When we think of season-specific articles of clothing, one of the last items on most men’s list is a watch. After all, a watch is a watch is a watch, right? Well, not exactly. While there certainly are whole watches or even parts of various timepieces that can function year round, there are a few items that can make this piece of wristwear more appropriate for a given season. These are Functionality, Versatility, and Personality. Here’s why.
For many of us, the summer months are a time to get more out of life. The days are longer, nights are warmer, and people seem to be more open to experiencing things. Whether it’s beach vacations, exploring new bars and restaurants, late-night attendance of minor-league sporting events with too much food and not enough good plays, or even an early morning hike, summer tends to be a time where we do and participate in more.
As a result, a man needs a watch that will work in any environment. When it comes to prioritizing functionality, few people have done it better than the US military. Many watches that were originally designed for soldiers have long since made their mark in the civilian world, and plenty of them have become staples in the well-dressed man’s wardrobe.
A few tips that may not have been invented by the military but were made common by it include:
A Canvas, NATO or Zulu strap
While these do make a watch appear more casual, they will also make it more comfortable, breath better, and make it more durable for outdoor activities. The NATO strap was developed by the military as a more fail-safe way to attach the watch to a soldier’s wrist. Because the strap passes behind the face and through both spring bars, it will remain on the wearer’s wrist even if one of the spring bars breaks off.
Submariners solution to this in WWI was to have the face of the watch be black with the hands and numbers in white. Since then, we’ve moved to options that either glow in the dark or light up at the touch of a button.
The advantages of this are myriad. Something that isn’t waterproof is fine for business and formal settings, but the ability to stand up to a quick jump in the pool or an underwater escape from Ottoman enemies is worthwhile on a daily basis.
When watches made their way from gentlemen’s pockets to soldier’s wrists during WWI, there was a demand for increased durability for all parts of the watch. Men today may only have to worry about sand at the beach or a scrape while rock climbing, but that doesn’t mean we want a face so scratched up it’s barely readable.
As much as we wish it could be, summer doesn’t mean a complete hiatus from adult responsibilities. It’s easy to wax nostalgic about having three entire months off as a boy, but that doesn’t keep the rent paid and food on the table.
So, while we try to squeeze in as much fun as possible, most of us are still putting in a solid day of work. And for many of us, that means a white-collar job in a shirt and tie.
As functional as a rubber-banded sportswatch is, it’s not going to be appropriate when worn in a work environment. And, while some men are content to have a watch specialized for every occasion, many of us want something that will work both on and off the clock (pun intended). In order to to this, there are a few details that will make the watch more wearable in the typical office environment.
This means bands made from leather, metal, or canvas as opposed to rubber. Leather skews more formal than metal, which is more formal than canvas. Plan accordingly.
Less is more and that especially applies to a versatile watch. Leave the digital calculator timepieces to those who actually need easy access to one on their wrist. Even many analog watches are overloaded with too many dials and not enough negative space. A simple face will work in all environments and make it easier to do the primary thing a watch is intended to – tell the time.
While versatility and function are key factors, a man must never forget that his clothing is a way to project his personality to the rest of the world. Someone who works in a creative environment in Southern California is going to have very different needs than a mechanic in Montana, who will also have an completely different aesthetic than a Wall Street trader in New York.
There is no one watch, one type of band, one color of face, one brand or style that will work for every man this summer. Instead, each individual should focus on his own needs.
The one caveat to be added to that statement is that summer style in general leans a bit more casual than the rest of the year. A great way to show a bit of personality and communicate the intentionality of a summer watch is to go one step more casual than what is worn the other three seasons. Those who work in creative environments can embrace brighter colors in their NATO straps. Those who have to be a bit more dressed up can go for brown, tan, or even green leather as opposed to black. The point is that summer’s sense of fun and relaxation exists both on and off the clock, and a watch is a great way to let people know a man has plans tonight.