5

I think it's like being allowed to drink. But in Harry's 3rd year they start drinking butterbeer, so maybe it is a right?

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    For the same reason as traditional wedding anniversary gifts: because it's a tradition. It has nothing to do with "being allowed" anything, it isn't as if younger wizards aren't allowed to wear watches! Oct 28, 2017 at 21:13
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    Similar to Pen & Pencil sets on graduation, it's a tradition. There is probably a root cause behind it, but it may well have been long since forgotten. With adulthood tends to come adult responsibilities, and the care-free, non-time-bound (mostly) days of childhood gone, I suppose it's a sensible gift...
    – K-H-W
    Oct 28, 2017 at 22:35
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    @K-H-W: I think it's worth pointing out as an out-of-universe fact whether it is a tradition in the wizarding world, or a real UK tradition that JKR took over for the wizards (and that may be entirely unknown to readers, and visitors on this site). (Speaking of which, is that "Pen & Pencil sets on graduation" something from HP, or a real tradition somewhere?) Oct 28, 2017 at 22:54
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    I think it's because they don't wear cellphones.
    – Sulthan
    Oct 29, 2017 at 14:43
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    Because time keeps on slipping into the future.
    – RonJohn
    Oct 29, 2017 at 20:38

2 Answers 2

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It's simply a traditional 17th birthday gift in the wizarding world.

Giving a wizard a watch on their seventeenth birthday is a tradition in the wizarding world. Exactly how this tradition started is unclear, but, like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, it's become a tradition that people probably follow without necessarily knowing its origins.

“Inside was a watch very like the one Mr and Mrs Weasley had given Ron for his seventeenth; it was gold, with stars circling round the face instead of hands.

‘It’s traditional to give a wizard a watch when he comes of age,’ said Mrs Weasley, watching him anxiously from beside the cooker.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 7 (The Will of Albus Dumbledore)

Younger wizards are most likely allowed to wear watches.

Harry sees a shine from one of the Weasley twins' watches, and this would have been long before they turned seventeen.

“Once he caught sight of a flash of gold but it was just a reflection from one of the Weasleys’ wristwatches, and once a Bludger decided to come pelting his way, more like a cannon ball than anything, but Harry dodged it and Fred Weasley came chasing after it.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 11 (Quidditch)

There's also a mention of multiple people checking their watches while waiting for the Triwizard Tournament champions to be announced.

“Everyone watched, waiting … a few people kept checking their watches …

‘Any second,’ Lee Jordan whispered, two seats away from Harry.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 16 (The Goblet of Fire)

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  • Ironically, it's not really that much of a tradition since wristwatches were not available at all before ca. 1880-1890 and only became widely used after 1917. Hardly something a more than thousand years old wizarding society would consider a "traditional" timespan. But alas, it's exactly what is written in the books, so you're of course right.
    – Damon
    Oct 29, 2017 at 22:22
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    @Damon Traditional to give a watch prior to wrist watches it was likely a pocket watch.
    – Skooba
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:11
  • @Skooba That's a really good point. I have several of those though it's because I collect them; it first started after my grandmother gave me one decades ago. Yes pocket watches would suffice instead.
    – Pryftan
    Nov 4, 2017 at 0:53
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Mrs Weasley explains this in Deathly Hallows:

Harry sat down, took the square parcel she had indicated and unwrapped it. Inside was a watch very like the one Mr and Mrs Weasley had given Ron for his seventeenth; it was gold, with stars circling around the face instead of hands.

'It's traditional to give a wizard a watch when he comes of age,' said Mrs Weasley, watching him anxiously from beside the cooker.

There's nothing more to it: traditions don't need reasons.

This answer of Valorum's establishes that young wizards are permitted to wear watches.

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