Keeping Up With the Times: What to Look for in a Watch

From plastic digital models to Swiss brands, the options are seemingly endless. The prices on those models can be jaw-dropping. But if whipping out a mobile phone is your method of checking the time or if you’re wearing a fluorescent sports with a business suit, this could be a worthwhile investment of time and money. Watches serve a practical purpose, and, when worn correctly, add a vital touch of class to any ensemble.
What to Spend

The watch is one of the few accessories a man has in the style department. That gives it a special value for a man trying to change or improve his overall look.

“The watch has transcended its original purpose,” said luxury watch specialist and blogger Meehna Goldsmith. “It’s something that’s functional, as well as complementary to your outfit. And it’s an extension of your personality and your style.”

Timepieces can be expensive, but the average man should be able to find a classy watch within his budget. Goldsmith said a man should spend as much as he can afford.

“I don’t think there’s a right answer for what a man should spend,” Goldsmith said. “But he really should buy the best he can afford. It’s worth it to save up and wait if you have your heart set on a particular watch that’s outside of your budget.”

However, there may be scenarios where going cheap is the best option.

“It’s good if you’re traveling to certain parts of the world and you don’t want somebody to rip it off, or you don’t care if it’s ripped off,” Goldsmith said. “Also, you can get something digital that can go in the water, if that’s your preference. These watches are good for a purpose, but won’t be desirable for a collector or be seen as a valuable piece.”

Know Your Style

As with all areas of fashion, trends come and go. If your friends decide school bus yellow watches are the look of the moment, that may not be the best thing for you. Think about adhering to your own style and how this investment needs to stand up for years. The experts say this makes classic timepieces a great option.

“I always advise to buy the watch you really love,” said watch expert Steve Hallock, author of the blog “Don’t worry about trends and styles… It’s one of the few things you will own for a very long time.

“If you are going to wear a watch, make it something special.”

If, however, keeping up with trends is important to you, Goldsmith said big faces are all the rage and they’re likely to remain popular for quite some time.

“Bigger diameter watches are in,” she says. “It used to be that a 36 or 30 mm was a big watch, but now that’s small. The average for men’s watches now is 42 to 44 mm. Some of them go up to 44 and 48. So bigger watches tend to be not even a trend anymore — they’re the norm.”
Selecting Materials

What the watch is made of is as important as how it looks. Think about what you plan to do while you wear the watch when you buy one.

“If it’s an everyday watch that’s going to be banged around, I would go for stainless steel or titanium,” Goldsmith said. “But if it’s something you’re going to be wearing in the office, and you want to look more professional or sophisticated, go for a precious metal.

“That doesn’t mean that you can’t wear precious metal watches for sport; white gold looks a lot like stainless steel. But precious metals are a lot softer than stainless steel or titanium, so you do risk damaging something quite valuable,” Goldsmith added

Leather or metallic bracelet straps are other options to consider.
Dressing for All Occasions

If your budget allows it, two watches will make you better equipped to look polished in any scenario.

“I am a big proponent of quality over quantity,” Hallock said. “I like to spend my budget on a few very nice watches. You at least want one nice piece and one beater — the watch you don’t mind swimming with or scratching up.”

A simple, classic style of watch is important for an office environment. It should follow a man from the boardroom to the bar with ease.

“You should buy something that can be chameleon-like, and won’t stick out in any environment,” Goldsmith said. “There are people that wear these really funky independent watchmakers’ brands. You can wear that to work, too, if you’re not in particularly formal dress.”

If you can only have one watch, all is not lost if you choose wisely.

“The world is not so formal now that you cannot wear a sport watch with a suit,” Hallock said. “I would just avoid bright colors. For better or worse, people in business can be judged by their watch, so make sure you are projecting whatever you want to project.”
How to Wear It

There have been debates over which wrist a watch should be worn on, and whether the face should be turned outward or inward. Both are a matter of preference, but there’s only one way to show off your investment.

“If you want it to be an extension of your personality and you’re using it to accessorize, the watch face should be on top of your wrist, facing out,” Goldsmith said.

If you’re wearing shirts and jackets or blazers, the watch should have a face thin enough to move seamlessly with your outfit. It should not be wedged under or over your cuff, which is often the awkward aesthetic created by bulkier watches.

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