Gentleman's Guide: How to Match Your Watch With Your Clothes
Undoubtedly, for the past century, gentlemen have learned how wrist watches have the ability to influence an overall sense of style. Watches can be worn for a given occasion or can negatively affect your attire if the wrong timepiece is chosen.
Most gentlemen have just a few accessories to complement their attire. The timepiece on one’s wrist is a relevant detail (as well as the shoes, belt, and tie).
A watch can also be an expression of a gentleman’s personality. Most men wisely own multiple watches so that they can wear the right timepiece to match their outfit and formality of any given occasion.
Not an exaggeration, but choosing the right watch for a specific occasion can make a big difference. Following some simple etiquette rules can keep you safe from making avoidable mistakes.
In this blog post, you will find the basic guidelines for making your watch an elevating, complimentary addition to your attire.
The Mother of all Rules: Keep the Formality Levels in Line
Our readers may be surprised how many people make this incorrect assumption: expensive watches are appropriate for formal wear. Well, no! This line of thinking is far from accurate.
For example, some field, pilot, or dive watches can be high-quality and remarkably expensive yet would not match with the formality of your outfit worn in a dress code occasion.
The gorgeous Junghans Meister Handaufzug. Source: Luxe.Digital
To understand how to master the principles for pairing your watch with your clothes, it is key that you recognize the different types of watches that exist.
For example, a Rolex Yachtmaster II is an amazing watch, but with a suit, there are far better choices. Large sport watches are lovely pieces, but they simply don't go with everything.
Universally Known Watch Types
Historically, watches were born mechanical and gave the time with an analog display.
By the second half of the past century, digital watches appeared in the mainstream markets, and in recent years we have seen the proliferation of smart watches, although some consider these to be more gadget than watch.
Digital timepieces have an LCD or LED display that shows time in numeric form. These watches tend to be more casual and pair well with sports wear. Never wear a digital watch on any dressy event, unless you have some classic design that really works with a suit or other formal wear.
While they aren't expensive, Casio makes a few ana-digi watches that can be worn on formal occasions, and when they originally hit the market – they weren't cheap!
Source: Antony Joyeros
Smartwatches are a combination of a clock and a smartphone on your wrist.
Even if some of these are designed in a classy dress-watch style, avoid using these for formal occasions. In business surroundings, smartwatches are better matched with casual office attire and consider it impolite to check it (as with a smartphone) while talking to people.
As far as this blog post is concerned, we will focus on analog watches for being universally considered classic and ideal for formal occasions. Analog watches are suitable for corporate or formal events, but also go along with casual everyday life.
The analog timepiece is the watch we’ve known forever with hour and minute hands and either markers or numbers that display a 12-hour dial, and there are countless models to choose from.
5 Main Types of men’s Analog Watches
The SNK793 is a great pick for formal occasions. Source: Luxe.Digital
Dress Watches – as formal as it gets, these are usually sleek, sophisticated but simple wristwatches with a white or black dial. These don’t carry extra complications (additional features) keeping it to the basics by only using hour and minute hands.
There may be hour markers – or not – and, at most, a day and date display. Dress watches necessarily go along with a thin leather strap (people love black, but other people want their leather watch band to match other leather accessories – like a belt).
More tool than a simple watch, the Tuna can be quite polarizing when worn outside of a diving setting. Source: Watches by SJX
Dive Watches - These work/tool timepieces were originally designed for professional underwater diving and scuba diving aficionados. The piece needs to be water resistant and withstand high pressure, therefore, it needs to have a large and bulked-up case. Dive watches usually employ a metal, rubber or NATO strap.
The Presage Chronograph SRQ031 has looks and function. Source: Seiko Watches
Racing/Driving Watches – also known as Chronographs or Sports watches, these medium to large timepieces are meant for an active or sporty lifestyle. These usually have large dials, featuring bright contrasting colors.
Chronograph watches generally include a chronograph and date/day complication. Some may also include tachometer, or if it is a digital model, an altimeter, compass and even GPS technology.
A Driving or Chrono watch can still be sleek and feel quite dressy depending on the model. Many have a stainless steel case and strap, or use a leather or NATO strap. Some luxury models, like a Rolex Daytona, can work in a dressy situation.
Square pilot watches should go mainstream. Source: Wilberforce Watches
Pilot Watches - Designed for pilots and inspired by cockpit’s instruments, many pilot watches can track two different time-zones. The first generation of pilot watches had large case diameters to hold an oversized dial with large legible numbers and markers, and are far too large for most uses today.
With a pilot's watch, the hour and minute hands glow in the dark, and the crown is big enough to be used with gloves. The strap is usually of made leather but metal bracelets or NATO straps match as well. Today, there are smaller versions of these classic designs, which work with a wide range of situations.
