1 Let’s dispense with the obvious stuff from the off, shall we? In one fell swoop, so we can get on with the things you’re actually guilty of, but don’t know yet. (a) A digital watch belongs with boardshorts, never a suit. (b) In fact, never a digital watch at all. (c) Never a brown strap with a black belt and vice versa; though ignore anyone who tells you this extends to shoes too – for some fussiness, life really is too short. (d) No diamonds. Ever. Unless you’re lady, a heavyweight boxing champ, or Liberace. (e) Stop yourself from buying that fake, even if it seems amusingly ironic when stumbling down that back-alley in Bangkok. Or is that another sort of fake?
2 Gianni Agnelli, the late Fiat president and one of the 20th century’s most stylish dudes, was famous for wearing his watch over his shirt cuff. There are some who still think this to be the height of suaveness, and you can buy shirts with portholes cut through the French cuff to house a watch. Unless you’re an Italian billionaire, this is just wrong. A watch should slide gracefully under your shirt cuff – easily, discretely.
3 Finance big cheese Arki Busson is well known for swathing his wrists in beads and bracelets, which rub up against his Rolex. It’s a look, we’ll grant, that plenty of Bond Street types have adopted to jazz up their suited attire and demonstrate that, underneath the pinstripes, there’s a free spirit bursting out. But we’re not having it. Your watch should do all the talking that’s needed, and encumbering it with boho bangles is gaudy and pretentious.
4 There’s no stopping the craze for woven “NATO” straps, so it’s about time we drew up some rules. (a) Co-ordinate colours. (b) Distressed is good. (c) Give GasGasBones a go (gasgasbones.com) – military-grade straps good enough for Bremont no less. (d) It’s for sports watches and vintage (or vintage-style) military watches and that’s it. Discarding the fine leather strap or luxury bracelet of a dress watch and replacing it with nylon is all kinds of bad form.
5 Tailoring is in and, therefore, so are pocket watches… sort of, provided you a) have a decent three-piece to wear it with, and b) have a pocket watch that actually works, rather than an old dud on a chain you found down Portobello Market. But if you are going to wear the thing, for goodness sake remember to remove your wristwatch first.
6 A watch business legend by the name of Nicolas Hayek Snr made a habit of wearing several examples of his Swatch Group’s vast output on both arms. Unless you’ve also singlehandedly saved the watch industry and accrued billions in the process, you best stick to just the one watch at one time, laddie. And by the way, they’re made (mostly) for your left wrist, and that’s where you should (mostly) wear them.
7 And yes, haven’t you done well with that particular bit of gold wrist-candy, dangling loosely against your hand so everyone can see it. We get the point – now kindly tighten the bracelet. A loose watch weakens the bracelet links and damages the movement with motion shocks. And you look like a buffoon.
8 But that isn’t your only watch, you say? Got five more Rolexes in the “collection”, really? Well, that doesn’t count as a collection, buster. Building a collection requires variety, and not just in terms of brands. Make sure you have a diver as well as a sports watch; a chronograph as well as a time-only; a world timer, and definitely a handwound. Enslaving your wrist to one brand or genre is the domain of the unenlightened.
9 Oh yes, The Rolex Issue. Now, we like to evangelise the fact that there are so many other watches out there beyond Rolex. But the big’un really does make excellent, hardy timepieces. Just promise us you won’t go for the bicolour or gem-encrusted models, for these are the mark of the arriviste who thinks sophistication can be bought.
10 Yellow-gold watches. Just… no. It isn’t 1977 anymore.
Learn more on the impeccable art of being a decent sort in a decent watch at theprodigalguide.com
Zenith’s El Primero Lightweight (£13,700, exclusive to Harrods) slips correctly and neatly beneath the cuff
The over-the-cuff style of late Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli, below (sporting an Omega Seamaster PloProf), is inadvisable