We know that taking the plunge on that first watch takes a lot of research and thought. There’s always price to consider. And style. But none of that means anything if you don’t know how to wear a watch properly. That’s why we’re here. How you wear a watch will communicate to others whether you know what you’re doing.

So whether you’re still in the market for a new watch or just bought your first one, let’s get some of the common questions out of the way, shall we? (Read: How to Start a Watch Collection)


How Should My Watch Fit?

When it comes to watches, size matters. And you want to make sure your watch is the proper size. This includes not only the watch case but also the bracelet/strap. Your watch should be loose enough that it slides around a bit on your wrist. Your watch wears too tight if it’s leaving imprints on your skin, and too loose if you can fit several fingers under the band.

If you find that your watch is either too big or too small, take it to a local watchmaker to remove or add links to give your watch the proper fit.

How to Wear a Watch

This is too loose. The watch will slide around on your arm in a distracting way.

How to Wear a Watch

This is too tight. The strap will bite into your skin and give your wrist no room to breathe.

How to Wear a Watch

This is just right.

As far as placement on the wrist, you don’t want to wear your watch too low. Typically, you should wear it at the tip of the ulna (the bone on your wrist that sticks out). If you try keeping your watch on top of or above that bone, you’ll experience more than a bit of discomfort.

Not sure what size watch/bracelet/strap you need before you buy? Check out our printable Watch Sizing Chart.


What Wrist Should I Wear My Watch On?

You typically wear your watch on the hand opposite your dominant hand. Usually, this means if you’re right handed, you’d wear your watch on your left wrist. Why’s that? Watch crowns are generally on the right side of the case, which makes it easier wind the crown or use the chronograph pushers on the go.

But if you’re a lefty, you’re not completely out of luck. Take a look at some watches that cater to southpaws here.


Should I Wear My Watch Inside or Outside of the Cuff?

When standing with your arms by your side, your watch should be mostly covered. When your arm is bent, that’s when your watch should peek out of your shirt cuff.

How to Wear a Watch

This is how you wear a watch with shirt cuffs.

Most importantly, don’t wear your watch on top of your cuff. Believe it or not, some people actually do that, and it makes it look like they’re trying too hard to show off their watch. So don’t be that guy.


When Should I Wear My Watch?

The answer depends on what kind of watch you own. Is it a dress watch or a more casual timepiece?

Dress watches were made for formal occasions. Traditionally, a dress watch has a white dial, gold case, and a leather strap. It’s also more modestly sized and minimally styled—the Patek Philippe Calatrava is a perfect example. But due to the increased versatility of sport models and the expanded definition of what exactly makes a “dress watch”, they’re no longer de rigueur for nicer occasions. (Read: Do You Really Need a “Dress Watch”?)

How to Wear a Watch

A nice watch really pulls together a formal outfit. Pictured: IWC Portuguese

Most watches fall into the “everyday” watch category. Dive watches, pilot watches…you name it, it’s generally okay to wear to the office or out and about. In that case, the bracelet or strap will determine exactly how casual your watch looks (i.e. a rubber strap is going to be a lot more casual that a metal bracelet).


Obviously, there are no written rules on how to wear a watch for men. However, there are definitely those that are “understood”. Hopefully, this answers all of your questions on how to wear a watch, but if you still have a question, shoot us a line in the comments!


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 17, 2013. We have updated it to offer more advice.

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