What is a watch one can wear on shabbat?

There are the analogue quartz watches with just one crown to adjust the time that (as far as I'm aware) most people would wear on shabbat (especially an expensive one since it's more like jewellery.)

Then there are the digital watches with various trinkets such as alarms, calculators and universal television remotes.

You can also get watches that record audio and video, watches that are phones and more futuristic, computers in their own right.

My question is, what is the extent of watches that one can wear on shabbat?

  • 4
    Are you deliberately ignoring the carrying-out-of-doors issue?
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 4:46
  • 1
    @msh210: say there's an eruv.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 14:12
  • 4
    @msh210 Assuming it's not mukzeh, the watch is designed to be worn, and wearing things does not constitute carrying.
    – 930913
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 19:00
  • 3
    @930913, that last is a big assumption when you're talking about watches, but okay.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 19:07
  • 2
    @AdamMosheh In many places it is Halachically impossible to build an Eruv.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 22:48

3 Answers 3



The issue would seem to be one of muktza - objects that may not be moved during shabas because they are not for shabas use. Let us assume that a standard watch is not muktza because it is a k'li shem'lachto l'heter - its normal usage is permitted on shabas. (See the last line of the long paragraph on this convenient Google hit.)

The complex devices to which you refer have this functionality as well as some other functionality. If the additional functionality were to prohibit the otherwise permissible watch, it must be because we assess those functions separately, as if it were a hybrid between a watch and [for example] a remote control. The latter would be a k'li shem'lachto l'isur - a tool whose normal usage is prohibited on shabas, which is consequently immovable barring special circumstances. If so, we have a case of one muktza object inextricably attached to one non-muktza object, which is addressed by Ramba"m in his Hilchos Shabas 25:14,15. He says that moving the assemblage for the permissible item is permitted while moving it for the prohibited item is prohibited.

The above makes the assumption that anything strapped to the wrist that has a clock face is defined as a watch regardless of its other accessories.

Edit in light of @SethJ: The other exceptional case you mentioned - an especially elegant watch that is considered jewelry - would generally not present a muktza problem on its own, but one could arise if it were so prized that one kept it around just for its value and not to wear. That category is "concern for chisaron kis - monetary loss". One's objects of business - like inventory for sale, and decorative artwork can be muktzim as well.

  • At what point does the concern for Ḥisaron Kis overtake and overwhelm Kavod Shabbath? If one wears a diamond-crusted watch only on Shabbath out of Kavod, is that problematic, because the watch is worth several thousand dollars and carries its own insurance policy? What if it's not diamond-encrusted but made by a very prestigious company and still retains a very high value? What if this is in a wealthy community and the wearer is also sporting diamond-crusted cufflinks and a platinum belt buckle? Where is the line drawn?
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:54
  • WAF, not to toot my own horn at all, but see this answer (judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12168/5) regarding Muktzeh MeḤamath Ḥisaron Kis. Merely being very valuable does not make a watch Muktzeh. To be Muktzeh, an object of great value would have to be used for something specific that one would not dare to use for any other purpose for fear of damaging it (special knife for a butcher); set aside specifically to avoid being used ever for fear of damaging it (collectibles, antiques, etc.); or merchandise, even Melachto LeHeter, that one wouldn't want to damage lest it become unsellable.
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 19:08
  • 1
    @sethj Those are interesting questions, and thank you for the correction. I have hopefully edited it in sufficiently.
    – WAF
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:35

In addition to what my predecessors wrote, today's smartwatches include two functions that must be disabled before Shabbat:

a. Communication: e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. If the smartwatch has "Airplane Mode", then you must turn it on. I don't think that turning off the "Bluetooth" will be enough, because there are more functions that should be disabled, but make a "She'elat-Hacham".

b. Touch: It's Psik-Reisha, and must be turned off. In some smartwatches (e.g. Pebble), there is no Touch, thanks G-d.

Disclaimer: I am not a Posek... ;-)

Edit on Dec. 7: After buying this watch (the "Time" model), I must comment that there is one more problematic sensor in Pebble: the Motion sensor. In order to wear it in Shabbat, one must disable this sensor, and I'm not sure it's possible. I'll investigate it, bli-neder, when I have time... ;-)


I would think to say from this daily Halacha that any watch that simply has the date/time is fine, but when you start to get involved with those "tv watches" there probably would be a problem because the watch is only a "tafel" to the tv. This is one of those serious cases of CYLOR

  • CYLOR - yes. "Serious cases" ... Not so sure.
    – Yehoshua
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 22:51

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