Wearing a dive watch with a suit is like being the guy that goes to the bar and orders a martini, shaken, not stirred. Despite what most people think, dress watches are not supposed to make some big strong statement. Unlike the big and gaudy James Bond-like timepieces that most folks will go for when putting on a suit or a tux, these men’s watches are intended to serve as a complement to an outfit.
Some of the hallmarks of a classic dress watch are that they are not often larger than 40mm in diameter and rarely feature a large bezel. In the same way that a fresh suit or tux gives off a clean and simple sense of formality thanks to its tailored shape and confident lines, a dress watch relies on a less-is-more design philosophy. In other words, they’re more minimal. In addition to their build, this kind of watch often features a case made from a precious metal and has a face that isn’t designed to be read in the dark or underwater. As result, the numerals on the watch are at times nonexistent or substantially smaller while featuring little to no lume. Take a scroll through our list of best dress watches and see for yourself. If you don’t already have one – you may want to add this type of timepiece to your collection.
Withings Activite Steel
If you are looking for something as functional as it is stylish, you should consider this sharp looking smart watch from Withings. Featuring a case made from 316L stainless steel, a minimal black or white face with thin hands and a subdial that keeps track of your daily activity – it offers all of the functionality of an athletic watch without looking like it belongs in a gym.
Timex’s take on the dress watch is fun and affordable. Featuring all of the classic technology the brand has become known for like their INDIGO night light and a quick date feature, it is attractive enough to be worn confidently as a dress watch but boasts an un-seriousness to it that makes it easy to strap on for daily wear.
A domed sunburst dial paired with a similarly convex crystal gives this watch from Orient a distinct look and feel from others in its price range. In addition to its unique curvature, the watch face features attractive, angular hour markers with its similarly-pointed hour and minute hands. A solid pick for sure.
This dress watch from the German manufacturing company features an impressive albeit understated look. The face has Arabic numerals written in the classic Helvetica font, long white indexing hands, and a yellow second hand that travels around a subdial.
Tissot PR 100 Titanium Quartz
A sharp and masculine watch from Tissot featuring a titanium case and bracelet. The face boasts a date window, luminous hands, and simple metallic hour markers set on a black dial. The 38mm watch also has a water resistance rated up to 330 feet, making it suitable for swimming if the night ends up in that direction.
Armogan Spirit of St. Louis
Armogan’s Spirit of St. Louis manages to take a classic Miyota chronographic 0S00 movement and puts it into a slim and attractive package fit for wearing to a more formal event. The slightly larger 44mm case holds a soft white face with Arabic numerals, a day date window, and elegant indexing hands as well.
Tsovet JPT-CC38 Watch
An attractive watch that retains a minimal look despite the inclusion of two subdials and a date window. The elongated Arabic numerals set on the white face and the thin indexing hands make for an overall more refined vibe in a 38mm package.
Miansai’s M12 is a watch with a 39mm stainless steel case, Swiss-made quartz movement, and a domed acrylic crystal and silver curved dial. The small Arabic numerals around the face of the watch also make for an almost scientific looking dial as well.
Panzera Arctic Spirit
This icy white watch features a stainless steel 44mm case and Miyota mechanical movement with a 40-hour power reserve. The indexing hands on the watch also feature a small amount of lume, as do four of the hour markers on the face. A great entry level mechanical dress watch.
Uniform Wares C35
Here is a Swiss made stainless steel and leather dress watch with an ivory dial and silver indexing hands that sit under a domed sapphire crystal. All of these things give the watch a simple and aged look to it as if it was pulled out of the back of some old drawer.
Hamilton American Classic
Hamilton takes a bare-bones approach with this Swiss made automatic watch. As you can see, the starburst face is totally naked save for hour markers, thin minute and hour indexing hands, and a date window resting just above the bottom hour marker.
Shinola Canfield Chrono
Quite possibly the most bombastic watch on this list, Shinola’s Canfield Chrono measures in at 43mm and boasts two subdials, Arabic numerals, indexing hands with lume, and a date window. Somehow, the Detroit-based company manages to keep the face of the watch from being too busy – retaining a more refined and formal event ready dress watch look.
Sekford Type 1A
One of the most exciting and interesting parts of this dress watch is its most understated feature – the typeface used for the Arabic numerals on the face. Reportedly inspired by 18th and 19th-century stonemasons, these numbers imbue this gold plated dress watch with a playfulness that doesn’seemam to clash with its formal look.
Junghans Meister Chronoscope
Another chronograph elegant enough to accompany you to your formal events. Featuring three subdials, a beautiful deep blue face, and a day date window, the watch has more functionality than you could hope for set in a stunning display.
Grand Seiko Limited Edition
This limited edition piece from Grand Seiko boasts all the same design elements as the first release. Just like the 1960s version of the watch, it has a domed dial, wide indexing hands, and an overall elegant and modernist look. Each one of the three versions of this watch comes with a special ‘Inspection Certificate’ designed to look as if it, too, was made in the 1960s.
Omega Prestige Co-Axial
So while you may not want to don a Seamster before heading to your pal’s wedding or your kids graduation – that doesn’t mean you should avoid Omega all together. Quite the opposite. The famous brand’s De Ville Prestige Co-Axial is an ideal pick for any type of formal event thanks to its gorgeous polished 39.5 mm case, white gold bezel, and bold Roman numerals.
IWC Schaffhausen Portofino Automatic
An elegant watch with an 18 carat red gold case, dark brown alligator leather strap, and a sophisticated face. Gold indexing hands also travel their way across a face with Arabic numeral second markers that rest on the outside of the watch face thanks to a mechanical movement with a 42 hour power reserve.
Vacheron Constantin Geneve Patrinomy
Here is a confident, strong watch with a gold case, indexing hands, and hour markers. The caliber 1400 movement in this watch also features a 40 hour power reserve, and a Geneva certification. Tighten this alligator strapped watch around your wrist and you’ll be ready for any event.