Why Do People Wear Watches Upside Down? – 7 Incredible and Compelling Reasons

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You probably had seen some people wearing a wristwatch facing inwards such that the watch’s face is on the inside side of their wrist. You may had though its as a possible mistake and that got you thinking. However, wearing a wristwatch with the face on the top of one’s wrist is not a common style but it is not a mistake. Across many occupations, to wear the watch with the case turned down was common decades ago and absolutely necessary in extreme situations.

Though this practice of watch wearing style has largely shifted away and fallen out of fashion, few people still prefer it, since it could be practical and convenient. Wearing a watch upside down is just a style that is suitable in some situations. So lets understand why do people wear watches upside down exactly.

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Wearing watch under the wrist?

Wearing a watch under your wrist means the watch dial shows downward when you hold your hand face down(straight out). I have been seeing lots of people wearing watches upside down – on the inside of the wrist, in real life. I have also seen guys wear their wristwatches backward, in TV and movies especially like the one of John Wick below.

If there was no convenience in it, no one person would even love doing it, talk less of recommending it in some jobs. Not everyone agrees with the style, but it is understandable that the need to wear it under the wrist is professional (like for military) and someone who is not in that profession does know the reason.

If you wear your watches like that, you have your very good reason? But do you know why people wear watches upside down? Before we jump to find out why someone would wear a watch inside wrists, let first look at the kind of people who wear watches backward or upside down as many call it.


wearing watch upside down
Img,: John Wick wears his watch in an uncommon way


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People who wear watches upside down

Did you know any group of people who wear watch inside wrist?


1. Military soldiers, law enforcement officers or SOF operators

You would find that SOF operators wear their wristwatches face inwards, though most people reason it as “military fashion” style of dressing, that is common with special operations forces. In fact, military personnel and police officers are among the many candidates you would find wearing a watch upside down.

Combat fields wearables look funny sometimes – you will agree with me that special army sometime wear camouflage field dresses to keep away enemy. That is a kind of strange looking military dress with an advantage. In the same way, there there is big advantage for why military men, and people who regularly use guns like hunters, would wear watches backwards.

Tactical watches for the army are very useful tools that watch companies specifically design for the combat field men. Watches made for military use are indestructible and there’s not fear of breaking them. In a war zone, the most important part becomes the ease of use and lack of glare.


Why do soldiers wear watches backwards?

Why do you think SOF operators wear their tactical wristwatches face inwards? For the reasons to apply for why other military men wear watches backwards, we look into their operations and rules during combat field operations. Lets go get started with some specific reasons:

Tactical needs

When holding a gun with a long barrel that lies on the left arm as support, the best and natural position to easily read time is have you watch flipped over to the side of the wrist facing you. Else, as a soldier,  it would require you stop aiming the riffle, turn your left wrist around to glance over watch dial, which could potentially cost your life or death of friends.

For ease of timekeeping while aiming a rifle, it appears more convenient to glance over the watch dial when a soldier wears the watch inside(upside down) his wrist. Wearing watches upside down offers a gunman an easy ability to check the time without moving (turning) his wrist. It is probable that an arm movement can reveal soldiers position in his hide out, so you wouldn’t expect an army in mist of enemies to turn over his arm(or turn away his face from the target) just to read time.

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Military Dressing Code

Since the first World War when the first few watches were designed for combating, wearing a watch inside wrist has been a military fashion for decades. Shooting  while wearing gloves and watch at same time can and might hurt soldier’s wrist. Some military commanders do enforce wearing watches backward as a combat rule, in rugged and wild territories. Probably, as the only possible way for his armed men to avoid injury or reveal their hiding places – so they would have to wear the watch upside down.

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2. Nurses/EMT/Paramedics

It’s not just Police, Fire and military personnel that wear their watches with the face on the inside of their wrist. Medical professionals also do.

Apart from the reason to wear a watch facing inward on the wrist being to protect the watch face, to prevent a significant amount of potential scratches, there are several specific reasons why nurses with physically demanding jobs might wear their watches inside of their wrist.

When taking pulses under time constrains during emergency, it is a much natural motion to rotate wrist towards the outward to see a watch face, than pronate the same arm inward while holding a medical tool.

EMT and paramedics can often mistakenly get multiple scratches and ultimately a shattered their paramedic watch crystal glass, when running between emergency rescue calls.

