There comes a time in every guy’s life where it feels like something is missing on his wrist. After watching dad wear a watch for as long as you can remember, you have come to the realization where it’s time to start wearing one yourself. Whether you’re inheriting your great-grandfather’s classic timepiece or investing in a brand-new sport watch that has more features than you can count (oh, and it’s waterproof to 1,000 feet and can tell you the surf in Hawaii), here are 10 things to keep in mind when buying a watch.
1. Sport vs. lifestyle
This decision might be the most important of all. Think about how often you’ll be wearing your watch. Where will you be? Who will be around? Please never buy an expensive sport watch and wear it to a job interview, you’ll look ridiculous. My recommendation is to find a watch that can be dressed up or down and looks right in 90 percent of scenarios. This goes a little back to the leather vs. metal debate. Also, consider the style of the features. Are the hours presented as numbers or numerals? Numbers are generally less formal. Avoid crazy fonts or styles, you’re better off being conservative.
2. Color of watch face
This choice is critical. For you first watch, you’re best off getting a watch with a white face. Why? Easy. White goes with everything, it’s clean. You can’t go wrong. If you’re straying from white, a light tan or khaki is a decent substitute and will give a more classic presentation. Only buy a black-face watch if the band is black. Navy is probably the only other color you should consider, but it is much more fashion-forward. Stick with white for now and buy that one a few years down the line.
3. Band type
The key here is versatility. Your options here will be leather, metal, grosgrain (think sturdy fabric), metal and rubber. First, leather is a great option, it’s classic and timeless and can still be contemporary with the right watch face. The oils from your skin will naturally wear in the leather as you wear it, which adds character to the watch. Metal watches are also immensely popular and communicate power. They’re flashy, so if that’s what you’re looking for, go for it. Grosgrain should only be worn during summer; save this for a future purchase. Stay away from rubber. It’s cheap and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a watch where it looks good.
4. Band color
Another critical choice, although this one is a little more open to your preferences. If you're going with leather, brown and black are your options in most cases. Brown goes with nearly everything, while a black watch is a great second watch to complement that brown one. Gold, silver, black and rose gold are the most common colors you’ll find if you're buying a metal watch. Stick with gold for a more traditional look. Silver is more contemporary and generally matches with a bit more than a gold watch will. See previous note for comments on a black watch. Then there’s rose gold. It takes a special person to pull this off – it’s usually a color saved for women’s watches. Stick with gold or silver for you first one and go from there.
5. Special features
Right in line with 1., beware of investing in a watch that has features you will never use. Do you really care about what time it is in Dubai or phases of the moon? Water-resistance is definitely something to consider. Generally, you won’t need to know much beyond the time itself, the day of the week and the day of the month.
6. Number of hands
This consideration is fairly minor. Essentially the watch will either have a second hand or it won’t. The difference is subtle. A watch with hands only telling the hour and minute are considered more formal than one which includes a second hand. Unless you’re looking for an extremely formal watch, don’t worry about this too much, although it does bear consideration.
This is one topic that actually bothers me a decent amount. Sperry’s are great shoes. Ralph Lauren makes nice oxford shirts, polos, etc. Would you go to Microsoft to buy a microwave? Stick with brands that are dedicated to watches, they will almost always be higher quality. Don’t be that guy that strictly wears Vineyard Vines or Ralph Lauren, from his clothes down to watch. Keep Citizen, Bulova, Seiko and Skagen in mind.
Far and away the most subjective point on this list. If you have 10 g’s to blow on a watch, go for it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Truthfully, you can probably find a watch to meet your needs for as low as $40-50 if that’s your budget. I would stick within the range of $125-400. Anything less and you’re sacrificing some quality, any higher and you’re probably buying more watch than you need. Don’t hesitate about spending $200-300 on a watch you wear day in and day out. If you treat it right, it will last for years. When you think about it that way, $20-30 a year for a watch that easily lasts 10+ years doesn’t sound so bad.
9. Do you
Unlike some other parts of fashion and style where the rules are a little more rigid, your watch is just that – yours. This list is meant to give a good starting point for things you should at least be aware of when buying that first piece of ice to put on your wrist. If you really love that lime-green sport watch, do you and buy it. The key here is confidence. Rock it and wear it proudly.
10. Where to buy your watch
Think you’re ready to buy one now? Macy’s has an excellent collection hitting almost everything on this list. Don’t be afraid to shop around and take your time. I honestly went through every single watch on Macy’s website (3,500+ options) before I narrowed it to around 25 before slowly eliminating other options to the point where I found the one (shown above). Brown leather, gold metal, white face. Citizen is known for its quality and it’s an eco-drive so I’ll never need to replace the battery. It doesn’t tell me anything more than I need it to, and I can dress it up or down. Also check out Fossil, Kohl’s and brand-specific websites to check out your options.
PS: If you have an iPhone and like the idea of an Apple watch, do it. It screams class but might be a little too tech-oriented for some.