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What Hand Does A Watch Go On? Answering An Age Old Question

July 28, 2021

‘Which hand does a watch go on’? This question has baffled the watch community for decades. In fact, we know our ancestors a couple of hundred years ago were trying to answer this as well.

As a matter of fact, no one can decide which hand a watch should be worn on. There is no right or wrong way to determine this. Hence, the question has largely been unanswered.

Before you feel disappointed, stay with us. Yes, it has no right answer, but we prefer a specific hand. We believe this hand is the one your watch deserves to be on.

On Which Hand Should You Wear A Watch - Finding Your Dominant Hand

Before we get into which hand is the best, we need to figure out which of your hands is the dominant one.

Your dominant hand is the one you always use. If you’re a right-hander, your right hand is your dominant hand and the opposite is true for left-handers.

With this in mind, we can try and answer the question you’re here for. The hand that’s not your dominant one is where your watch should be worn. This is due to a range of benefits that can save your watch from damage. The benefits also make your life easier as you can maintain the device better.

So, is the Left Hand the Best then?

The majority of the world is right-handed. This makes the left hand the most common non-dominant hand. Hence, we believe it’s best for many users. 

Of course, this will only be the case for some of us. The few left-handers would have to wear their watch on their right hand.

Earlier I mentioned that the non-dominant hand is the best choice for a number of reasons. Let’s run through them below:

Automatic & Mechanical Watches

Automatic watches are extremely delicate. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of this. All they know is that it winds itself and that you need to have it on at all times. 

It needs to be worn regularly as its gears are extremely sensitive. The mechanisms absorb the kinetic energy you produce, which powers its insides. 

If you have an automatic watch, wearing it on your dominant hand is not advised due to this reason. This is because you’re always moving the hand around. Although some of the tasks you do will be easy, at other times they will be more rough, such as when playing tennis or doing carpentry, which creates an immense amount of kinetic energy

Your automatic watch can’t withstand such energy. Over time, this will ruin its insides. No, it won’t break but this continuous, harsh energy flow will make the time less accurate. This is especially the case if the automatic watch is on the cheaper side as its parts aren’t that thorough. 

Mechanical watches also function through gears and mechanisms. Although they’re not as sensitive as their automatic counterparts, if you have one on your dominant hand while you’re playing tennis, you’re flooding too much kinetic energy for it to bear. So, it will lose accuracy as well. 

wearing a watch on the left hand

Fewer Chances Of Damage

As you can see, having your automatic and mechanical watch on your dominant hand will mess cause it to slow down. 

You may think you don’t have to worry about this for other watch types. This isn’t the case as having them on your dominant hand can still do damage.

You’re always using your dominant hand so you increase the chances of damaging the watch. You may be walking around, reaching for something when you jam your hand on a table. Unfortunately for you, you might have had your watch on.

By ramming it into the table, you’ll dent its cover. There are multiple instances like this where you can seriously damage the device. 

Using the watch on your dominant hand also scruffs up its strap/bracelet quite badly. This is very much the case if it’s stainless steel. That being said, you can reduce the scratches you get from dominant hand usage by using a strap that’s made from polyurethane.

busy gentleman wearing a watch

Easier To Tell Time

Having the watch on your dominant hand is a bad idea. You will be using your hand a lot of the time so you can’t just stop what you’re doing to glance at the time.

If you’re a right-hander, having the watch on your left hand lets you look at it while you’re at work, like chopping onions or writing an essay.

Not just this, but having it on your dominant hand may not be the best fit. The watch could be placed at an awkward angle, making you have to tilt your head to view it. Viewing it continuously at such an angle can strain your eyes and cause some really bad neck pain. Such a thing is true if your left hand is dominant as watches are designed with right-handers in mind.

checking the time

Increased Functionality

Okay, watches can get pretty big

Not only can they be large, but heavy as well. This is very true of mechanical and automatic watches (as they have to fit all sorts of gears and mechanisms). 

By having such a bulky contraption on your dominant hand, you’re making it harder to get your work done. For example, it may make writing, typing or even painting a challenge.

A Better Crown Position

The next section doesn’t apply to left-handers, but you can read ahead if you like:

If you’re a right-hander, most watches are designed with you in mind (as mentioned above).

You can easily see this by the position of its hand winder or crown. 

Many don’t notice, but they were made to be quite accessible to your right hand. This prevents you from doing gymnastics with your wrist.

What’s more, the crown and winder are most likely on the 3 o ‘clock position. This lets it sit easier on a left hand (non- dominant hand for right-handers) without hurting you. 


Your Dominant Eye

Sorry left-handers, this point isn’t for you either. However, you’re encouraged to read this section as it’s pretty useful.

Not only do you have a dominant hand, but you also have a dominant eye.

There’s a pretty cool way to check this out; put your hand out and look at a distant object. Then put your thumb out and focus on it as you close each eye, one at a time. If you closed your left eye and saw the center of the object move, your right eye is the dominant one.

If your left eye is the most dominant, you can easily focus on your watch while it’s on your left hand (non-dominant hand for right-handers) as it’s very reachable by the left eye’s field of view.

How Were They Worn In The Past?

Our ancestors were smart. They knew it was essential that a watch should be worn on the non-dominant hand. 

Back in the old days, men didn’t use watches as much as today. Instead, they had expensive pocket watches that they’d keep in leather pouches.

So when it came to owning a watch, they were mindful of the many ways the device could get damaged.

They knew having them on their non-dominant hand would be the best as they were less likely to get scuffed and beat up.

man reading time

How Does Society See It?

It looks like we’ve covered everything, however, there is still something important you should know. 

What I’m about to tell you now will change everything we just discussed. 

This is none other than social norms. When it comes to the idea of non-dominant hand use, this is completely thrown off the table depending on your gender.

Across the world, it’s very common for members of the fairer sex to wear watches on their right hand. The opposite is the case for men

Because of this, if you’re a woman and a right-hander having your watch on your left hand will make you stand out if you’re from a place that takes these social norms seriously. 

Since you know how important it is to have the watch on your less dominant hand, maybe you’d prefer to ignore these conventions and safeguard your watch. 

What’s more, having a hand designated for each gender is just a custom, so you have every right to break it. 


Well, we’ve found a way to successfully tackle one of the toughest questions in the watch community. 

It’s abundantly clear that the idea of the non-dominant hand is the best answer to this. Of course, this means that for some, wearing the watch on your right hand is best, while for the rest, it’s the left.

If you want to stick to social norms, this answer goes out the window. Hands/wrists are assigned to genders as males wear watches on their left while women on their right, so consider this. 

Thomas Vanderlaan
When Thomas Vanderlaan was a child, the moment he learned about mechanical watches he was hooked. His first love being mechanical watches, he decided to pursue a career in engineering as he was entranced by the science behind its gears. As the years passed, his passion grew. Although he worked a hectic career as an automobile engineer, he’d always collect watches during his spare time.
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