A Wardrobe Staple
The dress watch is the staple of every man’s wardrobe. Whether you’re a business man in formal attire everyday needed a daily rotation of dress watches, or just an average joe who wants something a bit smarter and prettier looking to spruce up his outfit. You can’t do without a dress watch. That said, with so many in the market to choose from, it can be hard to find the right one, which is why we’ve taken the liberty of narrowing down 10 distinctive and fantastic dress watches, perfect for gifting that will certainly put a smile on any man’s face. Without further ado, let’s take a look, shall we?
The Reverso is without a doubt, the iconic Jaeger LeCoultre. Created in the early 20th century as a watch catering to polo players. The watch was designed be able to flip its case to protect the fragile crystal from the roughs and tumbles of the sport. While this sort of case acrobatics wasn’t a first, and almost certainly wasn’t the only one, it was certainly one of the most iconic, and successful.
Today, the most attractive Reverso for me, has to be the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds. With beautifully faceted dauphine hands, a gorgeous sunburst deep blue dial, simple applied bar indexes and a small-seconds indicator at 6. Fitted in a reversible case that measures in at 45.6mm x 27.4mm x 8.5mm. It is as elegant and svelte as a Reverso should be, though the unique rectangular shape may take some time to get used to for those unfamiliar with squared watches. The watch is powered by Jaeger LeCoultre’s own Caliber 822/2, with a 45-hour power-reserve and, as expected from the Watchmaker’s watchmaker, is impeccably finished as well.
The case of the watch is finished in polished stainless-steel, with neat sand-blasting within the stripes along the flanks of the case. With the neat reversing feature, the watch gives people like me, who often find themselves fidgeting with our watches when we’re bored, a little something extra to play with.
The Reverso Tribute comes on a matching dark blue alligator leather strap with blue stitching, a fitting choice for a watch of this stature. The Reverso to me, is one of the most iconic and unique dress watches ever made, alongside the equally rectangular framed Cartier Tank. Svelte, reserved and distinctive, it is unmistakably a stunning dress watch, and a home run at that too.
While there may be many criteria for a watch to be considered a dress watch, it is always these 3 that are the most definitive. Under 40mm, just the time with no complications, and made of precious metal. Although this very framework spawned many timeless and stunning dress watches, there should definitely be room for bending the rules, and the IWC Portofino Automatic Moonphase is a sure contender for the perfect modern dress watch.
Measuring in at 40mm, the Portofino has already missed the first criteria, and the other 2 are thrown out the window as well. Precious metal? It’s in stainless-steel so nope. No complications? Well, if you couldn’t already tell by the name, it has an additional sub-dial at 12 showcasing the beautiful moonphase. But, IWC has executed the moonphase so simply and elegantly that its hard to call it a complication even.
If you were to ask me what the perfect complication for a dress watch is, then it would really have to be the moonphase. Elegant, artistic and even poetic, the moonphase is a reserved and beautiful complication that has long held a romantic place in the hearts of watch collectors around.
The watch is beautifully executed too, as one would expect from IWC. With slim applied baton markers lining the periphery of the stunning sunburst blue dial, and a simple minute track running along the edge. With silvered and elegant leaf-shaped hands sweeping across the dial. All you have to do is look at it, and you will see that it is a dress watch in every sense of the term, despite meeting none of the 3 important requirements of a dress watch.
The watch is powered by an IWC 35800 automatic caliber, offering 42 hours of power-reserve, with a 4Hz running frequency and is protected by a solid stainless-steel case back. While most of us would have preferred to see the movement through a sapphire caseback, I think the solid caseback does give a sense of vintage dress watch charm to this very pretty dress watch.
All in all, if you’re looking for an elegant and timeless dress watch that doesn’t exactly conform to the norms of what a dress watch should be. Then the stunning IWC Portofino Moonphase is the watch for you.
The Omega Constellation 41mm has to be my favourite dress watch on this list, nay it’s possibly my favourite dress watch right now. I’ve never took much liking to the previous Omega constellation models, on the integrated bracelet. It never looked right to me somehow. I guess its due to the lack of contrasting bits on them that really didn’t do it on me. With the watch being silver, on silver, on silver, it just wasn’t really my cup of tea.
