This question has nothing to do with management - unless you consider it 'Time Management'. I'm posting it here as there is a large collection of people working in all manner of professional environments.

Watches are a hobby of mine so please forgive me if you find this to be too off topic. The question stems from this article:

Have you noticed if your coworkers, peers, directs wear wristwatches? Have you noticed if interviewees, new hires, recent grads wear watches or are they really using their cell phones? Is a quality wristwatch considered a 'favorable' accessory in your working environment? Does anyone even care?

Does the old addage that you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes (or watch) still hold water?

As always, thanks for your participation.

cruss's picture
Licensee Badge

In the interview series, during the cast about "What to Wear", Mark comments directly on this. 

"You must wear a watch, Period."

Later he, in relation to not owning a watch, he says "Well grow up, you need a watch."

After this, I went and bought a watch and have worn it every day since. It's a $60 Fossil watch from a Department Store. It's professional, even conservative, and I end up using it every day.

Canyon R

simonspeichert's picture

I started wearing a watch again after Mark's comment in the interviewing series. I had an interview coming up so I pulled an old watch out of a box, stuck a new battery in it, got a fresh strap and wore it to the interview. It made sense to me - discreetly checking the time on your wrist beats spinning around in your chair to look at the clock on the wall behind you, or pulling out your phone.

Unfortunately for me, the big clunky chronograph was too large for the cuff of my shirt to slide over - I couldn't check the time even if I wanted to! I resolved to find a nice slim dress watch. I found a classy, interesting automatic model by Orient for under $100. I consulted with a buddy who's into watches and now I'm hooked. There are so many I want - and so many that can be interesting, functional, conservative and expressive pieces of your professional wardrobe. 

I think about wearing a watch like Mike's anecdote about the kid interviewing for a busboy position in one of his restaurants that wore a suit.  It might not be necessary, but it's a positive note to set you apart from other applicants.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I mean, I kinda have to, huh? ;-)

Nothing special, but it keeps fine time.  It's a Tommy Bahama, rectangular, and it has palm trees embossed on it in such a way that no one can really see them.  Hey, it's five o'clock somewhere...I work too much.  I'm saving up for a nicer one, and frankly I need a better one for my role. But for now, it's a reminder that we're building something here at Manager Tools.

Checking your phone for the time may be normal for younger folks, and I totally understand it.  But it's often rude to do so, believe it or not.  So get a watch, and wear it.



jib88's picture

I also notice when people have to pull out their phone to check the time. Because it's not always possible or appropriate to check your time on your phone, I tend to regard people who don't wear a watch as having a less punctual nature. That's certainly an oversimplification and I'm probably wrong about a handful of people, but simplifications are how we cope with a complex world.

There's probably more people like me out there making this kind of judgment (even subconsciously), and fair or not, it can be a factor that holds you back in ways you will never know. Granted, in another 20 years when all the people who are young and watch-less now are running the corporate world wearing a watch may be a sign of age and stubbornness.



maura's picture
Training Badge

I don't typically notice whether a person I meet is wearing a watch, or whether it's a nice one.  But I will definitely notice if they whip out their phone to check the time - it's bad form, even for a techie.

I'm in a software development shop in a large company with many sites.  I have a couple of watches that are appropriate for the office (various metals/finishes to coordinate with the rest of my outfit/jewelry, decent quality but not high end) but I typically only wear one when travelling or meeting/interviewing new people.  That's when they are useful for me - the rest of the time they just get in the way when I type.  Most of my meetings are via teleconference or in person in my own office, where I can percieve an Outlook reminder out of the corner of my eye, without losing eye contact with the people in the room. 

It's hard to get into the habit of wearing one every day.  Half the time I'll come in wearing a watch and get annoyed with it and take it off by lunch.   I guess what you're saying is I'd better quite whining and grow up anyway?

amlryan's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I am a bit of a watch afficianodo so these comments probably don't apply in general but I am always on the lookout for the watches people choose to wear.  I wear a Tudor on a daily basis but for interviews I have a tradition of wearing a Patek Philippe that I inherited from my mentor and Great Uncle.  I love that watch because 99.8% of the people have no clue it is worth more than most Rolex's.  There is a certain confidence that I gather when strapping on that watch....which obviously has nothing to do with the watch but rather the recollection of the great man who passed it down to me.

All said I look for an interesting valuable watch on a wrist because more than likely it is worn by an interesting and valuable person.


piratedave's picture

 So what is it about pulling out the phone to check the time that is so unprofessional.  Is it the act of pulling out a timepiece?  Or is it the phone itself?  Does it give the impression that the person is checking text/mail/etc?  Would it make a difference if a person used a pocket watch and pulled that out to check the time?

Personally, I wear a wristwatch.  I use it often when I'm on my own, but if I'm with someone, i resist the urge to check the time with it, relying instead on my cell phone's vibrating alarm in my pocket to warn me of my next meeting or appointment.  I think it is a little off-putting to check the time, however inconspicuous we think we are, when talking with someone.  It's a little like checking the caller ID every time the phone rings - "Hang on, let me make a decision here about where you rank on my priority list. ... OK, now what were you saying?"

TomW's picture
Training Badge

That's exactly it. If someone pulls out a watch, they are looking at either the time or the date. If someone pulls out a phone, they could be sending a text, reading a text, reading an emaill, sending an email, receiving a call, or placing a call.

