Watches come in all kinds of different designs, shapes, and forms. Sports watches, dive watches, pilot’s watches, and of course dress watches.

All watches are designed and made for different purposes and occasions. Some may have a versatile style that makes them great as an everyday watch, others have a very sporty style that only makes them suitable for sporty occasions.

And then we have the dress watch. But can you wear a dress watch every day?

What is a dress watch?

Shortly explained, a dress watch is a watch that is designed to be elegant, classic, and primarily intentioned to be worn on formal occasions and with formal attire such as suits, jackets.

The dress watch is probably the most traditional and formal timepiece there is, and whilst they can vary a lot in design, most of them put great emphasis on minimalism and elegance.

With that said, a common question that people ask is whether or not they can wear a dress watch every day. Because after all, it is intentioned for formal occasions and attires.

There are a few defining characteristics that most dress watches have in common. These are:

A slim and elegant case

The concept behind dress watches is that they should have a case that is slim and elegant. Since they are meant to be worn with formal attire, it should be able to slide under a cuff without any issues. And when wearing a dress watch, the watch is primarily meant to enhance the style, not completely steal the show.

A leather strap

Whilst there are many exceptions, most dress watches are presented on leather straps. Metal bracelets tend to make the watch appear more sporty, and so this is a style that the dress watch isn’t trying to achieve. As such, leather straps add the perfect formal style to a dress watch. The leather strap often, but not always, have an alligator/crocodile embossing (or real such straps) which tend to add to its elegance.

Smaller case sizes

Again, dress watches are meant to enhance your style in a subtle way without stealing al the attention. Therefore, dress watches generally tend to have a smaller case size than sports and everyday watches. The most traditional dress watch size is 36mm, but today, you’ll find most dress watches with a size between 36 and 40mm. In addition, dress watches are often made in precious metals to make them even more elegant and luxurious. Naturally, affordable dress watches may have a gold tone, but for luxury watches, it is almost more common to find them in precious metal than in steel. In general, steel is more steel as a ”tool” material, and since a dress watch isn’t a tool, precious metal makes more sense.

WRISTPORN by Longines

When should you wear a dress watch?

The core concept of a dress watch is for it to be worn on formal occasions. In other words, when you are wearing formal and elegant attire. This is at least what they were originally meant for. But things have changed, and when and how you can wear different types of watches has changed quite a bit over the years. Today, the dive watch is one of the most popular everyday watches, although it was originally meant as a tool watch for professionals, and equally so pilot watches and other types of sports watches.

With that said, asking the question from this angle, when you should wear a dress watch, it is on formal occasions with formal attire. But if you ask the question from the standpoint of when you can wear a dress watch, the answer will be a bit different.

The fact of the matter is that the lines have become blurred between what is allowed and what isn’t allowed from a fashion standpoint. For example, the Rolex Submariner is known for being a watch that goes really well with a suit, despite the fact that it is actually a professional dive watch.

With that said, you should wear a dress watch for formal occasions, but you can wear a dress watch on most occasions.

Can you wear dress watches casually?

The answer to that question is yes! You are of course free to wear your watch however you want, and the fact is that wearing dress watches on casual occasions is something that has become more common in recent years.

Ideally, however, when you are wearing a dress watch with casual attire and on casual occasions, you want to make sure it is not too small. Classic dress watches are known to be very small, and whilst these will look great with a suit, they will look a bit off with too casual attire. But as long as you have that in mind and opt for a dress watch that is slightly larger, it can look casual enough to be worn on casual occasions.

When you wear a dress watch with a casual outfit, it will automatically make you look more dressy and elegant, so if that is what you are trying to achieve, it can actually be a really great idea. But if you plan to wear your dress watch on both formal and casual occasions, you may want to consider buying a dress watch that is slightly more versatile. For example, the Rolex Day-Date presented in the photo above can be seen as a dress watch, in particular when it is presented on a leather strap, but it is a watch that is highly popular for essentially all kinds of different occasions.

Can you wear a dress watch every day?

Yes! In fact, a lot of people wear a dress watch every day. Now, at the same time, if you, for example, work in an office and wear formal attire most of the time, this won’t be an issue. In this case, you can certainly wear a dress watch every day.

But if you tend to wear more casual attire in your every day, you can still opt for a dress watch. At the same time, there are good reasons why there are different watches for different occasions. Ideally, you should have at least two watches in your collection – one dress watch and one sporty/casual watch. But if you still want to wear a dress watch every day, keep these things in mind:

Dress watches are usually presented on leather straps. With that said, leather straps are more delicate than other straps or bracelets, in particular when it comes to water. Therefore, make sure you keep your strap away from water to prevent it from getting damaged.

Dress watches generally have poor water resistance. Another reason why you need to be mindful of how you wear your dress watch every day is that dress watches are not built to be in the water. At the best, they may be able to withstand water splashes. Therefore, if you are wearing a dress watch and plan to go diving, always take it off first. On these occasions, this is one of the reasons why it may be more practical to have a sporty everyday watch that can actually follow you on all your activities and adventures.

Dress watches are generally more delicate than sports watches. Naturally, dress watches are slimmer, smaller, and not built to be robust and durable in the same way sports watches are. Therefore if you plan to wear a dress watch every day, you want to think twice about the various activities you’ll be performing. For example, if you plan on going cycling or performing other demanding activities, it is still best to remove your watch as otherwise, these activities may damage or even break your delicate dress watch.

As mentioned, dress watches have different designs, but it is worth keeping in mind that from a fashion and style standpoint, it may not always look great if you wear it together with a t-shirt and shorts (in other words, very casual clothing), but it will work best if you slightly more formal clothing such as a shirt and jeans.

Conclusion – can you wear a dress watch every day?

The bottom line is, yes, you can wear a dress watch every day. Whilst dress watches are designed to be worn on formal occasions with formal attire, a dress watch can work for everyday wear although it is not intended for it. At the same time, you want to keep in mind that it is not as tough as a sports watch and should not come in contact with water. Therefore, if you do choose to wear a dress watch every day, you want to be mindful about how you wear it, but also which style of dress watch you wear.

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