Despite the presumed snobbery of the watch world, there are actually surprisingly few rules when it comes to where, when and how to wear a timepiece. After all, most people who are rocking a dive watch aren’t exactly Jacques Cousteau, just like field watch fans are more likely to be found scouring the cereal aisle than eating MREs on the battlefield. The same goes for dress watches. You don’t need to wear a dress watch with a suit, and you don’t need to be wearing a suit to wear a dress watch.
Since many watches are largely divorced from their function, the lines can get blurred between different categories. That’s why there isn’t exactly a strict definition of a dress watch, but there are some broadly agreed-upon parameters. Dress watches are slim, have a smaller diameter and a typically simple face. This allows them to sit more comfortably under a dress shirt sleeve. Dress watches will often (but not always) have a leather band, rather than a steel bracelet. Since dress watches are so simple and slim, they work well as an everyday watch, and can easily be dressed down and paired with your everyday wardrobe.
Just like with any watch category, there’s an enormous price range in dress watches. On the lower end, you’ll find reliable, accurate and easy-to-maintain quartz watches, and on the higher end are luxury dress watches with meticulous movements and unimpeachable craftsmanship.
These are some of the best dress watches to buy now, regardless of whether you’re wearing them with a suit to a wedding or beat-up blue jeans at the bar.
1. Timex Marlin Watch
These days, Timex is best known for its affordable quartz watches, but menswear maestro Todd Snyder took a peek in the brand’s archives and pulled out this gem. The Marlin is a mechanical watch with offbeat details. The watch has numerals on the even numbers, rather than the quarter-hours, and the numerals themselves are in an odd, stretched-out font. This watch is hand-wound, rather than automatic. Some might consider that tedious, but it also gives you more time to appreciate the beautiful face of this watch.
2. Seiko Men’s Solar Watch
BEST QUARTZ WATCH
Haven’t you heard that it’s hip to be square? This watch from Seiko has a rectangular shape with a gold-tone case and matching gold face. The simple watch eschews ornamentation in favor of a simple face with indices, rather than numerals. The strap is brown leather with croc embossing. Best of all, the solar-powered quartz battery makes for fewer trips to the watch shop.
3. Junghans Meister Automatic Watch
Chronograph watches are typically associated with racing, pilot or dive watches, rather than dress watches. But Junghans manages to pack three sub-dials, plus a day-date function into this automatic watch without compromising slimness and sleekness. The watch has a brown leather strap with a stainless steel case and a white face.
4. Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso Tribute
BEST LUXURY WATCH
The Reverso from Jaeger-Lecoultre is an iconic timepiece, and this version has been revamped with a blue face, a blue leather strap and a stainless steel case, giving this watch a modern look. It’s a hand-wound mechanical watch with a Swiss-made caliber 822/2 movement. As this is a Reverso, you can flip the face over to reveal the back and protect the face from potential damage. Naturally, you’re unlikely to wear this watch somewhere where it could be damaged, but at the very least it’s a pleasantly tactile function that certainly beats a fidget spinner.
5. Skagen Signatur Mesh Watch
MINIMAL AND MODERN
Skagen excels at making modern, minimalist watches, and the Signatur Mesh watch is no exception. This quartz watch has a fine mesh band and a 40mm circular face and unique stick indices that feature minute numerals, rather than hours. The standout feature is the unique turquoise face that sets it apart from standard white, gold and silver.
Read More: The Best Pocket Watches
6. Orient Men’s Bambino Dress Watch
AN AFFORDABLE AUTOMATIC
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but automatic does not have to mean expensive. The Orient Bambino is the perfect example. It’s a sub-150 dollar watch with an automatic movement and a face that looks a lot more expensive than it is. The watch has a stainless steel case with a sophisticated cream-colored face. Despite its classic looks, it has a few offbeat details, such as a mix of stick indices and Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes. While not as well-known as Seiko, Orient has been a leading Japanese watch brand for over 70 years.
Read More: Best Vintage Watches
7. Hamilton Intra-Matic Watch
AN AMERICAN ICON
While best known as an American watchmaker, Hamilton has been under the umbrella of the Swiss Swatch group for nearly half a century. Perhaps that meeting of two worlds of watchmaking makes the two-tone look especially fitting. The silver-tone dial and gold case adds a unique flair to this otherwise classic watch. This dress watch utilizes an Automatic Swiss movement and a handy date window.
Read More: Best Citizen Watches for Men
8. Nomos Glashutte Metro Datum Watch
The watch world is notoriously obsessed with history and pedigree, which might make it surprising that Nomos Glashutte has gotten so much acclaim and attention, considering the fact that it’s a 90s kid. Of course, it’s not that surprising once you actually see these watches. The modern, minimal look makes this dress watch simultaneously understated and a standout. There’s a seconds sub-dial, a date window and a unique mint and red-colored power reserve indicator. The strap is made from premium Horween leather, and the whole thing clocks in at under four grand, making it an investment, but not eat-the-rich expensive.
9. Braun BN0024 Watch
SIMPLE AND SLEEK
You might associate Braun with electric shavers, but this storied German company has dabbled in everything from coffee grinders to record players to yes, watches. Take the BN0024 dress watch, which has a minimalist, modern look with simple Arabic numerals and a second subdial. The matte stainless steel case puts it on the more casual end of the dress watch spectrum, making it a great everyday timepiece.
10. Breda Pei Leather Strap Watch
GREEN AND GOLD
Not every timepiece needs to be from a century-old brand. Breda has been around for roughly a decade, and their timepieces are simple, stylish and affordable. This simple quartz dress watch has a green face with gold details. The unadorned black leather strap and simple Arabic numerals give this watch a classy, modern look.