Styling Element of Choosing a Watch, Part 2 - External CuesAfter going through a quick primer on the fashionable side of watches in my previous article entitled Styling Element of Choosing a Watch, Part 1 - Internal Cues, we will discuss what external elements to consider before buying a watch.

I will be limiting my angle to the gentleman's point of view for watches. However, the lady readers among you may benefit as quite a few of the things I will mention apply to you as well. Apart from adopting the suggestions for yourself, you may consult them when buying a watch for your friend, boyfriend, or husband.


All things Price

Much like buying a car, it would be best to set a threshold to your budget when purchasing a watch. The reason for this is because most people I know, myself included, will go over budget when they find something that appeals to them. So while setting a budget is a start, putting a limit on how high you overspend is more important.

Having said that, the sweet spot in the local market seems to be between PhP 3,000 to PhP 10,000. Not surprisingly, this is more or less in the price range of many mobile phones. The good news is that you can find quite a number of fashionable and functional watches that don't look gaudy in this range.

WatchesSince quartz watches are less complicated to manufacture, majority of those available in this range will be for that type of movement. Some of the players that are active here include Alba, Anne Klein, Citizen, Casio, Emporio Armani, Fossil, Orient, Q&Q, Orient, Skagen, Seiko, Swatch, Timex, and Valentino. It may be helpful to point out that some of these brands also compete in higher brackets

While mechanical watches are typically more expensive, that doesn't mean they are absent from this segment. A few of the brands that provide a great bang for the buck include Seiko and Orient. In the case of Fossil, certain models can drop to the PhP 10,000 mark after discounts.

As I mentioned in my last article, watches in this price bracket can be between 30-50% more expensive in physical stores in the Philippines. It is for this reason that I recommend waiting for a sale before buying one.

During the sale period, discounts can range anywhere between 10-20%. I've even come across one branch that offered a 50% discount just to get rid of an older mechanical watch.

Additional rates can also be provided when using certain credit cards or shopping in selected malls. Apart from discounts, some credit cards offer 3-6 month terms with 0% interest rates. Better still, some will have additional deferred payment schemes, meaning you only start paying after 3 months.

While transacting with cash means forking over the entire amount all at once, some branches offer higher discount rates. So if you have the cash, check with the sales person before closing the deal.

[If the discount rate is the same, I prefer using a credit card because I earn loyalty points too.]

Choose the Size

Watch SizesIt actually took me a while to adopt the big-faced watch. I don't exactly have gigantic wrists, so I always felt that a big one would emphasize how skinny they are. I jumped on the bandwagon after getting Casio's G-Shock and I never looked back. I got so used to bigger watches that I had to pass on my Tissot to my wife because her Fossil watch was of the same size.

However, I have since learned that there is a time for everything. In this case, a gentlemen should have at least one big-sized and one regular-sized watch because of his clothing.

Regular-Sized Face

Let's get things out of the way and start off with the regular-sized watch since there is only one particular time when it is required - whenever you wear long-sleeved shirts.

Skagen for GentlemenA watch is needed to fit under your sleeve when you pull it down. This was what I realized when I had to attend a semi-formal office function.

For those of you not familiar with the term, "semi-formal" during my time meant wearing a tie, a long-sleeved shirt, formal pants, and leather shoes with a matching belt. The sleeves were not rolled up and needed to cover the wrists.

[I understand that it was a tad bit more rigid for the generation before mine, but I'll stick to what I went through on this one.]

The problem with big-faced watches is that you cannot pull your sleeve over it because they're simply too huge to cover. I have heard of some people resorting to buttoning their cuffs over the watch, but this is a crude, if not improper way of doing it.

No, the correct and permanent solution is to get a watch that can be covered. This typically means purchasing a watch that is between 38-40 millimeters in diameter. Some of you with bigger wrists can get away with larger faces, however, I still suggest testing it out by wearing a long-sleeved shirt for your next purchase.

