In recent years, a new category has claimed its presence in the world of watches – the dress watch. The term “Dress Watch” traditionally refers to a classic three-hand watch, sometimes it may come with a date display. The dress watch category is perfectly suited for almost all social occasions. These watches usually come with a minimalist design that focuses on the essentials, hence making it so versatile to style with different outfits. Whether you wear a suit, chinos and T-Shirt, even jeans, a dress watch completes the look with poise. If you’re going to the opera, a business meeting, or a party, for sure the dress watch is your perfect choice.
We have compiled a list of some of our favourite models for you. As always, it does not claim to be exhaustive. Instead it aims at whetting your appetite for the genre of dress watches. They might appear as simplistic at first glance, however the design and the technical competence of a dress watch vary greatly from different brands, as showcased by our selection below.
Miniaturization has always been one of the most demanding tasks in watchmaking. It requires a high degree of technical expertise to construct the microcosm of the movement as slender as possible. Thanks to the Maison’s tradition, Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the distinguished masters in this discipline. The Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Ultra Thin line debuts in a case that measured only at 8.6 millimeters in height and houses the very flat automatic Calibre 896 that comes with a respectable 43-hour power reserve. The dial celebrates simplicity in styling with two slim Dauphine hands for hour and minute that glide graciously to point to the very delicate indicator lines of the minute ring.
Even in Switzerland, there are very few brands whose heritage is studded with innovations which can parallel to that of Ulysse Nardin. Ulysse Nardin pushes boundaries in watchmaking and their timepieces are equally fascinating to look at. Another interesting aspect of the brand is their maritime legacy. The eponymous founder of the Company became famous for his super precise and reliable marine chronometers. In the wake of this success, the Classical 40 Automatic Date sets sail on the same course. The design mirrors the brand’s marine heritage; the dial presents with Roman numerals and a railway style minute ring. The dial is also home to a small second indication at the six o’clock position and an integrated date display; the sum of the details that keep the watch visually intriguing. Precision is guaranteed with the automatic caliber UN 320, a manufactory movement from Ulysse Nardin.
Known for its complicated timepieces, IWC watches enjoy a great following over the years and its Ingenieur collection is no exception. The IWC Ingenieur Classic comes with a 40 mm case diameter, which is perfectly sized for a dress watch. The watch movement is encased in an antimagnetic soft iron cage. Better still, despite the fitting of a dress watch, the IWC Ingenieur Classic has an impressive water resistance of 120 m.
The IWC Ingenieur has a distinctive place in the IWC illustrious line up of mechanical timepiece, as it perfectly synthesize the Brand’s design legacy and contemporary technical expertise. Aesthetically, the look of the watch draws inspiration from the Ingenieur SL designed by Gérald Genta in 1976. The bezel screws conceived by Genta give the watch an assured, masculine look, without compromising the fineness synonymous to a dress watch. What is decidedly contemporary though, is the IWC-manufactured 30110 Calibre that has a power reserve with 42 hours.
With their infallible sense of style, Cartier creates yet another iconic dress watch in its line-up – the Clé de Cartier. Characteristic of the Cartier design are the bold yet harmonious lines that make the watches highly recognisable. The Clé de Cartier watches follow suit in setting a new standard in the field of watch design. The streamlined profile of its shows a softly curved silhouette. The crown is modelled after a winding key of a clock, as suggested by the name of the watch (the word “Clé” means “key” in French).
Like other Cartier timpieces, such as the Cartier Tank and the Ballon Bleu, a sapphire is set into the watch crown effectively highlighting its distinctive shape. Inside the watch ticks the Cartier in-house automatic calibre, the Calibre 1847 MC, which comes with a date display. What makes this dress watch interesting is its winding system. The novel mechanism of the Clé de Cartier enables the wearer of to wind the watch without pulling the crown out. One can simply wind the watch by flicking the watch crown back and forth.
Introduced in 1963, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 is closely associated with motorsports. To this day, the Carrera remains the most successful collection of TAG Heuer. The name “Carrera” actually means “race” in Spanish and it also refers to the prestigious, but also perilous road race “Carrera Panamericana” in Mexico. With this premise, Jack Heuer envisioned an everyday watch for professional racers that is intuitively readable thanks to its extreme minimalism and clear scale. Heuer’s vision continues to be the design principles for the various incarnations of the Carrera watches nowadays.
