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. Below are some of our modern favorites of this classic design.
Patek Philippe Calatrava
The Calatrava was first introduced in 1932 and has since become Patek Philippe’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 boasting precious metal cases and leather straps. Over the years, the brand 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 model features an unexpected stainless steel case and unique weekly calendar function.
Jaeger LeCoultre 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.
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 sport and tool watches, loaded with bells and whistles. The Cellini, dubbed the Tuxedo Watch, is a quintessential dress watch. The models feature a modestly sized, slim case with a design that focuses on simplicity and clarity. Like their counterparts, Rolex can 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.
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, giving the watch its iconic geometric, angular, and industrial design with no superfluous features. The Tank has seen its own evolution over the years. Most recently, they revived the Tank Cintree after the model celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The IWC Portofino embodies the essence of understatement and fine taste. It’s elegant yet laidback, with its timelessly elegant 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
The 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. Its 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
The Lange 1 was the first model A. Lange & Sohne 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.
Editors Note: Updated in June of 2019 with clarifying information