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Which watch for: A spell in jail

by Michael Weare
18 June, 2013
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email:


With the current trend in Britain for certain senior celebrities suddenly finding themselves disgraced and jailed, we decided to take a look at prison gear and prison watches.

In most modern British jails many inmates wear their own clothes. In America, one jail took the idea even further and decided to set up an in-jail manufacturing company that makes clothes. The company was established in 1989 when the State of Oregon was challenged to create jobs for inmates at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. Following feasibility studies, a 47,000 square foot facility was constructed. Thus, the birth of the Prison Blues Jeans Factory, slogan ‘made on the inside to be worn on the outside’. The brand makes prison wear a fashion item. Prison chic is apparently in.

Meanwhile, on the hard and unremitting inside, many jails permit inmates to wear their own clothing after a settling in period where a uniform is mandatory. Sneakers, or trainers as we like to call them in the UK, become prized commodities to be traded, fought over and often ‘half inched’ (stolen).

Watches and alarm clocks are also allowed in jail. Yes, even in jail you do need a watch. Even though time may hang heavy, you need to know when it’s chow time, knocking off time from whatever tedious job you are assigned, and of course, when it’s time to make yourself scarce.

Here are our prison inspired recommendations should you be unlucky enough to find yourself about to serve some porridge. We even go as far as to show you the right choices versus the wrong choices.


The right choice: Vans Prison Issue Skate Shoes

Vans Prison Issue Skate Shoe


Since 1966 Vans has been at the heart of skateboarding. That tradition continues with the wide range of styles of Vans shoes available today including these so called Prison Issue skate shoes. If you’ve skated right off the tracks, these flexible canvas upper and heavy rubber soled shoes come in a range of colours and are designed to retain a certain level of cool on the inside without inspiring too much sneaker envy from other inmates thereby leaving you vulnerable to becoming suddenly shoeless.

The wrong choice: Nike Air Jordan XX8

Air Jordan XX8

These hot blue camo Nike Air Jordan’s can only be worn if you are the undisputed king of B Wing. For anyone else they would either not be allowed, or not be in any way wise. Their loud, proud and ultra cool look, coupled with being the most desirable brand name in all sneakerdom would put these babies at the top of any con’s list for illicit acquisition. Your prized Air Jordans would definitely be lifted in less than 60 seconds.


The right choice: Fila grey jogging bottoms

Fila grey jogging bottoms

No one is going to get a bad case of the little green eyed monster over these plain grey cotton jogging bottoms. The Fila logo is enough to make inmates understand you are trying to retain some basic level of street cred without resorting to Primark no-name jogging bottoms. You’ll be safe in these, and they’ll team well with your grey Vans Prison Issue skate shoes.

The wrong choice: Decorated designer jeans

Designer jeans

Attempt to do your bird in a pair of highly decorated designer jeans and you’ll be someone’s unhappy wife before sundown. Fancy back pockets may look chic on the Kings Road, but in Her Majesty’s prisons they are a recipe for all the wrong kind of attention. Leave the Dolce & Gabbana’s, the Prada’s and Evisu’s for when you finally touch the green, green grass of home.


The right choice: PRSN BLU Work Shirt

Prsn Blu work shirt

The boys who make these clothes for the outside, know a thing or two about what looks acceptable on the inside. This practical hard wearing grey striped work shirt with two breast pockets is just what you need for long hours of sorting and shifting prison laundry, or mopping acres of corridor tiles.

The wrong choice: Alexander Mc Queen shirt

Alexander McQueen shirt

Don’t worry, this electric yellow number wouldn’t even get past a routine property search upon arrival because the wardens will know, a shirt like this could spark a prison riot – a riot of amusement and cruel mockery, and you’ll be reduced to pulp in the prison shower on the first night unless you can really carry it off. It’s more likely though that some attention starved beast will carry you off to his bunk to get up close and personal with this £1000.00 shirt from top fashion label Alexander McQueen.


The right choice: MWC G10 Military Quartz

MWC G10 Quartz Military

This small, military watch from milspec brand MWC is just the kind of discreet, reliable timepiece you need on the inside. No one is going to have an attack of the ‘gimme gimme’s’ when you sport this plain, grey NATO strapped number, but it still has everything you need. Sensible three hander time telling, long lasting Tritium luminous hands and markers and the date at 3 o’clock. These low cost watches are of rigorous milspec quality, they’re issued to the British Army who have considered all the same points of practicality and plain looks so as not make their squaddies feel the pangs of Rolex envy.

Alternative choice: Casio F91-W

Casio F-91W

Although an iconic Casio classic, this cheap, simple, ever popular digital watch is ubiquitous enough to deter light fingers on the inside. The F91-W is a huge seller worldwide. It shows the day of the week, day of the month, hour, minute, seconds, and the signs for PM or 24H (24-hour clock), alarm signal, and hourly signal – double beep on the hour – marking off each hour you serve. You can pick one up for as little as £7.50.

The wrong choice: Rolex Daytona Pink Gold Chronograph

Rolex Daytona Pink Gold Chronograph

Let this one stay safely locked away when you enter the jail, they will insist on it anyway, because on the inside, inmates will literally bite your hand off to get it. Although still highly desired, Rolex may no longer be the most prized of watch brands among the watch loving cognoscenti. They’ve moved on to Patek Philippe, Hublot, Richard Mile and other more rarefied brands. But to the average porridge serving criminal, this is instantly recognisable and desirable pay dirt on your wrist. You can only get away with a watch like this if you’re a top drawer bank robbing legend. Anything less and this watch will be gone before the black second hand makes a single sweep of the dial.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email:

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