Q and Answer: The Formality of a Rubber Watch Band
James asks: I’ve been concerned recently about the occasions on which it is  appropriate to wear my current wristwatch. The watch is a handsome and  somewhat expensive Swiss Army Chronometer in a very nice burgundy. Color  matching is no issue, but the problem is the black rubber wristwatch  band. The band seems a fairly inelegant piece. I’ve considered replacing  the band, but I can’t find one that seems appropriate, so I’m fairly  committed to the band I have. Does this choice mean that I cannot wear  this wristwatch in semi-formal or formal occasions? 
Your instincts are right on.  A watch with a rubber band is strictly for casual or sporting wear.  A metal band is generally for casual wear, and a leather band is suitable for any purpose.  When you think of the formality of a watch remember that watches are made for purposes.  A chronometer is made for sport, usually styled for sport, and generally should be worn for sport (or at least in a casual situation where you can pretend sport might break out at any time).  Certainly there are exceptions, but with a rubber band and a colored face, your watch isn’t one.  With watches, simple means formal.  A plain white face, without complications, and a black leather band is as formal as it gets.
If you like this watch, hang on to it, and wear it casually.  Enjoy it.  Consider investing in something more formal for more formal occasions.  You can probably buy a lovely, good-quality precious metal manual-wind watch from the middle of the 20th century - say a Longines or a Bulova - for a couple hundred dollars that will do you well for the rest of your life.  Buy something you can afford, that appeals to you, with a real movement (no quartz), and buy something made by a company that makes watches, not clothes or even (sorry) pocket knives.

Q and Answer: The Formality of a Rubber Watch Band

James asks: I’ve been concerned recently about the occasions on which it is appropriate to wear my current wristwatch. The watch is a handsome and somewhat expensive Swiss Army Chronometer in a very nice burgundy. Color matching is no issue, but the problem is the black rubber wristwatch band. The band seems a fairly inelegant piece. I’ve considered replacing the band, but I can’t find one that seems appropriate, so I’m fairly committed to the band I have. Does this choice mean that I cannot wear this wristwatch in semi-formal or formal occasions?


Your instincts are right on.  A watch with a rubber band is strictly for casual or sporting wear.  A metal band is generally for casual wear, and a leather band is suitable for any purpose.  When you think of the formality of a watch remember that watches are made for purposes.  A chronometer is made for sport, usually styled for sport, and generally should be worn for sport (or at least in a casual situation where you can pretend sport might break out at any time).  Certainly there are exceptions, but with a rubber band and a colored face, your watch isn’t one.  With watches, simple means formal.  A plain white face, without complications, and a black leather band is as formal as it gets.


If you like this watch, hang on to it, and wear it casually.  Enjoy it.  Consider investing in something more formal for more formal occasions.  You can probably buy a lovely, good-quality precious metal manual-wind watch from the middle of the 20th century - say a Longines or a Bulova - for a couple hundred dollars that will do you well for the rest of your life.  Buy something you can afford, that appeals to you, with a real movement (no quartz), and buy something made by a company that makes watches, not clothes or even (sorry) pocket knives.

Tips and Tricks
If you don’t have the money for a fancy watch, but you’re still looking for something with a little more style than the average $60 watch from Macy’s, there’s a simple solution.
Start with a simple watch.  If you prefer not to wind your watch, you can use the Timex Easy Reader, a battery-powered watch with a lovely face (I prefer the model without the clutter of day and date).  If you want to wear a piece of horological engineering on your wrist, you can start with a plain, inexpensive mid-20th-century watch from Ebay.  Brands like Oris and Hamilton (or even Soviet Russian watches) don’t have much value to collectors but have made solid, aesthetically simple watches you can buy for $50 or $100 on Ebay with ease (or $25 with some looking).
Have a jeweler remove the band for you, but leave the posts.  Any jeweler or watch repairman can do this, and they’ll charge you $2 if anything.
Replace the band with a ribbon band, running it over the post, behind the face of the watch, then over the other post.  You can choose a selection of colors here - five for thirty bucks.  Those are nylon, which are a little less refined than the traditional silk grosgrain, but it’s also extremely durable and even washable.
With a solid olive or navy-and-gray band, your watch is ready for turf warfare.  With a red white and blue band, it’s ready for a summer picnic.  Solid navy or black and it’s comfortable with a suit.

Tips and Tricks

If you don’t have the money for a fancy watch, but you’re still looking for something with a little more style than the average $60 watch from Macy’s, there’s a simple solution.

Start with a simple watch.  If you prefer not to wind your watch, you can use the Timex Easy Reader, a battery-powered watch with a lovely face (I prefer the model without the clutter of day and date).  If you want to wear a piece of horological engineering on your wrist, you can start with a plain, inexpensive mid-20th-century watch from Ebay.  Brands like Oris and Hamilton (or even Soviet Russian watches) don’t have much value to collectors but have made solid, aesthetically simple watches you can buy for $50 or $100 on Ebay with ease (or $25 with some looking).

Have a jeweler remove the band for you, but leave the posts.  Any jeweler or watch repairman can do this, and they’ll charge you $2 if anything.

Replace the band with a ribbon band, running it over the post, behind the face of the watch, then over the other post.  You can choose a selection of colors here - five for thirty bucks.  Those are nylon, which are a little less refined than the traditional silk grosgrain, but it’s also extremely durable and even washable.

With a solid olive or navy-and-gray band, your watch is ready for turf warfare.  With a red white and blue band, it’s ready for a summer picnic.  Solid navy or black and it’s comfortable with a suit.