Do you wear a watch over your shirt?

Author: Marina

Nov. 28, 2023

Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

The first rule of watch club is you always talk about watch club. Misleading Brad Pitt lines aside, today we are talking about something rather important: watch etiquette. So you’ve finally scored that elusive timepiece you’ve been banking on for years. Or perhaps it’s your very first encounter with a luxury watch (every man’s been there). Whichever your reason it’s important for any man to know how to properly wear a watch once he’s attained it.

A Rolex Submariner, an IWC Pilot’s Watch, an OMEGA Speedmaster, a TAG Heuer Monaco, whatever your choice of wrist candy, there are ideal ways to wear it. Today we’re running you through the drills on how to wear a watch and how to avoid the most common oversights.

Which Wrist To Wear A Watch On

Image via: Watch Insanity

Ah, one of the oldest watch debates in the world. If someone ever tells you that you’re wearing your watch on the wrong hand, back slap them with your leather glove and tell them you challenge them to a duel. Alternatively, just explain to them that the rule is to wear a watch on the non-dominant wrist. That is, if you’re right handed you wear it on your left wrist. If you’re left handed, the watch goes on your right wrist. That’s the traditional rule anyway. These days it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a watch on whichever wrist you’d prefer.

Picking The Right Watch For The Right Occasion

Ever seen a grown man wear a G-Shock with a dinner suit to a wedding? On a charm scale of 1 to 10, it’s an Adam Sandler. So here’s how it goes for picking the right watch for the right occasion.

Sports, Adventure & Diving Watches

The line’s a bit blurry these days with many watchmakers incorporating ‘diving/sports/adventure heritage’ into their more refined pieces for formal use, but we’re talking about serious sports watches which are designed to do just that. Think bulkier Breitling Superoceans, Bremont’s Endurance GMT or OMEGA Seamasters paired with rubber straps for dedicated active duty. These are in no way bad watches, they’re just not designed to bode well with a suit because they can’t sit snug under a sleeve and tend to feature hits of bright colours. Dedicated outdoor watches like these are more sports watches, so wear them with your casual wear instead. Think along the lines of cool active outerwear.

Dress Watches

At the other end of the spectrum we have the dress watch. Whilst some may bear names that take inspiration from their sporting heritage, they are essentially heavily refined versions which still fall under the dress watch category. Dress watches often exhibit a much cleaner dial design and more humbling functions (hours, minutes, seconds, date) which hark back to tradition rather than all out versatility. Size-wise they also tend to be slimmer and feature more traditionally shaped cases paired to leather straps or a classy steel bracelet. Its design is solely dedicated to seeing you through formal affairs whether that be in a business suit, a wedding suit or a fancy tuxedo.

Aviation & Motorsport Watches

This one’s another murky area as both driving and aviation-style watches are these days acceptable as dress watches. As a style guide, we’d recommend sticking to traditional dress watches with suits and tuxedos if you’re the conservative type. Pairing driving and aviation watches to suits are for those who want to add a bit more character, conversation and ‘pop’ to their overall look. These types of watches can do that because they often come with cool design elements and distinct functions lifted from their respective fields (motorsports and flying). The best way to describe these watches is somewhere between a dress watch and a sports watch. They have the refinement of a dress watch but with the added flair of a sports watch. As such, we’d recommend pairing them with a smart casual look; a blazer with jeans, a denim shirt with chinos, button-up linen shirts with fitted shorts, leather jackets with jeans. The idea is that the watch should match your day’s activity.

How To Accessorise Your Watch

Besides playing around with the plethora of straps available on the market, there’s no other way to accessorise a nice luxury watch – and that’s a good thing. Simply switching out a black leather strap with a brown leather strap can take a dress watch from formal to smart casual. The same also goes for changing it up to a NATO strap for casual weekend duties. Each strap material has its place and purpose so again, know what the occasion is and then style your watch accordingly.

  • Black leather straps and steel bracelets are best used in formal environments like work or special functions
  • Brown leather straps can also be used in formal situations but cross over into smart casual territory
  • NATO straps are usually woven nylon or fabric and feature cool colours and patterns. Use these to pare down your watch whilst standing out for all the right reasons
  • Rubber straps are purely for active duty like sports, sailing, diving, adventure, etc

Wearing A Watch With A Dress Shirt

A formal affair calls for a formal look. From weddings, to swanky bars to job interviews, there’s an art to pairing a watch to any formal dress shirt.

  • First rule: A long sleeve shirt should cover 85-percent or more of the watch when your arm is straight. It’s only when the arm is bent that the watch should be visible. Also make sure the sleeve length isn’t so long that it goes half way down your forehand. A alterations place can fix this
  • Second rule: Watches always belong under the sleeve, not over it (unless you want to look like you just robbed someone)
  • Third rule: The watch’s thickness should be moderate so that it can sit under the cuff comfortably. As we mentioned, a chunky diver’s watch won’t work well in this dress shirt-suit scenario
  • Fourth rule: Make sure the strap fits your wrist properly. You’re not in school anymore so wearing a watch around your forearm will never be cool

Wearing A Watch With Short Sleeve & Long Sleeve Shirts

We’re no longer talking about suits and dress shirts here. Watches are also perfect for pairing with your casual short sleeve button-up shirts and long sleeve button-up shirts. There’s no rules on which sleeve style one is right or wrong for watches – so long as the fit is right.