For those of you fresh out of college today, you may think it is unnecessary to get a regular-faced watch due to a relaxed office policy. However, it must be noted that you are at an age wherein some of the people around you will be getting married or holding baptisms. For these occasions, you will need to don formal attire or, at the very least, semi-formal clothes.

Thin and Thick CasesThat’s not to say that you don’t have any say on what to wear as you do have a couple of choices. One option is to select something less formal with your big-faced watch or wear something formal without the watch.

Faced with these, you may want to seriously consider going formal without the watch as a sign of respect to the hosts. One day it will be your turn to host a formal activity and you may want your guests to dress up accordingly.

[Just use your mobile phone for the time sans a watch.]

In the absence of a ruler or technical information, a practical way to check for the appropriate size is to get a case that doesn't extend too far beyond your wrist. With my small wrist, I got a watch with a diameter that just covers it from top to bottom, and not extending beyond it.

[This way, I still get to use something slightly larger than the regular one.]

Finally, the thickness or height also matters. In this case, thinner is always better as a thick watch is just as difficult to tuck under a sleeve as one with a wide diameter.

Big-Faced Watch

Ladies' Fossil, Ladies' Tissot, Men's WaterburyWith the regular-sized one out of the way, we can now discuss when to wear a big-faced watch. Basically any situation that doesn't require long-sleeves is a candidate. This means T-shirts, short-sleeved polo shirts, work-out gear, cycling clothes, and even in swimming attire.

If you insist on wearing a long-sleeved shirt, make sure to roll them up the entire time you have the big-faced watch strapped on.

[I suggest ditching the tie in this case so you don't look sloppy.]

Big watches are actually meant to be seen, so by all means wear them whenever your forearms are bear.


Consider the Environment

Apart from the occasion and clothes, the environment has a big impact on what watch I will be wearing.

I never wear flashy watches when I take public transportation. Other than being a magnet for theft, I have had situations wherein I'd bang it against metal handrails of a jeepney or bus. In one instance, some jerk ended up knocking his watch against mine as he was alighting.

I actually have an inexpensive and boring watch specifically for public transportation. If it gets stolen or damaged, it is easy to replace and I won't feel terrible losing it.

G-ShockI never wear something with a leather strap when going to the beach or some similarly wet area. Water, specially the saltwater kind, deteriorates leather much faster than perspiration alone. And since only Philip Stein, Timex, and to a certain extent, Fossil sell original straps in the country, I prefer to prolong the life of the original straps for as long as possible.

I avoid taking watches with metal bracelets to the beach as salt tends to get in the joints. Once dry, they act like sandpaper to loosen bracelets. Those of you who insist on wearing them to the beach, try rinsing them with tap water after swimming.

Plastic watches or metal cases paired with plastic straps are the best for this environment. They're a bit more resistant. Also, the straps tend to be cheaper to replace once they are worn out.

[Consider rinsing the watch with tap water even if they are made of plastic to lessen the chance of corrosion on the metal caseback.]

If you go diving or snorkeling, then a diver's watch may be your best choice. Apart from coming with a rubber strap, they can handle the higher pressures you will encounter as you go deeper under water.

[Also, unless the manual specifically states you can press the buttons underwater, do not operate any of the function such as the stopwatch.]

Match the Leather

I've been coming across articles that are against getting wearing watches that match the leather or metal one wears. Well, I'm a bit old-fashioned and disagree with this push.

Take the time to observe the people around you in the office. The person most likely considered to be the best dressed will be the one who comes to work with matching attire. Specifically, those sporting the same color of watch strap, belt, shoes, and even bag.

My friend has a different take on the matter. He says that people who mix the colors of their leather exude cheapness. He goes as far as to say that since the price of black, brown, or any other color is the same anyway, mismatching leather is a sign of poor taste and sloppy decision making.

[While I find his opinion to be harsh, it brings to light that wearing the wrong clothes can send the wrong impression.]

Color Basics

Before moving on, let's take the time to establish the three basic leather colors every man needs to have in his closet - Black, brown, and burgundy. Additional colors popular today include tan and blue.

