Watches are one of man’s few quintessential accessories. Having gained esteemed status in our wardrobe, they join only a handful of elites. The reasons for wearing them have changed drastically, but we’ve failed to fall out of love with them.
It was once claimed that a man must own 2 watches. One leather strap for the office and the other a metal bracelet. The watch, previously a symbol of status and wealth, has become more playful and far less decorous in nature. In this guide to modern chronography, we look at the three key looks for time telling this season.
Key Watch Look #1: Colour
A bright colour palette is exactly what you should be aiming for this season. Not only reserved for your wardrobe, splashing out on colour for your wrist is a sure fire way to add some flair and exercise that individuality.
A great way to rock a coloured accessory is to pair the stand out colour(s) of your outfit with a watch in a complimentary tone.
In our colour look book, we show you how to utilise coloured watches in your everyday ensemble.
Colour Look Book 1:
Show the world you know what goes by pairing the complimentary combo of red and blue. For this look I’ve thrown red trousers with some subtle strips with the complimentary hue of the light blue watch. A navy blazer would be perfect to stick over the top and combat the colder evenings.
Colour Look Book 2:
Our second look is a little more unassuming than the first but still evokes the playful nature of the watch in the role of the statement piece. The watch, in this season’s must have orange colour way, outright contrasts the meek tones that make up the rest of the outfit – navy tailored shorts, a white short-sleeved Henley (Granddad) top and grey open cardigan.
Colour Watch Picks
The best thing about the colourful watches on the market right now is that they are relatively inexpensive. The Casio brand is seeing a major return to rise in popularity, due to their cheap, bold and easy to wear watches which are available in every colour imaginable. With prices sitting around the £20 mark (even less on eBay), it has never been more economical to get on trend. The designs are very vintage/retro and so very ‘in’ right now. Other brands to look out for would be the celebrity favourite G-Shock, which produce big, chunky masculine styles in bold colours (usually sitting around the £100 mark), as well as the big name commercial menswear brands like Diesel and Adidas Originals, who have started increasing the range of fun, fashion-led watches they produce each and every season.
However, the success story within the whole fashion watch market over the past few years has been Toy Watch, whose timepieces now have a place in every true fashion enthusiasts wardrobe. Again, they come in every colour imaginable; from gold to red, purple to green and your essential neutrals like white and black, whilst their lightweight design (usually ceramic or rubber strapped) and stripped back styling makes them comfortable to wear and easy to pair with anything you already have in your wardrobe. Slightly more of an investment with most averaging around the £130 mark but I haven’t come across anyone yet who has regretted purchasing one.
Key Watch Look #2: The Square/Rectangle
Watch trends are renowned for going round in circles. But at the moment, angular square and rectangle designs are the new circle. Any watch enthusiast will instantly associate the square face with TAG Heuer and the iconic Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in Le Mans.
That however, was back in the 1970s. TAG Heuer has re-released the Monaco with Lewis Hamilton as the poster boy for their new design. When it comes to deciding which of the two comes out on top TAG Heuer have done it in the only ostentatious way they know how:
Wearing a square watch right is certainly not in the higher levels of a sartorial education and there is very little risk of a style blunder. These are usually refined styles which would look great on any man’s wrist.
The square shape carries itself very well, so styling one badly is not an easy task. Remain wary of becoming too ‘modern’ with the rest of your outfit. The face of your watch often says a lot about your character and purpose; choosing a square over a round style is predominantly classic.
A square timepiece is a prime example of timelessness and juxtaposing it with some outlandish prints is hardly going to do your wrist-wear justice. Instead pair with crisp suits and shirts, soft blazers and pique polos – the smarter end of casual clothing.
Key Watch Look #3: Gold
Gold jewellery in general has a number of ill-conceived preconceptions. And not too many of those are ever positive. Large gold bracelet watches (although great statement pieces) are often synonymous with a narcissistic wearer. ‘Positive’ styling of a gold watch is a matter of going back to basics.
Going gold does not mean sacrificing youthfulness and going back to a time when everything was much simpler. Gold is expanding its roots into the more modern digital designs from Casio, Timex, Nixon and the like. The digital watch has become much more acceptable, as tags of immaturity are quickly evaporating and becoming replaced with ‘vintage’.
The digital watch is a quirky style and can be used as a way of expressing some of that not-so-serious, easygoing playfulness that can go missing when it comes to accessorising. A digital watch does come with the caveat of looking unprofessional in the wrong setting and wearing one with a suit is not recommended.
New Rose Gold Variations:
A more subtle take on this trend is a current favourite of mine – mixing brown leather straps with gold plated faces. Gold and brown contrast beautifully, and when paired with a summer tan, will just emphasise its deep and luxurious colour. Rose gold has seen a big rise in popularity this season within the watch collections, with the reddish tint giving a slightly different (and more subtle) glow compared to traditional gold. This new style works extremely well with black or brown leather straps, whilst not being so ostentatious or in your face.
Editor note: I actually own the Hugo Boss watch below [top row right] from Time2 (see my column for them here), and it has become my absolute favourite piece of jewellery I own. The colour is so elegant and deep, and when paired against the brown backdrop of the leather strap – honestly words and pictures cannot do it justice. This is a watch trend to jump on quickly, as it is still very much an underground one; something I am covering for Time2 next month.
No matter what your preference, gold has become a much less favourable choice for the modern male, so now is the time to integrate it back into your wardrobe correctly and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Choosing a watch can be an arduous task and taking a brash approach could prove to be costly. A well-invested watch fails to lose its appeal as the years pass; in fact the opposite is often true.
Fashion-centric watches (i.e. the ToyWatches of this world) often come with a much more modest price tag as their charm is short lived and their style often one of a disposable trend when compared to that of the classic TAG Heuer Monaco. The Swatch brand was born from the phrase ‘second watch’ and fashion watches should remain just that. They become undoubtedly popular every few seasons and there is no shame in wearing one but timeless they are certainly not.
Buying a timeless watch is a practise every man should enjoy at least once in his life; it’s in the same ballpark as making a hole-in-one, skinny-dipping, buying a tailored suit and falling in love (often with your tailored suit).