Men’s Dress Watches

So, you want to look good and you realize that to complete that handsome looking suit or other formal attire you need a watch.

You know it used be the case that wearing a wrist watch was considered feminine. It’s true, and back then the height of masculinity was to carry a pocket watch. A lot has changed in the last 100 years and most agree that the right wrist watch does in fact make the man. So how do you choose one that is best for you?

Fortunately for you there are loads of dress watch options out there for both budget buyers and fine luxury item connoisseurs. There isn’t much of a ceiling on what you can spend, but all good dress watches share a lot in common. These days dress watches aren’t nearly as common as they used to be. In fact, many former sport watches are so plain looking that they are dress watches by today’s standards. Speaking of sport watches, those are by far the most common types of watches people buy these days, making dress watches something of a minority – but it really depends on where you live. In Asia for example dress watches are relatively popular while in the United States even most self-described “watch lovers” often don’t own a single dress watch.


In the world of luxury timepieces dress watches are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. This began a few years ago as vintage-style watches started to become quite popular, and more recently watch brands are once again fascinated by complexity of producing thin movements to inside of thin-case dress watches. You see, when it comes to dress watches size does matter. Not in the traditional sense that larger is better, but quite the opposite. Don’t take that to mean that you should look for the smallest watch possible, but rather that a good looking dress watch is more often than not going to be smaller than your average sport watch. Even though there are some very venerable exceptions, most appropriately-sized dress watches are sized between 38mm – 41mm wide. Of course your wrist size will vary so just make sure the lugs of the watch do not extend past the edges of your wrist.

Dress watches should also be on the thinner size in terms of overall case thickness. This is actually much more important than case diameter. Not only are thinner cases deemed more elegant but there is a very practical purpose for this – sleeves. Thicker watches can sometimes be difficult to slip under your shirt cuff while thin watches won’t give you reason to complain. While there are some extremely thin watches on the market that are just a few millimeters thick, more likely than not most watches 10mm or less in thickness will look OK.

When it comes to design dress watches vary remarkably but there are a few good rules to consider when choosing the right one. Like all watches you should look for dials that are legible. That means a nice contrast between the hands and face, as well as hour markers and hands that do not reflect too much light. Dress watch dials are also commonly quite simple. That means extra decorative element or too much functionality. In fact, the best dress watches are sometimes so simple in their design that some people might considered them minimalistic. Brands distinguish themselves in areas such as use of fine materials, finishings, and effective aesthetic balance.

Speaking of simple dials it is generally recommended that dress watches are not very complicated when it comes to their functionality. Most dress watches feature just the time and perhaps the date. There are some exceptional pieces with additional functionality but the general rule is that wrist watches meant to be worn with formal attire (versus say business attire) should be elegant, simple, and classy. They really aren’t meant to make your outfit but rather to complete a look.

Most dress watches come on straps, but sometimes you’ll find a dress watch on a bracelet. The former are much more common. It should go without saying that you should match the colors of your watch with your clothing. At the very least they should complement one another. So if you are wearing brown shoes it isn’t the best idea to wear a watch with a black strap, and vice versa. When it comes to dial colors as well as case materials things can get a bit trickier. You can wear 18k yellow or rose gold with a black and white tuxedo, but you are better off wearing steel, 18k white gold, or even platinum. Black or white dials go well with monochromatic black and white suits, but other colors can work very well for other colors. Blue watches go very well with gray suits, and gold watches go very well with brown suits or other earth tones. Gold also happens to go well with blue suits.

Ultimately most people do not wear formal dress watches too often (unless they attend black tie events on a weekly basis), but a good dress watch is important and useful to have. Many dress watches double as being very suitable for business or casual attire, but it isn’t always the fact that causal watches look good with a suit. With that said go with your good taste and always choose a watch you feel looks good on its own first without having to be matched to a particular outfit or event.