By now you know that a man should have different types of watches for different occasions. A sporty watch will serve you well during your more casual exploits, but as you get older, it’s a mistake to underestimate the power of a nice dress watch.
This is the watch you’ll wear to your brother’s wedding or on an interview for your dream job. This is the watch that will help get you noticed without being flashy about the whole thing—projecting style, not fashion.
But just because it’s dressy doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There are a ton of well-designed, classy watches out there that don’t bare the name “Rolex” or the price tag that goes along with it, so we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorites, all for under $1,000. And to the guys who inherited vintage Rolexes from their grandfathers—we’re forever jealous.
Skagen Klassik 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. With its Klassik Watch, that simplicity and attention to detail is incredibly apparent—the minimalist white face with easy-to-read numbers and the elegant stainless steel mesh band make it the cheapest watch that’ll ever look great with a suit.
MVMT The 40 Watch
IndieGoGo start-up MVMT (pronounced “movement,”) raised enough funding to start cranking out unique, affordable watches, and we’re glad they did, because they’ve got a watch for nearly any occasion. While their best-known model is all-black, The 40 Watch is more elegant than rock ‘n’ roll. The silver face boasts minimalist lines in place of numerals, and the brown leather band ensures it’ll look great with whatever you’re wearing.
Orient Classic Automatic Watch
Founded in 1950 in Japan, Orient has been crafting high-quality watches for over 60 years. While they specialize in creating high-tech watches (they have solar and radio-controlled models on offer), the Classic Automatic is decidedly low-tech. Featuring a stainless steel case, a black face protected by hardened mineral crystal, and a crocodile-embossed black leather band, this is a watch you’ll be wearing on special occasions for the rest of your life.
Rossling & Co. Gold & White Watch
If you’re looking for a watch that’s minimalist but will still stand out, look no further than this watch from Montreal-based Rossling & Co. Featuring a shiny gold case, an all-white, number-less face coated with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, the watch as a unique gray tweed strap that’s sure to earn you compliments.
TSOVET SVT-CN38 Watch
The SVT-CN38 from California-based Tsovet looks way more expensive than it actually is, and that’s a bonus for guys on a budget. Borrowing from watch designs from the 1940s, the watch has easy-to-read Art Deco numerals lining the edge of the crisp white face, and electric blue hands to add a pop of color. Finished with a hardened mineral coating on the face, a classic stainless steel case, and Italian leather strap, you’ve got a watch that will look amazing with your favorite navy suit.
Great George Warren Watch
A brand-new NYC-based watch company, Great George set out to create unique, minimalist watches that would stand out from the crowd. To that we say: mission accomplished. The brand is releasing an incredible line of watches (available now for pre-order), all featuring a signature square face coated with sapphire crystal. The Bauhaus-style numerals are as unique as the watch’s face shape, and you can choose from a variety of genuine leather bands (or buy additional ones for $49 a pop).
TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Watch
Founded in 2007 by four friends in Stockholm, TRIWA has made a name for itself by crafting classic watches and accessories that employ modern sensibilities and technology, and its Blue Steel Nevil Watch is evidence of that. And while some may argue that dress watches should be more minimalist than tech-y (read: festooned with tons of chronographs and extra bells and whistles), we’ll make an exception here, because it’s just so goddamned beautiful. The watch’s face is colored with white, dark and light blues, and muted yellow, has two chronographs and multiple bezels. It has all of this going on and it still looks elegant? We’re sold.
Daniel Wellington Dapper York 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. And while all of Daniel Wellington’s wares are classic and refined, some of them tend to fall on the casual side. That’s why the Dapper York Watch is a good bet when going dressy—the eggshell white face with roman numerals and the rich Italian leather strap just scream classy.
Tissot Heritage Watch
Headquartered in Switzerland, Tissot has the distinction of being the brand that released the very first mass-produced pocket watch in the mid-1800s. Considering its illustrious history, investing in the brand is a smart move. This Heritage model looks like something out of your grandfather’s era (in a good way), with the classic brown crocodile band, stainless steel casing and accents, and date.
Miansai M12 Swiss Rose Gold Watch
Miansai is well-known for its preppy rope bracelets, but over the past few years, the brand has expanded to create additional wristwear in the form of watches. The M12 Swiss Rose Gold watch sports a high-class look with a low-profile, rose gold accents, classic white face, and blue Italian leather vintage strap (which is cut on an angle at the end for extra flare).
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.
Frederique Constant Automatic Watch
Crafted in Geneva, Switzerland—which is to watches as Silicon Valley is to computers—this Frederique Constant Automatic watch has everything you’re looking for in a classic watch that you can wear to every important occasion, from your best friend’s wedding to your grandfather’s funeral.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Watch
With Pennsylvania roots stretching back to the late 1800s, Hamilton is truly a part of Americana (even Elvis wore a Hamilton). And while the brand is perhaps better known for its extensive collection of field watches, it can class it up when it wants to, and it certainly wants to with its Intra-Matic Auto Watch. Modeled after Hamilton’s Thin-O-Matic line that was released in the 1960s, it has modern updates with decidedly retro details.
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 understated 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, so you can go ahead and justify the splurge. You’ll have it forever.
STOWA Antea Classic Watch
German watchmaker STOWA has been crafting quality timepieces since the late 1920 (bonus: they all run with German efficiency that is both admired and feared), and the Antea Classic Watch harkens back to its Bauhaus design roots. A modernized version of the first Antea model released in 1938, the watch is simple and elegant—you can choose from a crisp white or cool black face, both paired with a stainless steel case and a quality black leather band.