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Watch Fashion: How to Make Your Outfit Match Your Watch

November 11, 2020

The most expensive wristwatch ever was a Patek Philippe, made in 1941. You would have had to pay £8.9 million at auction in 2016 to secure it. Such an expensive watch would surely only be worn on very special occasions with the smartest of clothes.

Good watch fashion requires that wearers coordinate their outfits with their wristwatches. Read on to learn how to make your outfit match your watch.

Watch Fashion Guidelines

The most expensive Patek Philippe watch is a wonderful synthesis of engineering excellence and aesthetic design. Even much less expensive watches are beautiful objects in their own right. How you chose to wear a watch can add or indeed detract from their aesthetic value.

Imagine turning up at a glitzy event dressed up in your finery. As you reach out to take a glass of the finest champagne everybody sees that you have chosen a unique watch for the occasion.

The bright plastic strap in a primary colour. The bold big-numbered watch face. Somehow the whole credibility of your evening dress is undermined.

Hitting the right note in watch fashion is very much like hitting the right note in music. Discordant notes are ones that stand out as out of context. Matching clothes and watches are about creating a harmonious partnership.

Formal Dress

Formal occasions don't always require black tie or evening gowns but when they do it's important that your watch matches the outfit.

For men, simple is best. Sophistication is most obvious when it is understated. The complications of extra dials and functions are unnecessary at a formal black-tie event.

An elegant face with a simple black leather strap speaks of quality and refinement. No numerals or Roman numerals work well. Avoid flashily elaborate watches.

For ladies, the rules are less rigid just as they are for the dress. A ball gown, cocktail dress or other formal wear can be set off with precious metals. Gold or silver to match other jewellery is the way to go.

For the highest of formal events, white tie, we recommend either a pocket watch or no wristwatch at all, as time's passing is not relevant to such an event. A pocket watch would also be useful at a black tie event, or any formally-dressed occasion as a replacement for a wristwatch.

The number one rule for wearing a watch to a formal event that you've been invited to is not to glance at your watch too often. It might be pretty, but if someone has thought to invite you to their amazing event, you wouldn't want to look rude by seeming as if you're counting down the clock until hometime. If you're running the show, then by all means discard this advice and keep an eye on the time, and try to remember to enjoy it as well.

Formal Business

Business environments vary. Some business situations are more formal than others.

If the company culture is formal then complement the formal business attire with a formal watch. A dark business suit and a classic gold watch are a great combination, but you can change things around with a light grey outfit and a conservative bracelet sports watch for some flair, it would certainly make your clients remember you!

Casual Business

Business dress can sometimes be quite casual in some organisations or industries. When dark business suits have given way to button shirts then a more casual watch is the order of the day. A light leather strap and a nice shirt can strike just the right balance between business and leisure.

A chronograph or sports watch may be stylish enough for work especially in a high technology business environment. The technology of the watch and the work environment are sympathetic but casual enough for the most relaxed of IT geeks. A top-end sports watch can be both sophisticated and stuffed with gizmos.


A sporty watch aches to be matched with sporty wear. A slightly more formal upmarket sports look may draw influences from sailing or motorsport. TAG Heuer and the smartest nautical wear are the perfect matches.

Jeans and T's are fine almost anywhere and for nearly anything. Although you can wear a 47mm Panerai Submersible with a suit, it's going to look much more comfortable and more natural with sporty wear. Don't worry about branded clothing either, most people won't even notice or care.


Military watches are those function filled watches that are more suited to the battlefield than the board room. They can have high impact protection, waterproof cases, and perhaps built-in GPS capability. Don't wear them with a formal suit unless you own a multi-million dollar company (then you can do what you like).

If you are in the services, wear this watch while in uniform. Out of uniform and wearing casual clothes, still wear the watch. It still looks great and the functionality is useful even in civilian life.

Outdoor adventure and military watches cross over well. Camping and hiking clothes, climbing and other adventure clothing look right with a military watch..

Deep Dive

A high-performance diving watch looks great with a dinner jacket if you're James Bond. If you don't have the 007 clearance, perhaps a diving watch is best worn with diving gear, swimwear or at least casual sportswear.

Top of the range diving watches are acceptable with business wear and most other casual situations. Choose a top brand such as Omega, Rolex or Tudor for performance and style that are as acceptable in the board room as the coral reef.


A beautiful leather strap can set off an elegant watch but it does need some thought when it comes to what to wear with it. The simple rule is to match the leather in your shoes.

A black watch strap should be partnered with black leather shoes. A brown strap is best partnered with brown leather shoes or boots. Always remember to coordinate your belt, too.


If your watch has a metal bracelet, consider what type of metal you are wearing. The metal in belt buckles, bracelets and rings should not be fighting with the metal in your watch for prominence. A harmonious look can be achieved by coordinating the metals you wear.

Family Heirloom

There is an exception to almost all the rules on watch matching. If you have a special heirloom, whether it's a wristwatch, a ring or another accessory that you wish to wear for sentimental reasons you may break every rule. The jarring note might prompt a conversation and an insight into your personality and family history.

Above All

The enjoyment of a fine watch is enhanced by wearing it. You might avoid the worst watch fashion faux pas by following this guide. Don't let concerns about fashion get in the way of the joy of wearing a fine watch. Hell, you can ignore every guide we've given you here if you want to, most people won't even notice or care.

To discuss your next fine watch purchase, get in touch.