How to Wear a Watch (For Style and Comfort)

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A cool watch is the ultimate accessory for men or women.

But just having a cool watch isn’t enough… Wearing a watch incorrectly can look foolish, or be downright uncomfortable.

You need to make sure you’re wearing the watch on the right wrist, on the right spot on your wrist, and of course, wearing the right watch in the first place. And that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.

So, how should you wear a watch?

What’s the Right Way to Wear a Watch?

The right way to wear a watch is on your non-dominant hand, just above the wrist bone.

The watch should be tight enough to jig your wrist without rolling over, but loose enough that it’s still comfortable, and doesn’t leave any marks.

As a general rule of thumb, you want your watch high enough above your wrist so your wrist can move freely. And the watch band should be loose enough that you can stick just one finger through it.

Which Wrist Should You Wear a Watch On?

Which-Wrist-Should-You-Wear-a-Watch-On

You should wear a watch on your non-dominant hand.

About 90% of people are right-handed. Therefore, 90% of people should wear their watch on their left hand. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Even though I am a righty, I find myself wearing watches on my left wrist much more often. Why? It’s simply more comfortable for me.

The crown of the watch (the round, metal part that sticks out on the side of the watch case – usually at 3:00) often sits on the right side of the watch case. If you wear the watch on your left hand, the crown will dig into your left hand, especially if the watch is worn too loosely.

Ideally, the watch will be snug enough above your wrist bone that it doesn’t slide down your wrist in the first place. But, unless you’re sitting perfectly still all day, it happens!

Where Should A Watch Sit on Your Wrist?

A watch should sit just above your wrist bone. This is the most secure, comfortable, and best-looking place to wear your watch.

Where-Should-a-Watch-Sit-on-Your-Wrist
This watch is sitting a little too low on the wrist. When moving my hand, the crown will dig into my hand.

If a watch is worn too close to the hand, it will quickly become uncomfortable. Your hand will bump into it every time you move your wrist. Wearing a watch too low will also have the visual effect of elongating your bicep, creating a less muscular appearance.

Where Should a watch Sit on your wrist (this is too high)
An obvious over-exaggeration of wearing a watch too high on the wrist. The watch will constantly try to slide down and hit the wrist.

On the other hand (pun intended), if you wear a watch too far above the wrist bone, it will constantly want to slide down toward the wrist. It will also have the effect of reducing the length of your bicep which may look quite awkward.

This is about where you should wear your watch. Above the wrist bone, so it doesn’t dig into your wrist when you move your hand. But not so high up your bicep that it keeps falling.

How Tight or Loose Should a Watch Fit?

A watch should be as tight as it needs to be to stay in place on your wrist without sliding around. However, it should be loose enough that it is comfortable for all-day wear, even while moving your hand.

Just One Finger Should Fit Through Your Watch Band

Generally, this means having just enough room in your watch band to slide one finger through. Having a little bit of extra room at the beginning of the day is okay, especially on hotter days, when your wrist will swell up.

Trick to make sure your watch strap fits perfectly

If you can’t even fit one finger through the watch band, it’s likely too tight and will squeeze your wrist, and will quickly become uncomfortable.

If you can easily fit two fingers through the watch band, it’s likely to slide around and be too loose.

Pro tip: your wrist will swell and contract throughout the day. Changes in temperature or even salt consumed throughout the day can make a difference in how large and swollen your wrist is compared to when you woke up.

Adjusting Straps

Leather, NATO, or rubber watch straps can quickly be adjusted for any changes in the size of your wrist.

Adjust Your Watch Strap to Fit On Your Wrist
Straps like leather, nato, or rubber are easy to adjust on the fly

Metal bracelets, on the other hand, require a little more work upfront to ensure a proper watch fit. They need to be resized with specialized tools to resize the links and micro-adjustments.

Be extra careful to leave just a tiny bit of extra room on a bracelet, so that it is not constricting, and uncomfortable, if your wrist swells up.

Do Watches Go Over or Under Sleeves?

Worn casually, a watch should be worn under a sleeve. This is especially true with jackets, or more formal outfits. Wearing a watch over a sleeve can look sloppy.

Wear a Watch UNDER Your Sleeve
A watch should always go under the sleeve.

On the other hand, if you are a professional using your watch for a specific timekeeping purpose like diving, you should wear your watch over the sleeve of your dive suit for ease of access.

Professional divers, astronauts, or racecar drivers may wear a watch over the sleeve of their suit to more easily keep an eye on their watch.

