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Left or right – on which wrist should you wear your watch?

Words by Rob Chilton

We tackle this horological debate

Why do most men wear their watch on the left wrist? The common theory is that it’s because 90 per cent of people are right-handed and therefore want to wear it on the non-dominant left to avoid damaging it or – more simply– to stop it getting in the way.

Most watches have their crown on the right of the dial at 3 o’clock, which is easily adjusted with the right hand if the watch is worn on the left. If the crown sits on your right hand, you’d need to contort the fingers of your left hand to find it.

Didier Drogba wears his Richard Mille piece on the left wrist

One right-handed colleague explains his reason for wearing a watch on his left wrist: “My right is my working hand so I wear my watch on the left to keep it out of the way when I’m using the phone.” Another right-handed colleague agrees, “I want my right hand free to use a pen without any weight.”

This is not always the case, however. A left-handed friend wears his watch on the left, his dominant hand, which goes against the theory mentioned above. A pal of mine who’s right-handed chooses to wear his timepiece on the right wrist to avoid it clashing with his silver wedding ring on his left hand and also because he operates a computer mouse with his left hand and gets “fed up with the clanking of my metal watch bracelet.”

Audemars Piguet boss Francois-Henry Bennahmias chooses right, while actor Don Cheadle opts for the left

Another right-handed colleague revealed how he wore his watch on his right wrist for years but recently switched. “Someone who knows about watches educated me and told me it was ‘improper’ to wear it on the right wrist,” he grins. “It makes sense if you look at the position of the crown on the right of the dial, because you can’t reach it with your left hand.”

On the left for Kevin Pietersen’s Hublot Big Bang piece

Fred Watrelot is Sotheby’s senior watch specialist based in Dubai and adds to the debate by explaining, “I think this is mainly a question of taste and comfort. Most people wear their watch on their less active arm. The watches worn on the most active arm tend to show more signs of wear and tear. Traditionally, wristwatches have been designed for right-handers who statistically represent a larger part of humanity. This is why the crowns of almost all watches are at the 3 o’clock position, which enables you to use the crown with your right hand while the watch is on your left wrist. However, more and more brands are creating models that cater to left-handers with the crowns and pushers at 9 o’clock for optimal left-handed use.”

As with so many questions of style, taste and comfort – to borrow Watrelot’s phrase – are what it’s all about.

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