Home Men's Fashion How To Wear A Watch With Tuxedo – The Ultimate Guide In 2023

How To Wear A Watch With Tuxedo – The Ultimate Guide In 2023

by Cressida meale
Watch with Tuxedo

Alright, let’s dive straight into the murky waters of a style dilemma that has long been debated: Can you, or should you, wear a watch with a black tie get-up? This question is on par with the eternal sock-or-no-sock debate—yeah, it’s that serious. Listen up, if you fancy yourself a man of style, you’ve got to have a strong stance on this one.

So what’s the deal? In this post, we’ll dissect both sides of the argument, weighing in on the staunch traditionalists who say pairing a watch with a tux is blasphemy against those who think it’s a modern twist you can totally pull off. Get ready to be enlightened.

Watch with Tuxedo
Image credit: lookbook.nu/look/4925366-Black-Suit-Rado-Watch-Simply-Black

The Case Against The Watch

Let’s start with the anti-watch brigade’s reasoning, shall we? Two significant points come to mind here. First up: aesthetics. Let’s be honest; a tux is the epitome of refined minimalism. Crisp lines, elegant silhouette—adding a watch might mess with that mojo. Have you ever slipped on a timepiece after donning a tux and felt like something was off? Yeah, you’re not alone. The watch jutting out from the sleeve can make things lopsided.

The second argument comes down to good old-fashioned etiquette. Picture this: You’re at a black-tie soirée and wearing a watch. What’s the message? That you’re watching the clock, possibly ready to bolt for a ‘better’ offer. Not exactly the impression you want to make on your host, right?

But Wait, There’s More…

Black tie is strict, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for interpretation. Variations like ‘Black Tie Optional,’ ‘Creative Black Tie,’ or even ‘Cocktail Attire’ offer more freedom. And let’s face it, guys are already bending the ‘no watch’ rule, even on the red carpet.

Time to bring in Alan Flusser, the guru who literally penned the book on men’s style, “Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion.” According to Flusser, if you opt for a wristwatch, keep it classy. Go for thin profiles and black bands. So, it’s not entirely a hard no, but guidelines if you choose to go down that road.

The stakes are a bit lower regarding less rigid dress codes like “Black Tie Optional” or “Cocktail Attire.” These events usually allow for creative liberties, making it more acceptable to don a watch with your tux or even a less formal suit.

In “Black Tie Optional” scenarios, the emphasis is on the ‘optional.’ Guests can go full black tie or opt for a dark suit instead. This relaxed atmosphere typically gives you more freedom to accessorize, including wearing a tasteful watch.

“Cocktail Attire” is even more flexible, leaning towards the less formal end of the spectrum. In these settings, a watch can serve as a distinguishing feature, adding a bit of personality to your outfit. Just stick to the guidelines—go for something elegant yet understated.

To sum it up, the more casual the dress code, the less stringent the watch rules. Just make sure your timepiece complements the overall vibe of your ensemble, and you’ll be golden.

The Golden Rule: Trust Your Gut

Here’s the takeaway: rules are meant to guide you, not dictate your life. Our golden rule of style is simple—if it looks good and feels right, it probably is. Knowledge is power, but instinct trumps all. Don’t just go by the book; let your judgment call the shots.

The Perfect Timepieces for Tux Time

Now that we’ve established you can wear a watch with a tux—if that’s how you roll—let’s get into some top picks that’ll complement your black tie look. Trust me, choosing the right watch can make all the difference.

So, there you have it, gents. The great tux-and-watch debate unpacked. Whether you’re a traditionalist or a rule-breaker, it’s all about striking that perfect balance between style and etiquette.

 Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin

Watch with Tuxedo
Via alange-soehne.com

Cartier Tank

Watch with Tuxedo
via cartier.com
Watch with Tuxedo
Via piaget.com

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony

Watch with Tuxedo
Via vacheron-constantin.com

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Watch with Tuxedo
Via patek.com

10 Thin Watches With Black Bands That Would Be Appropriate To Wear With A Tuxedo

  1. Cartier Tank Solo: This is an absolute classic that pairs well with formal attire. It’s got clean lines and a thin case that makes it unobtrusive.
  2. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso: Another iconic choice, it’s understated enough not to scream for attention but classy sufficient to elevate your black-tie look.
  3. Patek Philippe Calatrava: It’s a top-end pick for good reason. This watch screams sophistication without being too showy.
  4. Nomos Tangente: If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly but still high-quality, the Nomos Tangente has a modern design that’s both simple and elegant.
  5. Piaget Altiplano: Known for its ultra-thin profile, this one is elegant. This is your go-to if you want to make a statement without saying a word.
  6. Rolex Cellini: This line from Rolex is all about elegance and sophistication. A Cellini model will offer the Rolex cachet without the bulkiness of their more sporty models.
  7. Tissot T-Classic: For a mid-range budget, Tissot offers a range of slim, tasteful watches perfect for formal events.
  8. Longines La Grande Classique: With its minimalist design and black leather strap, this watch is an excellent choice for any black-tie event.
  9. Movado Museum Classic: If you’re aiming for a modern aesthetic, the Museum Classic’s iconic single dot at 12 o’clock offers a sleek look without going overboard.
  10. Bulova Classic: This one’s a good pick if you’re on a budget but still want to look put together. Its thin case and simple face make it a versatile choice for formal attire.


7 Other Tips When Wearing A Watch With A Tuxedo?

  • Match The Metals – One golden rule is to match your watch’s metal with other accessories you might be wearing, like cufflinks or a belt buckle. Going all silver or all gold ensures a cohesive, put-together look.
  • Stick To Leather – While metal bands are popular for everyday wear, a leather band is generally considered more formal and thus better suited for black-tie events. A black leather band is the safest bet here.
  • Avoid The Bling – You’re wearing a tuxedo, not a disco ball. A watch with a minimal design will suit you better than something blinged out with diamonds or other flashy elements.
  • No Digital Displays – It should go without saying, but a digital watch is a no-go for formal events. Stick to analog to maintain the evening’s elegant ambiance.
  • Keep it Slim – We already touched on this, but it bears repeating. A thinner watch is traditionally seen as more formal than a thick, chunky one. It also slides more efficiently under your shirt cuff, preserving those clean lines we aim for in formalwear.
  • Subdial Subtlety – If you’re a fan of timepieces, opt for one with subdials that are integrated seamlessly into the design rather than those that make the watch face appear busy or cluttered.
  • Mind The Cuff – Last but not least, pay attention to your shirt cuffs. Your watch should be able to slide under them easily. Your eye is too large for formal wear if it’s a struggle.


In a nutshell, the watch-and-tuxedo game is a slippery slope but worth navigating. The risks? Potentially throwing off a killer tuxedo ensemble or rubbing a socialite host the wrong way. The rewards? Standing out with a nuanced, personal style statement. The key takeaway is this: Know the rules to decide when to follow them or flip the script. Flusser’s wisdom is solid—opt for a thin watch with a black band if you take the plunge. But hey, your style is ultimately your call. If it looks and feels right, you’re likely onto something good. So, make that statement, whether strictly adhering to tradition or tastefully bending the norms. Cheers to owning your look, lads!

Photo By Leo Chan on lookbook.nu

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