The problem now is this: how many watches should you own? What other details should you take note of how to wear a watch?
If you plan on getting just one, go for something neutral that goes well with any style. It should be restrained and it should be the ultimate watch to wear on any occasion. It should also be able to pair itself well with any color or style. Another alternative is to get a watch with interchangeable straps so you have one watch that can be adapted for different dress codes.
If you are planning on getting two or more, you open yourself to a lot more options. You can perhaps get a few different styles of watches, some for formal occasions and others for casual events. Having two or more watches resolves any concern about whether what you have is appropriate or not as you have more options at hand to switch around.
Which Hand Do You Wear A Watch On?
One of the common questions about how to wear a watch properly is which hand should you wear it? The standard most go by is that watches should be worn on the non-dominant hand. Since your dominant hand is your “action hand”, wearing your watch on your non-dominant hand can reduce the risk of damaging your watch when you go about your daily activities.
However, due to the majority of people being right-handed, most watches have the crown (the adjustment dial) on the right side. This makes it easier to change the settings with your right hand. This is why most people will argue that it’s better to wear a watch on the left wrist.
Ultimately, the simple answer to this question is to just wear it on the hand that feels the most comfortable for you. There’s no need to think too much into what hand do you wear your watch on. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of your work and daily life, then wear it however you want!
Your Personality and Your Watch
A watch is not just used to tell time. As with any other accessory, the watch you wear can say a lot about your personality. What your watch says about you can be a way to express yourself in a subtle and fashionable manner. While there are numerous watch brands all over the world, there will always be a watch suited for you.
Brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe are greatly associated with success, wealth, power and status. They project an air of confidence and can instantly make you look classy and refined. It also speaks of your appreciation of the finer things in life. Classic and timeless, these timepieces are considered by many to be the finest watches around.
Sports watches, like those from Casio’s G-Shock or Pro Trek collections, give off an adventurous, outdoorsy vibe. They have a look that is more rugged and simple, which makes them great for sports or the day off. This is perhaps the reason why these watches give off the impression of a strong-minded individual with a very active lifestyle.
If you are someone who loves to keep up with modern trends, smartwatches like the Apple Watch are great for you. These have features that monitor your health by measuring your heart rate, walking distance, pace, and even calories burned. Besides that, they can often be linked to your smartphone to answer texts, read emails and view notifications. Smartwatches embody a cosmopolitan vibe with their high-tech nature and cool features.
For whatever reason it may be, watches more than just tell time. It is a reflection of taste, class, and even social status. This is why it’s good to get a better understanding of watches before making the purchase.
When you look at all the watch options out there, the question of how to wear a watch can get quite complicated. Whatever you choose, the watch should be a reflection of YOU. It should show not just your taste but as well as the lifestyle you lead and the personality you have. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to show off your watch with style!