Every watch is a tool watch Every watch is a tool watch

Every watch is a tool watch

D.C. Hannay

“Every pizza is a personal pizza, if you try hard and believe in yourself” – Bill Murray

In the strictest definition, every watch is a tool watch, in that a watch has as its primary function to tell the time. Hence, a tool. Granted, some watches are more obvious tools than others. The chronograph. The dive watch. The GMT. These watches all have additional functions beyond telling the time.

Then there are watches such as the field watch which only tell the time, but are wrapped in a rugged, tool-like package. These are also considered tool watches, as they were utilised for timing critical troop operations.

Rolex Submariner Diver 1 e1686112213465
Rolex Submariner

Even a watch worn by someone who neither winds it nor checks the time, à la Warhol, is still a sort of tool watch, in that it’s an extension of their style and personality. An image tool, if you will. Which also renders pretty much every watch a tool watch, because whether you’re wearing a dress watch or a chunky diver, it’s a means to self-expression.

Lest I stoke the ire of the more militant of watch nerds, the above is obviously presented with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but truthfully, we as an enthusiast community sure do get hung up on labels, dictating where and when certain timepieces are appropriate. This watch gets tucked into that box, that one in another, and God help the poor soul who dares to shake things up a little.


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Some purists insist that precious metal dive watches (like the yellow gold Submariner, for instance) are an abomination before God, due to their decidedly non-tool material makeup. Then there are some who will insist that you should never wear anything beyond a simple, discreetly sized time-only watch with a jacket. Some would say that black tie doesn’t call for a watch at all. How gauche.

Screw that. I’m here to say free your mind, and your wrist will follow.

Where would we be as a community if we were only allowed to wear certain watches in specific situations? Is a vintage Tank or Calatrava the only appropriate wristwear for a night at the opera? Maybe for some, but I’d wear the hell out of a ceramic Chanel J12 without hesitation, black as the bespoke tux I’m surely wearing.


What about a superstar musician? Is a rainbow Daytona or iced Royal Oak the correct pick? Someone oughta tell Jay-Z when he steps out with a rare Patek complication, or Tyler, The Creator, when he’s onstage wearing a vintage Cartier. And guess what? Your own preferences are not everyone else’s. If you don’t care for bejewelled pieces, then don’t wear them, but if someone else enjoys them, let them enjoy them.

My point is, who are we to tell someone where and when it’s OK to wear a certain type of watch? In years past, you wouldn’t dream of wearing a Datejust or Reverso in a casual setting, but I have to say, both of them look fantastic with jeans and a t-shirt. And James Bond might have a thing or two to say to those previously mentioned snobs about pairing a Saville Row suit with an Omega Seamaster. G-Shock with a tux? Now you’re talking.

Don’t be so provincial. Loosen up those prejudices. You’ll have a lot more fun once you stop caring about what you should wear, and just start wearing whatever you feel comfortable in. That’s why I’ll reiterate that every watch is a tool watch, if you try hard and believe in yourself.