The Manly Man’s Guide to Wristwatch Etiquette
A man’s taste in wristwatches tells a lot about who he is. His choices of colour, design, and matching outfits will draw the line between a simpleton and a connoisseur.
It might not seem that important but wearing a luxury watch with style can have life-changing effects. Something as simple as adorning your wrist with an accessory the right way can change the way others perceive you. A conventional choice can display confidence, power, and competence. It can make you stand out when interviewing for a job, attending a formal event, or when going out on a first date.
Once you learn how to match a watch with your outfit, the world will be yours for the taking. This guide to wristwatch etiquette should help you get with the times.
How to choose a watch
Most men face this dilemma when they buy their first watch. Some want a brilliant accessory that will help them catch the eye at formal events. Others want a “jack of all trades” kind of watch that they can wear in any circumstances.
Generally, there are five types of events with corresponding outfits that you should consider when buying a watch:
- Highly Formal – Tuxedo or a three-piece suit with black or white tie
- Business Formal – A two-piece suit with colour tie
- Business Casual – A jersey with shirt and jeans or pants, but no tie
- Casual Wear – A regular shirt with either long or short sleeves and jeans
- Sports Wear – A sports t-shirt with shorts
There is a type of watch for every outfit. Ideally, you should have one watch for each type of event. However, few men afford or bother to have such a versatile collection of wristwatches.
The good news is that you can have only two or three watch types and still combine them with different attires to respect the etiquette. Here are the main types of watches, and how to match them with your outfit:
1. Dress Watches
The dress watch has a simple, but elegant design. It usually has a white face and a black leather band. There are no complications or useless decorations in its rigid, yet graceful look.
This is the perfect watch to wear for a highly formal event. However, it also goes well with business suits, formal or casual, and even with regular wear. The only outfit that does not suit a dress watch is sportswear.
2. Diver’s Watches
The diver watch is the working man’s watch. Usually, it has a sturdy design that makes it impervious to drops and accidental hits. It is waterproof and generally made of metal with a simple, black face and clear watch hands of contrasting colours. The most famous and recognizable diver’s watches are the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster.
You might want to avoid wearing a diver’s watch with highly formal attire or even with a business formal suit. Otherwise, you would look like someone wearing muddy boots at a royal ball. This watch goes best with business casual outfits and casual wear. Rarely, and depending on the design, it may look decent on you while you show off your sportswear.
3. Chrono Watches
The chrono watch is also known as the sports watch. Generally, it has a simple, but sleek design, and it can be made from high-quality plastics. Most models of chrono watches have small displays for compasses, odometers, and altimeters, among other features. OMEGA Watch, the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games, have an established reputation for chronograph watches. As a result, the Omega Speedmaster is a sought after watch.
As the name suggests, you can match this watch with sports attire. It also goes great with business casual and regular wear. However, you should never pair it with highly formal outfits or business formal suits.
4. Pilot Watches
The pilot watch draws its name from aviation, where its design was first introduced decades ago. This wristwatch has a large diameter and an easy-to-read dial. Pilots used to wrap it over their jackets or gloves and needed to read the time in a single glance, hence the oversized design.
Nowadays, pilot watches are rather fashionable. Breitling and IWC are known for their pilot’s watch and also Rolex with its Rolex GMT Master. You can wear one with almost any type of attire, minus the highly formal and business formal ones. Depending on the design, you can easily pair them with both your gym clothes and your business casual office outfit.
5. Field Watches
The field watch is another type of watch that originates from the military field. During World War I, soldiers would wear wristwatches with large dials that were very easy to read. Additionally, the infantrymen used to stop the seconds hand on their watches to synchronize them when advancing on the field, hence the name.
Today, the field watch is an all-action timepiece that you can match with your business casual attire just as easy as you can combine it with your sports clothes. Most models are made from highly-resistant materials that prevent damage during hits and drops. You should refrain from wearing them with formal outfits, however.
How to wear a watch with style
If you are in the market for a new watch, you should first consider two things:
- What is the type of event that you are going to attend?
- What colours and style are the clothes that you will match it with?
Once you know the answers to these questions, it will be easier to identify the watch that will give you a stylish look.
Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you be in line with the wristwatch etiquette at all times:
- Match the colour of the band with that of your shoes and belt.
- Leather bands complement leather clothes.
- Combine metal wristbands with other jewellery of the same colour.
- Watches with rubber bands are only suitable for sportswear.
- Invest in interchangeable straps for your watches.
- Plastic wristbands go best with casual attire.
- Rough, worn-in leather straps work better with jeans.
Always place your watch on your least dominant hand to diminish wear and tear.
Size matters! Do not pair watches that have small dials and narrow wristbands with bulky bracelets or large cufflinks.
Your best choice is to have at least two types of watches in your collection. One should be a dress watch, and you should reserve it for special occasions when you attend formal events. The other one may be a diver’s watch or a chrono watch that you can pair with various outfits and wear in various activities.
In the end, even if you have only one watch, your style will be defined by how and when you wear it. Remember! That small accessory around your wrist can make you look like a superstar or a rookie. The image that you want to convey is in your hands, literally.