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Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

The aBlogtoWatch team has made dressing up that much easier (and costlier) with our list of the top 10 elegant dress watches. In life, we usually avoid complications, in a dress watch as well, the less the better, a simple uncluttered dial is one of the timeless qualities that a dress watch should fulfill. The focus should ideally be on the essence of a watch. The time in hours and minutes, and little if anything more. Some of the best examples even avoid seconds hands.

A good men’s dress watch also needs to be discreet enough to not distract from your attire – and preferably, sometimes on a leather strap that matches your belt and shoes. Slenderness (thickness of the case) is another virtue in a classic dress watch, being of a diminutive height so that it slides easily under a shirt cuff and gives a subtle wrist presence.

While a dress watch that uses stainless steel is fine, wearing one gives you a good opportunity to have some precious metal on your wrist and to add a further touch of class, a fine mechanical movement is a good choice, especially since this will also add value to a style of watch that is typically an heirloom.

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

Cartier Tank

Created in 1917 and first offered for sale in 1922, the Cartier Tank is an iconic dress watch that since its inception, has been endlessly imitated.

Legend has it that the design of the Tank was inspired by aerial photographs of Renault FT-17 tanks when Louis Cartier saw them in his daily newspaper and the first model produced was a gift for General John J. Pershing as a token of France’s appreciation for his help in ending World War I.


Before the Cartier Tank, most wristwatches were little more than modified pocket watches for the wrist, the Tank was the first to really be conceived with comfort and style in mind.

One the most enduringly popular watch designs, its popularity is in no small part due to its distinctly refined Art deco aesthetic, something which has been present in all of its 250 plus model variations.

Over time, this classic watch has graced many a famous wrist including actors, politicians and royalty. Notably John F. Kennedy wore his Tank throughout most of his term in office and that Cary Grant, an actor noted for his sartorial elegance, chose the Tank, also says something for its design.

Currently, it’s offered in five models: the Francaise, Americaine, Anglaise, Solo and Louis Cartier. The ultra-thin Louis Cartier model offers their greatest display of craftsmanship. Originally released in 1922, it is now offered with quartz, automatic or manual movements. Prices start from as little as $2,000 for Quartz versions.

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

Chopard L.U.C XP

The L.U.C XP model from Chopard won the top prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve in the category of ‘ultra-thin watches’ when it was launched in 2006. Being a very slender 6.8mm thick, it is powered by a just over 3mm thick Chopard L.U.C. automatic movement.

The LUC XP movement is the completely in-house calibre L.U.C 96.17-L, exhibiting a handsome blend of Cotes de Genève and circular graining. The movement benefits from Chopard’s Twin Technology, where two stacked mainspring barrels result in a power reserve of 65 hours – about 50% more than what is common, and even more noteworthy when you consider the thinness of the movement.

A handsome, timeless design, the XP has a black dial with a slight sheen to it, adding a greater sense of opacity and richness and the well proportioned Arabic numbers in white gold are nicely complimented by the dauphine hands. At 39.5mm wide, the XP is a modern sized dress watch with a versatile contemporary look suiting both formal and less formal occasions. Priced at $15,350.

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945

Girard-Perregaux is one of the least publicly known Swiss watch manufacturers. However, their history reveals some interesting models such as the first with a high-frequency movement in 1957. It is precisely their past that is the basis for the Vintage 1945 model launched in 1995 as a tribute to the original Art deco model and now one of the icons of the brand.

Taking the original design as its inspiration, the updated model shares many of its design features including the Art deco lugs and ergonomically curved case, but now in a larger more modern size, making the watch a nice blend of the classical and contemporary. The profile of the case was also redesigned in 2009 to give it a spherical form and to discreetly integrate the crown into the case. The dial features dual curves and is embellished by elegant Dauphine-style hands and a subsidiary seconds dial.

