A couple weeks ago, I did a post called watch shopping with someone else’s money where I talked about all of the requirements my brother Duncan had for his new watch and how handily we had fulfilled those requirements, in particularly sartorial versatility. Well boy was I wrong. I’ve been doing a little light reading on the subject and I was apparently way off when I said Duncan could wear this silver watch with his tux. When asked about what watch to wear with a suit, GQ’s The Style Guy said this:
“This is perhaps one of the most ignored distinctions out there: the dress watch versus the sports watch. A dress watch is supposed to be small and discreet, whereas a sports watch is supposed to be visible at 300 meters and glow in the dark. But today most people choose their watches not on discretion or appropriate utility but just the opposite. Why wear a little gold thing easily hidden by one’s shirt cuff when you can wear a diamond-studded watch bigger than an Oreo cookie, calling everyone’s attention to your apparently limitless disposable income? So the question is, fundamentally, are you a gentleman or a playa or some attempted hybrid of the two? I think the sports-watch trend started with extended wear of the Rolex Submariner. Men aiming for a dashing image wore their diver’s watches to the office, sending out the message “I may lease industrial washing machines Monday through Friday, but on weekends I stalk the tiger shark on the Great Barrier Reef.” In their dreams, of course—but isn’t that what most sartorial imagery is about?”
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Anyway, this means that Duncan’s watch is out. It’s apparently a sports watch meant only for nautical endeavors. To my surprise, this distinction also leaves out almost all of the Rolexes and Omegas that you see people wearing around. Only a simple small watch with a leather strap should be worn with a suit.
But the problem is that, although they once were, Rolex dive masters are not what people actually wear for diving, nor are they worn for any other sport, except maybe sailing. Rolex has the distinction of having been the first watch both to summit Mount Everest and to travel to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Today you would never see divers or climbers in a Rolex. They’re more likely to wear a Suunto watch that can graph altitude, depth, barometric pressure, heart rate, and GPS coordinates. If not appropriate for suits or for sports, where do these beautiful stainless steel sports watches fit in?
I think The Style Guy hits it on the head in his last sentence. These stainless steel sports watches are styled to wear with jeans and featured for globetrotters and adventurers. Duncan just wanted to look like he has a yacht. He really doesn’t. And so it is with all those men wearing dive watches to the office. They don’t dive on weekends, but if they ever decide to (which they won’t) their watch can handle it (but it won’t). From reading forums on the subject, it seems that the overwhelming majority of people think it’s okay to wear a stainless steel sports watch with a suit, though this seems to be mainly just because James Bond does it.
As for Duncan’s watch, it can be worn in the shower or the pool, which is handy, and with casual outfits. If he’s wearing a suit, he needs a dress watch with a simple face and a leather band. As for his tuxedo, a watch should never be worn to black tie events as you only wear black tie after 6:00 pm and then it doesn’t matter what time it is. Tsk tsk mister Bond. It’s not often we catch you breaking manly style laws, especially with Tom Ford in your corner.
So there you have it: sports watch with a a tuxedo or even a suit is a big no no if you know what’s what in men’s style, but since most me don’t know what’s what in men’s style it seems like most of them are on board.
What do you think? Is it okay to wear a sport watch with a suit?