Our 3 golden rules for wearing a luxury watch with formalwear
Formal dress is all about etiquette. Specifically, it’s normally about staying respectful to it. Occasionally it’s about breaking it too, but you can only do that if you know exactly what you’re doing! And that’s what this week’s post is all about. To be honest, you could fill a short book with all the various different rules for etiquette on wearing a luxury watch with a good suit, but we’ve got too much respect for your time to write you a thesis. So instead, here are the three absolute golden rules you need to know about wearing a watch with a suit, so you know exactly how to style your luxury timepiece of choice – whether that’s a Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer, or another model entirely.
Match your watch to the occasion
Different types of events will have their own different types of dress codes. That’s not exactly a secret in itself – the trick is to know what sort of watch each type of event will requires. The most formal black tie events will require a dress watch, which tend to be amongst the more elegant and understated designs. (In case you need a bit of inspiration here, it might be worth checking out our previous post on the best dress watches.) When it comes to the most formal settings like dinner parties and corporate functions, it’s best to err on the side of subtlety. If other attendees deem your choice of wristwear to be too flashy (or heaven forbid, gaudy), then you could even be at risk of coming across as brash or disrespectful.
However, if you’re looking for a watch you’d like to wear for other settings such as business meetings, networking events, or just up and about in the office, then you might be glad to hear that the etiquette rules aren’t quite as strict. That means you can afford to be a bit bolder with your choice of luxury watch – you could even use it as a small part of your networking strategy, using it as a sort of icebreaker! Blue luxury watches constitute a good subset of watches to look at first, as their inherent versatility makes them a brilliant choice for a huge range of settings and outfits.
Alternatively, you might want to start by looking at diving watches, or racing watches. They’re both amongst the types of timepiece that can be relatively easily matched to the colour and style of your suit, while communicating a distinctive personality all of their own. Just be careful not to go overboard on the complications. One or two will be fine (such as date windows or chronographs), but too many can end up making the watch look excessively flashy – and as we touched on earlier, that’s still something you’ll want to avoid in these sorts of settings!
Choose your colours carefully
Colour is a hugely influential aspect of any outfit, and your watch plays an integral part in defining the overall effect. So, you’ll want to pay close attention to ensure that the colour of your suit and the colour of your watch complement each other, and that they don’t end up awkwardly clashing. Now, there are a couple of ways you can approach this.
Match to your belt and shoes
This is one of the most reliable ways to ensure that your entire outfit comes together, and personally it’s the one we’d recommend here at Leonard Dews. Ideally the shade of your belt or shoes should already roughly match each other, so it’s just a question of choosing a luxury watch with a strap or dial in the same colour, and you can rest assured that your outfit will be memorable in all the right ways.
So if you’re wearing brown shoes with a navy shirt for example, accordingly you’ll probably want a watch with a brown strap. Equally, if you’re wearing a smart black suit with black shoes, a black strapped watch will be just what you need to round out the overall effect. And here’s another quick tip for you – if you’re ever not quite sure about exactly which watch will go with your suit, you can always opt for a watch with a silver face and strap – something like a TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands Automatic 39mm Watch – which will reliably look good with almost any ensemble.
Turn to the more established colour schemes
Of course, there’s nothing to say that you absolutely have to use the belt and shoes method. If you’d prefer, rather than trying to unite several different disparate elements and accessories you may have collected for your formalwear over the years, you can simply acquire several pieces at once with the express purpose of wearing them all together.
Here’s a handy quick guide you can use for reference:
• For a beige or cream suit, your watch strap should be black, silver or gold
• For a grey suit, your watch strap should be black, brown or reddish brown
• For a black suit, your watch strap should be black or silver
• For a blue suit, your watch strap should be brown or gold, but can sometimes be silver
However, we should put a quick disclaimer here: this is just a rough guide based on general industry advice. Ultimately, you’re the one best positioned to decide what looks good on you – so trust your instincts!
This is an important one that a few people sometimes underestimate. When it comes right down to it, a luxury watch is just like any other item of clothing or accessory in that first and foremost, it needs to fit you properly. It’s not just about looking good, but feeling comfortable as well – and if you’re not feeling comfortable wearing your watch, then objectively it’s not the watch for you.
If you’ve got a watch that’s a little small for your wrist, then right off the bat you’re probably going to be dealing with a noticeable amount of discomfort, which is going to make the watch quite unpleasant to wear. It’s also going to undercut the carefully refined aesthetics of the watch, as all anyone will be able to think about upon looking at it (including you) is probably going to be how strange its proportions look.
Equally, you won’t want a watch that’s too large around your wrist. For starters it might well start sliding all over the place, which means there’s a much bigger chance of you accidentally knocking its face against an unforgiving surface. The movement is also likely to be quite annoying in itself, as it’ll throw off your sense of balance if you’re completing tasks that require a fair amount of dexterity, like writing or typing. And of course, if you’re really unlucky, a watch that’s significantly too large might end up making you look like a child playing at dressing up!
(In case you’re wondering, we recently published a fairly detailed answer about how to make sure your luxury watch fits properly.)
So, that’s the fit covered. Now, if you’re planning on attending a black-tie event and you’ve got a dress watch picked out ready, bear in mind that another reason why they tend to be so well suited to these sorts of events is that they tend to be thinner, which enables them to glide smoothly on and off even when you’re wearing a jacket. That means you’ll want to ensure that the dial of your dress watch is either round or square, and that it’s small enough to slide underneath your shirt without getting snagged on it.
Remember, whether you’re wearing your watch for an event, or for everyday wear, it should always stay under your sleeve. We know that with especially beautiful watches like those from Patek Philippe or Longines, you’ll want people to see and appreciate it – but trust us, a watch worn over your sleeve is never a good look!
Speaking of which, here’s one last golden rule we’ll leave you with – don’t combine a suit with a sports watch. Generally, sports watches are built at least partially for practicality, so they tend to be chunkier, with larger dials for easier legibility. That’s not really a look you want for the office or boardroom, as it can tip you over into look ostentatious, or that you’re trying too hard – not an impression you want to project for either colleagues or clients! If in doubt, when it comes to formal wear, understated is always the way to go.
And that’s exactly where we can help here at Leonard Dews. If you’ve got any more questions about watch etiquette, or you’d like help finding a particular timepiece, rest assured our experts are here to help. We’ll be only too happy to provide you with as much or as little help as you need finding the next luxury watch, whether you’re browsing our website, or taking a look around our expansive Blackpool showroom, where you’ll find watches from a variety of prestigious manufacturers such as Bremont, Longines, or TISSOT. If you need an answer urgently, you can also give us a quick call on 01253 754940, and we’ll see what we can do for you