A Beginner’s Guide To Watches – Dolly Alderton

She may have dating, style and hangover-solving advice to boot, but what of luxury watches? Dolly Alderton tackles the unknown (with some rather positive results).


I’ll be totally honest – I’ve never worn a watch. I blame the absence of a watch on why I have spent the last 27 year being perpetually late. Anything from ten minutes (good day) to two hours (bad day). But a steadfast constant. Always late.

Over the years, I have been urged to buy a watch by exasperate family members, friends and boyfriends. And it is something I’ve considered in passing, along with an ISA account, and an ability to drive, but like most accoutrements of adulthood, I always end up shrugging them off.

Here’s the truth: I’ve never let anything functional and necessary get in the way of a good outfit. Not a heavy coat, nor socks nor a watch; I just think they distract from an ensemble rather than add to it. Which is why I am often cold or my feet are sometimes blistered and it’s why I’m always, always late.

Enter: elegant watches. Watches that you can team with your favourite day-time staples but can also look elegant when matched with a formal outfit in the evening. Vintage-inspired watches. Watches that sit like pieces of jewellery. How surprised I was to find there are luxury watches that are cool and understated rather than ornate and heavy. Perhaps, there’s no such thing as being fashionably late any more. Perhaps the most fashionable thing is to wear a beautiful watch – and be on time!

So, for fellow luxury watch novices, let me take you through three of the most stylish choices for a watch-phobic fashionista. There’s the Longines La Grande Classique that features a slim strap, minimal gold caseback and a simple dial and face. With it’s old-school 70s feel, it would do nothing but enhance a 70s inspired outfit. Think: brown suede, waistcoats, high-waisted kick-flare jeans, knee high boots. Where preppy intersects with boho is exactly where this watch feels at home.

Then there’s this beauty – the Ronde Solo de Cartier: it could almost make an outfit on its own. Bold but no less elegant, it features a statement monochrome face, a thick gold caseback and electric blue hands (a signature of the brand, or so I’m told). I’m picturing it with a classic Breton top and denim cut-offs for a modern, effortless look in the day or some stacked gold rings and a jewel-coloured shift dress for night. This is a piece for women who like to make directional choices in their clothes and accessories; the electric blue accents are as unexpected as they are fashion forward.

But for a real statement, the Gucci Diamantissima watch is perfect for earning some serious sartorial points. All black, with the iconic Gucci print to the dial instead of numbers (who needs numbers when it’s this gorgeous?), gold detailing and a smooth black strap; it’s more a piece of jewellery than it is a tool for telling the time. I think this was made for an all-black outfit; black polo neck, black cigarette pants, black ballet pumps. Take it for cocktails on a Friday night and feel safe in the knowledge that it may even get you home before midnight (that’s a maybe).

For more colourful days, the black and gold would be set-off perfectly by a crimson red silk shirt, matching lip and skinny jeans. It is undoubtedly a classic watch that can carry off a matching timeless look, but it’s versatile enough to pull together an outfit that’s more unexpected.

Can’t choose between them? Do what men do – buy all three. Wear the Longines for everyday wear, the Cartier for a real fashion statement and the Gucci for chic, sleek eveningwear elegance.

And don’t put the watch on last – these are watches that should be put on first to help you decide what the rest of your outfit should be. Straight after a mist of your favourite perfume (my advice: retro Clinique Aromatics Elixer for the Longines, elegant Frederic Malle Portrait of A Lady for the Cartier and bold Aqua Di Parma would go with the Gucci).

The world of watches is not just for men. If you choose the right one carefully it has just as much wearability in your wardrobe as all your other capsule pieces: the LBD, the white silk shirt, the skinny jeans. In your perfectly curated wardrobe, there is also space for the watch. And unlike a trusty black blazer or your favourite navy round-neck jumper; it will make sure you are always on time. Well, that’s down to you in the end but at least you’ll look elegant when you turn up late.



Credit: Photography: Jack Spencer Ashworth