Field watches are meant to look simple and legible. Source: @danicicletta on IG
Field Watches – Originally designed for World War 1, these watches allowed troops to synchronize for improved military tactics and keep their hands free (a pocket watch is a two-handed job in most instances – especially under mortar fire). Field watches necessarily needed to be versatile, robust, accurate and easy to read and manipulate.
A Field watch may include a date/day complication at most. It is usually manually winded and its hands and markers glow in the dark. These watches tend to have smaller case sizes today, and unless you work in the C-Suite, could be a one-watch collection if you just want to own a single watch.
Matching the Formality of your Watch and Your Clothes
Now that we have revised the five different types of watches men can wear, it's time to learn which watch type is suitable with different dress codes. We want to match a watch with the formality of an occasion, and keep the overall look correct.
There are five universally accepted dress-code categories in society:
Something you wear in the Grammy Awards. Source: Jaxson Maximus
Black Tie/White Tie Dress Code – Originally, at these formal events, wearing a wristwatch was seen as an inconsiderate attitude. These days a simplistic Dress watch in a classic style, with a mid to small size face and a black leather strap is the appropriate watch for Black Tie dress code events.
Professionalism requires a strict dress code. Source: The Balance Careers
Business Dress Code – Among businessmen in a corporate atmosphere we advise you to wear classic gold or steel wrist watches with a light dial and minimum complications if any. These timepieces can be dress watches or, for some less-conservative gentleman, even diver or field watches as long as these have leather straps.
Who says you can't be stylish at work? Source: Man of Many
Sharp Casual Dress Code– Or also called Business Casual, means wearing the type of clothes you would use on a casual workplace (everyday office wear) or on a date. In this instance you can pull off large-faced watches with several complications like Pilot, Chrono or Field watches.
Metal bracelets or leather straps are both suitable, but generally speaking metal bracelets are usually associated with casual wear, and leather straps are suitable for both Dress and Casual dress codes.
Casual is comfortable. Source: Dmarge
Casual Dress Code– Absolute comfort and freedom on your most casual clothing (jeans, tshirts, sweatpants, flip flops, you name it… ) you can choose to wear all the types of watch styles except for the dress watch described at the beginning of this post.
In this ‘hang loose’ category, digital and smartwatches are also suitable.
If your casual day implies engaging in sports activity or outdoors leisure for example, you will rather wear a field watch or dive watch in order to withstand any challenging weather conditions.
Breathable clothing that allow for a lot of movement is the norm for sports attire. Source: Chilaz Express
Sports Dress Code– As part of an athlete’s gear, the wrist watch needs to have a reinforced strap and case, and offer clear and fast readability of accurate time as well as other metrics like chronometer and more complications.
As on a Casual Dress Code occasion, Sportsmen will necessarily choose any of the watchstyles with the exception of a dress watch. Also, no matter if it's a Diver or Pilot or Field watch, it needs to have a rubber, NATO strap or metal bracelet to avoid damage from humidity.
Tips for Smaller Budgets
All that said, for those of us that can afford one (or two) decent timepieces in our collection, which would be the best choice to wear in all scenarios?
Our advice is to consider purchasing a watch suitable for formal and corporate situations which can be easily adapted to be worn on more casual instances when needed.
One of the best looking Seikos to date, the SBGA211. Source: Fratello Watches
A steel dress watch with a plain white, gray or black face is a perfect move.
You can easily attach a black leather strap when dressing for a black-tie event, or use a brown leather strap for business and casual events. Finally, the same timepiece attached to a metal bracelet makes it more functional for some casual purposes.
At namokiMODS you can find the perfect wrist watch for both formal and casual wear.
Check out our sleek Diver watches, the NMK05 Vintage Submariner Diver watch in silver and the NMK04 Automatic Dive Watch in an all-black matte finish, and you’ll see the potential of these watches for a number of situations.
Both models include a 40mm Submariner SKX Case, a NMK301 Clear AR double-domed sapphire crystal, the NH35A from SII Hacking and Winding movement.
Our NMK04 and NMK05 Automatic Dive Watches are built from Namoki components and can be further modified/customized – they are compatible with all our aftermarket SKX007/SRPD Seiko 5 Parts.
Which Strap to Wear?
We have a general idea of what type of watch will pair best with your outfit on specific occasions, so now will focus then on what type of band material to use in each case.
Here are two easy-to-remember guiding principles: leather straps are considered more classy/formal than metal oyster bracelets, and among the former black is more formal than brown leather.
