We turn now to one of the great philosophical dilemmas of our time. It’s a profound and complex question that lies at the knotty intersection between primal desire, technology, psychology, gender equality and the mood-killing potential of trying to undo a particularly fiddly NATO strap. I refer, of course, to the ticklish conundrum: should you take off your watch before having sex?
It’s actually a more divisive issue than it sounds. When Men’s Health conducted a Twitter poll on the subject in January 2019 the jury was pretty inconclusive with 57% of respondents saying that wearing a watch during sex was perfectly fine, while 43% took the view that you should just “put the damn thing on your bedside table already” before getting down to business.
The gender issue
At this point, we need to establish some ground rules. Without getting too intrusive: are you a man or a woman? I don’t mean to pry, you understand, but this makes a fundamental difference to the question at hand. Because expectations of complete nudity during jiggery-pokery are not the same for both genders. Let me explain.
Whenever I make a cack-handed attempt to coax my long-suffering wife into conjugal activities, she’s even more likely to recoil if I’m still wearing my socks. Even when I occasionally muster a matching pair. This has nothing to do with the erotic potential of my feet (believe me). Instead, my wife says that if I’m virtually naked except for my socks, I look “ridiculous” and “somehow unmanly” – a daunting prospect for someone grimly clinging to his last dwindling specks of virility.
Men, as usual, are more open-minded about such trifling details and indeed less inclined to demand full nudity from their partners. In fact, we even like a judiciously selected accessory or two. Take this line from the book I’m currently reading – Inside Story by Martin Amis – as the author describes what the mysterious Phoebe Phelps is like in bed: “Never entirely naked, she wore stockings, a sash, a boa, a shirt, a skirt, and once or twice her whole office ensemble, not excluding her shoes – her high-heeled shoes sliding in over the bottom sheet.”
And men tend to quite like a bit of this sort of thing don’t we? It adds a certain frisson to the proceedings. Admittedly this was probably hardwired into our brains by the ingestion of too much pornography in our degenerate youth. Yet there we have it. Strategically retained items of clothing can hold a certain allure in bed, drawing attention to particular parts of the feminine form or adding extra dimensions of texture and interest.
No, Amis doesn’t specifically mention whether Phoebe wears a watch in bed. But it’s the basic principle that applies here, namely that women enjoy far greater sartorial liberty in the bedroom, while the expectation is for guys to get buck-naked. Watch and all.
The unexpected tryst
Of course, things are very different if we’re talking about a spontaneous knee-trembler where everything goes from 0-60 with eye-popping haste. In Boris Becker’s autobiography, for example, the former tennis star confesses how, while sitting in the bar of Nobu in London, he got chatting to waitress and Russian model Angela Ermakova.
After five minutes of “small talk” he followed her into the “darkest corner” of the restaurant – which turned out to be the broom cupboard – and “got down to business”. It was a momentary indiscretion that would lead to him illegitimately fathering a daughter.
During such giddy moments of blind passion, any observation of sartorial protocol tends to disappear. There are, understandably, more pressing issues to attend to. At such a moment, it would seem weird for Becker to become suddenly preoccupied with unbuckling his watch – even though he’s a big IWC fan, we understand.
Becker wouldn’t have had time for watch removal anyway. He has described the broom-cupboard dalliance – that cost him his marriage (his first wife Barbara was pregnant with their second child at the time) – as the “most expensive five seconds of my life”.
The potential distraction
Last year, NFL Network correspondent Jane Slater says she caught a former boyfriend cheating after noticing a rapid increase in his heart rate and physical activity at 4am on their shared Fitbit app. Slater and her ex would both track each other’s activity levels in a bid to motivate each other to exercise more. Until one night she discovered “he was unaccounted for at 4am and his physical activity levels were spiking on the app”.
This isn’t the only reason that smartwatches and sex don’t mix. If you’re getting lucky, the last thing you want is to be interrupted mid-stroke by your Apple Watch informing you of an important email from your boss. All those notifications and bleeps are a buzz-kill that can distract you from the job at hand.
In fact, a watch of any description can prove distracting in the throes of passion. A metal bracelet could potentially cause a minor abrasion. You could fret about knocking your watch on your bedpost. You might even catch a glimpse of your chronograph’s sub-dials and start worrying about how long you’re going to last between the sheets.
In conclusion, therefore, we generally recommend the removal of your watch before you get frisky. And yes, we know, the Richard Mille Erotic Tourbillon RM69 generates random dirty talk for the wearer at the touch of a button. But just restrict it for foreplay, OK?