The jewel in the crown of any timepiece collection, the dress watch provides you with a timeless and versatile piece that can elevate any outfit. Mens formal watches are items that can represent a financial investment and therefore it is important to find a dress watch that suits your personality and style aesthetic.
This elegant type of watch is a special gift for milestones in a man’s life, for a birthday or a celebratory moment. Buying yourself a dress watch can make you feel more professional and confident both at work and in your personal life.
Here you can learn exactly what a dress watch is, explore 15 of the best formal watches for men in 2023 and find the timepiece that will serve you and keep you looking sharp for years to come.
A dress watch is a timepiece designed to look elegant and smart. Beautifully designed and carefully crafted, it is a formal accessory that makes a style statement, rather than an all-singing, all-dancing piece of tech. There’ll be no step counting or text alerts from a dress watch, but you’ll have a piece that catches the eye thanks to its classic appearance.
This is not the style of watch you’d wear when you’re out for an evening jog or participating in sports. While a sports watch is built for durability and for surviving dunks in water, a dress watch is usually, at most, only classed as splash resistant.
Most commonly, these formal watches for men are manufactured with a case of steel or a precious metal such as attractive yellow or rose gold, and a dark, understated leather strap or metal band. Some modern dress watches now feature a little splash of colour, often blue, and detailing on the watch face is becoming more common. A slimline watch, it can sit discreetly below the cuff. Demure as it is, the dress watch still makes an impact.
When you’re wearing a suit, the likes of a sports watch would clash with the overall style. For sleek, smart attire you need a sleek, smart watch – and the dress watch fits the brief.
Traditionally, a dress watch was worn with business attire or on formal occasions such as weddings. In 2023, however, a dress watch can be a little more versatile. This piece can create a cool, contemporary look if your office dress code is more relaxed, and it works a treat with smart-casual style for informal evenings with friends and while on holiday.
Formal watches brands have ensured that in 2023 you can purchase a dress watch that won’t restrict you when it comes to fashion. Explore our 15 top trending formal watches for men and find the style that you want to invest in.
Although a formal watch is unmistakable thanks to its clean lines and chic appearance, there is still much variety available for the watch buyer. To help you narrow down the style that suits you, we’ve divided 15 of this year’s trending formal watches according to key features.
The classic style remains popular in 2023 thanks to its enduring charm and dependable ability to lift an outfit. This type of watch can be worn with almost any formal attire and for almost any occasion. From a job interview to a first date, it will always make a positive impression.
The classic style often features Roman numerals on the clockface, slim hands and a simple colour scheme, and it may display the traditional guilloche decoration, where tiny geometric shapes are engraved into the case and watch dials.
The classic mens formal watch offers great flexibility, and this traditional style can be a great investment piece if you’re thinking of selling your timepiece further down the line, as it’s likely to remain popular.
1. The Breguet Classique is an investment piece that you might buy with the intention of passing it down to your son. Crafted using 18-carat white gold, this watch features the classic blue Breguet hands. With its black leather strap, this is one of the best formal watches for men who want to look extra sharp in a tuxedo or black suit.
2. Longines’ Record is a great example of a classic formal watch with its simple white face, Roman numerals and traditional brown alligator leather strap. Featuring a durable stainless steel case, this is the perfect watch to wear in the office environment. The Record would look the part for any occasion that calls for a crisp white shirt and a smart jacket.
3. The Orient 2nd Generation Bambino Classic is a budget-friendly way to wear a classic formal watch. It feels like a vintage piece but without the associated price tag. The simple watch face and classy black alligator strap pair perfectly with black and grey suits or less formal weekend attire.
German and Scandinavian formal watches brands have mastered the creation of minimalist formal watches that suit a contemporary dress style. Contemporary minimalist watches may be even slimmer than the classic formal watch, with simple dials, and some feature pale straps rather than dark leathers.
These watches feel fresh and cool while still being smart and sophisticated. If your workplace has more of a laid-back feel or you prefer slightly more informal suits for your special events, a minimalist dress watch may be right up your style street.
4. The NOMOS Glashutte Club is an uber-cool and contemporary design, influenced by the minimalist Bauhaus movement. Celebrating simplicity, the number typeface feels youthful and fun while the burgundy strap ensures this watch still feels formal enough for a serious business meeting.
5. This MVMT Arc Automatic is the epitome of cool, with interchangeable blue and grey Italian leather straps to suit both smart and casual attire. The clockface feels fresh and open, ideal for that contemporary look. This affordable watch would make a great purchase if you’re buying your first formal watch on a budget.
