How to Wear a Watch
Table of Contents
Watches have been an accessory worn around the globe for a long time. Whether attached to a vintage chain or featuring a wide touchscreen, this efficient accessory is worn by people of all ages.
Although they’re common and popular, many people still aren’t sure how to wear a watch. They might even think it’s an intimidating accessory, or consider it something they couldn’t pull off themselves.
Perhaps you’re considering upping your accessory game and buying a watch, but are unsure where to start. Luckily, that’s why we’ve written this guide.
We’ll help you narrow down your options and choose the best watch for you. It’s important to not only know how to wear a watch but which watch to wear. So keep reading if you want to find out.
After reading this guide, you’ll understand:
- Which wrist to wear a watch
- Tips on watch fitting
- How to accessorize with a watch
- Different watch styles
- How to take care of your watch
- Fashion and styling tips
- Watch brands and price points
What is a Watch?
Before you can tackle how to wear a watch, you’ll need to know what it is. Simply put, a watch is a portable timepiece.
Throughout history, the watch has been developed from a simple handheld device that was used in the old days and has evolved into a stylish, efficient, modern accessory. Watches are available in a wide range of price points and are designed in a variety of materials.
Though watches were once something only worn/carried by men, today all kinds of people wear watches—everyone from primary students to business owners, athletes, and so many more. And why shouldn’t they? A watch is one accessory that’s not only stylish but it’s also useful.
History of the Watch
The watch has a complex history that dates back to the 15th century. Since its initial invention, it has continued to evolve. Over the years, it’s had many faces. In the beginning, it was a miniature clock small enough to hold in your hand or store in your sack, but there were no attachments so you couldn’t wear it.
Eventually, these watches became known as clock watches and, as time passed, the clock watch became a pendant on a necklace that people could easily wear.
During the Victorian period when waistcoats became popular, the pocket watch was born. Then, during Prince Albert’s reign, the Albert chain was developed. This chain gave the pocket watch a useful and stylish upgrade.
Historically, the switch from using clock watches to pocket watches is well documented. However, the exact year of the invention—and the inventor—of the first wristwatch is a debate amongst historians. While some credit Nuremberg’s Peter Henlein for the invention, others claim Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe invented the wristwatch.
While there is much to argue about in regards to who invented the most common watch style of the day, there’s no debating how common the watch has grown to be. It’s definitely one of the most popular accessories.
When to Wear a Watch
When thinking about how to wear a watch, it’s crucial to also consider where you’re wearing your watch. Typical places you might see a watch are at work or at a sporting event, but there are many other places you can rock your watch. We’ve listed a few of them below:
- The gym: With the rise of Fitbits and other fitness watches, it’s not uncommon to see tech-focused timekeepers during a workout or sport practice.
- To brunch: Sunday brunch is another place you can confidently wear your watch. Whether on a rooftop, at the patio bar, or at your favorite table, your Sunday best ‘brunch look’ is bound to look even better with a watch. How else are you supposed to count down the minutes till your mimosa arrives?
- School: Wearing a watch to school is a no brainer. This applies to students of all ages and teachers too. A watch will compliment most school-day outfits, and helps countdown the minutes till that pop quiz is over.
- Social events: Whether you’re having a girl’s night out or checking out the local fair, an outfit can be styled with any watch. So, if you’re attending a social event, wearing a watch is a great idea.
When thinking about wearing your watch, consider practicality as well as the style. While wearing your new Bulova piece to the office is a choice that makes sense, it might not work at other times.
In fact, wearing a watch isn’t always a good idea. For instance, a watch might not complement the softer palette of your outfit at a maternity shoot or be appropriate for your wedding day.
How to Wear a Watch
It’s not hard to grasp how to wear a watch, but there are a few things you should consider. So, to ensure you’re rocking your watch the best way possible, keep these tips in mind.
Fit is everything when it comes to wearing a wristwatch. How tight should a watch be? Well, it shouldn’t be tight at all. Aim for a comfortable fit when wearing your watch. You’ll know your strap is too tight if it’s leaving impressions on your skin.
