Top advice from style experts on how to go from casual Friday to black tie, in addition to not wearing a flashy watch in a job interview and donning an interesting one for a creative meeting.
Even in this age of cellphones and smart watches, don't underestimate the value of wearing a wristwatch. "The two items men and women notice on a man are shoes and watches," says executive style consultant Andrew Weitz, who dresses many of the industry's top male execs, agents and producers. "But if you don't already own a few nice timepieces, men's style experts say there really are just two indispensable watches you need to make your way around Hollywood: an all-around steel sports watch that can go with almost anything (from the office to casual Fridays and even weekends at the beach) and a dress watch for black-tie events.
Of course, today, both men's fashion and watch choices are expanding greatly, available in more hues and styles than ever with more possibilities for very stylish wardrobe pairings. "When you have a few watches," says Weitz, "you get to play around with it and figure out how to complement your jacket, your shoes or your eyeglasses with your watch." Once you get the hang of it, adds Clemency star Aldis Hodge, who is developing his own forthcoming watch line, "you can dress to impress and dress to express."
For red carpet events, Weitz's favorite look with a black or dark navy tuxedo is a rose-gold or yellow-gold watch on a black leather band — with "a thin profile that can slide under the cuff," he says. While Weitz prefers dark dials for his clients, a dress watch with a white face can be equally elegant, especially if it has a beautifully enameled dial like the ones crafted by Swiss maker Breguet. Adds Hodge (whose watch of choice on the red carpet is a sleek black ceramic Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde), "For a classic tux, you are usually going to want a watch with clean lines, but it doesn't have to be boring." Case in point: Just look to the spectacularly intricate Piaget Altiplano Automatic with see-through, skeletonized rose-gold movement that This Is Us actor Niles Fitch wore to this year's Emmys. If you opt to wear a very of-the-moment maroon or chocolate brown tux, there are timepiece options available to go with those colors as well, like Czapek & Cie's Quai des Bergues Guilloché Rhubarb Red or Zenith's Elite Chronograph Classic with a polished brown dial.
Weitz and Hodge tack differently when it comes to what to wear with a dark-colored suit. Weitz's go-to is a stainless-steel watch with a dark face that doesn't contrast with the color of the suit, classic pieces that have a luxury-meets-sporty feel like a Rolex Datejust II, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a Vacheron Constantin Overseas or a Patek Philippe Nautilus. Hodge, on the other hand, sees a dark suit as a conservative foundation on which to add something that really pops, from bold color to intriguing design. "If you have on a black or gray suit, step outside the box with your watch. I'm personally in favor of a watch that will draw a lot of attention," says Hodge, who recently paired an Arnold & Son Golden Wheel watch that has an eye-catching red-gold carousel with a dark green suit. Watchmakers that he recommends who offer options in standout colors include MB&F, H. Moser and Kari Voutilainen.
Weitz and Hodge are more in accord in their choices for what to wear with a lighter-toned suit at, say, a daytime photocall at a summertime film festival like Venice. Both of them say it's more important that a watch closely complement the suit. "You probably want to coordinate," says Hodge. Adds Weitz, "I might recommend a white face on stainless steel, or wearing a band in rubber or nylon that makes the look more casual." At the recent New York premiere of Last Christmas, the stainless steel on star Henry Golding's Patek Philippe Nautilus watch fit seamlessly with the light gray Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit he wore.
Watches are a great way to dress up a casual look, as actor Chris Pratt recently proved when he wore dark slacks and an everyday plaid shirt to a recent presentation of his 2020 Disney film Onward. Spiffing up the outfit was a hard-to-get Rolex Daytona on a steel bracelet with ceramic white dial. Once again, a classic stainless-steel watch on a link bracelet is a never-fail option. Says timepiece expert Matt Hranek, author of A Man & His Watch, "Stainless-steel watches like a Rolex Submariner or a Daytona can transcend a lot of situations from business to casual settings." A nylon Nato band on a classic pilot watch from IWC is also a good look.
Of course, in Hollywood, who you're taking meetings with also factors into wardrobe choices. So while it may not be recommended to wear a flashy watch to a job interview, an interesting-looking watch, says Hodge, can be a plus, in that it can telegraph that you are creative. "You should wear a watch that represents how you think. To me, watches are time-telling machines, not jewelry. I want you to think about how this thing on my wrist works, just as I want to engage you with the way my mind works."
If you're meeting with someone in the industry who is also into watches, you may want to take that into account and flex a little. That's what TV director Ivan Dudynsky does when he goes to talk business with the likes of fellow watch lovers like Kevin Hart and recording artist and producer Ryan Tedder. Says Dudynsky, "If Ryan and I are going to be together for the day, it's a little bit of a game, like, 'Here's what I got. What have you got?' "
This story first appeared in the Nov. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.