Unlike a chronograph or a dive watch, the parameters of what make a good dress watch aren’t so easily defined. Truthfully, you can wear pretty much any watch you want with a suit (you can thank James Bond, with his propensity to wear a diver with a tux, for that), but to really elevate your black-tie look, what you want is something thin enough to fit under a sleeve cuff, minimal enough to complement your wardrobe (rather than overpower it) and classic enough to weather finicky changes in style trends.
Again, it’s not so clearly defined. But if you want an idea of what to look for, these ten watches — spanning in price from $1,000 to $20,000 — are emblematic of the perfect fancy dress timepiece.
The Intra-Matic is consistently one of our favorite dress watches under $1,000. Essentially a reissue of a Hamilton watch from the ’60s, the Intra-Matic delivers retro-inspired looks by way of a radiant sunburst dial, a thin bezel and case and a Hamilton’s vintage “H” logo. Inside beats an ETA 2892-2 automatic movement, and two cases diameters — 42mm and 38mm — are available.
Sinn 1736 St I 4N
Junghans, Braun and Nomos are generally what come to mind with the words “German minimalist watch,” but Sinn — maker of ultra-tough divers, chronographs and pilot’s watches — has shown it can dress up with the elegant 1736. It comes in at a fairly small 36mm in diameter and 9mm thick and features a sunburst dial with gold-toned indices and hands.