6. The Orion 33 Duo is another offering from NOMOS that serves as a masterclass in minimalist watch design. Utterly pared back and refined with its simple clockface and two gold hands, it’s perfect for someone who likes things bright, airy and uncomplicated. A slimline model, this watch feels subtle but still impactful. A fantastic accessory to pale and neutral garment tones, this watch complements casual holiday wear and more formal work attire.
There is a certain prestige associated with dress watches featuring metal bands. Metal straps can feel luxurious and, if crafted from precious metal, they can allow your formal watch to become an investment piece.
Metal straps are practical and durable. They also allow the wearer to have links removed or added to ensure the timepiece fits their wrist exactly. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to find a watch that speaks to your design preferences, with different watch faces, colours and styles to choose from.
Metal straps help create mens formal watches that feel bold and luxurious. This style of watch is versatile, but looks most natural when paired with formal outfits.
7. The Bremont Supernova Albus is a grown-up watch that will instil a sense of authority and competence in the wearer. A formal watch to help you feel confident as you start a new position at work, its polished stainless-steel construction makes a statement. The Supernova feels unique thanks to its chunkier case and tapered, slimline metal band.
8. The Girard-Perregaux Laureato is a stunning unisex metal strap watch that suits those looking for a more contemporary feel. With its on-trend copper-coloured dial and hints of rose gold and diamonds, this watch feels fashionable but timeless. A real investment piece, this is a watch that could be enjoyed across the decades. It’s contemporary enough for someone starting a career in their twenties, but classic enough to suit a more mature wearer.
9. The Seiko 5 SNK793 allows you to achieve the luxury all-metal look without breaking the bank. If you’re making your first formal watch purchase, this is a solid and reliable timepiece that certainly won’t look cut-price. The stainless-steel case and band feel modern and stylish, while the transparent case backing allows you to appreciate the internal workings of your watch.
For some, the clean lines of a rectangular or square clock face add individuality and character to a watch. Angular dials were more common in the past, and suit those looking for a more traditional-feeling mens formal watch.
10. The Cartier Tank allows you to purchase from this iconic brand without the need for a huge budget. This watch feels sophisticated with its rectangular face, bold Roman numerals and classy black leather strap. The Tank will look well-placed alongside the smartest of suits, but it also can add a funky edge to casual clothes.
11. The Hermes Carre H sports an eye-catching square dial alongside a trendy tan Barenia calf-leather strap, for ultimate comfort. It has a fun, retro feel, making it a great buy for all ages – from the funky young watch wearer to the older gentleman who remembers this style from the first time around! This piece looks great with blue suits and shirts.
12. The Oris Rectangular is a more contemporary option and comes in a variety of colours, for those who like to push fashion boundaries in formal settings. If you want to play things safe, the dark green leather strap will look the part alongside business wear.
If you want the formality of a dress watch but crave a little more detail and interest from your timepiece, there are plenty of options to meet your design preferences. If you enjoy the charm of a moon phase or the practicality of a daily date dial, clockfaces with a little added extra make for mens formal watches that you’ll treasure.
13. Junghans Men’s Meister Chronoscope boasts dimpled auxiliary dials for a stopwatch function, as well as a date dial for your convenience. With a gold PVD-coated stainless steel case and black leather strap, this piece is a versatile accessory that could be worn with a suit or informal attire.
14. Fears’ Salmon Dial Brunswick features an attractive brushed copper dial with the brand’s custom typeface displayed in the numbers. The buffalo leather black strap adds contrast against the salmon hues and makes this smart piece a real showstopper when worn with black suits. A watch for the individual who wants their accessory to stand out, this would also lift smart-casual outfits and even the classic denim-and-shirt look.
15. The A. Lange and Sohne Saxonia Moon Phase watch is an exquisite investment piece. With a date dial and an ornate and richly coloured solid gold lunar disk, this timepiece is a feast for the eyes. Intricate as it is, the overall appearance of this high-value watch is still graceful, making it a great addition to a tailored business suit. A piece that will be admired within the family, this is the ideal watch to pass down through the generations.
Once you’ve invested in a formal watch, it’s time to protect your prized new piece. At TH March, we’ve been insuring jewellery for over 130 years. With our specialist watch insurance policies we can tailor coverage to meet your needs, with experts who know exactly how to protect your precious timepieces. The right insurance will cover accidental damage, theft and loss. Because we understand your watch is more than just an asset, we’ll always endeavour to use the original jeweller to replace your piece, should the worst happen.