Ambulance workers could easily break their watch glass against the old models of stretchers when lifting it into ambulance vehicle. Switching to place the wristwatch face on the inside of the arm can prevent destruction of the emt watch glass.

Practically, it is also easier for for emergency workers and nurses to make taking vitals and check pulse rates without turning the arm round.

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Exceptionally for nurses:

Most people won’t agree with nurses wearing wrist watches with watch face upside down for disease prevention reasons. The amount of cross-infection from working with patients might be very common with a watch on the wrist. In addition, medical workers cannot adequately clinically clean hands while wearing a watch, so this is why most nurses and paramedics choose to wear lapel fob watches with a pin to hang upside down on their chest.


3. Divers

Like other professions, divers also tend to wear their diving watches and dive computers inside their wrist. During the ascent, it is normal for a diver to operate the helium release valve of his watch or the discharge valve of his BC(buoyancy compensater) , so it need that the watch/computer face must be constantly visible. If you have ever tried Ingress game for divers, you’ll know wearing the divers watch on inside of your wrist is the best way to contiguously see the watch face underwater.


4. People with big veins on wrist

For comfortability, you will see some individuals wear their watch upside down. Some persons have large or bigger veins on the outer part of their wrist. Wearing a watch the conventional way such that the watch winder slays on these large wrists may cause some irritations. Watch owners that experience such inconvenience due to irritations can choose to wear digital watches(without winders) or turn round their automatic wrist watches to wear backward on the inside of the wrist.


5. Construction workers

Watches meant for a construction worker should  be worn upside down for obvious reasons of avoiding it from being crushed or let hanging onto rods, heavy duty construction equipments. Since builder often work with their hands, workers should wear work watches on the inside of the wrist.



Good Reasons Why Someone would wear a watch upside down

Wearing watch on inside of wrists has some pretty good reasons and I am sure you are going to enjoy them. These reasons may seem insane to others, but to the wearer, that is the best option to go for.

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1. To Avoid damaging the watch face and dial

Some professions like in defense and construction demand that their watches be designed to be durable and unbreakable. The regular style of wearing a watch on top of wrist can expose good tool watches to risk of damage by impacts and scratches.

If you can understand, that is why watchmakers would produce outdoor watches that are tougher. In my opinion, except a watch for construction workers is nearly indestructible I recommend tactical professionals wear their watches backward to actually protects them against damage, when they’re in a rugged terrain.

This does not mean that even the the strongest watches can not be susceptible to devastating scratches or being crushed by blunt forces from collisions and accidents. An unnecessary damage to the watch face can be caused when bumping into objects (– doors, walls, vehicle, counters, handles, trees and stones) happens so often .


2. For a Quick Glance to easily read time

Wearing a watch under wrist makes the watch dial hands easier to see and read. If not for this common reason, wearing a watch inside wrist would obviously be strange dressing style that is purely unacceptable. An easy views of the face is the ultimate reason.

People who regularly use tools, hold a rifle or operate weapons, would confirm that sometime, it a job necessity that you place and hold your arms in a fixed position for time. To keep track of time while the arm remains fixed where is is required for the job, flipping your watch to face you, is the best option.

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3. To Prevent glaring and reflections

Avoiding reflection and glare is important for every human being with eyes. Wong handle of glare can cause irreparable damage in a battlefield.

During nightly operations, an accidental lume light glow from the watch dial markings can give away soldier’s position in situations where stealth and secrecy are of at-most importance in in a combat environment.

Similarly, it is most logical that a moonlight can reflect at night(a sunlight can reflect in a day) off the watch crystal glass. To prevent compromising revealing the gunman’s position, a soldier needs to wear his watch on the inside of the wrist so that it won’t reflect light off of the watch face.

Glaring is not something to ignore, as a civilian. When driving along the highway in a sunny day, avoiding glare is as important as be careful when holding the steering. This can prevent a sudden stray beam of light from getting the other drivers blinded and causing an accident.

If you are pulling a vehicle, it’s paramount to avoid wearing watches conventionally. A situational incidence caused by reflections, by flipping your watch around, and letting the watch dial face inside.

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 4. Ergonomics reason

Having your watch flipped with the wrist watch face inside wrist, is one good way to discreetly check and read time where it is disrespectful not proper to do so. Does it appear inappropriate during a speech, to turn over your arm, to check time? Oh hell no, you would not disgrace yourself in that manner, if you were the one giving out a speech.

