Let’s start with a simple question: What is a dress watch? To me, it comes down to two crucial factors when talking about dress watches. And for this article, we’re talking about dress watches for men:
- Style – The best dress watches are understated in their design. That likely means no colorful dials, extraneous complications, or bright bezels. Less is more when it comes to formal settings, so a minimalist piece is the best way to go.
- Size – Generally, dress watches are either small or medium sized. For men, that means somewhere in the 36-42mm range. What you ultimately want is a complement to your outfit, not a massive, dominating piece of jewelry.
Now that we’re clear on what a dress watch is, let’s get on with our recommendations.
1: Timex Metropolitan
The most affordable watch on this list comes from one of the biggest names in the watch world.
It is Timex, who has built up an excellent reputation as a brand who vastly over-delivers on quality. The Metropolitan is a fantastic example of that trend, and it holds its own against much more expensive dress watches. If you’re looking to spend a minimal amount on your next timepiece, then look no further.
2: Seiko SUP880
The square shape of this Seiko watch is an instant indication that it is a classy dress piece. Even better, it isn’t priced like one.
This model usually goes for under $125, so you’re getting a steal when you choose it. One more benefit of this piece is its solar quartz movement. With it, you get the reliability of a battery-powered watch and the convenience of charging it up in the sun. As a result, you shouldn’t have to get maintenance work done on it for many years after your purchase.
3: Orient Bambino
The Orient Bambino has developed a cult following in the last decade or so.
The reason being that it provides incredible value at its price point. Where most affordable dress watch companies use quartz movements and cheaper materials, Orient goes the other way with an automatic engine and excellent craftsmanship. You also have a ton of options when it comes to coloring, as Orient offers multiple strap and dial styles. The one thing you might not like about this piece is its thickness, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most.
4: Tissot Heritage Visodate
This Tissot Heritage Visodate is another watch that has a sleek, minimalist style but incorporates some serious skill into its construction.
As an added benefit, this piece has a day date complication, which often comes in handy. My favorite thing about it is its incredibly simple, yet elegant color scheme. With a white dial, brown leather strap, and silver case, this watch will match any outfit you wear.
5: Hamilton Intra-Matic
Its silver dial makes it look like it is straight out of another era, yet it has the versatility of a modern piece. Its measurements hold up wonderfully too, coming in at 10mm thickness and being quite light on your wrist. You can also choose between 38mm and 42mm for the case diameter, giving you more freedom to customize it to your style.
6: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin
Now, we move on to the more expensive luxury brands for dress watches.
Let’s start with Jaeger-LeCoultre, who has an undeniable reputation in the Swiss timepiece world. Though they sell all kinds of watches, the Master Ultra-Thin is one of the few that firmly fits into the “dress” category. It has a minimalist design, top-tier materials, and an incredible automatic movement on the inside. If you can afford a watch like this, then you can’t miss with the Master Ultra-Thin.
7: A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin
Going even farther up in price, we have the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin.
This brand is on almost every watch collectors wish list, and it’s no mystery why. Their skill is right up there with the best brands in the world, making its products incredibly sought after. The Saxonia Thin is actually one of their most affordable pieces. That is despite its price tag of nearly $15,000. As with the Jaeger-LeCoultre above, most of you will not be able to afford this piece, but those who can should buy with confidence.
8: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony
My last dress watches pick is the most expensive of the bunch.
Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony will cost you around $20,000 to purchase, but you’re getting an incredible level of quality for the price. Between fantastic materials, unmatched polishing, and a reliable movement, you can’t go wrong with this product.
So, what have we learned today about dress watches? First, that you don’t need to spend an entire paycheck on a dress watch. What you can do instead is stick to affordable brands that cost under a few hundred dollars. That being said, those of you with a large budget can upgrade to true masterpieces. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, the eight picks on this list are an excellent place to start your search.