But, if the strap is too loose the watch will be sliding up and down your arm. A watch with a perfect fit sits on the wrist snuggly, and stays in place.
On the wrist, the watch should sit at the tip of the protruding bone on your wrist (otherwise known as the ulna). If you’re wondering which wrist to wear watch styles, there is a well-known tradition. It’s customary to wear your wristwatch on your less dominant hand. So, if you’re right handed, you should wear your watch on your left wrist.
If you’re considering wearing your watch with a cuffed shirt, one rule applies. The watch will be mostly covered by the cuff when your arms are down, but when your arms are bent we should be able to see a peek of your watch.
Though it’s largely considered a fashion faux pas in men’s fashion to wear your watch over your sleeve, many fashionistas have adopted this styling trick for themselves.
10 Outfit Ideas with a Watch
Now that you know a bit about how to wear a watch with long sleeves, exhibit that knowledge the next time you find yourself in a well-tailored suit.
A dress watch pairs well with most formal attire, including suits. But you can shake things up by wearing a monochromatic gray suit ensemble, finished off with a sleek, silver watch.
Even when it’s cold, a watch can make your outfit hot. Plow through the usual winter accessories, and style your ‘slopes look’ with a bold and gold timepiece.
Layer your thicker watches with a beaded bracelet, and leave room to further accessorize on your opposite wrist. Finish the look off with attire in rich colors appropriate for the season. Add some pants, or a jacket, featuring contemporary tailoring to really up the look.
Channel your favorite rapper and get loud with your watch styling. A fully blinged-out watch is nice, but it truly shines with blingy bracelets stacked behind it.
Complete this maximalist look with an even louder outfit. Pile on the patterns and lots of color for a real ‘more is more’ look. Or, you can let the watch do all the talking by wearing it with a more muted look (such as an all-black ensemble).
For the mini fashionista, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful, floral blouse. Tone down the outfit by adding jeans, or take the look up a notch with an elegant gold-band wristwatch.
Even a formal dress or black-tie look can be accessorized with a watch. Pair your favorite A-line gown with a dazzling timepiece. Try to keep the wrist bare (besides the watch) to avoid looking too casual or crowded.
If you consider yourself a minimalist, carry that energy throughout your accessorizing. It may seem like you’re adding more to your outfit, but a simply-styled watch only ups the elegance of your clean, sleek look.
For summer days at the office, or outside the office, pair a well-tailored white suit with a croc leather strap analog watch. Also, add a minimal gold bracelet. It’s a little touch that leaves a major impact.
Style your watch to bring out your shoes and make them pop. Whether you’re wearing the trendiest sneakers or sleekest Chelsea boots, use your watch to pick up on the colors or general aesthetic of your footwear.
Don’t forget to pack your watch when you’re going on vacation. A cool, short-sleeved button-up top and trendy frames make the perfect look for a wristwatch. Finish this outfit off with necklaces and bracelets—you’re on vacay after all.
What Type of Watches Can You Get?
There are various kinds of watches. To know how to wear a watch, it’s beneficial to have some understanding of the timepieces on the market.
- Analog: The analog watch is the oldest watch style to date with the most recognizable clock face. You know you’re looking at an analog watch if the hours are sequenced from one to 12, and there are three hands (one for the hour, the minute, and the second).
- Automatic: The automatic watch is popular amongst most luxury watch brands. It’s a self-winding piece that’s best identified by the second hand. If this hand is sweeping through the seconds, as opposed to ticking, it’s an automatic watch.
- Chronograph: A chronograph watch is probably one of the most specific watches. While other pieces in this guide are used to tell time, the chronograph is a stopwatch most often used to time races.
- Digital: The modern upgrade to the analog watch, the digital watch is a timepiece designed with a digital timeplace. Instead of hands that circle a dial, the digital watch displays time with digits.
- Diving: The diving watch was developed for deep-water diving. Though some may be pretty, it’s unusual to wear a watch that’s water resistant up to 300 meters outside of the water.
