Which Wrist Should You Wear a Watch On?

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When putting on a watch, you’re immediately faced with a dilemma – should you wear it on the left or right wrist? 

You might have heard that traditionally, people should wear their watch on the left wrist. While this may be true for most people, this isn’t always the case, and you may find yourself learning that wearing your watch on the left wrist isn’t right after all.

You should wear your watch on whichever wrist is most comfortable. Most people tend to prefer wearing their watch on the wrist of their non-dominant hand. For 90% of the world’s population, this is the left wrist. Wearing a watch on your non-dominant hand will keep it out of the way of your day-to-day activities, and less prone to damage. 

In this article, we’re going to be taking a closer look at exactly which wrist you should wear your watch on, and why the left wrist has been the most common to wear a watch on for decades.

Which Wrist Should You Wear a Watch On?

You should wear your wrist on whichever wrist is most comfortable. For most people, this is the left wrist.

~90% of the world population is right-handed dominant (source). This means they’ll do most activities, such as writing, with their right hand. Having a watch on that same hand that they write with can get in the way.

Have you ever tried writing with the same hand you’re wearing a watch on? It’s not fun.

Most People Wear Their Watch on the Left Hand
Most people wear their watch on their left hand, as it is the non-dominant hand for 90% of people.

If you use that hand as your primary hand for simple, everyday things, like grabbing silverware out of a dishwasher, for example, the watch worn on that hand might get wet, or even worse, scratched up.

However, maybe you don’t write (with a pen and paper). Maybe a watch just happens to fit slightly better on one wrist or another. Or maybe you’re a lefty, and the right hand is your non-dominant hand, after all.

You can wear a watch on either wrist that is more comfortable for you – nobody is going to bat an eye. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to consider wearing a watch on your non-dominant hand, whichever that is for you.

Why You Should Wear Your Watch On Your Non-Dominant Hand

Why You Should Wear a Watch on Your Non-Dominant Hand
Wearing a watch on your dominant hand might lead to more damage. You use that hand for most things, like reaching in a dishwasher full of ceramic dishware that will scratch your watch.

There are many reasons wearing a watch on the non-dominant hand is most often recommended. Some are not as important as you might think.

Prevents Scratches and Damage

Your dominant hand is the hand you do most things with. Wearing a watch on that wrist might make the watch more prone to scratches or breaking.

It might also get dirtier, easier. Sitting on the couch, enjoying some greasy chips? You might think twice before reaching in with the watch your hand is on, and if that’s your dominant hand, that will be your first instinct.

Less Wear and Tear (Automatic Watches)

You’re more likely to move your dominant hand throughout the day. Wearing an automatic watch on that same wrist will result in more wear and tear on the watch’s movement.

As your arm moves, you will constantly be rotating the automatic rotor, the winding mechanism which powers the watch. On one hand (pun intended) that’s a good thing, as you will be generating the power necessary to wind the watch, while it is on your wrist.

On the other hand, this will generate even more power, and wear and tear, on the movement than necessary.

With that said, watches are meant to be worn and used, and as long as you have a reliable movement, this shouldn’t be a huge issue.

Less In the Way

As much as I love watches (clearly, as I have a whole blog dedicated to them) they can sometimes be a bit obtrusive. This is especially true with thicker, more cumbersome watches, like dive watches with big bezels.

Ease of Use

It is often said that a watch should be worn on the non-dominant hand so you can use it more easily while on the wrist. The theory is that if you’re working with your dominant hand, you can still read the time on your non-dominant hand.

Although I’d argue… How much time is that really saving you? Fractions of a second?

Wrist Swelling

This one isn’t discussed often, but over the day, a wrist will swell up slightly. This can happen from changes in temperature, food, and salt consumed, and even physical activity.

If your wrist swells up, your watch that was a perfect fit, when you put it on this morning, will now be a bit too snug.

While these typically affect both wrists evenly, there is a chance you’re more active with your dominant wrist, which will cause it to swell up ever so slightly more – resulting in a slightly tighter, and more uncomfortable fit.

Why Wearing a Watch on Your Dominant Hand Might be More Comfortable

Although wearing a watch on your left wrist is the common suggestion, there are a couple of very practical reasons why you might want to wear a watch on your right wrist instead. 

You Shouldn’t Use the Watch’s Crown While It’s On Your Wrist

Many people suggest wearing a watch on the left wrist is practical since you can then use the watch while it is on your wrist. Here’s why that is untrue:

Most watches have a crown, the small, round, metal part that you use to set the time or wind it (in the case of a mechanical watch) on the right side of the watch case.

While it’s true that wearing the watch on the left wrist makes the crown more accessible, that doesn’t mean you should still use it.

In fact, using a watch crown to set the time while it’s on your wrist can result in pulling, or winding, the crown at an upward, or downward angle, which puts pressure on the crown stem, and could potentially severely damage the watch movement.

Digital and smartwatches are an exception, as they often have buttons instead of crowns that can be used, on the wrist, without risking damage to the watch.

The Watch Crown Might Dig Into Your Wrist

Another reason to avoid wearing a watch on the left hand is that the crown or any other buttons (like chronograph pushers) on the right side of the case can dig into your wrist and reduce your freedom of motion.

To prevent the crown from digging in, make sure your watch is tight enough above your wrist bone that it doesn’t slide down toward the bend of your wrist.

There are watches, like the Seiko 5, that typically have crowns at 4:00 instead of 3:00, so they don’t dig into your wrist as easily and are much more comfortable as a result.

Is This True, Male or Female?

The same holds true, male or female: it is often suggested to wear a watch on the wrist of your non-dominant hand. This is why watches are typically worn on the left wrist.

What About Left-Handed People?

Following the suggestion of wearing a watch on your non-dominant hand, left-handed people should wear a watch on their right wrist.

This will have the same benefits as a righty wearing a watch on their left wrist: generally more accessible, more comfortable, less in the way, and prone to damage.

Watches For Left-Handed People

Most watches are designed with right-handed people in mind – with crowns, used to set the time, on the right side.

There are watches that back this up, flip it, and reverse it, and instead have a crown on the left side. These are called “destro” watches.

Destro means “right” in Italian, since the watch is originally intended to be worn on the right wrist. While watch brands like Panerai, Oris, IWC, Sinn, and Casio have been making destro watches for years, Rolex recently shocked the world when it released one of its own.

Summary

It is most often suggested to wear a watch on your left wrist.

This stems from the fact that the majority of the world’s population is right-handed, and wearing a watch on your non-dominant hand has numerous advantages:

  • Less risk of damage
  • Less wear and tear
  • Ease of use (access to the crown)

Although at the end of the day, there are no hard and set rules. You should wear a watch on whichever wrist is more comfortable for you. I am a righty, therefore, I should wear my watch on my non-dominant, left hand. But wearing it on my right is simply more comfortable, so I will continue to do so.

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