A man’s watch is usually his only form of jewelry. When a man wears a watch – any watch – he’s sending a message. His watch tells the world something about his taste, lifestyle, philosophy and income. Many people are oblivious to the message (at least consciously). Some pay close attention (e.g., readers of this website). To dress for success, to choose the right watch to project your status/excellence, consider basic psychology . . .
The human mind has evolved to categorizes things and people. Call it stereotyping, profiling, whatever. It’s a social safety measure. If you can put someone in a box – form a general opinion of their social status – they become predictable. You can formulate a strategy for interaction. He’s important! I’ll listen. He’s no one special. I’ll pretend to listen.
A watch that says a person has “achieved popularity, profit, or distinction” is useful for figuring out who’s who in a human pack. A $125k Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon doesn’t tell you exactly who you’re dealing with, but it sure helps fill-in the blanks.
On the wrong wrist, a Rolex President sends the wrong message: I’m way better than you. A too-bling thing can create envy and resentment. Maybe that’s why there are plenty of hugely successful men who wouldn’t dream of projecting (flaunting?) their success by wearing an obviously expensive watch.
An inexpensive watch can send an inclusive message: I’m frugal. A successful “man of the people” who doesn’t need to show off. Although someone might look at your Timex Weekender and think that’s all the poor bastard can afford? Level up!
Watch messaging can be pretty complicated. To simplify: selecting a watch to dress for success is something of a binary choice: conformity (wear a watch that people recognize and admire) or nonconformity (wear an unexpectedly inexpensive or strange watch).
Donald Trump’s gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date (a.k.a., President) conforms to expectations. [ED: Let’s leave it at that.]
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ Casio Duro – yours for $48.06 – confounds expectations.
Jeff Bezos’ Ulysse Nardin Dual Time splits the difference; it’s expensive but not THAT expensive.
Best advice? Don’t be Bezos. Go high or go low. Wear something obviously expensive or obviously pedestrian (a.k.a., cheap). Or forget the whole thing and wear whatever watch you like. Confidently! Let your words and body language do the talking. Just know that an uncategorizable watch makes you an enigma. A potential problem.
Assuming you came to play, operate under the assumption that there’s no One Watch To Rule Them All. No matter what the price point, wearing the right type of watch for the right occasion increases the chances of being perceived as a success. There are three basic genres.
The “daily beater”
A daily beater is a hardy watch, a timepiece you’re not afraid to scratch or break. Watches that fit this description are often called “tool watches.” If you’re interacting with people in an informal setting, a tool watch sends the message that you’re comfortable with physical activity. You’re a man of action who’s not afraid to get dirty or take risks. (Sinn 104 A St Sa above.)
The business watch
Many people wear obvious tool watches (e.g., a Rolex Submariner) in business settings. Wrong answer. A business watch is an inside toy. It should be something practical yet beautiful. Large watches with complications complicate the message. Stick with a relatively small and simple timepiece that reflects your excellent taste. (OMEGA Aqua Terra above.)
The formal watch
The formal watch should be reserved for formal occasions and important business meetings. Also called a dress watch, the upmarket archetype is a slim, gold, mechanical watch with white dial worn on a crocodile strap. No bells and whistles. Simple, elegant, focused. Remember: there are plenty of quartz-powered watches that fit the bill for under $500.
Dress for Success!
The “right watch” doesn’t make you successful. But there is value in wearing a timepiece that helps you down the path to success in its own little – or big – way. At the same time your watch can be a powerful reminder to yourself that you’re a success, no matter what anyone thinks.
Click here to purchase Franz Rivoira’s comprehensive book The Watch Manual
You can read more of his horological writing at Quora.com