If an event calls for a white tie, black tie, or, in some cases, a semiformal fit, tradition requires you to reach for a dress watch. But what is tradition nowadays? Timothée Chalamet arrived shirtless at the 2022 Oscars, wearing a sequin and lace tuxedo blazer that covered his nips. Designers are presenting new, outré suits with oversized blazers, vibrant colors, and flared pants. And skirts are steadily and surely creeping into the menswear fold. Rules, as they say, are meant to be broken, and the sartorial dictates that called for decorum are, for sure, smashed.
The idea of the dress watch—once a timepiece denoted by a black or white dial, dark leather strap, and slim case—has also gone through a refresh. Big, bold chronographs are being worn by the likes of tuxedo-clad James Bond. And celebrities and the glitterati are showing up to the toniest of events wearing timepieces with gold bracelets and diamond-lined bezels. Formal affairs are now filled with men flaunting their latest, ostentatious purchases. And that’s not a bad thing: Wear what you want where and when you want. Hell, since the boundaries are blurred, wear a dress watch in the office, at a bar, or, if you’re so inclined, at the gym.
But if you’re a stickler for rules (hey, no judgment), you’re going to want to match your tux with a dress watch. And we corralled 30 of the best—some traditional, others less so, but all perfect for a dressy event.
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Stainless Steel Quartz Watch
Simple, elegant, and at a price that won’t cause a dent to you wallet? You’ll truly get more bang for your buck with this Citizen timepiece.
Waterbury Classic Day Date Watch
Speaking of sleek, affordable watches, Timex is pretty much the standard bearer. And the brand’s Waterbury style is proof.
Ancher Quartz Analog Watch
Danish design in celebrated for its less-is-more ethos. Think clean, architectural lines that make an impact. Think this timepiece by Skagen, Denmark’s premiere watchmaker, right here.
AR11186 Dress Black Leather Watch
Note the exact time quando inizia la festa with this timepiece from the maestro of Italian style.
The Minimalist Three-Hand Brown Leather Watch
Like Godiva, this gold and chocolate timepiece from Fossil is a rich, delicious treat that’ll have you coming back for more.
It’s the simple pleasures that count most. And this Bulova watch, folks, is a simple pleasure.
Classic Sheffield Leather Strap Watch
From the ivory-hued dial to the thin gold-tone case to the streamlined black leather strap, this timepiece is minimalism at its finest.
Here’s a blue-chip watch from Seiko that definitely doesn’t have a blue-chip price.
T-Classic Carson Powermatic 80 Leather Strap Watch
Feel free to hit the catwalk with this Tissot timepiece, because it’s the blue steel of the bunch.
The Swiss, Germans, and French may have longer histories in the horological game, but the U.S. has a strong hand with Detroit-based Shinola and its collection of spiffy timepieces.
Toccata Round White Leather-Strap Watch
Roman numerals on a white dial with a round gold-plated case and black embossed leather strap: it doesn’t get any more timeless than this style—especially when it’s made by the always-classy peeps at Raymond Weil.
Ventura Leather Strap Watch
Before Shinola (see above), it was Hamilton holding up the U.S. in the competitive world of watches. Though the brand is now based in Switzerland, its designs are steeped in Americana—particularly the Ventura, which was a favorite of none other than Elvis Presley.
Max Bill Automatic Wristwatch
If your aesthetic leans brutalist, you’ll fawn over this Bauhaus-inspired watch that takes after the work of industrial designer Max Bill.
Baroncelli Heritage Automatic Watch
Mido, founded in the turn of the 20th century, made of name for itself by offering streamlined timepieces inspired by the fastest cars around. And if that kind of legacy is your speed, you’re going to want to cop this heritage watch.
This timepiece from Longines, as its name clearly suggests, has presence, baby.
If you consider yourself a capital G in fashion, look no further than a timepiece that’s all the buzz.
No. 001 Stainless Steel Watch
Of course Tom Ford, the man behind the toniest suits, ties, and oxfords, has a timepiece to match.
DiaMaster Thinline Automatic Watch
When it comes to pure ceramic watches for casual scenarios, Rado is near untouchable. But for dressier occasions, the brand’s DiaMaster collection—made of a mix of 90 percent ceramic and 10 percent metal alloy—is more fitting.
The De Ville is the alpha of Omega’s dress watches. So sleek and so cool, ain’t nothing cruel about it.
Star Legacy Moonphase Watch
If you’re going to opt for a moonphase, it doesn’t get any better and any more refined than one from Montblanc’s Star Legacy collection.
A watch so clean and nice you have to say its name not once, but twice.
Vintage Platinum Dress Watch
Large pilot’s timepieces put IWC on the map, but the venerable brand also knows more than a thing or two about the impactful subtleties of the dress watch.
A timepiece from the classy folks at Tiffany & Co. that’s made for movers, shakers, and, as clearly labeled, makers.
The Daytona usually leads Rolex’s orchestra, but when it comes to dress watches, it’s the Cellini that’s first chair.
The Tank is as classic a dress watch as it comes.
Long Island Rose Gold & Alligator Strap Watch
The wild and wonderful world of Franck Muller also includes relatively streamlined styles, including this watch that—like my favorite kind of tea—packs a punch.
Traditionnelle 18K White Gold, Diamond & Alligator Strap Watch
This watch by Vacheron Constantin may be called Traditionnelle, but there’s definitely nothing traditional (in the best way) about a mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-lined bezel.
The first wristwatch was created by Breguet. Now, over two centuries later, the OG is still offering classic styles that’ll last several lifetimes.
Classic Fusion King Gold Diamonds Watch
Hublot’s Classic Fusion is usually (and intentionally) flamboyant, but there are a couple of sleek, dressier options—with this gold one being the king.
Calatrava Self-Winding Watch
Say the name Patek Philippe at any dressy event, and you’ll get every watch aficionado’s attention. Better yet, just show them this timepiece and get ready for jaws to drop.
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