In this version, the Carrera shows its classical persona in the form of a dress watch. Faceted hands with luminous markers glide over the silver or black dial with date display at three o’clock. It is waterproof up to 100 m. Inside this watch ticks the Calibre 5 with a 38-hour power reserve. The three-hand Carrera is not to be overshadowed by the chronographs in the family.
Launched in 2013, the Sirius collection is one of the most successful watches from the Lucerne-based manufacture – Chronoswiss, despite being a relatively new addition to the Brand’s line up. The composition is a classic three hand watch with a small second indication which gives the watch dial a balanced look. The watch case is measured at 40 mm and has a partially fluted bezel. The look of the Chronoswiss Sirius is complete with the Brand’s characteristic onion crown. The height of 10.4 mm makes it a rather slim watch, which would sit nicely and comfortably on your wrist. The Sirius Small Second is powered by the Chronoswiss Calibre c.285. Its skeletonized rotor with Geneva stripe finish is showcased in the sapphire glass bottom.
Porsche Design’s 1919 collection brings the timeless radiance of the Bauhaus School to the wrist. This can be traced back to the Porsche founder, Prof. F. A. Porsche, who studied at the HfG (now the Ulm School of Design). Following the concept of the Bauhaus which originated in Dessau in 1919, the HfG is considered one of the most important design schools, which brings together art, architecture, and craftsmanship to achieve a perfect combination of function and aesthetics.
In its focus on the essentials, the 1919 Datetimer series transfers the mandate of functional design into the watch world. The skeletonised lug structure and the smooth transition from watch to bracelet lend the model that special lightness representative of the Porsche 356 from the 1950s. Yet, don’t be fooled by the watch’s look, its construction is as sturdy and reliable as the automotive creations of Porsche. The watch has a titanium case, which has a diameter of 42 mm and it is water resistant up to 100 m. The calibre that engines this watch is the Selitta SW 200-1 with a power reserve of 38 hours, a date display at 3 o’clock and the Porsche Design Icon Rotor.
The Tangente was the first watch presented by NOMOS Glashütte at its debut over twenty years ago. The watch contributed significantly to the unprecedented success of the Brand, which becomes the largest manufacturer of mechanical watches in Germany today. The typography and design of the NOMOS Tangente, were inspired by the specifications of the Deutscher Werkbund (the German Association of Craftsmen). Up to this day, the watch continues to be the poster child of NOMOS. Initially powered by the hand-wound movement Alpha, in 2016 the Tangente became available as part of the Neomatik series. It is equipped with the automatic manufacture caliber DUW 3001.
Needless to mention, all the iconic Glashütte refinements are present in the Tangente Neomatik. The rhodium-plated three-quarter plate is given a refined touch with the sunbeam polishing, signature of the NOMOS design. However, the most remarkable feature is the height of the watch movement, which measured at a mere 3.2 mm. It gives the Tangente watches a strikingly slim and elegant form. The calibre is also equipped with the NOMOS proprietary DUW regulating system for optimal accuracy.
Last year, Longines celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Flagship, one of the Brand’s most successful collections. At its launch in 1957, this stylish watch with a white dial, sleek profile and delicate lugs won the hearts of customers by storm. The current rendition of the Longines Flagship Heritage builds on its predecessors’ success by fusing technical excellence and subtle elegance in a wristwatch. The dial, reduced with finesse, carries the famous historic logo of the line. The thin indicator lines of the minute ring and the date display below the small second complete the vintage-look par excellence.
Mechanical watch lovers revere the line of Max Bill from the German watch manufacturer – Junghans. The inspiration for the Junghans Max Bill watches is said to have originated from a kitchen clock designed by the Bauhaus Renaissance Man, Max Bill, and his students at the HfG. The logical dial partition of the circular kitchen clock from 1956 entered into the design hall of fame as the “Max-Bill Kitchen Clock with Timer”.
The watch collection, however, comes after the kitchen clock. The design of the Max Bill wristwatches masterfully reinterprets the clear and harmonious design, thus gives the watch a remarkably restrained aesthetic. The dial with the time marker lines and slender hands is perhaps the best representation of the minimalist design code of a Junghans Max Bill. Needless to say, the watch’s moderate case size of 38 mm stays in line with the overall subtlety of the watch.
The Junghans Max Bill watches are available in automatic, manual-winding, as well as quartz movement. For the mechanical watch connoisseurs, we would recommend the self-winding model with the caliber J800. 1 or the hand-wound model which houses the caliber J805. 1.