This one is a combination passion and pet peeve of mine.
Firstly, I just love watches. It seems to be common among people in the firearm space; they’re almost guaranteed to also be geeks about either watches, photography, and/or cars/motorcycles.
That being said, it’s certainly not a universal interest. There are those people for whom a watch is purely a tool, and really only exists as a convenience to keep from fishing a phone out of their pocket. And that’s perfectly fine. I’m certainly not going to sit here and insist that everybody needs to share this interest. The challenge is that this lack of interest and understanding can cause some folks to make some avoidable errors.
We’ve all seen it. The guy that’s dressed up to a level past where he’s normally familiar or comfortable still rocking his G-Shock or Suunto, even worse if worn on the inside of the wrist. Is it offensive? Not at all. It does however communicate a lack of social literacy. It broadcasts that you “don’t belong” there. It’s like wearing Salomon’s with a suit.
If you’re the kind of guy that just likes the functionality of those wrist computers, that’s cool. Rock on with it. But if you find yourself in a situation that requires a collared shirt and tie, I’d just leave it at home at that point. Especially since they’re wholly unnecessary these days, no watch is definitely more appropriate than the wrong watch.
If you want to delve down this rabbit hole, here are some pointers to help start your journey:
The Sports Watch:
If you’re only going to own one, a Sports Watch will give you some good versatility.
I prefer bracelets because A) they hold up better in hot weather and B) they’re a better general purpose option. Straps can work, but you’ll need to swap them out for various casual/formal situations. This can be fun, but if you’re only owning one watch, accessorizing probably isn’t your thing.
- Minimal complications. Usually just Time, Date, maybe Day
- Avoid Chronograph (stop watch) for a 1-watch collection
- A bracelet vs. a strap (leather, rubber, NATO, etc)
- I always prefer to get a watch on a bracelet, because they hold up longer than straps. You can always swap them out.
- Ideally 100m + water resistance (min. 30m)
- 36-40mm case size
The Dive Watch:
This is a very specific subsection of Sports Watches. They’re generally more water resistant, and tend to be a little beefier. This can be a good thing, especially if you’re rough on your equipment.
Thanks to James Bond, the Dive Watch has become more acceptable in dress attire, just make sure it’s not one so thick that it can’t fit under your cuff.
- 300m+ water resistance
- Rotating bezel
- 38-42 mm case size
The Dress Watch:
If you find yourself in suits frequently enough, it’s probably a good idea to have a dedicated dress watch.
These will typically be smaller and more delicate, to fit under the cuff of a dress shirt.
- 34-38mm case size
- Leather strap(s) (Generally a good idea to match the color of your belt & shoes)
- The quality of the leather on affordable watches will be mediocre. Be prepared to replace these.
- Simple (Time only or maybe date)
The Beater Watch:
This is a pretty open category. These are your utility watches. The name is really the job description: a watch that you’re going to beat on. So it either needs to be rugged, replaceable, or both. There’s no real rules here, so buy what you like. Just don’t try and shoehorn your Beater into an inappropriate role like a Dress Watch.
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