Matching Tan Leather[Being a lady means things are much more flexible as any color of leather can be worn, so long as they match.]

Apart from shoes, the color and shade of the belts and watch straps need to match because a light brown belt looks odd with dark brown shoes.

[I won't go into the texture of the leather because that's pushing it.]

Strictly speaking, even the leather elements of a briefcase, leather bag, portfolio, wallet, backpack, computer bag, or the leather part of suspenders need to follow suit for maximum impact.

Don’t worry if the shades aren’t an exact match. Since these leather elements are separated by fabric or, in the case of a bare arm – skin, a slight difference won’t be noticed. Exact matches, while great, are usually found within the same brand. However, in the case of the Philippines it is very rare to find full matching leather so close estimates are acceptable.

Since this might be your first watch, choosing between a light or dark one may confound you. Well, lighter colors are more suited for the day and weekends, while the darker ones are best for work days and evening functions. If you will be limited to getting only a single shade, go with the darker one as it tends to be much more flexible.

Black is the Best First Choice

Matching Black LeatherAs you can imagine, buying and maintaining all these colors can be expensive. The solution is to start with the basic - black. Every gentleman must have a pair of black shoes, a black belt, a black wallet, and a watch with a black strap. Unlike other colors, black can paired with just about anything, making it a universal choice.

Best of all, black has no shade. That means that you can purchase different brands for your shoes, belt, watch strap, and bags, and they will still look like a matching set. Once your black elements are complete, your disposable income increases, or your position in the company rises, then it is time to invest in other matching colors.

One Watch, Different Straps

When moving beyond black, getting matching leather straps of other colors doesn't have to break the bank. Instead of buying separate watches for each leather color you possess, consider buying a single watch with replaceable straps.

Matching StitchesMost of you are most likely familiar with the idea that watch straps are permanent in the sense that they can only be changed by someone with tools and training. Thankfully watches like Fossil come with straps you can swap yourself.

[Philip Stein watches does this too, but it's outside the price sweet spot.]

Using a special spring attached to leather straps and metal bracelets, you can actually maximize the use of one watch by purchasing multiple colors. With original prices hovering at around PhP 1,350 at Asprey, it is like buying several timepieces for a fraction of the cost.

It is theoretically possible to use removable straps with other watches, but I haven't tried it yet. The main thing I'm worried about when swapping straps this way is that the case may be damaged since it isn't designed for the kind of wear frequent swapping entails.

Finally, consider the stitching on the strap. Some will have no stitching, making it look streamlined. Others will have thread that is the same color as the leather. Then will be others that will have contrasting colors, such as white or something else. These subtle combinations can also be used to match the leather you wear. In the case of boat shoes, many come with white stitching as highlights so getting a strap with white stitching can complement them.


Match the Metal

Matching MetalLeather isn't the only thing that needs to be matched; the same needs to be done with the metal of the watch and the metal you wear. This includes the belt buckle and the metal on your shoes or bag. Ideally, it will include your other jewelry, such as rings, and bracelets too. For the ladies, matching ear rings also make up the ensemble.

The most common metal paired with leather in the Philippines today is silver in the form of stainless steel. Majority of belt buckles come in this color. Being the case, the safest watch case to get would be stainless steel as well.

If you decide on a gold or rose-gold case, it should be paired with a brass buckle at the very least. The correct shade of gold would, of course, be perfect. But with a dearth of options, we'll just have to make do with what is available.

One Watch, Dual Colors

Since watches with metal bracelets tend to be more expensive than their leather counterparts, a good option is to get something with the two elements in them. Using a watch case and bracelet with both silver and gold can be matched to a silver belt with a buckle and gold ring, for instance.

Don't forget the Face

Rounding out the matching part of this article is the face. Basic colors include white, black, silver, and gold. Mother-of-pearl, blue, and green have become popular recently. Other colors, like red, violet, pink, orange, turquoise, and the rest exist but tend to be less common and more difficult to match.

