A luxury timepiece for men does more than tell time. It declares the wearers’ sense of style, personality and where they are in life.
As the only piece of jewelry that men can acceptably wear, classically-speaking at least, watches play an important role in establishing their social status and completing their desired look, and timepiece connoisseurs can easily say a lot about a person, simply by looking at the Breitling, Rolex or Patek Philippe he has chosen to wear for any given occasion.
As with most classic luxury products, watch-wearing involves sartorial etiquette. There’s no point buying a Calibre de Cartier for 45,000 dollars, for example, if you’re not going to wear it right. Or it doesn’t fit right. Or you want to show it off at a completely wrong sort of occasion, like, say, a sporting event.
This is especially true if you own several luxury watches at different price points, or starting out with a watch collection and not sure what should be guiding your next purchase.
To make watch-wearing etiquette a little bit easier for guys who always want to get it right with their best statement accessory, here are 8 important do’s and don’ts you cannot afford not to know.
# 1: Get Educated
The first thing that separates the genteel, classy, watch-wearing folks from the nouveau riche (newly come into money) ones is education. We’re not talking about academic education, but knowledge of watch styles, watch traditions and the legacy of the world’s leading collectible brands.
Because like with wine, a true connoisseur doesn’t pick the most expensive bottle off the menu just because he can afford it. He chooses the one that would best suit the food, the mood and the occasion. Luxury is just a tasteless show of wealth unless you truly value quality. And you will never value quality, or understand it, without educating yourself first on the subject.
If nothing else, know everything that’s interesting or remarkable about the watch brand and model you are buying. Not only will this make you seem knowledgeable and completely at ease with the ownership of this timepiece, it will help you choose the right occasions to wear it to without making a regrettable social faux pas.
# 2: Don’t Be Afraid Of `Affordable’ Luxury
You don’t have to shop within the top-tier category of luxury wristwatches to feel good about your purchase. A true aficionado will proudly wear a mid-tier model from a luxury brand at or below the $ 5,000 range, simply because he appreciates the price-to-value ratio and it suits his lifestyle. For example, the Rolex Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue ($ 4,000 approx.) or the Omega Seamaster ($ 3,000 approx.) or the Mont Blanc TimeWalker Collection Voyager UTC ($ 4,200 approx.) – all fabulously well-made timekeepers from high-end brands that anybody should be excited to wear.
# 3: Know Your Mm
When watch people talk about millimeters, they’re referring to the diameter of the face. Typically, men’s watches come in the 34 mm-50 mm range, though a fad does come along from time to time with dish-sized faces up to 60 mm in diameter.
Now, why is the mm sizing so important for luxury watch buyers? Well, because it is bad form to wear a watch that is larger than your own wrist size. The lug width (internal width measured between the lugs of the watch face) should not hang over the edge of the wrist.
A good rule of thumb is to stick within the 35 mm-42 mm for most men. A disproportionately small watch will look effeminate on a man’s wrist and a disproportionately large one will simply overpower it and be a distraction.
Measure your wrist first in mm, and then try on a few watches at a store to know how big or how small you can go. Once you know your optimal mm range, shopping for watches will be a whole lot easier from there on.
# 4: Know The Sweet Point On Your Wrist
Watches are not supposed to be worn loose. Rules about casual watches may have relaxed enough that you can have your timepiece hanging loosely off your wrist, but you’d be doing a serious disservice to your luxury watch, and breaking with watch-wearing etiquette if it hasn’t been properly fitted after purchase (in case of metal bracelet straps).
Watches should be worn pushed well back, just behind the wrist bone, so your wrist movement is not hindered. Be able to stick an index finger between the strap and the skin, and you’ll stay comfortable throughout the day.
# 5: Choose Watchstraps Carefully
Never choose a watchstrap by its looks alone. The design and color of the watch face dictates the kind of straps that can be paired with it. A simple dial can wear flashier straps, while a complex dial calls for subdued, sober options.
Respect the nature of the watch at all times, and make sure the strap suits its unique character. Pair an elegant watch, for example, with a calfskin leather strap. Pair a diving watch with stainless steel, braided Perlon, tropic or ISOfrane rubber. Pair a chronographic/military watch with a timeworn leather strap or Nato bracelet in leather or in nylon. And so on.
Pay close attention to the workmanship that has gone into the crafting of an expensive watchstrap as well. Notice the quality of the leather, quality of the dye, fineness of the stitching etc.
# 6: Match A Watch To Your Outfit
Once again, take the personality of the watch into consideration when matching it with your clothes. You cannot show up at a white-tie or black-tie event, for example, in a tool watch. You everyday pilot’s watch is perfectly fine as you go about your day-to-day life, but when you’re dressing for a formal occasion, you have to wear a dress watch with gold or silver cases, sleek leather straps and understated dials.
Almost every watchmaker will do a dress watch, though the benchmark in this category is set by brands like Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe.
# 7: Be Season Appropriate
Like clothes, watches have seasons too. Hot, muggy, summer months, for example, are not the time to wear a sleek leather-strapped dress watch. Switch it out with something with a Nato strap instead, as the material is a lot more suitable for summer wear. During winter, look for straps that work well with the cold, like a Harris Tweed watchstrap. Many luxury watches can have their straps swapped around, so take advantage of this by keeping a selection of watchstraps that work best with the season.
# 8: Look After Your Watches
Finally, take good care of your watches. No matter how well they are made, and how long they are supposed to last, watches are a machine after all, and therefore not indestructible. Expensive watches of heirloom quality that are passed on from generation to generation require regular services and cleaning to hold onto their value — such as changing glasses, refurbishing dials and fitting replacement parts. Be invested in the maintenance of your watch collection, and your children and grandchildren too will learn to appreciate and enjoy them as collectibles.