Dress watches are an interesting thing in the watch world. While not inherently watches that are designed to be worn every day by the vast majority of consumers, they are still among the most popular styles of timepieces on the market. In spite of that, especially in the luxury sector, the only dress watches that ever come up in conversation seem to be from the same handful of brands (Patek Philippe’s Calatrava, NOMOS’ Orion, Jaeger LeCoultre’s Master Control, etc).
Still, many of our other favorite brands, known more often for their sporty or more generally casual models, produce some stunning and impressive dress pieces as well. For that reason, today I want to highlight three of my favorite dress watches from popular brands that don’t get the love they deserve.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Blue Patterned
Strap: Navy Alligator Leather Strap
Movement: Omega Caliber 8910 Manual Winding Master Co-Axial Movement
In the world of vintage Omega, the DeVille name is a common one. In the brand’s modern lineup, however, it would seem to have vanished completely – except it hasn’t, and it returned in 2019 in a big way with the release of a series of new DeVille Tresor models. 40mm in diameter, there are a number of dial configurations and case materials to choose from, all packed with the newest, manual winding variants of the Omega Master Co-Axial movement.
Its design language is classic, with thin, elegant white gold hands and indices, and a date at 6 o’clock to help maintain a level of symmetry that would have been seen in the vintage models, but with the added functionality of a date window. I’ve decided to showcase the patterned blue dial variant here because a) it’s in steel, making it on the more accessible end of the price ranges for these models, and b) it’s got one of the more interesting dial designs, reminiscent of vintage linen dials.
Case Size: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Silver
Strap: Black Alligator Leather
Movement: IWC Caliber 35111 Automatic Movement
IWC is known primarily for their Big Pilot and Portuguese ranges which, to be fair, have become the brand’s icon in recent years. Big, but still classic tools and heritage pieces that have stood the test of time, it’s easy to see how the two could be positioned as tent poles of the brand. However, despite the common perception, the Portugese is not IWC’s dressiest piece – no, that credit goes to the Portofino.
The Portofino is not as old in the IWC lineup as the pilots and Portuguese models, dating only back to the 1980s or so, but it is still incredibly classic in nearly every way. Its case, though modern, is still within the range of dress watch sizing. It features short cropped, sharply downturned lugs and almost no bezel, giving the watch’s dial pride of place when it comes to the piece’s visual impression. At just over 9mm in height, it’s also appropriately slim in spite of the date complication and automatic winding features. And of course, at $4,700, it’s also much more accessible for its role as the true dress piece in the IWC family.
Source: Audemars Piguet
Case Size: 39mm
Case Material: 18k Red Gold
Dial Color: Silver Guilloche Pattern
Strap: Brown Alligator Leather
Movement: Audemars Piguet Caliber 3120 Automatic Movement
Audemars Piguet has a marketing problem. We’ve discussed it at length before on the channel, and it’s something that makes it really hard for watches like this one to get the recognition they deserve. That marketing problem is the fact that, despite producing other watches, the only model that AP is really known for is the Royal Oak. Yet the maison also produces some of the most elegant, if not a bit simple dress watches on the planet.
Meet the Jules Audemars Self-Winding, a 39mm red gold watch that features one of the single most beautiful guilloche dials I’ve ever seen. It’s an incredibly subtle pattern, such that you might even miss it from far away, but the closer you inspect this gorgeous timepiece, the more detail you take note of. It’s classically sized at 39mm which, though historically still way too large for a dress watch, is to me one of the best sizes for the widest ranges of wrists (I’d still argue for 38mm being perfect, but that’s neither here nor there). Everything about this watch, from its case to its hand set and simple, stick indices is perfectly executed, offering one of the most beautiful dress watches to come out of a Holy Trinity brand at the moment.
Okay, geeks, that’s our list for today. Do you have any favorite dress watches that you think don’t get enough attention? Be sure to sound off and, as always, keep it classy, watchfam.
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