As a result, if you know you are going to glance over your time during your speech, it is advisable you turn your watch face towards the inside part of your wrist. The  psychological reason for wearing a wrist watch where the face plate is under the wrist is to put the time in your face multiple times per day. Just know that it’s somewhat unnatural to turn your wrist to check the time during occasions.

If you are a public figure, unconsciously, you would become more aware of the timekeeping with your watch upside down.


5. To avoid body Movement

At the least, this style of how many people wear watches facing downward under the wrist is to check the time using minimal movements and without taking your hands off the rifle(as a  soldier engaging the enemy) of off patients (as a nurse or paramedic worker). Wearing watch  inside wrist(upside down) is the only ultimate way for checking the time in moments where you need absolute silence, with little or no body movements.


6. To easily See through the watch dial

One reason for wearing watch upside down is the type of watch you have on your wrist. If you are going to enjoy the way a mechanical automatic skeleton watch works, you are going to like staring into its continuously moving gear train. It is either you pull off the watch from the wrist and look at the skeleton watch dial with inner working components or you wear the skeleton watch with the watch face on the inside of your wrist. You are going to seamlessly look into the running mechanical system of your skeleton watch only if you are wearing it upside down.

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7. To easily use smartwatch

One advantage of wearing a watch facing inwards is to make smartwatch easier to use or manipulate. You know it is hard, sometmes to swipe the thumb across  the small screen of a smart watch. To manipulate the watch tough-screen with the pointer finger, your smartwatch must be turned backward with the dial downwards. practically, your thumb is designed for for pressing things like buttons and not for swiping. Imagine how you push on video game console or remote control or mobile phone keyboard.


apple watch orientation makes it convenient to wear apple watch upside down

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Why wear apple watch upside down?

Having an apple watch means you will probably be making a lot of  tapping, swiping, and pressing the button. The way apple watch is designed, and considering the default apple watch orientation and the position of the apple watch button, you’ll need to constantly move your finger front and back between the display and the watch dial, which is king of uncomfortable.

When it comes to wearing apple watches, technically, we are not talking of wearing watch inside wrist as we have seen above. We mean, simply rotating the apple watch to let the button align with your thumb. Let’s go see why do people wear watches upside down.

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Easy button press

Wearing the smart watch upside down(technically not inside wrist), when you get it flipped around, that makes it much easier for your pointer finger to just swipe and tap while giving your thumb a perfect alignment to push the button.


Easy scrolling

In that position of apple watch orientation of the crown, you thumb is well positioned to make adjustments very quickly involving the scroll features. Even scrolling the tiny wheel on the apple watch becomes easier.


Easy access to microphone

A standalone smartwatch like an Apple Watch, comes with a tiny little microphone. You will need to talk louder to the microphone on the other opposite side of the watch case, from your mouth. When you get the apple watch oriented or rotated so that the microphone is closer to your face, you can talk directly to the microphone gently,  much like a CIA agent.

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The downside of wearing watch inside wrist

There are cons of wearing a watch upside down despite the numerous compelling benefits and reasons we highlighted above. So what is the disadvantage wearing your watch upside down. Here are some of the few challenges that come with it.

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Fastening becomes difficult

It becomes pretty stressful and time consuming wearing a watch backward with watch face inside the wrist. So the very first challenge is in fastening the strap and buckle. This is because the watch makers don’t expect you wear the watch in the reverse, so they keep the buckling closure mechanism in one direction.

It appears formally insane on your wrist

For men, wearing watch inside wrist  looks officially awkward for many people, this is very normal when we see a woman wear watch upside down. Because mens watches are designed bigger, with wider straps and watch face, you can’t imagine how it looks when the bulkier watch face appear on the inside of wearer’s wrist.  Most people, on formal occasions may label you as improperly dressed.

Stocked Watch button

While you move along and swing your arms,your hand can get stocked in your dresses if you wear a watch with large crown button(s).  That is common with men as the bulky button is held by the pocket of his trouser.

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Wrap Up

Not everyone must be a nurse or a soldier to wear a watch the inside out on wrist, but it is absolutely necessary in situations where absolute attention is required. Even if you don’t love it, trey as much to understand moments(driving, formal occasions, attending to patients, military or law enforcement) when you have to wear your watch turned around on your wrist, in case you’re going to need to track time.

Finally, as to why people wear watches upside down, my answer is that it is situational, so, many people sometimes switch around their watches depending on the task they’ve got at hand.


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