Should You Wear A Watch While Playing Guitar?


Many of us love watches and play musical instruments too. If you play guitar, ever wondered about this question: Should you wear a watch while playing guitar?

Opinions can vary if you should wear a watch while playing guitar. Some think it might hurt your wrist. Some say that since artists like Slash, John Mayer or Ed Sheeran wear them while playing guitar, it should be ok to do the same. Some also just like having something on their wrist.

We have also covered if you should wear a watch while playing the piano. If this interests you as well, feel free to check that out too.

Some people do not even see wearing a watch while playing guitar as an issue. Many prominent artists have been seen wearing a watch while performing on stage.

If professionals like them do not see it as an issue, why should mere mortals like us even fuss about it in the first place? Just strap on the watch, pick up the guitar, and rock away.

Pros: It feels Natural

We are so used to wearing watches that it feels odd without them to some of us. Some described it as ”feeling naked and exposed on the wrist.

Some also said that their wrist felt light and unnatural. This is expected since watches carry some weight. If we wear them all the time, our hands have gotten used to the weight and have adapted to it. 

To some, this could be enough to interfere with performance, especially if we have been rehearsing and practicing while wearing watches.

Pros: Metronome On Your Wrist

Some guitar players like to use the watch to calculate beats, like a metronome. This is possible if the watch movement is quartz. 

In a typical quartz movement, it equals a second when the second hand ticks. Since it ticks every second, the rhythm is 60 beats per minute. 

If you need anything faster, say 120 beats per minute, you can adjust to the beat by calculating faster in your head. 

Transfer that rhythm to your foot, and you can now play your guitar while tapping the beat with your foot. Who says you need a metronome?

Cons: Wrist Might Hurt

The downside of wearing a watch while playing guitar is that it might hurt your wrist. 

If you wear a watch on your non-dominant hand, you are likely to have your watch on your wrist responsible for pressing the fretboard. 

To press the right chord on the fretboard, your wrist has to flex and bend to allow maximum finger power to press the chords down tight and clean. Barre chords, for example, often require you to curl your wrist to the max.

These might be difficult when you have a watch on your wrist.

Plus, a watch might restrict your tendon and muscles and force them to ”fight” your watch strap. You might end up with a sore wrist and lower forearm.

Cons: Scratches & Knocks On Guitar

A watch could also have the potential to scratch and knock on your guitar, damaging and causing marks on your guitar. 

The guitar tends to be made of wood, which can be a relatively soft surface. The lacquer or clear coat finishing on guitars is also prone to scratches.

When playing guitar with a watch, the watch face tends to be facing away from the guitar fretboard.

The bottom part of the watch strap will often connect and touch the guitar. 

Suppose your watch strap is a metal bracelet. In that case, the likelihood of your watch scratching your guitar fretboard will be much higher. 

This is because metal bracelets are harder than wood, and the bracelet links might scratch your guitar easier. 

Even if your watch strap is leather, the pin and buckle on the strap are often metal. This could also scratch and leave marks on your guitar as well. 

Cons: Slides around Wrist

Another issue with wearing watches while playing guitar is they could be sliding around, interrupting and discomforting you as you play.

Some of us like to wear our watch tight, so we would not have issues with this. We will instead have to deal with potential wrist and lower forearm soreness. 

But if you prefer to wear your watch loose, the watch may slide around while you are playing. 

If you think about how our hands may be ”flying” and adjusting all the time while we’re on the guitar, you can imagine the discomfort this might cause. 

If your watch has a metal bracelet, the constant moving and sliding could cause the metal links to make additional sounds. 

So, should you wear a watch while playing guitar? As you can see, there are pros and cons to wearing a watch to play guitar. We think it is a matter of personal preference.

The further sections in this article will discuss the watches for guitar players, assuming you prefer to wear a watch while playing guitar.

What Watch Is Suitable For Playing Guitar?

A watch suitable for playing guitar would need to be small, light, and thin, with a small crown and minimal pushers. The straps should be the soft type, with quartz movement the best. 

The idea is to have a small, minimal watch with an excellent grip to establish some presence on the wrist, function as a metronome, and not hinder your performance. The watch strap should also protect your guitar.

Small & Light

A small and light watch is enough to establish some presence on the wrist. This helps remove the sense of ”nakedness and weirdness” that many watch wearers feel when not having anything on the wrist. 

