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Stührling Answers: Where should a watch be worn, on the left or right hand?

Perhaps some elder should have told you in your youth, while they were showing you how to knot a necktie or shave. Or maybe society should have some coming-of-age ritual whereby a Delphic oracle looks you over and points. Until then, the question is asked with surprising frequency. Which wrist is the correct wrist on which to wear a watch?

The answer is dodgy—if only we emerged from the womb with our watch already fastened neatly on right or left. Maybe not too far off with the advances in digital devices. Personally, I’m an analog man.

As in all style matters, there is a generalized consensus on the right way (which isn’t necessarily your right wrist) and a rule-busting admonition to do whatever feels right and be confident enough to get away with it.

The majority rule is to wear your watch on the opposite wrist from your dominant hand.

For three-quarters or more of the world, the right hand is dominant. Those people would wear their watch on the left wrist.

Back when watches were regularly wound, it made sense to wind them using the dominant hand. Therefore, the watch needed to be on the other wrist. There are even watches with a horizontally flipped crown for lefties, but they are few and far between. Tudor made a few bespoke for the French navy in the 1970s.

A wise old dandy once told me, as he flourished his fountain pen, that the watch was on the opposite wrist from the writing hand so a gentleman could check the time and date while simultaneously signing his name. This sounds like a suspicious amount of signatures to me—the work of a criminal or politician, as you will.

Of course, many people wear their watch on whichever wrist feels right—and I don’t see any reason to discourage this preference.

Other considerations in the matter include bangles or bracelets. One would presumably not want them clattering against a fine watch. On the other hand (but the same wrist), some delicate jewelry can harmonize quite nicely when stacked with your watch. Experiment with trial and error and request the unforgiving opinion of a loved one before leaving the house.

I once made a suit for a friend of mine who has only one arm. I made certain adjustments, including tapering the unused sleeve and reversing the inside pockets for ease of use. He still has his full sense of humor, though, and I can say he’s one of a few who haven’t asked which wrist is right. It’s an easy choice.

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