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How To Wear A Watch, Technically and Stylishly

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How To Wear A Watch

We’re taking the stance that there’s a correct way to wear a watch, particularly a dress watch with a suit. There’s a correct way to position a watch on your wrist, which wrist to wear a watch on, and then there’s the correct way to match your watch to your clothing and other accessories. All of which are important if you don’t want to look like a teenager who borrowed his dad’s watch for the day.

Before we get into the technicalities of how to wear a watch, familiarize yourself with common watch part terminology below.

silver watch with text labels on all parts

How to Wear a Watch — The Steps

Which Wrist To Wear Your Watch On

You should be wearing a watch on the wrist opposite of your dominant hand for practical reasons. The thought process behind wearing your watch on your non-dominant hand is so that you can quickly and efficiently adjust the crown of your watch with your dominant hand. Because you use your non-dominant hand less often, this also minimizes the damage done to your watch through normal activity. (Unfortunately, if you’re a lefty, wearing a watch on your right hand can be slightly awkward because crowns and pushers are on the right side of most watches.)


Where To Wear A Watch On Your Wrist

When you’re standing with your hands down at your side, your shirt cuff should cover most but not all of your watch. The same is true for casual long-sleeve shirts. And please, for the love of god, don’t wear your watch on top of your shirt cuff. We wish we didn’t even have to give this advice, but we’ve seen it done before and we never want to see it again.

man sitting on a stool with navy suit and hands in pants pockets wearing a watch

In order for a shirt to cover the majority of your watch when your arms are by your side, the watch has to fit properly on your wrist. If your watch strap is too loose, your watch will hang sloppily below your shirt cuff and if the strap is too small, your watch will never see the light of day (and you’re likely losing circulation). If you can’t find the right balance on the natural notch system on your watch strap, you may want to visit a specialist to get your watch strap adjusted or refitted.

man's wrist in light blue suit wearing a leather gold watch

Watch size matters for another reason too. You don’t want to overshadow the size of your hand or forearm. Typical watch case sizes range between 34mm and 52mm for men. The best watch size for you will be relative to your wrist size and shouldn’t be a decision of trend or style. For most men, we see 38mm to 42mm being a sweet spot, particularly when wearing dress watches with suits. As for where to wear a watch on your wrist, it should sit at the tip of your wrist bone (the ulna, to get technical). A good indicator that you’ve chosen a watch face that’s too big is if the case sits on top of the wrist bone, making it uncomfortable to wear.


Where To Wear A Watch, Generally

Different situations call for different watches. The varying formality of these situations also call for different watches. For example, you don’t necessarily want to wear a sport or smart watch with your sharpest suit and you don’t want to wear a Rolex if you’re heading to the gym. Generally, chain link or leather watches are appropriate to wear with a suit in a business setting. Canvas and nato strap watches can also be worn with suits (a) if the environment is more casual or (b) the suit is casual (cotton or linen). Keep reading to see which watch strap colors we recommend with outfit colors.


Which Watches To Buy

Since we’re a custom suit company, we’re providing some watch recommendations that would be best worn in a business formal or business casual environment, with the wardrobe to match. Any of these watches are appropriate to wear with a full suit and tie, blazer and chinos, or a dress shirt and pair of slacks.

Spend:

MontBlanc Star Date Black Leather Watch

MontBlanc Star Date Black Leather Watch, $1,595


Save

MVMT Classic Black Leather Watch

MVMT Classic Black Leather Watch, $95


Spend:

Frederique Constant Silver Watch

Frederique Constant Silver Watch, $789


Save

MVMT The 40 Silver Watch

MVMT The 40 – Silver Watch, $100


Spend:

Baume & Mercier Classima Watch

Baume & Mercier Classima Watch, $839

Save

MVMT The 40 Gold Natural Tan Watch

MVMT The 40 – Gold Natural Tan Watch, $120


More Watch Outfit Matching Ideas

Now that you have some situational awareness about how to wear a watch, we’ll get into how to match a watch strap with what you’re wearing. Here are the foundations for watch strap and suit color combinations. Use the color on the left as a proxy (for your suit, shirt, etc.) to see which watch strap colors will match with your outfit.


Watch Colors To Wear With Dark Blue

dark blue fabric swatch with silver, gold, and leather watches

Watch Colors To Wear With Light Blue

light blue fabric swatch with dark and light brown leather and gold fabric watches

How To Wear A Watch With Dark Gray

dark gray fabric swatch with silver metal and gray leather watches

How To Wear A Watch With Light Gray

light gray fabric swatch with brown leather and silver metal watches

How To Wear A Watch With Brown

brown fabric swatch with brown leather and gold metal watches

How To Wear A Watch With Tan

tan fabric swatch with dark brown leather and gold and blue metal watches
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5 thoughts on “How To Wear A Watch, Technically and Stylishly”

  1. Good read guys! And thanks for the added advice, Everett. I’m not sure what percentage the left-handed hold in the world population, but seems watch makers are a little reluctant about making watches specifically for lefties because I’ve never seen one in my 27 years on this earth! Everett pointed out that one should take the watch off before adjusting it, but even if they do, they’d still have to adjust it using their non-dominant hand which can be awkward.

  2. The article mentioned that you wear your watch on your non-dominant hand so that you can “quickly and efficiently adjust the crown.” However, if you have an automatic or mechanical watch, you should NEVER ADJUST THE CROWN WHILE WEARING IT. Doing so can damage the spring inside the watch and mess up the movement. When winding or setting the time, you must take the watch off your wrist before adjusting it. Most automatic/mechanical watches will say so on their instruction manuals.

    I don’t blame Black Lapel for the oversight because they are mostly a suit clothing company, but for gents out there with a watch, please don’t adjust the crown while wearing a watch.

    More info can be found here:
    https://www.govbergwatches.com/blog/ways-to-damage-watch/

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the added advice, Everett. You’re right—we can’t do it all, so we’re grateful for loyal and menswear-minded readers like yourself. Take notes gents!

  3. Pingback: How To Wear A Watch, Technically and Stylishly – Francis Avenue

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