Versatility is a topic that we get so much of in our watch content these days and brands aren’t ignorant to it. In spite of that, the way you build your collection with a varied set of multiple watches can be meant to “fill in the void”: the dive watch, the pilot watch, the sport chronograph, and so on. However, when you begin to consider “the dress watch,” you may find yourself hitting a roadblock.
Is this the result of shifting styles and the fact that most modern watches also satisfy the aesthetic? In theory, this is a watch that should be comfortable and appropriate in settings beyond business-casual. Whether you achieve that with a sub-36mm slim case watch on leather or a diver on links is up to you. Whatever the case may be, the idea of a dedicated dress watch might not work for everyone.
Sport Watch as Dress Watch?
Back when Bond had style, Sean Connery rocked a 6538 Big Crown Rolex Submariner with a white tuxedo while casually timing a barrage of explosives. It’s evidence that sport watches had paired with formal attire even in the 60s. Much of that influence still carries on today and even though you might not be an MI6 goon, you’ll still probably get away with wearing a chunky Sea-Dweller at a formal event.
While you can’t discount dress watches altogether, there’s no denying that the versatility of modern sport watches can diminish their appeal. Even brands have caught onto this and have developed “luxury” sport models that bridge the gap between classy elegance and tough “go anywhere, do anything” aesthetics. The newer Zenith El Primero series and the Tudor Black Bay collection of watches are both great examples of this practical design shift.
Also, when you consider the most traditional traits of a dress watch (time-only white dial and a simple leather strap) you might find you’re not willing to dish out that much for it. Are those really the only features to look for? Once again, that standard has changed and really, you have way more options. Dedicating a large portion of your watch-buying budget to something you might wear once or twice each year just doesn’t make sense. That’s why a great diver, like the Omega Seamaster, works just as well for crashing a wedding as it does for racing Xenia Onatopp in your Aston Martin DB5.
So if you’ve never quite understood the need for a dressy piece, you aren’t alone. And above all, don’t find ways to force watches into your collection out of so-called necessity. Pilot watches and dive watches both offer some great options that work well in formal settings. Find what works with your style and tailor your collection to match with your own personal taste.