Previously we’ve established that the mechanical wristwatch is very much still relevant in this modern age. But do you actually need more than one? If so, how many does one really need?… Three watches – that’s all you’ll ever need to match the various outfits that you’ll ever wear in your lifetime. Kinda strange when you think about it. Wristwatch connoisseurs would probably argue more… Many more… Certainly more than just three watches. But why specifically three? Why not two, or four?… Heck, why not twenty, or forty?… As complex as it sounds, three sets of outfits cover all of one’s activities in life. So let’s dig in to find out how we arrived with just three.
Three Watches For The Three Major Outfit Classes
There’re generally three major classes of outfits that we’ll ever wear throughout our lives. Three different classes of outfits to wear for three different categories of occasions. Of course, one can always further break them down into countless other sub-classes to match the different sub-occasions. But before we start splitting hairs, I want to make it crystal clear that I’m referring to the clearcut occasions. Undoubtedly, there’ll be overlaps, when one occasion may be a little too formal or casual to fall neatly into one. We’ll look at some examples further down, but for now, let’s get on with what they are first :-
(1) Formal Occasions – A Dress Watch
This covers everything from black tie galas and business formal functions to business casual meetings and networking sessions. If you’re all decked out in your finest suits, you’ll want to match your outfit with something equally dressy. And the best wristwatch for the occasion is a dress watch.
(2) Casual Occasions – An All-Rounder Watch
This is for all the occasions where you don’t need to be dressed up, or be on your best behaviour. This covers everything from when you’re out on a date, or simply chilling with your friends at the local watering hole. The best wristwatch to match your casual (not sloppy) outfit is the all-rounder watch.
(3) Sporting Occasions – A Sport Watch
This is when you’re engaged in physical activity of some sort, and expect a rough and tumble time. It really doesn’t matter what type of activity you choose to engage in. Scuba diving, skydiving, camping out in the tropical rain forest, sailing, flying, racing, etc., pick your poison. Different activity calls for different equipment (outfits) to support the chosen activity. And each type of outfit calls for a different type of wristwatch to match it. But collectively, it’s simply referred to as a sport watch.
So How Do We Categorise These Three Types Of Watches?
(1) The Dress Watch
If we can describe the dress watch in one word, the word is “elegant”. Most dress watches are delicate, with minimal complications on the dials, and very “clean” looking. Often made out of, or decorated with precious metals and stones. If there’s a watch for you to flaunt your wealth with, the dress watch is usually the culprit.
The watch cases are usually slim, to allow it to slip effortlessly underneath the sleeve cuff. The dials are very minimal, the hour markers either marked with Roman numerals, or just simple dashes. The hands and hour markers also have minimal, or no lume to speak of. The dress watch usually exudes some sense of traditional elegance and simplicity of yesteryears.
Most dress watches attach to the wrists with luxurious leather straps to further enhance their natural simplicity. Of course, there are also dress watches that come with metal bracelets too. But these bracelets are usually of finer designs than the “regular” bracelets. More often than not, they’re also made of, or contain precious metals like gold.
(2) The All-Rounder Watch (A.K.A. The Go-To Watch)
Depending on one’s lifestyle, there’s a myriad of different interpretation of what constitutes an all-rounder watch. They sport dials with simple date only or day-date complications, all the way to moon phases and perpetual calendars. They can also sport hour markers in Roman or Arabic numerals, or even simple dots or dashes. Some fancy watches also come with fancy dial designs that incorporate famous characters like Mickey Mouse too.
Contrary to dress watches, the all-rounder isn’t as elegant, nor delicate. Most all-rounder watches offer reasonable amounts of water and shock resistance. It’s generally tough enough to go through life’s knocks and bumps with you, short of the most extreme situations.
Leather straps with buckles, stainless steel bracelets with clasps, nylon NATO straps with hook-and-loop fasteners, or even silicone straps, anything goes. As long as you’re happy with it, you can use it as a strap for your go-to watch.
(3) The Sport Watch
Sitting on the opposite end of the formality spectrum from the dress watch is the sport watch. If you can describe it in one phrase, it’s “form follows function”. It’s its function that determines the overall form factor of the sport watch in the first place. It is also the category with the largest number of sub-categories too.
Generally described as encompassing a “tough” form factor, and inherently with a higher water and shock resistance. It also emphasises easy legibility over fancy dial designs. This is important because with lots of complications, your dial can get very busy, very fast. Most sport watches have relatively large cases, to hold large dials, with enough real estate to display all the complications.
There’ll always be a sport watch that will fit your type of activity. Here are a few examples :-
Diving subjects your body to extreme pressure. Hence, dive watches are designed with watertight seals to protect the vulnerable movement inside, dive watches can work under extreme water pressure. They usually come with bright lume on the hands and hour markers, and an external rotating bezel to time your dive.
Doesn’t matter whether you’re racing cars or planes, marathon or sprint. If you’re into racing, there’s the sport watch with chronograph and tachymeter to measure your speed and elapsed time in a heartbeat.
For those in aviation, there’s also the pilot watch. They come with a high contrast dial (usually white on black) and Arabic numeral hour markers. A clearly marked hour markers and minute markers, pilot watches are easy to read at a glance. They usually feature large cases, with equally large crowns and push buttons (if any). This is essential to enable easy access when wearing thick thermal gloves in the freezing cockpits at high altitudes.
And if you’re into sailing (and also aviation), there’s also the navigation watch too. Most navigation watches come with a circular slide rule, which runs around the bezel of the watch case. This slide rule helps to convert the values when it comes to calculating the navigation route. More often than not, navigation watches also sport a chronograph complication too.
(3e) Field Activities
For the less demanding adventurers (e.g. hiking, camping, outdoor activities, etc.), there’s also the field watches. Generally built tougher than regular watches, just not up to the levels of, say, the dive watch. As a tool for land navigation, some field watches also sport a compass on the bezel of the watch too. Easy to read Arabic numerals for the hour markers, prominent minute track, and generous use of lume too.
Are there any other types of sport watches?… Of course there are. But let’s not get carried away, shall we? We shall address them in future episodes.
Are Three Watches Enough To Cover All Of One’s Horological Needs?
For a regular person, three watches are more than sufficient to meet all of his/her needs. Not unless you dabble in more than a handful of very different physical activities (or you have very deep pockets).
An elegant dress watch for when you’re suited and booted. A do-it-all watch for the days when you don’t need to be dressed to the nines. And a rough and tough, not to mention functional sport watch to aid in your chosen sporting field.
But How Does One Choose Which Three Watches To Suit One’s Lifestyle?
As with most philosophical questions in life, there’s no right or wrong answers. It really depends on one’s preference, and also one’s personal branding too. A better question to ask would be what personal brand identity does one want to project? If your objective is to build an image of being a gentleman, then consider engaging a personal brand consultant. And the same goes for you ladies out there too. You can reach out to Solarex Imaging to help you discover your own personal brand. And perhaps learn how to develop it into something positive along the way too.
In the meantime, do drop a comment at the bottom of this page… And I mean after contributing to the poll below below…
If you enjoy the content the article, do consider buying me a coffee. It’ll motivate me to create even more quality content like this in the future.