Traditionally, wearing a timepiece with a tuxedo to a formal affair was a no-no because it was considered rude to watch the time. Fortunately today it is completely acceptable as long as you select a timepiece that is appropriate, formal and elegant. Before you attend your next black-tie event, there are a few standard rules that you should take into account if you choose to wear a watch with a tuxedo.
Ladies need to pay attention to this advice as well. Your watch should be understated, compliment the formality of the occasion and enhance the chicness of your overall look, not take it over.
No matter what style of watch you choose, your watch needs to be neat and clean. Wipe it with a dry, soft cloth before heading out on the town for that special evening to give it an extra bit of shine. Looking for some black tie specific timepieces? Check out our latest list of black tie watches.
Do’s and Don’ts of How to Wear an Evening Watch
The standard rule-of-“wrist” is to match the face of the watch with the time of day. Therefore, if you are attending a black-tie gala or wedding that requires you to wear a tuxedo, it is recommended that the color of your watch dial match your jacket.
Glow in the dark watches can be particularly distracting when attending events such as the theater or formal affair where the lights are dimmed so you should never wear a luminescent watch with your tuxedo.
Traditionally, formal watches should feature time only in the form of hours and minutes. However watches that feature sub-seconds or other simple complications, such as a date or 24-hour hand are acceptable.
Size + Features + Strap + Hardware
The size of the watch should always be small and fit your wrist well. This is not the time or the place to be big and bold. Watches with Roman numerals or markers are preferred as they provide a more elegant and formal presentation than Arabic numerals. Rubber or nylon straps are inappropriate for black tie wear. Leather straps are going to be the the most formal but metal bracelets are acceptable.
The clasp, buckle and strap should also be simple. You should go with a modest black calfskin leather strap. Your watch hardware should match whatever other jewelry you’re wearing —cufflinks, studs, glasses, etc. Ladies, diamonds are more than appropriate. If you choose to get blingy, keep them understated such as around the bezel, or limit the other jewelry you have on your wrists.
Formal metals also include white gold and platinum. If you are going to be wearing a watch with yellow gold, make sure it’s understated with a clean dial.
Left or Right Wrist?
You should always wear your watch for a formal affair on your left wrist. This will ensure that your watch doesn’t become noticeable when you’re shaking hands. However, this rule can be broken if wearing your watch on your left wrist is too uncomfortable.
For black tie, it is also important that you wear the watch with the dial on the top of your wrist, not the bottom. Seems logical but still needs to be stated.
The Cuff Test
Make sure your watch is slim enough that it slides easily and comfortably under the cuff of your shirt or jacket. A shirt shouldn’t be so tight as to cause pulling across the chest and buttons and you should easily be able to button the cuff either on the first or second button.
If you’re going even more formal and wearing a french cuff shirt, the cuff will be slightly looser than a traditional button close so you will have some more flexibility in watch thickness.