Be it as it may, the new Omega Constellation 41mm on a strap, fixes all of the visual issues I had with the previous Constellations and then some. With a black leather lined rubber strap and a matching black Ceramic bezel, the Constellation finally got the contrasting bits it needed to shine. And shine it does because the 41mm Constellation is a properly beautiful dress watch.
Featuring a textured silver dial with contrasting darkened slim hands and markers, along with a subtle date window at 6. The watch has a face as handsome as the case that it is sitting in, and what a case it is. With soft curves against angled and bevelled edges, with a pair of silvered claws perched on top of the polished black ceramic bezel. There is no mistaking this watch for anything else. The roman numerals etched into the bezel adds to the dressiness of this already dressy timepiece as well.
Turn the watch around and you are greeted with an equally beautiful movement: The Co-axial Caliber 8900. Running in 39 jewels, with a 60-hour power-reserve and a chronometer certification as well. From a technical watchmaking stand point, these Co-axial calibers are some of the most advanced movements being made today.
With a distinctively handsome design, superb finishing and one of the best movements for the price, its small wonder that the 41mm Constellation is one of the best dress watches that money can buy today.
TISSOT PRX T1374071105100 POWERMATIC STAINLESS STEEL MEN'S WATCH
The Tissot PRX 40 205 Powermatic 80. Unarguably one of the most anticipated and much more desirable release from the brand since the release of the quartz powered PRX40 205 earlier this year. Purists have been waiting for a mechanical version to be released and here it is. Oozing 1970s charm with its integrated bracelet design, harking back to the angular and industrial sports watches of the era popularized by watches like the Royal Oak and Nautilus.
With only 3 hands and the date, packed in a nicely svelte 40mm tonneau shaped case, paired with a neatly designed angular integrated bracelet, it is an iconic and timeless design that looked ahead of its time in the 70s and still is timeless today even after half a century.
It may look and sound the part of a luxury Swiss-made sports watch but it certainly isn’t priced like one. At under $1000 ($950 in-fact), yes let that sink in, it’s possibly the best affordable Royal Oak alternative around.
With a stunning waffle patterned dial, paying homage to the Royal Oak, the PRX offers would-be owners a stunning and affordable take on what owning a luxurious Swiss-made sports watch with an integrated bracelet would be like. Neatly brushed surfaces on the case, accentuated by sharp angles and bevelled edges, all linked to a very pretty and well executed integrated bracelet. The PRX Powermatic 80 is as good as it gets for the price.
Powered by an ETA based Powermatic 80 automatic caliber, it offers a neat 80 hours of power reserve, a respectable 3Hz frequency and that good old fashioned Swiss dependability as well. So, a reliable and nicely finished movement, iconic yet somewhat different design, Swiss-made and a sub $1000 price tag, the Tissot PRX 40 205 Powermatic 80 is easily one of the best affordable Royal Oak alternatives around.
CITIZEN KUROSHIO '64 NK0008-85L MEN'S LIMITED-EDITION WATCH
When I first saw the watches from the Kuroshio 64 line that rolled into our office, it was love at first sight. In fact, I liked them so much, I immediately bought one the following day; the cream dialed NK0001-17X. But today, we’ll be taking a look at the much scarcer limited edition NK0008-85L. The Kuroshio 64 line is named after a collaboration project between Citizen, the Japanese Maritime Defence Force, and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology to study the flow of the currents along the sea surrounding Japan.
Citizen created Japan’s first water resistant watch; the Parawater, and saw this project as a great way to test as well as market their brand-new watch. It’s a rather endearing tale that I shan’t get too much into, but what we’ve ended up with in today’s reissue is a faithful representation of the original but with modern touches; such as a 41mm case, automatic caliber and of course a beautifully patterned dial meant to mimic the patterns of the sea.
But despite all of these updates, the Kuroshio 64 NK0008-85L is still a very nicely vintage styled timepiece, with applied arrow shaped indexes, dauphine hands, a box shaped crystal and a slim brushed case. It gives an incredibly traditional wearing experience of a three-handed dress watch. The stainless-steel bracelet certainly adds more versatility to the otherwise dressy piece, and the inclusion of lume pips along the markers and hands harks back nicely to the watch’s rather nautical origins.
