Now, this topic is close to my heart. The office has always been a huge factor in my obsession with watches. I work in the financial field and I wear a suit and a tie five days a week. This environment is where my watches spend the majority of their time. How does this affect my choice of watches? I’m glad you asked…
In my university finance program, there was a compulsory business management course. The bulk of the grade for this course was a big case study presentation. The best group in our class began their presentation with… their conclusion. I like that idea, so let’s begin with this blog post with my conclusion. Today, anything goes in the office environment when it comes to watches. Many offices have actually gone very casual, opening up the “rules” even further. I see lots of business people wearing golf GPS watches, fitness trackers, and smartwatches during the working day. I’m not saying these watches look good, but anything goes, it seems.
When I started buying watches, I was into large, oversized divers such as Panerai and Bell & Ross and I wore them to the office as statement pieces. This was not possible with tight shirt cuffs, but I loved to wear a big piece with a business suit. I thought it looked cool, impressive and imposing. As a younger guy in the financial sector, I liked the extra confidence that came with wearing something “impressive”. Was this appropriate for an office setting? I have seen senior executives of big banks wear Hublot chrono’s on rubber straps while giving presentations. Directors and VP’s come into our boardroom wearing Omega Speedmasters and Rolex DSSD’s. I have seen a portfolio manager present to a room full of bankers while wearing his Panerai Luminor on its rubber diving strap. What is the point of mentioning all of this? In today’s office environment, it is quite acceptable to wear ANY type of wrist watch- even with a business suit.
You have formal attire — that’s for weddings, funerals, and galas. Think — black tie and tuxedo. My formal piece is my Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim. Then you have business attire — that’s for office wear, client lunches and presentations. Think — blue suits, striped shirts and pocket handkerchiefs. My business piece is my Longines Heritage 1969, among others. While I have explained that business people today pair any watch at all with their business suits, there is still the notion of a “formal” and “business” timepiece. And my collection would feel incomplete without at least one of each. A formal timepiece is generally considered to be really slim, simple, on a black leather strap and without any busy complications. A business piece is very similar, except that it could be different colors and possibly have a date window or something. Even though you can get away with wearing your Planet Ocean chrono to the office, I still feel that a classic dressy timepiece is an important part of any collection. Sometimes you just want a toned down, classic and sophisticated feel for a day of deal-making.
So how do I choose a watch for a particular day at the office? The deciding, or limiting factor is usually my shirt. I have so many French cuffs and tight cuffs that I wear small, dressy watches most of the time. If my shirt has wide cuffs, I will take advantage and wear an oversized chronograph. But the larger watches are so uncomfortable when they keep getting caught on my cuffs that I don’t bother forcing them anymore. If the shirt won’t fit nicely with a big watch, I will choose from my other watches with smaller dimensions. Of course, I often choose my timepiece first and then build my outfit to accommodate that watch. We must have priorities, right? Some days, I just crave my Oris Artix GT Chronograph and I will select one of only a few shirts that can accommodate its 44mm case and wide lugs. I actually love that watch with the right suit. But it can never be a daily office piece.
One of my favourite watches for the 9 to 5 life is my TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 6. This watch has a retro 1960’s racing style that pays tribute to classic Heuer watches. Its 39mm case is an absolute dream to wear with any type of dress shirt. The blue strap is elegant and will complement blue, brown or grey suits. The style is classic, subtle, understated, with just a hint of racing sportiness. For me, this watch hits the sweet spot for regular office use. The automatic, COSC-certified movement has a tasteful date window, providing all your essential timekeeping requirements. The Carrera is a perfect example of a watch that was seemingly made for the office world.
I have made a lot of mistakes over a decade of watch binging and I have learned an important lesson — buy what you love and whatever speaks to you. As I have demonstrated here, whatever your favourite watch may be, you can wear it to the office without committing a major a faux-pas. Over time, however, you may find that a smaller, dressier watch can be easier to live with and match with business shirts. As well, dressy watches are often less noticeable and fly under the radar. Depending on who you are meeting on any particular day, you may NOT want to attract attention to your timepiece. Sometimes it is the reverse, but sometimes you want to keep a low profile. You don’t want to meet a client to increase their fees while wearing a 47mm Panerai. And you don’t want to go into a salary review wearing a gold Planet Ocean. Those are good occasions for a nice, conservative timepiece that remains discreetly hidden under your shirt cuff as you try to play your cards right.
I am sure people will disagree, but my observations over the last ten years in the corporate world suggest that you can wear anything on your wrist. Meanwhile, my own experience has sold me on the merits of a “proper” or “traditional” business timepiece for office duties. Fortunately for me, my watch box has every type of watch to choose from an any given day…