We watch geeks don’t have it easy. It’s hard work to keep a collection interesting.
The best way to keep your collection fresh and exciting is to experiment with watch straps. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of color. The same black and brown straps get boring pretty quickly.
In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to pick the best strap for your watch.
The easiest way to keep things interesting is to create visual contrast, and the best way to do that is with color.
There are two ways to go about this:
- Color theory
- Get inspiration from somewhere else
Color theory studies the visual effect of certain color combinations, often with the use of a color wheel. There’s also software that shows which color combinations look best.
You can use the color wheel to create the following color schemes:
One of the best-known color schemes is the complementary combination, also known as color-blocking. This technique has been used a lot in art and fashion. With this technique, you take two opposite colors of a color wheel to create exciting color combinations that complement each other.
Complementary color combination
Note that these combinations can clash, so only use it if you want to stand out and make a statement.
An analogous color scheme uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Pick one color and note the two or three colors to the left or right of it. These colors are an analogous group of colors.
Analogous color combination
The colors feel balanced and peaceful and are therefore pleasant to look at. Be careful that you have enough contrast if you decide to use this color scheme.
A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel, like a triangle.
Triadic color combination
The result is similar to an analogous scheme, but the colors are more vibrant and contrasting because the colors aren’t neighbors on the color wheel.
Get inspiration from somewhere else
If you don’t want to mess around with software or color wheels, you can look for inspiration somewhere else. Color theory has been popular since the 18th century, so you have three centuries full of material to choose from.
Some exciting areas to draw inspiration from are art, fashion, and interior design. Artists and designers are always looking for ways to create new items to please customers and spectators.
Steal the color combinations that work best.
Match the strap with the dial
The dial is the most striking feature of a watch, so it makes sense to match your watch strap with it.
As mentioned before, the easiest way to create contrast is with colors.
Take a picture of the dial or look for a picture online. Use a tool to find out the HEX-code of the dial. I use a Chrome extension called ColorZilla. Use the Page Color Picker and hover the mouse over the dial. The HEX-code is the one that starts with #
Use a generator like Coolors to generate matching colors.
Enter the HEX-code in the first strip and make sure to lock it by clicking on the padlock. Then, keep pressing the space bar for new combinations of colors that match the dial. If you only want to see different shades, tones, and tints of the dial color, you can select the monochromatic option in the settings.
The color generator uses color theory to generate colors, but you can also use a color wheel yourself to come up with some suggestions. Note that you can’t find black and white (or any of the shades) on a color wheel because these are universal colors or no colors at all. It depends on who you ask.
- White or silver dial: dark blue, medium to dark brown, medium to dark gray, and dark green
- Blue dial: medium gray, different shades of brown, taupe, and black
- Green dial: light brown, gray, cream, and tan
- Black dial: medium to dark blue, light gray, and light to medium brown
Match the strap with the case
Take a picture of your watch or find an image online, determine the HEX-code of the watch case, and play with the color generator to find some exciting matches. Or you can use a color wheel to come up with a few combinations yourself.
A couple of my favorites:
Stainless steel case
Combine stainless steel with a dark blue.
Gray and blue are both cool colors, so they naturally look good together. This is also something you see in nature. A bright blue sky with a few clouds, for example. Stainless steel with its gray undertones is the perfect neutral backdrop for blues.
Interior designers love to use this combo. Dark blue walls and gray furniture, like a sofa, are a hot combination.
Buren with a chrome-plated case, dark blue hands, and a dark blue strap.
Stainless steel matches well with different shades of brown.
Brown is a warm natural color, and steel is considered a colder tone. That’s why they look so good together. Opposites attract.
This combination is also fashionable in interior design. Gray walls or curtains and vintage wooden furniture is all the rage.
Whether dark brown or light brown is more suitable, depends on the color of the dial and the lume.
Combine stainless steel cases with a gray strap.
A gray watch band will look uniform and balanced because steel has gray undertones. A combination of shades of the same color is called a monochromatic combination. The color of the dial and the lume will determine what shade of gray will match best with your watch.
The combination of stainless steel and gray is used a lot in kitchen design. Think of a granite or slate countertop with a stainless steel faucet and appliances.
How about a taupe strap?
If you can’t choose between a brown and a gray strap, opt for a taupe one. Taupe is a mix of dark brown and gray and has attributes of both colors. Best of both worlds!
Combine gold cases with a black strap.
Black and gold are a classy combo that has been used for ages to radiate luxury by brands such as Gucci and Montblanc. You often see this combination on birthday cards and during New Year’s Eve parties. That’s because it works!
Red and gold are a well-known combo.
In Morocco or China, for example, this combination is used in interior design. Just like black and gold, the combination of red and gold is also used as a sign of wealth and luxury.
Not everybody is comfortable with wearing a red strap, so reddish-brown also works well. Burgundy or Chestnut are great options.
Longines with a gold-plated case and a burgundy watch band.
Gold and dark blue are very complimentary colors.
Dark blue is a peaceful and slightly cold color, while gold is a warm and vibrant color. This, of course, makes it an interesting pair.
No doubt you’ve seen this combination before. Think of navy blue and gold in military dress uniforms, for example. This combination is also reminiscent of the night sky.
The lume doesn’t stand out as much as the dial and the case, but it’s crucial for the overall appearance of a watch. Just ask all those lovers of vintage watches. Nothing beats discolored lume.
Lume comes in all kinds of colors, from white to all shades of yellow and brown.
You can use the color of the lume to finetune your choice of a watch strap. In my experience, a darker strap works well with light-colored lume, and a lighter strap works well with dark-colored lume.
- Stainless steel watch with a white dial and light lume = dark brown strap
- Stainless steel watch with a white dial and dark lume = medium brown strap
A dark brown strap pairs well with the stainless steel case, the light hands, and the lume. The color of the lume is picked up in the side stitch.
The last thing to keep in mind if you want to buy a new watch strap is your regular wardrobe.
A red strap might look stunning on your gold watch, but it’s out of place in an office environment with a strict dress code.
Pay attention if you often wear a belt. The two most popular colors for belts are brown and black. A watch strap in the same color as your favorite belt is probably best. Not because you can’t match black and brown because that’s a myth.
It’s because both the watch strap and the belt are accessories, and you shouldn’t wear too many different colors, mainly because the strap and belt are close together during the moments that your arm naturally hangs down the side of your body.
Don’t bother trying to find the same shade of brown. Close is close enough.
Let me finish by saying that there’s no such thing as the perfect watch strap, but some combinations work better than others.
In the end, all that matters is that you enjoy wearing your watches. So, have some fun with your collection and try something new now and then.