Overall, if you’re looking for something traditionally designed with a little bit more history and heritage, with excellent finishing, attention to detail and pedigree, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better than the Kuroshio 64, especially at this price point.
As we've mentioned, the dress watch is a staple in every man’s wardrobe, it is the most quintessential timepiece a man can ever own. Traditionally simple, telling nothing but the time and not even the seconds, but if you’re the sort who has ever looked at a dress watch and wondered; is that all? Then fret not because the Seiko Presage SPB111J1 Green Enamel might just be the saving grace to your woes. With a dress watch conventionally having only two hands, and simple markers on a simple dial, the SPB111J1 would visually fit the bill perfectly. With just 3 hands and a date window at 3, it is as classically correct as a dress watch should be. Being a properly functional and legible timepiece with contrasting markers and dial, but functionality isn’t what we’re here for, at least for most of us.
As the name suggests, this watch has a dial that isn’t just a plain sheet of metal with applied indexes, but one that is incredibly complex to make. It is an enamel dial. Which, as is often with most of the watches in this collection, is inspired by Japan’s landscapes and artistry. The green dial is a reference to Japan’s lush cedar forests. For those of you who aren’t sure of what exactly enamel is, it is essentially a piece of soft glass or porcelain that is heated and painted by a craftsman to perfection in a process that often yields more failures than success. Needless to say, it is a pain in the ass to make. Each dial alone is the result of painstaking efforts over a number of weeks due to the immense complexity and artistic skillset required for the completion of such a dial. Powered by an in-house 6r35 automatic caliber and paired with that stunning green dial, the SPB111J1 is a worthy testament to fine Japanese watchmaking and craftsmanship.
Take a short trip to Google and search ‘best affordable dress watches’ and you’re probably gonna see a lot of Orient Bambinos in the results. For good reason too, the Bambino has been the quintessential affordable dress watch for aficionados and newbies alike. Today, we’ll be taking a look at my personal favourite of the lot, the 2nd generation with a gorgeous cream dial.
As has already been revealed, and also clearly noticeable at first glance, the Bambino 2nd Generation is a classy and elegant dress watch, perfect for formal occasions. The Orient Bambino generation 2 is presented with a simple and elegant stainless-steel case with a diameter of 40.5mm. With a thickness of 11.8mm, it may not be the slimmest watch out there but most of that size comes from the highly domed mineral glass. The actual case thickness, minus the crystal, is in fact quite a bit thinner. Having said this, this Bambino will still easily slide under any cuff without any issues.
The dial is where the watch’s stunning design comes into play, in a gorgeous and crisp cream white, with applied roman numerals and blued hands. It gives off a refined and elegant vintage charm that you just can’t really get anywhere else for the price. Its neatly executed and sharply finished too which isn't something you'd often find in a watch from this price range.
The Orient Bambino 2nd Generation is powered by the in-house Epson caliber F6722. An automatic movement that has both a manual winding function and hacking seconds. Both of these are functions that are often not found in affordable automatic movements, so this is a really great value proposition from Orient.
All in all, if you are looking for a classy and affordable dress watch, the Orient Bambino version 2 is definitely a watch to consider. In addition to this one, you also have several models to choose from, so you should be able to find one that suits your taste and preference.
Aries Gold G 9026 CF-CF La Oro
The wristwatch has been a staple of the man’s jewellery box since the dawn of time (well they only really caught on after 1904 thanks to the Cartier Santos but that’s a story for another day) and still is today.
I’m writing this looking at 6 very different watches in my own wardrobe and the one on my wrist and I personally can’t think of a better accessory for a man than a lovely watch sitting on my wrist. In my opinion, no design represents the traditional wrist watch as quintessentially as traditional 3-handed dress watch. While there are many modern variants around offering this timeless design and style, there is one from local microbrand Aries Gold that re-creates this traditional design for the modern world. I'm talking about this, the Aries Gold G 9026 CF-CF La Oro.
