Selecting The Right Wristwatch
Is the wristwatch really important?
Imagine. You’re in an interview. It’s your dream job. You’re confident, prepared, and dressed to impress. Just before it starts the interviewer asks the time, and there it is. Your digital stopwatch with the rubber band.
Fail. The First Impression Has Been Made.
Maybe this scenario is a bit inflated, but selecting the right wristwatch is vital, people notice the details and the wristwatch can complete or ruin your entire look!
Choice 1: One Watch or Multiple?
Well this really depends on your budget. It’s possible to purchase just one watch and wear it in all circumstances. If this is the case the watch needs to be very stylistically neutral – able to pair with any color and any level of formality of dress.
If you only want to buy one watch, it needs to be reasonably restrained, and should almost certainly be a plain metal band and face rather than leather.
A black leather watch does not pair with brown leather shoes and vice versa (although many leather watches are designed to take interchangeable bands, at which point you could own one watch but multiple bands and still be covered for all situations).
If you’re willing to own two or three watches, your options open up. One can be sleek and understated for maximum formality; another broad and shiny for a conversation piece.
Choice 2: Metal or Leather band?
Often the band can be a very hard choice. Each have their own pros and cons.
Metal bands offer neutrality thus allowing them to be worn in many different situations. Your metals should however always match, as men often wear little jewellery this is often very easy. For example if you have a silver metal strap you must make sure your belt buckle and cuff links are also silver. This should be easy, making metal straps a simple option.
Metal Band Watch Examples
Leather, on the other hand, needs to match your other leathers (typically shoes and belt), but can look simpler and less ostentatious than metal.
At the highest levels of formality, a plain black leather band is preferable to even a very sleek metal one. And in less formal situations, leather offers a more comfortable attitude, seeming a bit more approachable than solid metal.
There is no right answer. What does exist is a difference in attitude: metal is smooth, practical, and stern while leather is suave, sophisticated, and more personal.
Choose the one that suits your wardrobe and your personality best – or invest in multiple watches, or one watch with multiple bands.
Choice 3: Dial & Case
Most cases are metal, or plastic made to look like metal, and you will almost certainly want the former. Outside of sports watches or utility pieces for working professionals, there’s little reason for a grown man to own a rubber or plastic watch.
Metals for cases can range from stainless steel to white gold and platinum and anything in between, including rarer options like titanium. They usually fall into either a silver-tone or gold-tone color family, or else are colored black or white.
Dials, on the other hand, range widely in color. Some are deliberately plain and simple (a black dial with a metal case is probably the most common option for men), while others have a bright color like the signature red of Victorinox (the company that makes Swiss Army knives).
The numbers usually contrast with the dial for readability, though the contrast can range from white-on-black to light blue on dark blue.
Overall, the more contrast the watch includes, the more noticeable and the less formal it is. A plain silver or steel case with a dark dial and small numbers is typical for business dress use, while casual watches can have a bit more color and contrast.
The shape of the case and dial are largely aesthetic choices. There’s a small preference for rectangular dials and cases in modern business styles, but a round watch is certainly no faux pas. More unusual styles (triangular, etc.) would fall under the heading of casual-only wear, however
Choice 4: The Movement
There are many types of watch movements, but generally speaking, they fall under two categories – mechanical and quartz.
The best way to find out whether a watch has a quartz or mechanical movement is by observing the second hand. Mechanical watches have a smooth, sweeping seconds motion. This is the reason many luxury brands use a mechanical or automatic movement in their watches.
In contrast, the second hand of quartz watches produces a tick-tick motion that moves once per second.
The choice of movement is entirely up to you and could be determined by your budget!
The Conclusion: Which Watch?
Much of the answer to that question ultimately comes down to taste. But a man buying a first-time watch who wants to use it in as many outfits as possible would do well to keep the following points in mind:
- Few watches will work with every outfit. You may need two to really round out your wardrobe.
- Metal bands are easier to match than leather, but leather can appear dressier and more natural.
- The colors of all your metals should match (wedding bands get an exception to the rule), and the colors of all your leathers should match. That means your watchband needs to go with the other metals and/or leathers in the outfit.
- The brighter, higher-contrast, and “busier” the dial, case, and numbers are, the less dressy the watch is.
- Watch movements vary in precision based on the quality of manufacture, but any of the three basic types can produce a reliable timepiece if properly cared for
Wear a nice one, so that you can check it without ruining the formality of your best suit.
Wear a sturdy one, so that you can take it outdoors, on airplanes, in the water, and anywhere else your travels take you.
Wear a brand new one with all the latest technology or wear your great-grandfather’s heirloom – but wear a wristwatch