Adding even more class to a Rolex. Source: Hodinkee
Of course, the exception would be in case of a worn-out leather strap, in this case a metal bracelet in good shape is a better option.
It's a convention that metal bands, both gold or steel, aren’t appropriate for the utmost formal of events, yet these metal bracelets can still be suitable for dressy events like business meetings or sharp casual events.
Also, keep in mind that some billionaires wear their Patek sport models on rubber straps – so maybe some of the rules are made to be broken!
Good Advice: Leather Complements Leather
Another typical gentleman's must is to always match the material and color of the belt with the shoes; well the wrist watch band follows the same logic.
Always match the color of these three! Source: Gentleman's Gazette
Start matching your shoes and belt, then add your watch and make it all a unified look. The colors of the combination don't need to be exactly the same, keeping a relation in tones and type is acceptable already.
If you have many pairs of shoes in different colors, we suggest you have several interchangeable wrist watch bands in different colors and tones.
Matching Metal Oyster Bracelet Bands With Outfit
Arguably, there is a convention associating silver with black, and golden with brown. So we can infer that silver watches go along with black shoes and belts, or gray, silver, or garments in shades of blue. Golden watches, on the other hand, go better with brown belt and shoes, and garments in the tones of beiges, browny tans and earth tones.
Choosing the Metal / Case finish
The overall rule is that metallic watch cases and bracelets should also complement with the other metallic accessories you may be wearing, like cufflinks, shoes and belt buckles or any other metal detail on your outfit.
Wedding rings are exempted, but the rest of your metal accessories should combine to be either golden or silver.
Gold is a hard color to tame, but wearing this color correctly is a mark of a true gentleman.
Watch cases are made of a variety of metals (gold, steel, titanium, platinum, among others) which have different finishes (matte or shiny) after polishing. Case designs can be round, square, rectangular or polygonal.
At namokiMODS you can find replacement cases for you to refresh and upgrade your Racing, Pilot and Field watches with Seiko mod parts.
If you love Field Watches, and want to create a simple dress or Field Watch, our new NMK912 Case Bundle is a perfect fit. It comes with the sapphire crystal pre-installed, so all you have to do is pick a dial, handset, and movement.
The same case comes in an Olive Green finish, if you want to create a watch that has more of a military or outdoor feel.
For anyone that loves Bell & Ross watches, our brand new B&R Polished Case is worth a look. It is compatible with a range of our SKX007 parts, so you can create your own square case diving watch!
Wearing Heirloom Watches: Only Ones to Break the Rules
Heirloom watches defy all laws of fashion. Source: Esquire
Despite all the above-mentioned rules following a century of civilized dressing etiquette, there is a specific type of watches that escape the rules and reign on their own: the heirloom legacy pieces.
These pieces do not respond to mainstream market trends or fashion, these are meant to bring good luck to the wearer or worn as a homage to its original owner.
Heirloom watches are reminders of our history and culture, therefore can bend the dressing code rules and stick out because of it, many times triggering great conversations among people.
Matching the Dial
The dial or face is a very distinctive part of the watch, so is there a dial color guideline to follow when dressing up for a social or corporate event?
A dial’s colors and texture are subtle aspects of the wrist watch that have a role to play in the overall congruence of a gentleman’s outfit. The absolute winners are the black or silver dials because of their versatility, which are suitable in all occasions.
At namokiMODS we know dial colors and textures can make a difference, like a striking blue dial when wearing blue jeans, or a bright colored dial to match a sportswear outfit, or a stunning all-black model for a bold self image.
You can find aftermarket SKX/SRPD Seiko compatible parts to modify your timepiece in our extensive inventory, and there are several Dress watch type dials to choose from.
Check on the Arabic Champagne Gold Dial, with eastern arabic numeral markers and sunburst golden finish. The arabic numbered dial also comes in sky blue or white. Also please take a look at our Mother of Pearl Black Dial or the Khaki Field Dial for more outstanding options to enhance your dress watch.
Our dials are compatible with Seiko models that are using the above movements, such as SNK803, SNK805, SNK807, SNK809, SKX007, SKX009, SKX011, SKX013, SKX015, SKX017, SNZF15, SNZF17, SNZF19, SNZG13, SNZG15, SNZH55 and more.
Conclusion / Wrap up
No matter what kind of Seiko mod you want to do, NamokiMODS is here to help. We have an incredible selection of SKX007 mod parts, and so much more. Seiko mod parts is what we do best, and you can see our parts in top-tier builds all over the web, and on our site as well.While we have done a lot with Seiko diver parts, we are creating high quality Field Watch, Pilot Watch, and even Dress Watch parts. We want our clients to have the best aftermarket parts, so your build is at least as solid as what comes out of Seiko’s factories!