Can You Wear a Dive Watch With a Suit? (Ask Cladright)

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The classic diver is so ubiquitous and comes in countless variations, many of which feature undeniably dressy qualities. But make no mistake about it: Divers are still tool watches. And while we’ve seen 007 pair his sporty dive watch with formal clothes, you may wonder if you can wear a dive watch with a suit yourself? 

The luxurious gold middle links of the Submariner 126613LB and the shimmery mesh bracelet of the Breitling Superocean Heritage are just two of countless examples of how a dive watch can appear dressy enough to wear with a suit.

The answer is multifaceted, but easy to follow! Let’s get right down to it.

Photo by Andrea Natali

OK, so, can you wear a dive watch with a suit?

The short answer is yes! But of course, the devil is in the details. And so here are the details:

A dive watch in smart casual situations

These days, you can easily sport a dive watch in smart casual situations. Pair your favorite diver with a two-piece suit, jacket unbuttoned, sans tie. Think about what suit combos would be appropriate in an after-work happy hour on a Friday. Dive watches will go with any of those.

Depending on your office culture, casual Friday might be the day you wear your suit with a nice t-shirt instead of a button-up, or dress sneakers instead of traditional leathers. Perhaps you have an athletic fleece zip-up or a quilted vest under your jacket. All of this, especially anytime you incorporate something sporty to your suit, is an excellent time to wear a dive watch.

And naturally, this look can easily translate into most lounges, bars, and cocktail parties—but always check the dress code, of course.

Grey areas: Somewhere between smart casual and formal

You can even wear a dive watch with your suit and tie during the work week or at a wedding if it’s been made perfectly clear that the situation isn’t 100% evening formal.

Outdoor beach wedding with a nautical theme? Yes!

If you want to try this pairing out in these situations, but are feeling insecure, attach your diver to a leather strap to make it more inconspicuous. Match the leather strap to the tone of your shoes.

The quick rule of thumb here is to complement or match, but never clash. If your suit is black, go for black leather. If it’s grey or navy, you can choose from black, navy, or brown leather. 

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To play it completely safe, avoid nylon and NATO straps in all of the above occasions. They look cool on dive watches, but they’re just too rugged to pair with a suit.

Also, avoid wearing dive watches in the most formal business and eveningwear occasions.

Which brings us to our next question…

Can you wear a dive watch with a tux?

Ultimately, no. When you wear a tuxedo or a formal evening suit, the watch is supposed to be able to slip under the sleeve. This is why dress watches are so slim.

In traditional black-tie and white-tie evening formals, going watchless is the proper way to go.

Breitling Superocean Héritage

"Inspired by the original Superocean from the 1950s, the Superocean Heritage combines iconic design features with a modern touch." –Breitling

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Is it OK to break style rules?

This sounds contradictory, but there are rules when it comes to breaking conventions. In fact, there are two.

First, you must master the basic style rules before you can break them. That way, you’re doing it strategically, not irreverently, in a way that suits you (whether that’s accommodating to your body type or your style comfort levels). Learn them before you bend them.

Secondly, and above all, be respectful.

If you’re at a super formal banquet with orderly programming, and the lume on your dive turns on when the lights dim, that’s not very nice to the people who invited you!

If you know the hosts of the event are sticklers for sartorial rules, don’t unnecessarily break any conventions. If you don’t know anything about the hosts, play it totally safe.

small ladies omega promaster on wrist
The author’s Omega Seamaster Pro 300.

A quick example: As someone who doesn’t own dress watches, I actually wear a ladies’ Omega Seamaster Pro 300 at formal events.

It’s high-end enough, 28mm, tucks under my sleeve like a men’s dress watch, and worst case scenario, it’s small enough to take off and keep in my jacket pocket. 

What is the best dive watch to wear with a suit?

In smart casual and everyday professional situations, any dive will do! Wear your favorite watch and experiment with different watch straps and bands.

One important thing to consider when choosing a dive with a suit is size. It’s something to think about with watches in general, but when it’s such a delicate dance as pairing a sport watch with a formal suit, it’s even more important.

Photo by Andrew Neel

The watch should sit in the middle of your wrist, lugs not extending past your wrist bone. In this case, bigger is not better. In fact, go smaller if you can and are comfortable with it.

Are you ready to pair a dive watch with your suit?

Now you know exactly what to do. If you’ve never worn a dive with a suit before, start by following the rules to a tee, and go from there.

More importantly, wear this fun combination with confidence!

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