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Where To Wear A Watch – Are there Rules?

If you’ve ever felt confused over where to wear a watch, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we will explain exactly where to wear your watch and how to get the most out of it.

There are a surprising number of people that don’t wear a watch. If you scour the internet, there is almost an ‘anti-watch’ culture trying to encourage people that there is no need to wear a wrist watch. We have smartphones after all. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Watches are not only incredibly useful for quickly checking the time but they are also an amazing fashion statement.

person carries bag with watch on left. Where to Wear a Watch?  Comfort and Etiquette and Fashion all play a role.
Where to Wear Your Watch depends on Usability, Comfort, Fashion, Tradition, and Etiquette!

Many people choose not to wear a wrist watch because they are unsure of where to wear it. It might sound like a ridiculous problem; it’s a wrist watch – you wear it on your wrist, right? Well technically speaking, yes but there are certain ways to wear a watch that will maximize your comfort and make it look better.

Where To Wear A Watch On Wrist

Man holding left arm up looking at watch. Where to wear watch on wrist?  Above or below the wrist bone.
The bone on your wrist is a great marker for where to position your watch

This bone should be a marker as to where to place your wrist watch. However, do you wear the watch above or below wrist bone? There are some people that like to wear the watch directly on top of this bone, and while there is nothing wrong with this, it might not be the most comfortable place. When putting on your wrist watch, try to keep it below the bone, known as the ulna, as this will feel the best and won’t restrict your movement. If you try to wear the watch above this bone, closer to the hand, you will find that you aren’t freely able to move the wrist and it will do nothing more than put you off wearing the watch at all.

man in long sleeved shirt looks at watch-Watch above or below wrist with a long sleeves? it shouldn't be seen when standing
Follow watch etiquette if wearing a long sleeved shirt

The placement of the watch face is also important. You should aim to keep the face directly next to the ulna. When you are wearing a long sleeved shirt, your watch should be entirely hidden when you stand with your arms at your sides. Proper watch wearing etiquette suggests that you should only be able to see your watch face when your arm is bent when wearing long sleeves. In addition, no matter what quirks you may see, it is never a good idea to wear your watch over your shirt cuff.

Where To Wear Apple Watch On Wrist

The Apple watch has fast become one of the most popular wristwear choices of recent times. While there are many other brands of smartwatch, it would appear that Apple takes one of the leading positions with its simplistic design and user friendly interface. But then, as one of the biggest companies in the world right now, it’s hardly surprising.

Person looking at Apple Watch on wrist. Where to wear Apple watch on wrist?  It needs to make good skin contact.
Apple watches need good skin contact

When considering where to wear Apple watch on wrist, you need to consider how the Apple watch operates. One of the things about the Apple watch is that it needs to have good skin contact if you want many of the main features to work. For example, the taptic engine and the wrist detect features. For this reason, Apple suggests that you do not wear the watch too loosely. These watches come with a buckle style clasp which means that getting a good fit is extremely easy thanks to the adjustability. That said, it is also important that you do not fasten the watch too tightly as you want enough airflow that your skin is able to breathe; otherwise, you face being uncomfortable.

Apple put their watches through rigorous tests before launching them to the public. One of the benefits of wearing an Apple watch is that they try to avoid materials that may cause skin sensitivity. However, Apple does advise that their watches contain nickel which is one of the most common metal allergens, so before purchasing your device, do keep this in mind if you are particularly sensitive.

Woman holding apple watch on desk.  Wear apple watch so it makes good skin contact. It should not irritate your skin.
Apple watches are built with skin sensitivity in mind

Which Wrist To Wear Watch

There is no hard and fast rule over which arm you should wear your watch on. One of the most important factors is that you wear it on the wrist that feels most comfortable. However, there is a lot of suggestion that you should go for your non-dominant wrist. For example, if you are right-handed, you would wear your wrist watch on your left and for lefties, pop it on the right wrist.

The reason for for choosing which wrist to wear a watch is far less technical than one might first imagine. Your dominant hand is the one that is going to be doing most of the work throughout the day. If you are wearing a watch on this wrist, there is much more of a chance that it will be bumped, scratched, or knocked causing potential damage. If you have forked out a lot of money for a designer or luxury watch, we would bet our bottom dollar that you won’t want the piece to become ruined.

man in gray suit with watch on left hand,  Which wrist to Wear Watch?  Place it on your non dominant hand.
On which wrist should you wear a watch? Wear it on your non dominant hand.

If you look at most watches, you will notice that the crown is usually placed on the left hand side. This is typically done so that people who are right handed and wear their wrist watch on the left, (as much as 90% of the population) won’t have the crown digging into the wrist as they move their hands. That said, there is one particular class of watch from Italy, known as the Destro watch, that features its crown on the opposite side, making these more suitable for left-handed people wearing watches on their right wrist.

How To Wear A Watch

One of the first things that people complain about when wearing a watch is the fit. Watches with links are particularly bad culprits for a bad fit especially if the links are an obscure size. You may find that removing one makes the watch too tight while adding an extra one causes it to move around too much. When purchasing a watch with a linked bracelet, you should only ever do this in store and try the watch on before committing to it.

person looking at watch just out of the box. How to wear a watch? Adjust it so that it is neither too loose nor too tight.
Do you prefer your watch tight or loose?

How to properly wear a watch

As a general rule, you should make sure that your watch doesn’t move around on the arm more than an inch. If it does, this will take away from the aesthetic appeal and can cause even the most beautiful luxury watch to appeal sloppy and cheap.

Hands driving car-watch on left but not centered on wrist.  How to properly wear a watch?  It shouldn't move >1 in.
When properly wearing a watch, it shouldn’t move by more than an inch.

On the other hand, you want to avoid wearing a watch that is too tight. For starters, this will limit your ability to move your wrist which can be very uncomfortable. Moreover, if your watch is too tight it will put a lot of strain on the strap and the clasp. As a result, these components will wear much more quickly, causing the watch to break.

It is also very important to think about the size of the watch. Some years ago, there was a huge craze for giant wrist watches, but that is all it was; a craze. The modern watch wearer likes something a little more subtle and sophisticated so if you are in the market for a new watch, we would suggest finding something that doesn’t take over the entire wrist.

See also: How to wear a fob watch

Generally speaking, a wrist watch for men should be no bigger than a 50mm diameter although this is at the extreme end. For men and women, a watch with a face diameter of 40mm should be more than enough without making an excessive statement.

person wearing athletic clothes looking at watch. You can wear a watch almost all of the time.
Watches can be worn through most activities

In days gone by, many people would only wear a watch for a special occasion. These would typically be luxury timepieces that were birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gifts. However, the times have progressed and as such, many luxury watches also cross over into the realm of sports or active watches and so can be worn for all occasions.


You might think that wearing a watch is nothing more than throwing a timepiece on your arm so that you aren’t late for the train. But in reality, a watch is a much more complex piece of attire and there is a certain etiquette that should be followed if you want to wear your watch correctly. For starters, you must make sure that you wear your watch below the wrist bone for both comfort and style. This will prevent the watch from showing when you are wearing a long sleeved shirt.

Related: How to Pick Out a Watch

Moreover, you must think about which arm you would like to wear the watch on. Most people wear their watch on their non-dominant arm, which for as many as 90% of the population means wearing it on the left. That said, it is more about comfort than anything else.