Should a Shirt Sleeve Cover a Watch?

Yes, a long-sleeve shirt should cover a watch, but only partially.

It’s ideal to have just less than half of your watch sticking out, which allows you to quickly pull up your sleeve to read the time.

You never want the sleeve of a shirt getting stuck and bunching around your watch as it will look sloppy.

If Your Sleeve is Too Long It Will Bunch Around Your Watch
Perfect example of how you don’t want a sleeve to bunch around your wrist.

This is why thinner watches, around or under 13mm, are ideal for wearing with business attire. They’ll more easily be able to slip under the cuff of a dress shirt, while some thicker watches may struggle to fit underneath.

Having the right amount of watch being shown requires a precise sleeve length, depending on the length of your arms. Any tailor worth their salt can easily tailor the shirt to the right length.

Wearing Your Watch With a Sleeve

Wearing a Watch on the Inside of Your Wrist

You might have seen someone wear a watch on the inside of the wrist, and wondered why. There are a few reasons for that.

Keeping Your Watch Scratch-Free

Flipping the watch to the inside of your wrist can help prevent scratching your watch, keeping it looking newer for longer.

Watches, especially those with mineral crystals, tend to scratch rather easily.

For someone who works in a labor-intensive job like mechanics, welders, and engineers, this puts your precious watch at risk of dings and scratches.

Military

You might have seen a watch being worn on the inside of a wrist in games like Call of Duty, or might have served in the military first-hand. Wearing a watch on the inside of your wrist has a few advantages for military personnel, while out in the field.

This reduces reflections and chances of being spotted. Watches often have many reflective surfaces that can cause glares or reflections. This may give your position away in a covert operation.

This also gives military personnel the ability to read the time while aiming their weapon. Being able to synchronize down to a split second is extremely important, so having a quickly legible timepiece is paramount for the Military.

Nursing

Although increasingly less common with the rise in popularity of smartwatches, nurses sometimes wear a watch on the inside of their wrist to more easily be able to read the time while measuring a pulse or heart rate.

Watch Wearing Etiquette

Don’t Wear Too Many Accessories

Wearing a watch with a bracelet or two is fine. It may dress down a watch to make it look more casual for everyday wear.

Make sure to keep it minimal. Don’t wear more than one or two bracelets or rings along with your watch. Wearing too many accessories will distract from your watch, and look a little too try-hard.

Don’t Wear a Watch that is Too Large or Flashy

Wearing a watch that is too large can be uncomfortable, and look silly on smaller wrists. Many people think the case width of a watch determines a proper watch fit, however, that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

The most important measurement for determining if a watch fits on your wrist is the lug-to-lug, AKA the length between the bottom of the watch and the top of the watch.

A good rule of thumb to determine if a watch is too large is by checking if the lugs overhang past your wrist. If it doesn’t, the watch fits you, regardless of its case width.

How to Use a Chronograph
The Bulova Lunar Pilot is the largest watch I own. See how the lugs just barely hang over my wrist, making the watch look a little too large for me.

Similarly, watches that are too flashy – think huge, all-gold, blingy monstrosities (looking at you, Invicta) that just scream “look at me” can often overpower a wrist and an entire outfit.

Pick the Right Watch for the Occasion

You wouldn’t wear a T-Shirt for a formal job interview, and you wouldn’t wear a business suit for a day out at the beach. Similarly, you want to always wear the right watch for the occasion.

Choosing the Right Watch for the Right Occasion  Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic, Seiko 5 Sports Diver, Orient Bambino

A sporty dive watch, like the Seiko 5 Sports diver, is one of the most versatile watches you can wear – as they can be dressed up or down, with different watch straps, depending on the occasion. They look great on metal bracelets and work just as well worn casually, with jeans and a t-shirt, as with a business suit.

A field watch like the Hamilton Khaki makes a great everyday watch due to its casual, military-inspired look, thin profile, and fabric NATO straps.

A casual dress watch like the Orient Bambino is the best watch to pair with a suit. They often have timeless, classic looks, that aren’t too daring or offensive, and never go out of style.

These look best on exotic leather straps such as alligator, crocodile, or lizard, for maximum levels of refinement, but look just as great on smooth leather straps for casual, everyday wear.

Summary

To wear a watch properly, wear it on your non-dominant hand. Wear it just above the wrist bone, tight enough that it doesn’t slide around your wrist, but loose enough that it is still comfortable.

Wearing a watch this way will not only look the best but is typically the most comfortable, giving your wrist freedom of motion, without the watch interfering.

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