Formal wear (US) and formal dress (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other Commonwealth Realms) are the general terms for clothing suitable for formal social events, such as a wedding, formal garden party or dinner, débutante cotillion, dance, or race. The Western style of formal evening dress, characterized by black and white garments, has spread through many countries; it is almost always the standard formal social dress in countries without a formal national costume.
Your wrist watch should have the following attributes when worn with formal wear/dress:-
1) Made of a precious metal (gold or platinum)
2) Diameter (excluding crown) should be smaller than 41mm
3) Needs to be an analogue watch (a wristwatch with hands - not an LED display)
4) The best dress watches possess "discretion"
A sports watch is NOT a dress watch.
A sports watch on a leather strap is NOT a dress watch.
What are the rules for wearing a Sports watch with a suit?
1) A Sports watch should only ever be worn with a long sleeve shirt (without French cuffs) and tie - never with a jacket.
2) When wearing a suit or blazer a thin dress watch should really be worn - No sports watches.
3) If you are going to wear a sports watch with a suit it should be an simple as possible - ie no date, or other complications.
4) A Rolex Submariner should never be worn with a suit.
For a man wearing a suit the right jewelry can upgrade your look from smart to brilliant. At the same time, ostentatious 'bling-bling' is distracting and unattractive; men's jewelry should always be subtle. The watch passes the test by virtue of its functionality; cufflinks and tie clips earn provisional legitimacy on the same grounds. The wedding band is respected for what it represents, and other rings may be subtle enough to work to a man's advantage in the right setting. Piercings have featured prominently in so many counter-culture movements, from pirates to camp to punk rock, that they immediately arouse negative reactions from many. If you are going to wear an eyebrow stud with a suit, the suit had better fit you like your own skin if you don't want to be remembered as 'the guy with the eyebrow ring.'
A general rule of dressing says to match metal to metal. That means that if your belt buckle is silver, for instance, so should be your cuff links, tie clip, and anything else shiny you wear. As with all things, this is a general guideline, not a hard and fast rule: a man with a gold wedding ring can wear silver cuff links if he likes, and one who wears an heirloom silver watch is free to wear brass buckles. Another rule says not to wear gold after dark (nor button-down collars, nor brown shoes, for that matter). This is good to keep in mind when dressing for the night-life, and again, it is a good suggestion rather than a cardinal law.
Men's Watches - A Guide to Wearing a Timepiece
The watch is one of those elements of dress by which some people will choose to define you. The gaudy, bejeweled timepieces that bulge from the French cuffs of investment bankers certainly have their place, as do the thin, un-numbered dress watches seen on gallery curators' wrists. Some men have a treasured timepiece that they wear exclusively for decades; others own several watches, for different occasions or simply for day-to-day variety. The latter requires more effort for the American man, though, who must reset all his clocks twice a year, and for men whose work or fancy require them to know the time to the exact second.
As with most things, the simpler a watch, the more formal. When one dons a tuxedo or tailcoat, tradition decrees that one not wear a watch at all, as keeping track of time isn't something we associate with partying. Those few whose professions still demand rigid formality in dress, such as politicians and trial lawyers, ought to wear classy timepieces free of jewels, moving bezels, excess dials, and the like.
I think the move away from thin watches also has to do with the increase in popularity of sports/tool watches. As society has become more casual, the popularity of thin 'dress' watches has decreased whilst the wearing of divers and chronographs has increased. This has driven the market for big watches that send macho messages to the observer [and the owner??]
Even those classic 'haute chronologie' brands - Patek, Vacheron etc have to have complications and over the top decorations in an effort to add value to their product, since it seems the majority of the watch buying public [excluding all of us of course!] seem unable to appreciate quality for what it often is - simplicity.
One of my thinest and favourite watches at the moment does't even have a second hand and is only about 4mm thick.
A CLASSIC DRESS WATCH - VACHERON & CONSTANTIN 1960s REFERENCE 6405
33mm Diameter - Measured from 9 o'clock position to 3 o'clock position
Solid 18K Yellow Gold - Coin edging bezel.
In 1967 this watch was $850- My father started work as a teller on a yearly salary of $2006-
Super Sharp lines.
Old and New! Vacheron from 1960 next to a Patek Philippe from 2003.