Congratulations! You’ve just purchased your first real watch and can’t wait to show it off to friends and family. You are now officially a watch enthusiast. But before you dive head first into the crazy world of watch collecting (and obsessing), there are some simple rules you should know about. Here is our list of dos and don’ts that every budding enthusiast should follow if they don’t want to out themselves as a newbie.
No Such Thing as the Right Wrist
We are going to start our list of rules by debunking an old myth; namely that a watch must be worn on the left wrist. It’s true that watches have traditionally been worn on the left-hand side and the design of most models reflects this – i.e., crown and chronograph pushers on the right-hand side for easier access and operation. This is due to the fact that the left is the non-dominant hand for around 90% of the world’s population. The right hand is typically used for tasks such as writing (although does anyone even write anymore?), opening doors, etc. and as such, wearing a watch on the right can be more cumbersome and get in the way.
That said, there is no rule – written or unwritten – that a watch must be worn on the left wrist. For a start, the remaining 10% of the population is left-handed. Likewise, some people may just prefer wearing their watch on the right hand – that’s totally okay, too. It’s your watch, and you get to choose which wrist you wear it on. The location of the watch on your wrist of choice is another matter entirely, however.
Location, Location, Location
If you look at your arm, you should be able to see – or at least feel – a knobby bit of bone sticking out where the outside of your arm meets your hand. That’s the head of your ulna bone. It’s also a helpful marker for where your watch should sit on your wrist. A popular – but vulgar – trend these days, especially when wearing a watch with a bracelet, is to wear the watch loose so that it hangs down past the head of your ulna and sort of drapes over the back of your hand when your arm is by your side. This is bad watch etiquette, not to mention uncomfortable. It’s also less functional as it means you have to first tilt your arm up to slide your watch back before you can check the time.
A well-fitting watch should sit flat on your wrist just behind the head of your ulna; not on top of it, as that would likely be painful. Wearing your watch here has several advantages: It doesn’t restrict the movement of your hand in any way, it reduces the likelihood of the crown and/or pushers digging into your wrist, and it is much easier to read the time with a simple turn of the wrist. Plus, it looks so much better. The key to achieving this perfect fit is choosing the right-sized watch in the first place.
There was a time when wearing oversized watches was considered the height of fashion. Thankfully, it was a short-lived period, and not too many wrists suffered permanent damage as a result. The fact is, size matters, though not necessarily in the way you might think. When it comes to watches, bigger isn’t always better. If you have smaller wrists, going for a 45+ mm monster from Panerai or Breitling is most likely not the right choice for you. Not only would it look silly, but it’d also be uncomfortable.
A good rule of thumb is that a correctly sized watch should cover about 2/3rds of the width of your wrist. That means when you look down at the watch on your wrist, you should be able to see some of the band at the top and bottom. If the case extends out over the edges of your wrist, there will be a gap between the strap and your wrist that even the most curved of lugs can’t reconcile. The last thing you want to do is give the impression you have a dinner plate magically balanced on your wrist. Leather straps typically allow for a slightly larger case size as you can wrap them more tightly against your wrist, but there are potential pitfalls there too.
Leather and Hot Weather Do Not Mix
When it comes to wearing a leather strap with your watch, there is one simple rule to keep in mind: Leather and hot weather do not mix. When it’s hot, you sweat, and sweat and expensive leather watch straps do not go well together. There are a number of other activities that leather straps are ill-suited for as well, including swimming, hiking, or any type of vigorous exercise. If you get too sweaty, the inside of the strap will discolor over time and speed up the deterioration process, meaning it will need to be replaced more often.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy a watch with a leather strap – far from it. A leather strap is one of the most elegant fashion statements you can make. It is important, however, to ensure you are wearing the right watch for the right occasion. While we’re on the topic of leather watch straps, it goes without saying that when dressing formally, the color of your strap should match your belt and shoes.
Keep It Clean
Our last rule seems a bit redundant, and yet many enthusiasts often overlook this important part of watch ownership. Clean your watch on a regular basis – it’s that simple. Don’t know how? Google it. There are countless tutorials online. It doesn’t take long to do, and you likely already have everything you need sitting at home. If you really want to spoil your watch – which you should – spring for a professional deep clean once or twice a year. Your watch will come back looking like new, and you’ll get a timely reminder of why you fell in love with it in the first place.
Keep in mind that there is a big difference between having a watch cleaned and having it polished. The latter can be detrimental to your watch’s value over time and should only be done sparingly, if at all. This is an area I strongly recommend you research further before going ahead.
As always, some rules are meant to be broken. It’s up to you to decide which ones are up for debate. Be warned, though, sometimes your bold gamble won’t pay off and fellow watch enthusiasts may be forced to give you a hard time. But don’t take them too seriously. It’s all part of the fun of this awesome hobby of ours!
If you have any more dos and don’ts or other helpful tips to share with your fellow watch lovers, head over to the Chrono24 Facebook page and share them.