Wearing Two Watches at the Same Time
There's a famous saying among watch lovers that goes, "a man with two watches never knows what time it is." But all jokes aside, there are many reasons why it can be a good idea to wear two watches simultaneously, and we'll also see who is known to do it habitually.
Why someone wears two watches at the same time is similar to why do people wear watches upside down: we might not understand the reason, but peaople usually have a few interesting justifications why they do that. Are you ready to find them out together?
What is it called when you wear two watches?
Wearing two timepieces is known between watch lovers as "double wristing." It is a peculiarity practiced by some people for different reasons. It has spread mainly lately with the appearance of smartwatches since many watch lovers appreciate the convenience of these handy devices but refuse to abandon their beloved traditional watches for them. And historical examples confirm that double wristing is not just a modern invention but it has been practiced in the past as well.
Is it OK to wear two watches?
Wearing a watch, especially today, has a different meaning than fifty years ago. Back then, there was no other way to know the time other than owning a watch: computers and mobile phones did not exist. So, at the time, it was indispensable to wear a watch, whereas today wearing a traditional timepiece is a choice.
And as such, this choice transforms the object worn - the watch - into an element of style. People no longer wear a watch because they need it, but above all, they do it because they like it. And this is why nowadays, wearing two watches, and not just one, is above all an element of style which also has practical functions, precisely like wearing a shirt with cufflinks instead of a shirt with buttons. So, the question is not whether it's OK in general, but only whether it's OK for you in particular. If it suits your lifestyle, then it is ok.
Why do people wear two watches?
People wear two watches for different reasons, and all of them are valid since wearing one timepiece (or two) is a personal style choice, which sometimes has practical reasons. And some particular ones would never come to mind if you didn't analyze why people are doing it.
1 - Smartwatch
A smartwatch represents one of the most common choices of double wristing. If you lead a life where it is essential always to be ready and reachable, a smartwatch, although not necessary, is very helpful. After all, this function represents the evolution of an older, phone-based technology, the pager, which was well-diffused. We often see it in old US TV shows, in the pockets of doctors and police officers: today, smartphones and smartwatches perform a similar function.
2 - Fitness and health monitoring devices
This kind of devices are used almost are indeed specialized systems tracking our biometric stats, and represent specialized smartwatches: they are mostly used by athletes or by people who must constantly monitor their health conditions. We know from the news how effective these devices have been in the past in saving lives.
3 - Other specialized wrist systems
While this sounds like sci-fi, it is much more mundane than this. Back in time, divers used watches to track their descent into the blue: today they use specialized devices known as diving computers, which calculate precisely and automatically decompression stops and every data concerning the immersion.
4 - Tracking different timezones
Although this use is less common today (after all, watch companies invented GMT watches for this reason), instead of buying a new timepiece, watch collectors might as well wear two when they need them, one set on one timezone and the other on the other.
In fact, that's what people like Fidel Castro, who on a visit to Moscow in 1963 displayed two different Rolexes on the same wrist, or, more recently, General Schwarzkopf, during his command of U.S. forces in the Gulf War, did with a Rolex on one wrist and a Seiko on the other.
5 - Redundancy
This is an important and underestimated aspect. There are trades and activities where it is advisable to have two different watches so that if one breaks, you always have the other one available. And this concerns everything when you are alone or away from civilization - and the services of a watchmaker.
Examples abund: as said above, professional divers often wear two watches, the "main" dive computer and a backup diver's watch. Or, military personnel - having two watches on a mission could mean the difference between life and death. And last, astronauts.
6 - Precision
In some cases, accuracy can be critical. So, when testing a watch on the field, having a spare watch can help assess its performance. Of course, this is a particular area, but if you're a watchmaker, scientist, or writer of blogs specializing in watchmaking, you already know!
7 - Fashion
This is the most fun reason. If you feel like wearing two watches, why not? During the boom of these cute little plastic watches, the CEO of Swatch would even display three or four together at his wrists, chosen from the most colorful and fashionable models.
