As your style evolves (and you advance in your career enough so that you—hopefully—have more spending cash), you’ll realize that a man should have different types of watches for different occasions. A chunky chronograph or rugged field watch are great for weekend adventures, but a more understated, minimalist watch is more appropriate for work or for a nice evening out with your fiancé.
If you’re not lucky enough to have inherited an unassuming dress watch from your father or grandfather, don’t worry—we’ve rounded up the very best minimalist watches that will look great with even your most formal garb.
MVMT Black Leather Watch
Fortunately for us, IndieGoGo start-up MVMT (pronounced “movement,”) raised enough funding to start cranking out unique, affordable watches that are great for nearly any occasion. This all-black (save for cherry red accents) watch is sleek and understated, possessing features like custom gunmetal stainless steel hands and markers, a brushed black stainless steel case, and a hardened crystal face.
Komono Winston Watch
Komono is a brand that focuses on making small things great, and with their watches (and stable of sunglasses), they do exactly that. The all-silver Winston watch is classic and crisp, with its brushed metal case, reliable Japanese Quartz Movement, and sleek metal mesh wristband.
Skagen Ancher Mono Watch
Since 1989, Skagen—a company named for its Denmark roots—has been creating products that reflect everything that’s respected about modern Danish design. The stainless steel Ancher Mono watch features an elegant all-white face, intricate mesh band, and electric blue hands to help it stand out without being ostentatious.
Daniel Wellington Classic Warwick Watch
New-to-the-scene Daniel Wellington is named after a distinguished British man the company’s founder met on vacation, and its watches reflect the company’s namesake well. Classic and refined while being simultaneously preppy and casual, Daniel Wellington’s watches are understated in a good way. The Classic Warwick features a simple face and surrounding case (you can choose from rose gold or silver), allowing it to pair well with the brand’s many interchangeable NATO straps.
Tsovet JPT-C036 Watch
“Less is more” is personified in Tsovet’s JPT-C036 Watch—featuring a numberless face, blind-stitched black leather strap, and gunmetal casing, the watch is sleek and elegant, but is also waterproof up to 50 meters, so if you want to go for an impromptu swim after a nice suit-and-tie dinner, go for it.
Another offering from California-based Tsovet, the SVT-CN38 looks way more expensive than it actually is. With this model, Tsovet borrows from watch designs from the 1940s. The easy-to-read Art Deco numerals line the edge of the crisp white face, and the electric blue hands add a pop of color. Finish it off with a hardened mineral finish on the face, a classic stainless steel case, and Italian leather strap, you’ve got a watch that will look just as good with a navy suit as it will with a t-shirt and jeans.
Miansai M24 Watch
With its collection of preppy rope bracelets, Miansai became the darling of the fashion world a few years back, but the brand has since expanded to create additional wristwear in the form of watches. The M24 Watch is uber minimalist, featuring only one hand (you tell time via the single hand and its placement near the small markings around the face). Pair that with a classic white face, stainless steel case, and blue Italian leather vintage strap (which is cut on an angle at the end for extra flare), and you’ve got a watch you can wear anywhere.
Minus-8 Zone Watch
Decidedly a West Coast brand, San Francisco-based Minus-8 takes its name from the GMT-8 time zone. The Zone Watch embodies the brand’s signature 3-D look by being constructed out of two completely separate pieces of stainless steel, allowing the face to be set deeper into the casing than most traditional watches. Combining brushed stainless steel and black finishing, a sapphire crystal face, and simple two-tone watch hands, this is one of the most unique watches you’ll ever own.
Braun Ceramic Analog Display Watch
Yes, the German brand behind your beard trimmer makes watches—and they make damn good ones, like this Ceramic Analog Display Watch. While everyone else has leather or stainless steel watchbands, stand out by being the guy that has a CERAMIC watch. The sleek black ceramic band and case pair well with the simple black face that features barely-there gray ticks in place of numerals, and white and yellow hands to keep track of the time.
Nevo Smart Watch
Want to wear a smart watch without looking like a cyborg? Check out Nevo, a smart watch that’s designed to look decidedly analog, even if it’s anything but. The watch runs on solar power, and pairs with a companion app to track your activity and even deliver notifications (calls, texts, emails) from your phone, all while looking like a regular classic watch with a stainless steel case, leather band, and minimalistic white face.
Kitmen Keung Long Distance Classic
With roots in Hong Kong and Milan, Kitmen Keung knows a thing or two about high fashion and technology, seeking to marry them both in a sleek, elegant way. The Long Distance Classic Watch does exactly that—using black, white, and silver coloring, the elegant watch projects an air of mystery and intrigue, featuring an all-white face with two small chronographs inside. Even though it’s understated, it’s unique enough to be a conversation piece, whether you’re wearing it to the bar or in the boardroom (or both).
TID No. 2 Watch
Founded in Stockholm in 2012, the brand’s name literally means “time” in Swedish, which is more than appropriate for a watch company. Its No. 2 Watch features a brushed stainless steel case and face, with barely-there numerals around the face and silver hands that are almost invisible to everyone but the wearer. Paired with a simple, high-quality black leather band and a domed sapphire crystal face, it’s the perfect dress watch.
Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 Watch
In the mid-1940s, Swiss engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker created a clock for the country’s railway platforms. The clocks featured an easy-to-read black-and-white face with a signature red paddle-shaped second hand that signaled the impending arrivals and departures of trains. Not long after the clocks became iconic, the classic designs went from railway platforms to the wrists of fashionable people across the globe via the establishment of Mondaine. And while the Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 Watch doesn’t have the signature bright red second hand (other Mondaine watch models do have that feature, if you’re a purist), it still embodies the simplicity that made the trains run on time.
Uniform Wares M40 PVD Watch
With its elegant brushed steel case, silver face with no numbers, and buttery leather band, Uniform Wares’ M40 PVD is the watch you want to be wearing for your first day on the job or any other special occasion your life drums up.
Junghans Max Bill Watch
As Germany’s largest watchmaker, Junghans knows a thing or two about creating quality timepieces, which they’ve done for nearly 100 years. This automatic watch (with militaristic numerals, a white face, stainless steel case, and genuine leather band) packs a hefty price tag, but it’s been popular for years, meaning that it will never go out of style.
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