Small watches have a lesser chance of hindering your hand and finger movement. Small watches tend to be light, meaning they would add less weight to the wrist. 

Thin

When working with a guitar, your watch-wearing hands may be moving around it.

You will be picking up the guitar and setting up the amps. When playing it, your hands move up and down the fretboard.

The risk of having your watch knocking on your guitar is higher if your watch is thick. 

You may have to reconsider thicker watches such as a dive watch since they often have raised bezels. 

Small Crown & No Pushers

To reduce the likelihood of your watches hindering your guitar playing, you could also do best with a watch with as few ”catch points’ as possible. 

These refer to possible places that may get caught on the guitar strings and wires. 

That means, if best, the watch crown should be small, and the watch pushers should be small as well.

It will be best if the watch doesn’t even have additional pushers. 

Taking that into account, you might want to put your chronograph watches aside since they have crowns and pushers that may damage your guitar. 

Soft Straps & Soft Fastener

The watch should also have soft straps that do not scratch your guitar. 

Guitars are usually made of either wood or synthetic materials. They are then given a clear coat finishing. 

If your watch strap is a metal bracelet, you risk leaving knock marks on your guitar or scratching your guitar’s clear coat surface. 

Watch straps of softer materials such as leather, silicone, or polyurethane would be better.

On another note, when you place your hand in a usual playing position, the part of the watch that is in contact with your guitar the most would be the bottom part of your watch.

That is where the watch fasteners are, as they can also scratch and leave knock marks on your guitar. 

Most watch fasteners are made of metal, clasps, or the standard pin and buckle watch strap fastener. These could scratch your guitar. 

Perhaps a watch fastener made of plastic or velcro would be a better choice, as they are softer than wood, and 

Quartz

This is not a must, but if the watch carries a quartz movement, then the watch could play an additional function as a metronome. 

You can look at the second hand and assume the hand movement at 60 beats per minute. 

Then you count the beat in your head, adjust the speed to your need, transfer that to your foot, and you now have a beat to play to. 

Who needs a metronome when your quartz watch works just fine?

Best Affordable Watches To Wear When Playing Guitar

The most suitable watches for guitar players under $100 are:

  • Timex Easy Reader
  • Timex Expedition Acadia
  • Casio F91-W
  • Armitron Sport 45/7004
  • Swatch GM416C

These watches are small, light and thin. They also run on quartz movement, with soft straps such as velcro, resin and silicon to protect your guitar.

Timex Easy Reader

This iconic watch has a clean and crisp white dial with quartz movement, perfect for reading time and telling beat. The watch is thin, light, and small at only 35mm in diameter. 

The watch has a small crown and comes with a nylon velcro strap – that’s a perfect soft surface to avoid stretching your guitar. 

Timex Expedition Acadia

This watch is light, small, runs on quartz, and has a velcro strap option. Perfect for guitar playing. 

The watch also has a 40mm diameter resin case, which is softer than stainless steel. The velcro strap ensures a smooth and soft surface on the strap. Combine these two, and you will have a watch that is much less likely to scratch or leave knock marks on your guitar.

Casio F-91W

The legendary Casio F-91W is tough, so tough terrorists use it to make bombs. It is surprisingly suitable for guitar playing as well.

The watch is small and thin, with 37mm diameter and 10mm thickness. Meaning it is also light and less likely to hinder your hand movement. The pushers are small and non-protruding. 

The case, strap, and buckle are made of resin as well. This combination is less likely to scratch your guitar than metal.

Armitron Sport 45/7004

If you prefer a digital display and want a velcro strap for 100% scratch protection for your guitar, go ahead and snag this Armitron. 

The watch has a 39mm diameter, small and light. The buttons are also smooth and do not protrude too much from the watch case. The velcro strap feels secure on the wrist and does not scratch or leave knock marks on your guitar. 

Swatch GM416C

Should You Wear A Watch While Playing Guitar

If you insist on something lighter in color and nothing but Swiss watches, then this Swatch GM416C is for you. 

It is small and thin at 33mm in diameter and 10mm in thickness, making it light. The watch has a silver dial with a Swiss quartz movement beating inside. The strap is silicone, with a resin pin and buckle. This should be less likely to scratch your guitar.

Opinions can vary if you should wear a watch while playing guitar. Some think it might hurt your wrist. Some say that since artists like Slash, John Mayer or Ed Sheeran wear them while playing guitar, it should be ok to do the same. Some also just like having something on their wrist

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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