- Dress: A dress watch is a piece reserved for semi-formal to formal occasions. Dress watches are designed in various styles, from minimal to fully blinged out. This is the piece you wear to a formal dinner or a wedding.
- Smart: Everything is getting smarter these days—from mobile devices to TVs and even watches. The smart watch isn’t an innovation as old as the analog or digital watch, but it has lots more high-tech features.
While any watch can display time, a smartwatch does so much more with its support apps and touchscreen design.
- Quartz: A quartz watch is a unique timepiece designed with the most intricate power system. It’s powered by a pulsating quartz crystal which is energized by an electronic oscillator. The frequency of the crystal is released via a small stepping motor which puts the hands in motion.
How to Choose The Best Watches
By now, you know there’s much to consider when thinking about how to wear a watch. In addition to this, there’s also much to consider when picking the right watch for you.
Before you buy your perfect watch, remember the climate in which you live. If you live in a dry climate you’re better off with a cool watch strap that’ll keep the heat off your wrist, so your sweat doesn’t ruin the mechanics of your timepiece. A leather strap is a go-to for watches since they hold up in most climates.
In the world of watches, the more you spend, the more you get. The market for luxury watches is vast and for $3k+ you can have your watch outfitted with real sapphires, like a Cartier creation, or up your budget to $12k to get a Rolex designed with diamonds.
Both of these options provide a sense of flash and heightened value you can only achieve when spending the big bucks. However, there are still a variety of brands that offer stylish and efficient timepieces at lower price points.
The materials a watch is made of are also important. This will give you a better idea of how much the piece will cost. For example, quartz watches and stainless steel watches are generally the least expensive type of watches you can get.
Metals like lightweight titanium and carbon fiber cost a little more since they’re more durable and sustainable than stainless steel.
Knowing about watch brands will also help you pick the best piece for you. You don’t have to commit to any of the big brands, but it’s best to know what the major watch brands are. It’s also a good idea to have a general idea of price points before buying your timepiece.
Finding the best watch for you may take some time and trial and error, but it’s worth it once you find a timepiece that suits you.
How to Style a Watch
Wearing a watch is only half the fun. Styling a watch to your personal taste is the best part of accessorizing. Yet, if you don’t know how to wear a watch, styling a watch may seem a little outside of your comfort zone. However, there’s no complicated formula to styling your watch.
Watches can be easily added to most outfits. But not every watch goes with any ensemble, so make sure you’re styling the type of watch appropriately.
- The Dress Watch
Whether your dress watch is analog or digital, keep in mind that this style looks best with tailored suits, business wear, and other formal attire. A dress watch is a typical accessory for the 9-5 grind but can we be worn outside of your back-to-back meetings.
If the dress watch is an elegant analog, feel free to wear this piece with jeans and a button-down shirt, or even with a blazer over a lovely mini dress.
If you find yourself wondering how to wear bracelets with a watch, lean into that curiosity! Bracelets are best worn with analog or quartz watches and can be layered behind, in between, or in front of your favorite bracelets.
- The Diving Watch
Some dive watches are rugged and bulky, while others have a more sleek look. Take the sleek look from sea to land by wearing it with your casual pieces. Think basic trousers and polo shirt, or comfy sweatsuit. Diving watches were designed for deep-water diving, so consider wearing this watch with athletic outfits.
- The Smartwatch
While the futuristic look of a smartwatch is a statement maker, you don’t want to style this piece with anything that overshadows or competes with the high-tech design. Smartwatches look best with casual outfits that consist of jeans and a T-shirt, or more office-friendly looks that are business casual.
- The Digital Watch
Unlike the smartwatch, the digital watch has a variety of faces. When shopping for a digital watch you may come across some that look as futuristic as a smartwatch, while others are more refined and elegant.
Digital watches that have a more retro design are best paired with jeans, sweats, and other classic, casual attire. However, a more sophisticated digital watch looks better with tailored suits or semi-formal outfits.
Fashion Tips to Avoid With a Watch
I encourage you to explore different ways of wearing watches that suit your own personal style. But, I must advise that there are a few things to avoid when wearing a watch.
