Should you ever wear your watch over your cuff? Not unless you’re a playboy billionaire Should you ever wear your watch over your cuff? Not unless you’re a playboy billionaire

Should you ever wear your watch over your cuff? Not unless you’re a playboy billionaire

Luke Benedictus

Life was sweet for Gianni Agnelli. “Every woman in the world was in love with him and every man in the world wanted to be him,” the designer Diane von Fürstenberg once said.  This doesn’t seem to have been much of an exaggeration either. The dapper boss of Fiat who lived from 1921 to 2003 was the leading man of the international jet-set, a legendary womaniser and Italy’s business king. In addition, Agnelli was also a bona fide style icon with the Rake of the Riviera judged by Esquire to be “the best-dressed man in the history of the world”.


That reputation for killer style was founded not just on his flannel tailoring but Agnelli’s eye for an unorthodox flourish. While always magnificently dressed, he was happy to make his own rules.  Agnelli, for example, was known to pair hiking boots with a suit – a move that actually had a practical foundation: Agnelli had shattered his left leg after crashing his Ferrari and boots offered him greater ankle support. He treated his neckties with a similar maverick spirit, routinely making the thinner back piece of the accessory longer than the front or, even more contentiously, wearing one outside his V-neck sweater.

Agnelli also wore his watches in a deliberately unorthodox way. His timepieces – that included an Omega Seamaster PloProf, and a Patek Philippe World Time ref.1415 HU  – were purposely worn buckled over his shirt cuff.

Rumours abound as to why Agnelli did this. One claims that his Italian-made shirts were cut so close to the wrist that he couldn’t fit a watch underneath. Another claims that Agnelli didn’t like the sensation of a watch against his bare skin. Yet another suggested that he was simply so busy and important that he couldn’t be bothered wasting the extra seconds to pull back his sleeve to check the time. There were, after all, more millions to make and beautiful women to bed.

Truth be told, if you’re a man with the swagger of Agnelli, you can do whatever you want. For the rest of us, however, the watch over the cuff look is probably one to avoid.  Yes, it will no doubt bring extra attention to your beloved watch. But it will do so in a manner that’s so conspicuously overt that you’ll look like you’re deliberately seeking the attention in a slightly desperate way.  This may seem unfashionable advice in the look-at-me age of social media, but there’s something to be said for discretion.

Having said all this, there are three possible exceptions when the watch-over-cuff look is acceptable.

When you’re diving

If you’ve ever tried to take off a wetsuit, you’ll know just how skin-tight those suckers are. A diving watch must be worn over the top for ease of use.

If you’re an astronaut

Just blasted into space? If you’re planning on taking that moon-buggy  for a spin you’ll need a spacesuit to protect you from the extreme conditions that can range from 120 degrees Celsius to minus -120 degrees Celsius. Strapping your watch over your spacesuit means you don’t have to expose your wrist.

You’re a billionaire playboy

Nuff said.