Available in pink gold and steel, the Vintage 1945 is a nice example of an Art deco style dress watch that captures the characteristic style and looks of the era and simultaneously presents a vision of the past while still being contemporary.The pink gold version pictured retails for about $20,000.

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

Grand Seiko

The high-end watch line Grand Seiko was for decades only available in Japan. But, in 2010 they started to ship certain models overseas for the first time. Built to exacting standards by Seiko’s most skilled watchmakers, this line has a a rich history of excellence.

Seiko has had for a long time, a preoccupation with accuracy in their watches, being pioneers in quartz, atomic and Spring Drive movements and having in-house testing even more stringent than Swiss COSC Chronometer certification. This model uses a Hi-Beat movement and accuracy is the focal point of this dress watch rather than slenderness.

Releasing their first Hi-Beat movement in 1968, Seiko has had plenty of time to perfect this type of movement, one that few brands attempt due to the difficulty involved. This model SBGH022 features a movement beating at 36,000bph and a high level of accuracy as a result. The embodiment of great Japanese craftsmanship and engineering virtuosity, this Grand Seiko dress watch has a superior level of detailing and polishing combined with performance and discretion. This is a watch you don’t wear to get noticed – except by serious watch aficionados-  but a dress watch you wear for your own satisfaction. It’s presented in a 40.2mm diameter, 13mm thick rose gold case and has a 37 jewel movement with a power reserve of 55 hours. This model SBGH022 retails for around $22,000 in gold.

Top 10 Elegant Dress Watches for Men ABTW Editors' Lists

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control

Inspired by their classical models from the 1950’s and named after a merciless series of tests, the Master Control was introduced in 1992. Despite the model’s nostalgic heritage it represented an innovation in the area of watch chronometry. Wanting to go beyond the standards of the day, Jaeger-LeCoultre devised a six week series of tests called  “1000 Hours Control” aimed at achieving this. Only after passing these rigorous tests did the watch receive the signature of the master-inspector inside the watch case and a gold seal bearing the individual test number.

A sunburst silver-toned dial featuring numbers at three of the dial’s four cardinal points is complimented by Dauphine hands indicating the hours and minutes with a baton-type seconds hand. Inside the 39mm case is the in-house caliber 899 automatic movement featuring a 43 hour power reserve and utilizing new technologies such as ceramic ball bearings and with its 22K gold rotor visible through the sapphire case back. The Master Control is a dress watch that represents great value and is also suitable for semi-formal, and sometimes casual occasions. Prices for the stainless steel version start at $4,000.

see the Top 5 Elegant Dress Watches for Men »



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  • trj66

    No JLC Reverso? Fail!

    • Oelholm

      trj66 Well, the Reverso’s origins are in the sports watch department, but I agree with you…

  • Ulysses31

    Let’s take it from the top.  The Cartier Tank looks a bit ungainly in the company of these other sleeker watches, and has a cabochon that’ll have someone’s eye out – do they make pasties for watches?  
    Chopard LUC – excellent slim design but rather plain.  The hour numerals at twelve, three, six, and nine look like they were taken straight from a Photoshop font that is so bad nobody has the guts to use it any more (a la Comic Sans).  I’d still wear it but mostly for the technological prowess.
    The G.P also suffers slightly from the font thing but otherwise looks quite please aside from those jutting ledges on each lug that make it look like a mantle clock from your grandma’s house.
    Glad to see a Seiko here especially one as fine as a Grand Seiko.  It’s a simple but classic design that still retains a modern feel, thankfully lacking the whimsy of many Swiss pieces.  That particular model is a limited special edition with even tighter specs than a regular GS, between -2 and +4 seconds per day.  Add in Seiko’s traditional understatement when publicising their specs and you have a hell of an accurate watch.  Having said that, the price is high and I think I would choose a different model from their range – this is certainly far away from the entry point for owning a great high-end Seiko watch if you don’t mind the fancy metal and fractionally looser specs.
    JLC has made a lovely timepiece here – and cheap!  Well, relatively speaking of course.  It’s on the small side but I suppose dress watches can be forgiven for that, not really intended for extroverts.
    Breguet – beautiful elaborate dial, but where’s my seconds hand?  I admit it would take something away fro the elegance of this style but I like to see the progression of time on a watch.
    I don’t think i’ve seen many watches that I have lusted after more than those by AL&S.  Even this subdued member of the range stands out via impeccable workmanship and presentation.
    I’m not typically bowled over by Patek but i’ve heard a lot of people mentioning this Calatrava and I can see why.  It’s a timeless design and the finely crafted bezel looks great.
    The Piaget is slick and stylish and you could probably shave with it.  It’s a watch I think would look just as good on a woman as on a man.
    The VC doesn’t look good to me.  The proportions seem off and I don’t like the way the stubby lugs curve out from the relatively huge dial.  It just looks a bit bulbous and fat.
    The Parmigiani (which always reminds me of the cheese) looks bland.  Lumed hands don’t look right on this watch, as useful as they are.  OK, i’m bored of typiing now, but not as bored as you are for having read this 😛