Michael Kors for Ladies[But if you pull it off, you'll most likely be unique.]

With the exception of white, the color of the face should typically match the color of an article of clothing. This can be your shirt, tie, pants, socks, suspenders, pocket square, or scarf. For the ladies, you can include bandanas or skunjis as well.

[If you really want to get down to it, even the shiny metal of hair pins need to match the case.]

Matching the color of faces isn't as rigid the leather and metal. It is more lenient in the sense that the shade isn't as important as the color itself. So a dark green face can be paired with the light green stripe of your shirt.

Finally, if you need to make a compromise, the color of the face should be the first to go. That means that it is still tolerable to use a face that does not match any color in your outfit, so long as it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.

White is Universal

TSkagen Two-toned for Ladieshe beauty about white is that it can be paired with any color, so if you will be getting your first serious watch then white is the safest ways to go.

Please note that when I say white, I do not mean off-white which is basically beige, light gray, or some other color.

However, mother-of-pearl can still be considered white even if it isn't purely so. Feel free to use this as if it is the universal color.

[On a slight note, ladies may want to use a mother-of-pearl face with actual pearl jewelry to complete the ensemble.]

Silver in Next

Coming at the heels of a white face is the silver one. Being metallic and close to stainless steel, it is just about as universal in its appeal.

The only exception would be if your belt or jewelry is in gold as they tend to be contrasting colors. However, this can be solved by getting a dual-colored case.

Black Rounds it Off

While not as flexible as white or silver, black comes in as the third universal color. The only issue I have with black is that it can sometimes be difficult to read the time when everything else on the face is dark. For me, black faces without any contrasting numbers or arms are best suited for evenings.

[Since I want to see the time at first glance, I prefer black-faced watches with contrasting colors of silver or gold.]


Final Thoughts

And there you have it, external fashion considerations when choosing your next watch. If this will be your first serious one, in what may be a growing collection, consider something that can be used with most of your office wardrobe first.

Matching LeatherFor a watch with the leather strap, it would is best to get silver case, white face, and black strap. An option is to buy a dual-color metal case, but since silver is the most common metal right now, you can probably get by with just a silver case.

If you prefer a watch with a metal bracelet, consider getting a dual-color case, either silver-gold or silver-rose gold, is more flexible than just a single color. The bracelet should have the same colors as the case so it looks like a matched set. A white face would also make it easier to integrate with attire.

Beyond your first watch, consider faces that are black, gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, beige, gray, or blue. Green is a wonderful color but is a tad bit more difficult to find and match. However, if you do acquire a watch in green, the payoff is worth it because it is uncommon and the right shade can look rather regal. Red, pink, violet, orange, and other colors are additional options, but they are even more difficult to pair and find.

Also, carefully consider the shade of your strap as it can help make or break a watch's overall appearance. Typically, lighter colors make them look playful while darker shades make them look more serious.

[If you are limited to only one, choose the darker colored strap as it is more flexible.]

In terms of texture, I prefer leather straps that are not smooth because they tend to look more expensive. Two-toned straps are fine too, but care must be taken to select a combination that will still blend seamlessly with your ensemble.

If you happen to be in a pinch and need to make compromises when dressing up, consider the following fashion hierarchy:

  1. Face size
  2. Leather strap color
  3. Case color, which assumes the metal bracelet will be the same color
  4. Leather strap shade
  5. Face color

Since clothes should reflect your personality, watches should do the same. As jewelry, they should either complement or supplement your attire. And should a watch draw the attention of others around you, it should be for the right reasons.

Now that you have an idea of how a watch should integrate with your ensemble, what are you waiting for? Head to the nearest branch or mall and start trying!

[I suggest wearing the clothes you intend to pair a watch with so you can actually see the result.]

If you still find yourself sitting on the fence after all that fitting, I've got a few suggestions to consider for your collection in future essays. So visit us again to see if they can work for you.

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