The 15 Best Minimalist Watches to Wear in 2023

Updated Jan 02, 2023
Photo: Junghans Max Bill

In the arts, minimalism began cropping up in the mid-20th century as a response to abstract expressionism and modernism but has endured today, popular among those who appreciate the ability to express oneself through very little. Well, watchmaking is an art as well. A true marriage of style and function, horological developments over the last 200 years have called upon some of the most brilliantly creative and technical minds to find ways to utilize both.

Who says a timepiece needs to draw attention to itself? There’s a school of thought that true watch enthusiasts will notice what’s on your wrist no matter how much it asks them to. Minimalist watches aren’t just about stripping down an accessory until only the utility is left, but doing so in a way that evokes emotion and allows the wearer to express a part of himself in a way that only personal style can do. If you’re embarking on your own path to discovering some of the finest low-key timepieces on the market today, explore our guide to the best minimalist watches below.

Timex Marlin Automatic

When it comes to budget brands, Timex is at the top of the list. The American heritage brand’s Marlin Automatic sports an incredibly understated silver dial that updates its iconic design from the 1960s for a modern aesthetic, also swapping the quartz movement found in most Timexes for an automatic engine with 40 hours of power reserve. Going along with the 40mm stainless steel case is a classic brown leather strap, which offers versatility for the wearer who can don this timepiece whether he’s working in an office or going out for a casual weekend brunch.

Case Size: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $249

Hamilton Intra-matic Automatic ‘Champagne’

At the forefront of its American Classic line is Hamilton’s Intra-matic Automatic watch, a reissue of a mid-century favorite, brought back a decade ago. Among several different iterations is this Champagne dial variant, which was a collaboration with HODINKEE, featuring sunken hour markers and a subtly curving minute hand that goes with the sloping dial. The clean vintage look of this watch has made it a modern classic, with an automatic movement housed in the 38mm stainless steel case.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $845

Unimatic Modello Due U2S-MN

Debuting earlier this year along with the rest of the new S line, Unimatic’s blacked-out version of its Modello Due field watch may be the very definition of minimalist, with a tonneau-shaped case housing a vacuum-black matte dial with a total absence of indices or a bezel. The matching black leather strap pairs with the 38.5mm DLC-treated stainless steel case, all of which will disappear in the dark, save for the lumed hands and the Italian microbrand’s logo, which are treated with Super-LumiNova C1 coating. Limited to just 400 pieces worldwide, this timepiece is powered by a Sellita SW200-1 movement.

Case Size: 38.5mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $845

Junghans Max Bill Automatic

You can barely see the indices on this Max Bill Automatic watch from Junghans, with silver markers that nearly blend into the light gray dial and similarly-camouflaged hands. The German watchmaker has several minimalist options, but this one is perhaps its most understated — not to mention its most iconic. Named after the famed Bauhaus legend who designed the watch 60 years ago, this automatic self-winding dress watch features a 38mm polished stainless steel case, convex plexiglass crystal coated with SICRALAN, and a black calfskin band. Unlike some of Junghans’ many other Max Bill timepieces, this one doubles down on its minimalist aesthetic by forgoing a date window.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: Splash resistant
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $980+

Stowa Antea Klassik 390

As you can see, German watchmakers love their minimalist watches, and Stowa is no different. Becoming legendary for its pilot watches during the mid-20th century, this outfit also made a name for itself in that time for its array of Bauhaus designs, most notably its Antea Klassik line. This version’s off-white dial contrasts nicely with the black Arabic numerals and blued stick hands, which are made from heat-treated steel. The case itself is built from polished stainless steel and holds the automatic Sellita movement, partially exposed through the exhibition caseback.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $1,252

NOMOS Orion

Most notable minimalist watches won’t sport a subdial of any kind, but the Orion from NOMOS proves that there can definitely be nuance within the framework, yielding a timeless design as a result. Sporting a galvanized silver-plated white dial with gold hour markers and hands that have been blued through heating, this timepiece counts its seconds on its second dial. The in-house manual-winding Alpha movement from the German brand is housed in this smaller unisex 35mm stainless steel case.

