Best Dress Watches for Men – Our Picks

Best Dress Watches for Men

The dress watch is a subjective breed of timepiece. Other watch categories – like pilot, dive, racing, or military watches – are easier to define. You can set them apart by a certain set of characteristics, primarily regarding their functions. A dress watch is just the opposite. What distinguishes a dress watch is its distinct lack of functions and instead its aesthetic.

 Thoughts of dressing up might immediately conjure images of lavish, over the top embellishments and adornments. However, a dress watch is anything but ornate. In fact, a dress watch is one of the most straightforward timepieces you’ll find. Its purpose is simply to tell time. It has a minimalist design – no superfluous bells, whistles, or impressive complications. A dress watch has a slim, sleek profile, often accompanied by a leather strap or a thin bracelet. It’s modestly sized, typically between 36mm and 40mm. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best dress watches for men and notable wearers.

List of the Best Dress Watches for Men

  • Patek Philippe Calatrava
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
  • Rolex Cellini
  • Cartier Tank
  • IWC Portofino
  • OMEGA De Ville
  • A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Best Dress Watches: Patek Phillipe

Patek Philippe first introduced the Calatrava in 1932, and it’s since become the brand’s flagship model. The design of the Calatrava draws inspiration from the Bauhaus art movement, which boasts understated sophistication. Most models are no-frills, time-only watches showcasing precious metal cases and leather straps. Over the years, Patek Philippe has added options of for additional features and complications to the collection. For instance, take one of the latest models, the 5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar. This distinctive watch features an unexpected stainless steel case and unique weekly calendar function.

 Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso

Best Dress Watches: JLC Reverso

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso is a one-of-a-kind design. It may look and feel a bit unconventional. However, the Reverso still goes down as one of the most timeless and iconic models ever produced. The style of the Reverso is pure and has remained largely unchanged since the brand initially released it in 1931. Still Jaeger-LeCoultre likes to add flair to the model every now and then. In 2018, they debuted the Reverso Tribute Tourbillon Duoface, which combines the model’s iconic design with haute horology elements.

Rolex Cellini

Best Dress Watches: Rolex Cellini

You may think of Rolex as a brand with a fairly classic and conservative aesthetic. However, the Cellini is a bit of a departure from their other models. Rolex has a reputation for its bulkier tool and sport watches, loaded with bells and whistles. The Cellini, dubbed the Tuxedo Watch, is a quintessential dress watch. The model features a modestly sized, slim case with a design that focuses on simplicity and clarity. Like their counterparts, Rolex can’t resist introducing a bit of variety into the collection. Just a few years ago, they launched their first moonphase complication in nearly six decades with the Cellini Moonphase.

Cartier Tank

Best Dress Watches: Cartier Tank

The Cartier Tank is arguably one of the first watches designed for style over function. When the brand’s founder, Louis Cartier, created the watch in 1917, he wanted to do something different. He drew inspiration from the Renault tanks produced by the French during WWI. This design gives the watch its iconic geometric, angular, and industrial styling with no superfluous features. The Tank has seen its own evolution over the years. Most recently, Cartier revived the Tank Cintree after the model celebrated its 100th anniversary.

IWC Portofino

Best Dress Watches: IWC Portofino

The IWC Portofino embodies the essence of understatement and fine taste. It’s elegant yet laid back, with its timeless sophistication and pure design. The minimalist aesthetic draws inspiration from the Lepine pocket watch. It features an uncluttered dial, with simple hour markers and slim hands. In 2018, IWC celebrated its monumental 150th anniversary. To celebrate, they released a number of limited edition models, including three new additions to the Portofino collection.

OMEGA De Ville

Best Dress Watches: OMEGA DeVille

The OMEGA De Ville’s unique aesthetic has captured the hearts of the design community since its inception in 1967. It won awards at the famed Grand Prix Triomphe de l’Excellence Européenne in addition to six “Golden Roses” at the Baden-Baden design awards. It’s simple and straightforward yet modern appearance makes it an ideal dress watch. In 2019, OMEGA gave the line a modern update with the addition of the De Ville Tresor. This 40mm iteration is notable for its array of dial offerings and its master chronometer certification.

Lange & Söhne Lange 1

Best Dress Watches: A. Lange and Sohne

The Lange 1 was the first model A. Lange & Söhne introduced upon the revival of the brand in 1994. Since then, it has become the face of the brand and one of the most recognizable watches in the industry. As one of the most beloved designs ever created, the Lange 1 has only seen minor adjustments in its design since its initial release. One of these updates came in 2019 in honor of the model’s 25th anniversary with the Lange 1 Time Zone.

Who Wears the Best Dress Watches?

Whether on the red carpet, at a gala, during a ceremony, or simply out on the town, a dress watch is essential for every athlete, entertainer, politician, and prominent figure. For them, attending formal and black tie events comes with the territory. When you’re in the public eye, you have make sure your attire matches the occasion. This is true from the suit or tux to the watch on your wrist. The Patek Philippe Calatrava was the go-to model for Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the late chef Anthony Bourdain. Legendary director Martin Scorsese and famed Actor Robert Downey Jr. prefer the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. You can find the Rolex Cellini on the wrist of golf icon Phil Mickelson and former President Barack Obama. He even went on to wear the model in his official presidential portrait. Actors Ewan McGregor and Darren Criss opt for the IWC Portofino. George Clooney and Pope John Paul II are among the famous wearers of the OMEGA De Ville. Still, by and large the most popular dress watch is the Cartier Tank. It’s a favorite of some of the most prominent men in our culture, from Muhammad Ali to Tom Cruise and JFK to Cary Grant and Clarke Gable.

Editors Note: Updated in June of 2019 with clarifying information

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