- Size matters: Think of watches like sunglasses—they’re not one size fits all. When considering how to wear a watch, keep in mind that the dial of the watch should be proportional to your wrist size. As mentioned earlier in this guide, the strap of the watch should also fit snuggly.
The fit of your watch is key. You don’t want your watch to look so heavy it weighs down your look. You also don’t want it to be so dainty that it gets lost in your look. So, choose a watch that compliments your outfit and matches your style. And make sure your timepiece doesn’t compete with you or overtake your look either.
- Consider the colors: Today’s watches come in a variety of styles and colors. Be mindful of the colors you’re pairing your watch with. If your watch features heavy metal and dark colors, perhaps it wouldn’t make the best accessory for a bright and airy cottagecore look.
On the other hand, if the watch is a creamy pastel color, it won’t pair well with a dark and dynamic suit. You want your watch to complement your outfit, so also consider the season and time of day when styling your watch.
- Switch it up: A versatile accessory is a great accessory—but don’t deny yourself lots of options. A small collection of watches will help you keep your favorites around longer. When you have a roster of stylish timepieces that suit your various needs, you don’t always have to rely on the one you love most.
How To Take Care Of a Watch
Whether your watch is entry, mid or high-end luxury, you’ll want to take care of it to ensure it’s keeping time for a long time. Besides knowing how to wear a watch, you must also know how to take care of your watch. The best way to keep your watch in top shape is to follow these simple tips:
- Wind It Up
Keeping your watch wound keeps your watch working well. Get into the habit of winding your watch regularly (i.e. once a week) to avoid issues with your piece.
Iconic watch brand IWC Schaffhausen recommends winding your watch at the same time every week (they call this the ‘wind day’). For example, if you’ve set your ‘wind day’ to Monday at 10 a.m., it should always be on that specific day and time.
- Wind It Up…Off the Wrist
Be mindful of where you’re winding your watch. Winding the watch on your wrist may cause you to tilt the crown of the watch upwards. This tilt creates pressure on the stem that results in a bent stem (with the worst-case scenario being a broken stem).
- Keep It Clean
Like anything you want to have for a long time, you’ve got to keep it clean. Watches are no different. When your watch needs a little rub-a-dub use a microfiber polishing cloth and a little water.
Soap is to be avoided at all costs when cleaning your watch. Although it’s made to keep your products clean, soap can seep behind the crown of your watch and ruin the mechanics of your timepiece.
- Take It In For a Tune Up
Not all watches can be taken into a watchmaker for fine-tuning, but the ones that can be should. If you’ve invested in a mid to high-end watch, go the extra mile to have it periodically serviced by a watchmaker.
Though there is no set time when you should be servicing your watch, keep a close eye on it and pay attention to any signs. If your watch is running slow or fast don’t hesitate to get it looked at.
Best Places to Buy a Watch
Now that you know how to wear a watch, maybe you’re ready to buy your own timepiece. You’re probably wondering which brand is right for you. Perhaps you’re familiar with the fine craftsmanship of popular brands like Cartier or Rolex.
Though extremely beautiful, these brands are considered a luxury, and their watches retail for over $5,000. Whether your budget can allow the extra zeros on a Cartier price tag, there are a plethora of other options to choose from.
There are lots of timepieces available at lower price points, as well as a few at mid-range price points. Here’s a breakdown of several brands.
- Jaeger-Le Coultre
- TAG Heuer
Entry-Mid Range Watches
- Michael Kors
Watches Under $100
- Anne Klein
- Calvin Klein
Watches for kids
Accessorizing can be a fun way to further elevate a look, or bring new life to an outfit you’ve already worn. The next time you get dressed, consider adding a watch as a final touch to complete your look.
Not only will it maximize your style, but it will help you keep time too!
With the number of styles on the market these days, and the variety of models available, there’s no shortage of options. So, you should be able to find a watch that works for you.
Whether you’re trying to break a bad streak of tardiness, or just like the look, a watch is an accessory that won’t let you down.
You’ve got the watch on lock, but what about the rest of the outfit? Here are a couple more articles for your consideration: