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Dress watches — strong presence, simple understatement

Classic dress watches are tasteful accessories that radiate elegant refinement and can be combined with every suit. They go well with almost every style and are therefore in great demand. Here you can find out everything you need to know about dress watches — models that are simple but multifaceted.

golden watch pink shirt
Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 – Self-winding movement with a power reserve of up to 45 hours, 39 millimeter rose gold case, water-resistant to 30 meters

The secret behind the success of the popular dress watches can be summed up in one sentence: They combine discreet design with a timeless elegance that radiates exceptional refinement. That’s why these timepieces are ideal accessories for special occasions or business appointments.

Whatever the brand, all classic dress watches share a number of characteristic features. They offer a puristic design with three hands that show the hours, minutes, and seconds. If a dress watch also has a date display it is often called a business watch, because it offers an additional function for daily business activities.

Wempe Dress watches IWC Portofino Automatic
IWC Portofino Automatic – Manufacture caliber 35110, self-winding movement with a power reserve of 42 hours, 40 millimeter rose gold case, water-resistant to 30 meters
Wempe Dress watches A.Lange & Söhne Saxonia Automatik
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Automatik – Manufacture caliber L086.1, self-winding movement with a power reserve of up to 72 hours, 38,5 millimeter rose gold case

Is it a dress watch, a black-tie watch or a business watch? The difference lies in the details.

Dress watches are often confused with black-tie or evening watches. The design of a black-tie watch is even more puristic, because it has only an hour and a minute hand, along with either discreet hour markers or classic Roman numerals.

The great advantage of a dress watch is its simplicity. Because it can be combined with almost every look, it has long been a fixed element in the basic wardrobe of style-conscious men. The traditional British gentleman style, the typical Italian slim line, the dandy look or the yuccie (Young Urban Creative) style — a dress watch is just as varied as the personal clothing style of its owner. And its multifaceted nature can be seen even in its tiniest details. Suits can be pinstriped, glen plaid, checked or tweed, made of cotton or cashmere, single-breasted or double-breasted, single-color, made for city living or business — and their accessories, individualized dress watches, are just as varied as the suits.

Wempe Dress watches Glashütte Original Senator Excellence and Chopard L. U. C XPS 1860 Edition
Left: Glashütte Original Senator Excellence, Right: Chopard L. U. C XPS 1860 Edition
Wempe Dress watches Rolex Cellini Time
Rolex Cellini Time – Manufacture caliber​ 3132, self-winding movement ​with a power reserve of up to 48 hours​, 39 millimeter everose gold ​case​, water-resistant to 50 meters​

We’ve put together further details for you about materials, designs and watchband styles.

  1. Dial design
    The watchword here is “Less is more.” In addition to contemporary designs, various retro styles are popular, including the Art Deco of the 1920s and 1930s, the postmodern 1950s, the Swinging Sixties, and the futuristic technology of the 1970s. Dials with a sunray decoration or high-relief guilloching create a multifaceted play of light and shadow. Readability is enhanced by matte dials that reduce light reflections and by strong contrasts between light and dark elements. Baton hour markers embody understated elegance, Arabic numerals suggest modernity, and Roman numerals are elegantly classical. Blued hands harmonize perfectly with blue suits.
  2. Case sizes
    To make sure the watch is easily readable, it should have a diagonal dimension of at least 37 millimeters. Cases larger than 42 millimeters can quickly look too bulky. The width of the wearer’s wrist is also relevant. The proportions look harmonious if the case covers two thirds of the wrist. Thin models lie more closely against the skin and enhance wearing comfort. Rectangular cases make the wrist look narrower.
  3. Precious metals
    Gold, especially yellow or rose gold, is the traditional material for a dress watch. In addition, gold is a smart investment, because it has the greatest intrinsic value. However, white gold, platinum, and stainless steel look even more quietly elegant. Moreover, the skin tone of the wearer determines which colored metal looks best on him.
  4. Wristbands
    Black crocodile-skin wristbands are classics that ideally complement many different outfits. Single-color brown leather wristbands, either in a soft ocher or a dark chestnut brown, are the current trendsetters. They can be matched up with a classic brown belt and brown shoes. The wristbands of dress watches do not have a striking stitched seam, which is more appropriate for sports watches.
  5. Caliber
    Mechanical movements have a higher degree of value retention than quartz movements. They testify to expert manufacture and savoir-vivre, and at business meetings they serve as conversation pieces for breaking the ice and small talk. Models with a hand-wound movement are often thinner than watches with a self-winding movement. If you enjoy seeing the mechanics and fine craftsmanship of your watch, its case should have a transparent back. The decorations of the movement are the finishing touch, just like the fine fabric of a suit. Some movements even have a pinstriped finish that watch enthusiasts call Glashütte or Geneva stripes.
  6. Dress code
    Our recommendation: When you go to buy a watch, wear a dress shirt. Check to see whether the watch case is thin enough to glide easily under your cuff without getting stuck. Look at yourself wearing the watch in a full-body mirror in order to see how the model and its proportions look on you.
Wempe Dress watches Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle and Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Ultra Thin Date​​
Left: ​​Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle,​​ Right: ​​Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Ultra Thin Date​​
Wempe Dress watches Breguet Classique 5177
Breguet Classique 5177 – Caliber 777Q, self-winding movement with a power reserve of up to 55 hours, 38 millimeter rose gold case, water-resistant to 30 meter​s​​​

Experience diversity and let yourself be inspired by our selection of fine dress watches.


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