Some proven winning looks for the casual shirt-watch combo includes the long sleeve button up shirt with rolled sleeves. It’s a good way to show off the timepiece and we’d recommend opting for sports watches or driving and aviation timepieces. The same can also be applied to short sleeve shirts.

If you’re a casual t-shirt kind of guy, definitely don’t choose a dress watch as this will look a bit out of place. Again, sports watches or driving and aviation timepieces work best here irrespective of long or short sleeve.

Wearing A Watch FAQ


What does a watch say about a person? A watch can tell that you’re confident, successful, wealthy, adventurous, a sportsman, a gentleman, lady, geek, fitness-obsessed, trendsetter, and more about your character. But even the most luxurious watch will show your bad sides if you don’t wear it the right way.

Correctly wearing the watch shows other people that you’re not just stylish and elegant, but also a true gentleman, with good manners. Here are some of the rules you should not break if you love to wear watches: 

Know the difference between a man’s watch and a lady’s watch.

One of the basic rules is to know the difference between women's and men's watches. If a watch is not a unisex model, how do we know the difference? Men’s watches are generally distinguished from women’s by size – women’s watches are smaller than men’s. Also, men’s watches usually have more ‘gadgets’ and features such as complications. On the other side, women’s watches have finer features and usually have ornamental or decorative features and shapes.

Can a woman wear a men’s watch?

There are men's, women's, and unisex watches. However, many women wonder if it is okay to wear exclusively men's watches? The answer is: Yes. We can notice a growing trend of women wearing men’s watches. Men’s watches aren’t too flashy and are often quite minimalist in design, unlike women’s shiny and colorful watches. Women who like simplicity and minimalism might find men’s watches more attractive. If you’d like to buy a men’s watch, make sure it complements your wrist.

A watch should be a reflection of who you are.

There is no answer to which watch is the best. The best watch for you is the one that will reflect your personality. If you like minimalism, you will certainly not feel comfortable wearing a diamond watch. Fortunately today, there are watches that suit every style, from adventurous to royal. You can easily find the right one for you.

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The Detrola watch is built with high-grade components, clever engineering, and vibrant colorways. The model is made of stainless steel, a durable TR90 resin case, a black dial, and hand-assembled movement. The Detrola is the perfect combination of strength and style!

Which wrist should you wear your watch on?

Both sides are correct. According to statistics, the majority of people (about 80%) are right-handed, and they often tend to wear their watches on their left hand. You can choose the wrist that is most comfortable for you.

Don’t wear a watch that is too big. 

People generally like to wear large watches, especially men. However, it can often seem funny and unattractive. How do you know what the right dimensions are for you? Men’s watches average between 34mm-50mm, while 34mm-40mm is standard and ideal for both men and women. The general rule says that that the lugs of the watch don’t go beyond the width of your wrist.

Metal or Leather?

What about a bracelet? Metal bracelets are more neutral and match with almost anything. They also look more expensive than leather straps. They are also waterproof and unlikely to break. Unfortunately, fitting them is a little more complex, because you often have to remove links to get them to the optimum length.

On the other side, leather straps are more comfortable than metal but are also more prone to coming undone because of the buckle system and the fact that they’re not waterproof.

Make sure that the style of watch suits the occasion.

Let's look at some basic and simple rules for wearing watches on certain occasions. You should wear formal watches to events that require formal wear such as weddings, opera, formal dinners, or funerals. A formal watch is usually made of silver, gold, or platinum metal, and can be incredibly expensive.

As for sports watches, you can wear them as an everyday watch, or as a functional tool for running or working out. They are usually plastic and durable, as well as water-resistant. Still, remember: never wear a sports watch with a suit! It is considered to be in poor taste. At less formal events, you can wear a dress watch - usually more plain and simple than formal watches.

How to wear a wristwatch for long sleeves?

Many people wonder if it is okay to wear a watch with long sleeves? The answer is: yes. about 85% of your watch should disappear inside the sleeves while your arm is straight. So, your watch should be visible only when you fold your arm. The entire watch on a long sleeve is not stylish. You should wear your watch under your clothing, not above! Also, the watch should be thin enough to slip easily under the sleeves of the shirt or jacket. Follow these rules next time you wear a shirt. 

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Don’t check your watch in front of other people.

When it comes to wearing a watch in public, you should know that it is not always polite to check your watch. Even though it is quite normal to look at the phone while talking with others, checking a watch is considered very rude. Therefore, if you’re on a date or a meeting, don’t check your watch visibly in front of other people. That will show that you’re not present and not interested at all.

Can you wear a watch with other jewelry?

Of course, you can wear jewelry with a watch, but only if it is moderate. If you’re wearing a small watch you should not pair it with a bulky bracelet. Also, make sure to avoid wearing gold jewelry with a silver-tone watch. If you wear a very shiny watch (with zircons for example), minimize other jewelry on yourself.

Wearing a watch to interviews.

We all want to leave a good impression on interviews. According to Mark Horstman, co-founder of Manager Tools, it is recommended to wear a watch to interviews. He makes this recommendation because managing time in an interview is important.

Also, in many European countries, wearing a watch is showing that a person is a serious professional, according to a Forbes article. But don’t wear your diamond watch on such occasions! You don’t want to say “I’m too good for this role”. You want to say that you’re professional. Choose a watch that blends in with the rest of your outfit. You can also match the color and style of your watch to your shoes and bag. 


Do you wear a watch over your shirt?

How to wear a watch- The rules you should not break




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