Case Size: 35mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-Winding

Purchase: $2,020+

Oris Artelier Art Blakey Edition

Using the Artelier model as a base, Oris’ Art Blakey Edition timepiece honors the late jazz drummer. Looking at the dial, it’s clear where this watch gets its inspiration. In lieu of actual numbers, eight bass drum “claws” are distributed unorthodoxly throughout the dial’s circumference, connected by a solid black circle. The lumed hands, of course, represent the drum sticks and the bronze caseback is made to look like a cymbal. Running on an automatic movement, this unique watch was given a limited release.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,100

Rado True Square Undigital

A cheeky spoof on Apple’s smart watch, Rado’s True Square Undigital might fool observers at first glance. However, this is a mechanical timepiece through and through, as well as a watch purist’s candy. While many of the brand’s more recent releases have been vintage-inspired, this watch is both a celebration of traditional mechanics while capitalizing on contemporary aesthetics. All black except for the white on the hands made to look like the seven-segment displays of digital clocks, this piece is housed in a high-tech ceramic case with a dial that’s free of markers of any kind.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,350

MeisterSinger Unomat

Minimal and unconventional, MeisterSinger’s famed single-hand watches are among the most wonderfully bizarre in the world, with this Unomat being the sportiest version. With a robust 43mm stainless steel case that’s water resistant up to 300m, this timepiece is powered by a large Swiss SW400 automatic movement, made antimagnetic through a soft iron enclosure — as opposed to the typical brass. Not to go overlooked are the double-digit hour markers on the black dial and the long, needle-shaped lumed single hand that tracks both hours and (loosely) minutes.

Case Size: 43mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,399

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36

Even those least familiar with the world of horology know the name Rolex, and the Swiss watchmaker’s entry-level watch is perhaps its only offering that we would qualify as “minimalist.” Built from the brand’s proprietary Oystersteel, which makes this more durable and corrosion-resistant than most, this timepiece sports a black dial and white gold markers to combat tarnishing. The 36mm case is waterproof to 100m and houses Rolex’s in-house Calibre 3230 automatic movement. Its folding clasp three-link bracelet is also made from Oystersteel, giving you the full Rolex experience in as simple a package as possible.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,800+

Glashütte Original Sixties Annual Edition

If you couldn’t guess by the name, Glashütte’s Sixties Annual Edition is inspired by the dress watches of its namesake decade. The lacquered dark blue dégradé dial, taking after the color of majestic shimmering glaciers, domes down at the edge and sports incised indices and retro numerals at the four cardinal positions. However, what’s most impressive is the craftsmanship inside of the 39mm stainless steel case, which punches way above its price point. The German brand’s manufacture automatic movement can be viewed from the sapphire caseback and features a 21-carat gold oscillation weight.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $6,700

Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute Ardoise

Jaquet Droz is pretty well-known for its funky concepts and horological experiments, but this Grande Heure Minute Ardoise is an exception, to say the least. Part of the astronomy-inspired Astrale collection, this automatic dress watch is completely void of number markers, with a subdial for seconds that’s reminiscent of the Moon or some other celestial rock. The stainless steel case is quite large at 43mm, with a slate-gray dial and needle hands. It moves with an in-house self-winding caliber, modified for simplicity here.

Case Size: 43mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $8,400

Ressence Type 8

The Ressence Type 8 is another case of minimalism in detail while possessing uniqueness on a macro level. You look at the watch and hardly find it unembellished, yet the boutique brand has found a way to harness simplicity within the unconventional. As the minute hand rotates on a singular plane, the smaller subdial reads the hours. Echoing a space-age modern aesthetic, the grade 5 titanium case boasts a domed face similar to the Belgium brand’s Type 2 watch from a few years back. Nary a numeral to be found, the watch sports markers that are filled with Super-LumiNova.

Case Size: 42.9mm
Water Resistance: 10m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $14,800

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony

In Vacheron Constantin’s case, the Patrimony is a case of the high-end Swiss brand‘s distinct ethos being conveyed through a minimalist approach. From legibility to precision, this manual-winding piece ensures there’s nothing to get in the way of discovering VC’s beauty. Made from 18K white gold, the 40mm case is slim at only 6.8mm thick, with a metal dial inspired by 1950s dress watches, where pencil hands peruse the white gold markers around the perimeter. The diminutive crown nearly gets buried amongst the sizeable frame, allowing you to better focus on the timepiece itself.

Case Size: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-winding

Purchase: $20,100

H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Perpetual Calendar

Perpetual calendars tend to be some of the busiest-looking and most complicated watches in the industry, so leave it to the uber-creative minds at Moser to make a perpetual calendar that looks like an ordinary three-hander. The Streamliner Perpetual Calendar displays the date in a typical window at four o’clock but shows the month using a tiny center-mounted hand and the hour indices. The year and leap years, meanwhile, are tracked via a disk on the backside of the movement, visible through an exhibition caseback. Making all this happen is the impressive in-house HMC 812 movement, which not only powers the perpetual calendar and displays the 168-hour power reserve with an indicator at 10 o’clock, but also allows for forward and backward adjustment of the month and date at any time of day with no risk to the movement.

Case Size: 42.3mm
Water Resistance: 120m
Movement: Manual-Winding Perpetual Calendar

Purchase: $51,040

The 15 Best Dress Watches for Men


If you’d like to further explore the world of minimal watches, you’ll find some tangential picks in our guide to the best dress watches for men.