Here is one of the inalienable facts of life. If you see a man — or it could be a woman, we don’t discriminate — walking down a crowded street with one or both of his hands firmly behind his back, he is either wearing an expensive watch or he is a douchebag. Possibly both — it’s not unheard of for these two attributes to be present in the same person, and I’m speaking from experience here, I’ve totally been that person. (Told you we didn’t discriminate.)
Why one hand behind his back? Because he’s afraid that his watch might come into contact with something that might damage it. Why both hands behind his back? Because he realised how moronic he looks walking around with just one hand behind his back, like Napoleon with his coat on backwards or something.
What are these somethings that might damage a watch in the course of a leisurely stroll down the commercial thoroughfares of the 21st century? Depending on how much of the aforementioned douchebag quality you possess, even the briefest epithelial contact with the vast quivering mass of humanity might be all it takes to forever mar your pleasure in a watch. Don’t laugh; I’ve met people like this. Yes, they need help, but they do exist.
For the majority of watch owners, the greatest concentration of fear that we have in this area is to do with our watches picking up scratches or scars. Our threat assessment rubric becomes weirdly skewed — the roided-out skinhead with arms banded by poorly chosen tattoos gets a pass while the skinny tween in a Bedazzled jacket and Heelys is automatically given a wide berth.
The real danger of damage to your watch, however, has more in common with the former than the latter kind of interaction — in that the damage can’t really be seen. I’m talking about physical shocks and impacts, and the detrimental effect they have on your mechanical timepiece.