Watches come in various shapes, styles and designs. For example, there are dive watches, sports watches, pilot’s watches and of course dress watches. However, unlike the other forms, people shelf the dress watches for special occasions.
But, why? Because some feel they are too classical or too formal, or too old-fashioned. We won’t try to impose our thoughts, but will surely try and give a different perspective to this whole scenario.
Therefore, this guide is dedicated to those who want to wear or buy a dress watch but don’t dare to because of the unknown norms. Guys, the rules have changed and it’s time you resolve your dilemma. Let’s get into it.
What is a Dress Watch actually?
There is a good chance that you will derive the most obvious meaning based on the name ‘dress watch’. But surprisingly there is no formal definition. A dress watch is usually elegant, slim and classy, and is primarily worn with formal attire like jackets, tuxedos and suits.
Dress watches are known for their simplicity and refined elegance, often featuring uncluttered and clean dials with minimal complications.
Some of the most defining characteristics of a dress watch are:
Dress watches generally tend to have a smaller case size than other everyday watches. They enhance your style without stealing all the attention. Traditionally, dress watches had a case size of 36mm, but today you’ll find most dress timepieces between 33mm to 40mm.
Made of precious metals
Dress watches are often made in precious metals like gold or platinum to make them look even more luxurious.
Slim & Elegant profile
The watches have a slim and streamlined case so they can easily slide under a shirt cuff without any discomfort.
Minimalist dial design
The dial of a dress watch is typically neat and uncluttered, featuring simple hour markers, slim hands and often a small sub-dial. The focus is on understated elegance and legibility.
While there are exceptions, dress watches are mostly presented on leather straps. This is because metal bracelets tend to give the watch a sportier outlook that a humble dress watch doesn’t try to achieve. They usually come fitted to alligator, calfskin and crocodile leather straps.
‘Dress Watch’ – an unnecessary stamp!
Certain dos and don’ts apply when it comes to picking attire for specific occasions. This demand applies to watches too. Back in the time when wristwatches first gained popularity, a dress watch was simply a ‘watch’ with no added meaning. They were all elegant and slender. In fact, watch brands that made them never put much thought into their appearance.
But again, ‘casual’ attire as we know it today was not really a thing back then. People usually wore formal outfits and dress watches. This gave them the notion that if you do not wear formal attire, you should dismiss dress watches. And, that is exactly where it all went wrong. Because a formal outfit demands a dress timepiece but a dress watch doesn’t require formal attire.
Is it okay to wear a Dress Watch casually?
Simply answered, yes! You are free to wear whatever you want, however you want and whenever you want. The rules of dressing are rewritten and fashion enthusiasts are putting more emphasis on blending style with comfort. The same sentiment applies to watch connoisseurs too. People no longer keep away dress watches for formal events but sport them with casual outfits like jeans and polo to look effortlessly fabulous.
For instance, the Rolex Submariner is a professional dive watch which with time has become one of the most popular everyday watches. People wear the Submariner with a suit or other formal outfit. With that said, you can surely wear a dress watch not just on one but on most occasions.
What happens if you wear a dress watch with a casual outfit?
You look great! When you wear a dress timepiece with casual attire, it automatically enhances the appeal, making you look more elegant and classy. So, if you’re trying to achieve that, pairing a dress watch with anything casual could be a really good idea.
However, if you wish to wear a dress watch on both formal and informal occasions, it is best to consider a watch that is slightly more versatile. It shouldn’t be too small or too big, but something that looks casual enough to be worn on both occasions.
For example, the Rolex Day-Date on a leather strap conveniently qualifies as a dress watch that you can wear on almost all occasions.
Is it suitable to wear a dress watch every day?
Yes! In fact, a lot of people opt for a dress watch to wear every day. Whether you’re going to work or a party, or somewhere casual, wearing a dress watch won’t be a problem. In fact, wearing dress watches on a day-to-day basis effortlessly adds a touch of sophistication and class to your outfit.
If you’re planning to buy one recently, there are a few things that you’d want to keep in mind before buying.
5 things to consider when buying a dress watch
As dress watches usually come fitted to leather straps, it is best to ensure that you keep your strap away from water to prevent getting it damaged.
Dress watches are meant to be worn on land and not in the water. While they may be able to withstand sudden water splashes, it is best not to plan diving in them. Consider wearing a sports or diver timepiece for all your adventure activities.
Dress watches are slimmer, sleeker and smaller. They are not usually built to be robust. Therefore, it is best to consider your everyday activities before you plan to buy one as it can damage or even break your beloved timepiece.
Do not opt for a dress watch that is too small or too big for your wrist. Pick a size that is versatile and will complement a range of outfits and occasions, allowing for a seamless transition from formal meetings to casual settings.
Pick a reputed watch brand for your dress watch to ensure reliability and high quality. Buying a good dress watch from a reputable brand will last a lifetime and beyond and if time comes, you can even sell your watch for a good price.
Choosing a Dress Watch for all occasions
The most important consideration when buying a dress watch should be how it aligns with your lifestyle. Will you wear it every day? Where will you wear the watch and with what outfit? How do you want it to fit and what should the design be like?
Thankfully, many watch brands create a wide range of dress watch designs to ensure there is a perfect dress watch for every watch buyer. Here we’ve listed the top ones you can consider buying in 2023.
Top 3 dress watches to buy
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119J
There’s not much to say when it comes to Patek Philippe- the brand renowned for creating some of the most elegant timepieces in the world. The Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119J is surely the perfect accessory you’d want to pair up with a nice formal suit or casual jeans and a t-shirt. The watch flaunts a classic design produced in solid 18ct yellow gold carrying a distinct white dial. It has a hobnail gold bezel, adding to its popularity. The 36mm construction is charming and easy to wear with varied outfits.
Cartier Tank Solo Ref. WGTA0067
Featuring a 33.7 x 25.5mm 18ct yellow gold case encasing a grained silver dial with Roman numeral hour markers and blued-steel sword-shaped hands, the Cartier Tank Solo Ref. WGTA0067 is a must-have for all dress watch lovers. The watch is finished on a dark grey alligator strap, making it the epitome of elegance with spot-on appropriate features.
Vacheron Constantin Malte Ref. 82230/000R-9963
This Vacheron Constantin Malte Ref. 82230/000R-9963 crafted in 18ct pink gold easily qualifies as a standout dress watch with its stunning tonneau shape. The watch has a 42 x 36.7mm pink gold case, nestling a matte silver dial with a slightly recessed second sub-dial. The Malte timepiece bears an exceptional ornamental finish and easily declares itself as a refined horological piece.
Closing Thoughts on Dress Watches
Obviously, a dress watch looks wonderful with formal attire but that doesn’t mean it won’t go well with a casual outfit. Sometimes it is good to embrace a new feeling. If you’re someone who’s used to wearing sports watches on most occasions, a dress watch might feel out of place for once. That is because you aren’t familiar with the different feelings this watch provides.
Honestly, it is not the watch that you can go bragging about saying how marvellous it is technically or how it can go to the bottom of the ocean. But it requires you to embrace the more refined details like the fine case finishing, the guilloche work, a specific font or the beautiful lacquer dial. It is a different aspect of watchmaking altogether and you can simply enjoy them for what they are..