Friday, January 27, 2012

Watch Yourself

Wrist-wear accessories are another big trend that’s continuing on into 2012. I really want to rock a Miansai hook or anchor bracelet, but unfortunately the West coast, “surfer” vibe I get from these is hard to pull off when you’re literally 1,000 miles away from any ocean (Unless you’re counting Oceans of Fun). If you’ve already got a good grip on the basics of accessories, check out GQ’s selection of bracelets for ideas on where to shop here.

Most readers here though are just breaking in to the fashion game, and as such need to first start with the building blocks of their wardrobe. The essential menswear accessory is the wristwatch. Their popularity took a hit when cell phones started including clocks and calendars, and the same guy who thought it was cool to wear his phone in a holster on his belt also decided he no longer needed a watch.

Ready for everything, including being socially awkward. Note the poor quality jeans and tucked in t-shirt.

First off, don’t listen to that guy. He’s a nerd and has no friends. Secondly, direct him to my blog.

Thirdly, the watch is a menswear staple. It will never die (Thank God), and so if you’re just starting to piece together a wardrobe, this is a good place to start punching things up.

A watch can dress up formal attire or add a splash of color to something more casual.
There are several watch types out there that you should first be familiar with before heading to market. 
Sports Watches: the words “Sports watch” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Personally I don’t care about those other people. To me, a sports watch is traditionally metal (in either silver or gold). The watch pictured here meets my definition of a sports watch. It’s completely metal (stainless steel actually). This is the watch type I’d recommend for first time buyers. These types of watches skirt the line between casual and formal, and can generally be worn in just about any setting. They come in a wide variety of designs and colors. This chunky Michael Kors watch can be worn with almost anything I throw on. 

The plain, neutral face doesn’t distract from anything else I’d be wearing. Another example:

Available here
This watch is more slim; it fits better under shirt sleeves, so it’s my go-to metal watch for formal settings. When looking for a watch, try it on, considering what you’d wear with it and how it will look/feel on you.

Some people call these sport watches:

I don’t really see a need for owning something like this, unless you are into crazy sports where you do need to know the time but are nowhere near a clock. Otherwise if you’re a normal person, you WON’T need to know the time in zero-gravity or 1,000 meters under the sea or anything like that, and so you should forgo these ridiculous watches.

Formal Watches: Pretty much anything with a leather strap, I call a formal watch. Obviously some watches give off an air of formality more so than others (something with gold and an alligator strap, à la this JFK Omega).

A square-faced is a much more vintage look, but it’s still elegant today.
There’s a lot more at play with formal watches because the color and texture of the strap can be mixed up along with the watch itself. I’d recommend sticking to something with a brown strap. Brown is a more versatile color (remember, brown with anything but black, and black only to parties or funerals. But you can wear brown at those too so it’s really a go-to color).
Apart from that it’s really up to you in terms of texture and colors. These are great watches if you want a refined look. Just keep in mind that they are leather, and won’t stand up to the elements as well as a sports watch (which is why I ranked those first for someone on a budget). 
Pictured below is a Marc Jacobs watch I received as a gift from an ex-girlfriend with a good sense of fashion (It’s the only kind I date):

Again, a plain face in a neutral color-scheme. The one cool thing about this watch is that it says “BY MARC JACOBS” instead of having numerals. I get a lot of compliments on it and it’s a great conversation piece with the babes who notice it, but it doesn’t clutter the face of the watch. It’s still clean looking. 

Casual Watches: For me, a casual watch is dictated by its strap more than anything. I think leather is the most formal, while a metal bracelet is (depending on the watch) just a step under. Things like grosgrain or canvas straps are fun to wear, but they’re not something you pair with a suit. It doesn’t really matter though, because any capable jeweler can switch out your straps, giving you unlimited possibilities (check out the vintage Rolexes here at Park & Bond to see what I mean).

I am writing this blog for the man that’s just beginning to find himself in the fashion world. The same principles of shopping I’ve tried to espouse should apply here, as always.


Go analog, not digital. No excuses, no exceptions.

Stick to neutral colors and plain faces (devoid of any moon calendars, chronographs, altimeters, or menstrual cycle calculators); neutral watches can be worn with most any outfit, so they’re your best bet if shopping on a budget or making a first-time purchase. Go crazy later when you have the cash. 

Expensive watches are expensive because of their parts and the labor-intensive production process. Brands like Rolex, Omega, and TAG Heuer use gold, diamonds, and hand-made Swiss-quartz precision, and so cost more. If you want to splurge and have the money to do so, be sure to buy from a reputable dealer so you don’t get screwed on the price or quality of a look-alike.

Keep in mind the ratio of the size of the watch to your wrist. You don’t want to look like Soulja Boy. Find something that looks good; not too big, not too small.

A lot of designers are making a push for rubber, or ceramic or enamel-like bands. I don’t recommend these solely because I think they look cheap and I don’t think they’d stand up to the elements. You want something that will last and that you’ll be proud to wear in any situation.

Don’t be afraid to splurge if you can! Spend within your limits, but menswear is really one of those places where you get what you pay for. If you buy from a reputable store or dealer, higher-end items will generally be of higher quality, which means they look great, last longer, and save you money in the long run (if you properly care for them!)

A discussion of watches can get pretty in-depth and technical. For more info, feel free to contact me. My watch game is comparable to Jay-Z. 
More news as it develops,

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