After all, the reason for using the first Swatch was just that: a watch that became a fashion accessory and had to be used like that. Some celebrities today do the same - but not with Swatches.
Symbolism of wearing two watches
When the watch was still a true luxury good, wearing two watches certainly had a social message as well, something that is primarily lost today. What side do men wear watches? Easy: it is usually the non-dominant hand. Wearing two watches on different wrists, the dominant and the non-dominant, was undoubtedly broadcasting a message: that the wearer did not have the need to do hard manual work. And wearing two, would send it stronger.
This power play was very rooted in class dynamics back then, but certainly less relevant today, when many of the jobs we do cause intellectual fatigue more than physical. Double wristing in the 2020s sends a broader range of signals, and we observers can only assume, but certainly should not think of them as the truth.
What also remains difficult to interpret, by the way, is the fact that some people wear two watches on the same wrist - something that horrifies certain collectors who consider a single minor scratch on a bracelet a kind of sacrilege. But here, we get back to the assumed role of the watch as an accessory. The horologist loves the watch for itself, while the fashionista employs it as a style tool - using it without idolizing it.
WHO usually wears two watches (or more)?
Here we come to the most awaited section by those who love gossip as well as watches. We have selected four celebrities who practice double-wristing, but there are many more.
1 - Astronauts
One person who often wears two - or more - watches is the famous Buzz Aldrin, who in some interviews wears even three. Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, is renowned for his character, which he recently demonstrated (despite his age), punching a flat earther who accused him of never having been on the Moon. Most astronauts and former astronauts like Buzz continue to wear watches in pairs, even on Earth: remember that astronauts are first and foremost pilots. And pilots wear pilots watches, often in pairs.
2 - Athletes
Let's go fishing in basketball to find one of the greatest champions who have graced the parquet field, LeBron James. The NBA and Space Jam 2 star combines his Rolex Pearlmaster - definitely a glitzy watch, with its bezel decorated with precious stones - with a handy Apple Watch to stay in touch with his fans. Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentinian soccer champ, always wore a couple watches, one showing the time at his habitual residence while the other was set at the timezone he was in.
3 - Musicians
Double wristing is not an age thing. Like the 90+ year old Aldrin, it is also practiced by the young and talented Billie Eilish, who wears a pair of identical watches, namely two 28mm Chanel Boy-Friend Tweed watches in 18k beige gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds. But so do other world-class music stars like Drake (whose love for watches is well-known), Justin Bieber, Offset and Tyga.
4 - Actors
A character as whimsical and irreverent as Bill Murray would be a suspect of double wristing, and indeed he does. Bill was photographed at the Cannes Film Festival with two very different watches: on the one hand, a Cartier Tank - suitable for his role as a movie star - and on the other a Timex Easy Read, a watch that can be bought in any mall for a few tens. Who knows what Bill was trying to tell us at that moment, with his perpetually sly smile? But playing in the same double-wrist team we find people like Chris Pratt, Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp.
Wearing a smartwatch and a regular watch
As we've seen, many people, famous and not, used to wear different kinds of timepieces like a dress watch and a smartwatch simultaneously, and as we said, they do so for substantially different reasons. But one more thing comes to mind. At the end, the smartwatch vs. regular watch debate doesn't have a winner and cannot have one.
Traditional watches and smartwatches are two different objects, based on two completely different needs, and therefore cannot be simply overlapped. That's why so many people, although both timepieces have a function in common, namely that of telling the time, choose not to choose, and simply wear both: after all, we have two arms.
Wearing two watches at the same time might seem counterintuitive if we're moderate or downright risky if we're more explicit - but for sure, it has motivations that are sometimes much deeper than mere exhibitionism.
So, the next time you meet someone who wears a couple of watches, maybe ask them why they do instead of holding onto your curiosity. After all, it could simply be that they want to make it easier to start a conversation.