  • clueless1

    In the catagory of dress watches, for me, the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 is my favourite on your list. Probably the only Parmigiani I like. The Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 that has just been launched this Basel though would be the ultimate choice for the perfect dress watch. Perfect size at 39mm and understated elegance.

  • DG Cayse

    The only ones who wear a white tie are the wait-staff.


  • bichondaddy

    I really don’t do many nights out with the wife anymore…being disabled has it’s ups and downs…and being on my feet for any length of time is nearly impossible for me.  But…when we do go out to one of my wife’s company gatherings, as she is in the oil business, I usually wear my vintage 1920 Bulova, which has the art deco styling I love.  It’s classy and very beautiful…and I already own it.  These are all very nice watches….but a bit out of my reach right now.  It’s amazing how you can buy watches that have the same look as many of these watches for far less…and only you will know that you didn’t pay the $20,000 some of these are demanding.

  • rclayton

    Missing:  IWC Portuguese and Rolex Datejust (you could pay a leather band for the Datejust if you insisted on leather – seems arbitrary).  And a $22K Seiko?  Ridiculous!

    • Ulysses31

      rclayton Any more ridiculous than a standard run-of-the-mill $7500 Rolex?  One is assembled lovingly by hand in quantities of thousands per year with superior timing specifications and superb finish.  The other is made by the millions – quickly – by robots.

    • nateb123

      rclayton Your ignorance is staggering…

      • rclayton

        nateb123 rclayton I did not think that a difference of opinion would call for being flamed, but that is the nature of the internet.  It tends to attract the egotistical and immature who can hide behind the machine.  If it makes you feel any better, natey, I am gone from this and any further dialogues on this site.  The moderator should ban you.

        • rclayton nateb123 People get emotional about their passions. If you notice that someone may not be as well informed as you feel they should be, then be educational not confrontational. Play nice all and remember that we are all here for the watch love.

    • rclayton Thanks for all the wonderful comments, suggestions and thoughts. No doubt 10 pieces might be too limiting, but everyone’s input really helps round out the best stuff available.

  • nateb123

    I’d rather the VC Patrimony Traditionnelle self-winding.  Much nicer than that Historiques piece.

  • MarkCarson

    I don’t have any issue with the price of the Grand Seiko (compared to many of the other similarly priced watches on the list). My gripe is the styling. Yeah I know, I heard the Seiko spiel at BaselWorld about the styling being to Japanese tastes, yada yada yada.
    I know (and appreciate) the 36K bph movement, resulting accuracy and that it is hand built. But it looks like a 50’s Timex watch to me. A number of the other watches on the list are very simple and clean, yet they still have a visual appeal. Honestly, dial and hands on the GS look cheap to me. I  know the gold hands are laser cut, etc. so I’m not complaining about materials or execution. Only the boring, cheap looking, dated design.
    And I also would have preferred to see a JLC Reverso instead of their Master Control, but no big deal.
    Cartier, Chopard, JLC, Parmigiani – neutral
    Seiko – thumbs down
    GP, Lange, Piaget, Vacheron – thumbs up

    Patek & Breguet (my fav) – big thumbs up

  • yadazhu1

    Can anyone tell me where I can buy a jlc master control for 4k? What model starts at 4k?