You're right, looking at your watch can even have negative connotations, like "I'm bored" or "How long is this going to take?"

mtietel's picture
Training Badge

"The time of day is more important to me than whatever it is you are saying.  So much so, that I'm willing to dig in my pocket to find my phone to find out."

You have an "attention budget" and you're spending it on finding your phone, not on conversing with the human being next to you.

Doesn't sound quite so professional, does it?

jhack's picture

I have a very simple M&Co. watch (no second hand, very spare face). I travel a fair bit and can't rely on a clock being visible, yet I can still make sure that I respect the time I get from others. A watch makes that easy if I'm in their office, or anywhere without visible clocks.

Pulling out one's phone to check the time is unprofessional.

One more nice thing: I keep it set on Eastern time no matter where I am. It's a connection to home when I'm overseas.


John Hack

asteriskrntt1's picture

I think anything we can do to make a positive impression is in the right ball park, and that includes using a watch vs. your tech gear whenever possible.   I was on a date last night (I know, I was shocked too). 

The woman put her phone on the table at Starbucks and kept checking it and checking it. Yeah, I know she was keeping an eye on the time for her baby sitter's stake.  It just felt like I did not have her undivided attention.  That translates to the business world as well.  Keep the phones in the pockets.

pedantix's picture

 I have to agree with the conclusion "he doesn't wear a wristwatch, he must be lax with punctuality".  It fits me to a tee.  Years ago (right again: when I was a kid in college) I used to enjoy trying to snoop the time off someone else's watch or scout for a wall clock in the vicinity, but these days I know there's no way to get away with not having a watch.  The advice in this post is great.  I've always wanted a Patek Philippe - gosh they do just beam confidence! - but being both grown up and budget-wise I'm going to head down to the dept store this weekend and get a nice $50 Fossil.

Thanks everyone!


juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

My favorite Android watch is out of commission, but we have clocks EVERYWHERE in my office, so I didn't worry over it much.  Between ever-present clocks and a slimline cell, I was good to go and got out of the habit of wearing a watch.  For my fifth anniversary with the company, I received a gift of my choice.  A classic Fossil watch in steel with gold accents was perfect and I'm back to daily wear.  I find I missed that comforting weight on my wrist.

I admit it, I've seen some amazing watches (interesting what one sees working in a resort kiosk in Honolulu - from the diamond and ruby Rolex to the incredibly understated diamond and emerald Piaget...both of which were on their way to the beach to my surprise), so I had to go look these up. 

And now...I'm thinking that I may start saving my pennies for a Patek Philippe as a graduation gift to myself...yummy!

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Any views on a pocket watch vs a wrist watch?

I find it really uncomfortable to wear anything on my wrist, always have, so don't wear a wrist watch.  I do carry a pocket watch (although I tend to use my mobile as a timepiece more often).  I have had a few comments over the years but mostly just about how it's unusual to see a pocket watch these days (to which I usually just agree and may comment about finding it uncomfortable to wear anything on my wrist if they seem to want more), certainly nthing I'd interpret as negative.

As for checking the time on your watch vs on your phone.  Frankly, in a business context, I don't care.  If you're checking the time then you're sending me a message that you think that that is more important than what we're doing right now. If you've told me ahead of time that you have to be away by a particular time then fine, although setting your phone or watch (if it has the facility) to beep discreetly at the required time would be preferable.

I can't say I've ever noticed any correlation between punctuality and wearing a watch.  I have heard many people say, as an excuse for being late "My watch must be slow" or "Your watch must be fast" and in one case "My watch doesn't have any numbers on it so it's hard to tell the actual time"!



Skype: stephenbooth_uk (Please note I'm on UK time)

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Experience is how you avoid failure, failure is what gives you experience.

dblackner's picture

Man, I wear a watch that my kid gave me from burger king, it is reversable and has obe wan on one side and darth maul on the other ( I had to remove it to make sure of that) , I shudder to think what you guys would think of me if I ever showed up in your office!


ken_wills's picture

Wow - Lots of energy around this topic.

I really think this one is an example of how the times...they are a changin' (sorry about the inadvertent pun).  The answer to this question was certainly different 10 years ago - and in fact, for better or worse, the cellphone is becoming a wristwatch replacement for many people in the workplace.

But this string is also an example of what drives me crazy about MT forums: the one-size-fits-all-declaration ("Pulling out one's phone to check the time is unprofessional").  Really?  "Unprofessional"??? C'mon.

I'll grant you that most of our mental models of the "professional" wouldn't pull out a cellphone to check the time - but maybe that's because so many of our mental models come from an earlier time, when watches were the only portable timepiece.

I suggest it's more a question of manners - of not being rude.  Some of the more nuanced posts got at the idea that it's just plain rude to ostentatiously check any timepiece while in conversation -whether you're checking your wrist, pulling something out of your pocket, or looking over the person's shoulder at a clock on the wall behind them.

In a world where we are increasingly surrounded by clocks -and where we are increasingly carrying other things that tell time accurately - the wristwatch is becoming less functional, and more ornamental.  It's jewelry.  And other than my wedding band, I don't wear jewelry.  Because that's not professional.