Featuring a stunning coffee brown sunburst dial, with slim and sharp applied indexes and hands, all fitted within a matching polished coffee coloured case. The La Oro in this colourway is unlike any other 3 handed-dress watch out there. The slightly domed sapphire crystal adds a sense of depth to this otherwise simple timepiece, and fits perfectly with the modern-vintage aesthetic.
Made locally in Singapore and powered by a workhorse Seiko Epson caliber, with a 3Hz frequency and 42 hours of power-reserve, the watch with a minimalist (albeit sunburst) dial can easily be dressed up or down effortlessly. With its simplistic design and subtle sunburst detailing on the dial, it’s an easy watch to wear but one with a unique charm that you just don’t get anywhere else especially being the most affordable watch that we have here today. The Aries Gold La Oro is a fun watch to have and is a great getaway drug for the first-time watch enthusiast.
Tissot Le Locle Automatic T0064071603300
The next watch we’re looking at is one of the first few watches that sparked my love for mechanical watches: The Tissot Le Locle Powermatic 80. When I first saw this many, many years ago, I wanted it, it was the first-ever proper watch that I actually wanted and strived for.
It is, a traditional, Swiss made 3 handed dress watch. It is the very essence of what the traditional dress watch stands for, and this Tissot Le Locle Powermatic 80 brings that tradition to us in an incredibly affordable and gorgeous package. Being innovators in tradition, the Le Locle Powermatic 80 is a vintage styled dress watch, designed for the modern world featuring a central machine Guilloche dial surrounded by a bead-blasted minute track adorned with applied Roman numerals.
Though it looks like it belongs in a time long before ours (and that’s not even a bad thing) it is powered by Tissot’s very modern and reliable Powermatic 80 automatic movement, giving it as its name implies a healthy 80 hours of power-reserve, twice of what you get from mechanical watches in this price range. And it’s the on the rear where the vintage charms of this watch truly shine, with a medallion like case-back decorated with Tissot’s signature and housing a very contemporary and innovative movement within.
It’s a great watch, to have for well under a thousand dollars, with such a rich history and heritage that packs plenty of modern innovations and manufacturing techniques. Its unarguably one of the best modern affordable Swiss watches for sale right now.
ARMAND NICOLET J09-3 GMT A663AAA-NR-MA4660AA MEN'S WATCH
The last watch on our list today is certainly one of the most intriguing: The Armand Nicolet J09-3 GMT. Now, the J09-3 series is the brand’s take on a modern stainless-steel sports watch. Much like the Royal Oak or Nautilus style luxury sports watches, but the J09-3 isn’t exactly a blatant copy or homage, it’s a unique watch with its own individual style and characteristics. With 3 different variants to choose from, a classic 3-hander with a date, a chronograph, and a GMT. The GMT in our opinion, feels the most mature and dressy out of the lot.
Despite its dressy nature, it’s really an all-purpose watch, coming on either a stainless-steel bracelet or a leather strap, the watch gives off plenty Genta-esque design vibes the more you look at it. With a bold squarish angular case, integrated bracelet and of course, the unmistakable bezel that really channels the design of the Nautilus, it’s a properly serious looking watch. The dial is lovely too, a rich matte black featuring 2 layers of finishes; wide striping along the center and brushed along the periphery, with a 2-tone 24-hour GMT ring as well. The hands are rather special too, almost sword-shaped but with short prongs at the end, I’ve never seen anything quite like them before. The overall finishing of the case is pretty solid too, it’s mostly brushed on the surface with some polished edges giving off a nice jewellery like shine to it. Coming in at 41mm, it sits a bit larger than its size would suggest due to the extended lugs, but it’s still a nicely elegant and distinct piece to look at.
If you’re looking for an entry-level luxury Swiss sports watch in stainless-steel to spruce up your suit or daily outfit, then the Armand Nicolet J09-3 GMT is certainly the watch for you.
Properly stunning gifts
There you have it, 10 of the best dress watches perfect for Christmas gifting. Whether you’re looking for an affordable yet stunning entry piece from the Japanese, or a properly striking and luxurious piece from the Swiss, there’s certainly a dress watch for everybody here. And if you’d like to see more, then feel free to check out our full range of dress watches in our collection here.