  • randy505

    For the Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945, I really like the GP cal. 3300, I have seen that movement power sweep second watches, small seconds at ‘6’ and ‘9’. The GP3xxx was used in the VC Overseas (modified by VC, of course) till 2004, that should tell you something about that movement family’s quality.

  • OmarShaykh

    I really think the Glashutte Senator 60s Panodate is one slick dress watch

  • mitchellcutmore

    I do believe a Frederique Constant – fc-710mc4h6 should we in this list!

  • ethoswatches2

    yadazhu1 , Hi if you belong to India then you can get all information related to prize from ethoswatches..

  • MarcTravis

    You can’t get a (new) JLC Master Control for that price.

  • Biffo10

    Why should a Top 10 list of elegant watches be the sole preserve of mid to high end pieces as here !?
    ‘Elegance’ is a subjective matter & described by Oxford dictionary as ‘the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner’ How condescending to suggest that those of us that can not afford or
    justify the expense of a Chopard etc could have no concept of elegance. The cost of anything has absolutely nothing to do with conceptual matters. Lets face it, there are plenty of watches with the appearance of said Chopard but at a fraction of the price. A list of ‘some desirable’ or ‘ expensive’ elegant watches, yes, but not a Top 10.

  • Lurch

    Ulysses31  You don’t like the Breguet because it lacks a seconds hand, but you like the AL&S and it lacks a seconds hand too.

  • Ulysses31

    Lurch Ulysses31 You’re right.  The lack of a seconds hand still bothers me on the AL&S, but their watch out-does the Breguet in terms of class and simple elegance (IMHO).  Also, I find the vast majority of what AL&S create to be to my tastes which is something I cannot say for most brands.

  • Ricardo Antonio Henríquez Para

    Altiplano RULES!!!!!

  • I see top 11 here

  • George Mwenda

    The top, luxurious or comfort nature of a watch will vary from individual to individual and also the reason for the shopping. However its funny that the Chopard feature in all wtches listings.

  • Mike Darwin Brown

    No Rolex, no list!

    • Michael Gabriel

      Rolexes are considered gaudy and cheesy. They’re the watches for people who want loudness over elegance, something Liberace would wear.

      • Mike Darwin Brown

        I’m cheesy!

  • Chris Winter

    You know you’re dealing with watch snobs that are divorced from reality when the cheap option is a 4000 Euro JLC.

    I’m with Biffo10: There are plenty of dress watches that are perfectly servicable between 200 – 2000 USD. Nomos, Mühle-Glashütte, Archimede, Stowa, Sinn, Longines, Hamilton, Citizen and Seiko offer lovely pieces at decent prices. I’m currently wearing a 660 Euro Archimede Klassik 39. The nautical touches make it slightly sportier than their 36mm version, but it’s a fantastically discrete package for that money.

    Even a 200 Euro Orient Bambino could serve you as a nice dress piece. Quite frankly, some of the designs in the ABTW list are a bit on the gaudy and loud side for a dress watch if you ask me.

  • oldclimber

    As a ‘dress watch’ is, besides a wedding band, routinely the only article of jewelry a man wears to public formal events, it has become precisely analogous to the excessively priced articles worn by women, and as such is the most flagrant symbol of social status shorthand, besides the name brand of the suit and shoes worn. It can also be a conversation piece, since lugging your Bugatti is a bit cumbersome. Megawealth drives the entire universe of high five to six figure watches, and only the most desperate pretenders pay attention to the whims of this crowd. Half the billionaires have probably even finagled subterfuges that allow a tax write-off for these purchases, that would bankrupt the rest of us.

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