It’s easy to forget that until the 1970s, nearly all men’s watches – certainly those from the great makers – were dress watches: refined, slim-line, often displaying only the time. It’s what some diehards still demand, insisting the hours, minutes and seconds are all a watch should display. Nowadays, the market seems to have flipped, as sports watches dominate the scene. But when it comes to a sartorial high style, traditional modes and artisanal detailing, these pieces prove that less can still definitely be more.
Bovet Récital 29 Moonphase 42mm
If you own a watch with a movement like this one – Bovet’s hand-wound calibre 13DM02 with a five-day power reserve – it’s best to see it work properly. That was Bovet owner Pascal Raffy’s idea when he came up with the writing slope case, which allows the watch owner to view the movement in action from its front. Add in a realistic luminescent view of the lunar surface, and it’s quite the view indeed.
Baume & Mercier Hampton Automatic
An Art Deco style with modern touches, Baume & Mercier’s Hampton, with its rectangular steel case and automatic movement, packs in riveted black ruthenium indexes, an opaline and grained dial and grey stitching on its black alligator strap. It’s pure class.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Automatic
It’s a remarkable skill to sneak in a complex complication without cluttering up the dial of a dress watch, especially a more formal one in 18-karat gold, and yet, this 41mm Traditionnelle model from Vacheron does just that. Its complete calendar reveals itself via two discreet day/month apertures, while the date is displayed via pointer and date ring.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Grey + Casa Fagliano Reverso
A hidden dial that harkens back to 1931, that’s the face of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s classic Reverso, which can be turned around to sit protected against the wrist. That said, who’d want to hide this sleek silvered grey dial and 18-karat rose gold hands? Adding to its elegance is a strap crafted by Argentina’s famed polo boot-makers Casa Fagliano.
Cartier Tank Americaine
Like the best leather, some things improve with age and that’s exactly the case with the 103-year-old design of the Cartier Tank Americaine. With its pink gold case, Roman numerals, blued steel hands and sapphire crown, it’s the definition of classical simplicity – but remember it also comes with what was a ground-breaking curved rectangular case, giving this automatic a contemporary edge.
Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Hand-Wound 44mm
Girard-Perregaux’s multi award-winning Three Bridges movement design of 1867 has been updated in this pristine steel Free Bridge watch. Allowing the mainspring and regulating organ to sit in beautiful vertical alignment, the bridge is rightly the heart of this watch’s striking black skeletonised, hand-wound movement. This is a dress watch in the most technical of styles.
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