In the world of luxury timepieces, the dress watch sits proudly on the throne. The centerpiece of any collection, nothing gets heads turning quicker than a classy wrist companion—especially when it’s poking out beneath the cuff of your favorite tailored suit.
And while it can be easy to get lost in the fancy features found in its purpose-built counterparts—from dive watches to digital styles—the best dress watches keep it simple. They tell the time and look pretty damn swish while doing it.
In order to help you navigate your way through the endless types of watches available, I’ve rounded up a bunch of the finest tickers on the market. Keep reading for the best dress watches for every budget, style, and occasion.
Classy, smart, and the perfect finishing touch to your outfit, dress watches for men are a must-have for collectors and casuals alike. But with a plethora of designs ready for your wrist, it can become a little overwhelming when it comes to picking out your favorite.
I’m going to be narrowing down your options by handpicking a unique selection of the best dress watches. From Rado’s Coupole Classic Automatic to Breda’s Virgil, you’ll find a variety of elegant timepieces that will soon become a staple in your prized watch wardrobe.
Swiss. Automatic. 41mm. Leather Strap. Minimal detail. I’d call that a full house. In fact, this men’s dress watch from Rado is about as good as it gets. It’s an effortlessly elegant timepiece that will provide a complementing accent to your smartest ensembles (but will also bring a dash of luxury to slightly more casual outfits too).
Bursting with enduring charm and versatility, it has everything you require to impress at your next client lunch or family wedding. Plus, there’s a complex Swiss-made automatic movement to keep things ticking inside. Wear it with a suit for ultimate refinement or with a white tee and navy slacks for something a tad less dressy.
Case Size: 41mm | Movement: Automatic | Thickness: 10.3mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
Founded in 1990 by Roland Schwertner, NOMOS Glashütte is the largest manufacturer of mechanical timepieces in Germany—producing more dress watches for men than anyone else in the country.
With a 27mm case, the award-winning Tetra 27 is one of the label’s smallest. Fuss-free with a durable leather strap, it has just enough room to squeeze in a hand-wound Alpha caliber, which only needs to be wound once every two days. It’ll look its best when worn with your formal outfits, but it’s not going to look out of place with a sweater and jeans.
Case Size: 27mm | Movement: Mechanical | Thickness: Unknown | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
You don’t have to drop a month’s rent on your wristwear for it to be considered one of the best men’s dress watches. There are plenty of affordable options that leave you with enough cash for some other outfit upgrades. Case in point is this chronograph version from Fossil.
Inspired by mid-century architecture, it boasts a sculpted stainless steel case with an interchangeable leather strap, black dial, and polished finishes. You can easily dress it up or down, and you can even take it into water up to 50m.
Case Size: 44mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 12mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
Born in 1998, Nixon is no stranger to luxury accessories. What started off as a boutique line of watches sold at board sports and fashion retailers is now a full range of stylish timepieces, including some of the best dress watches at a wallet-friendly price point.
The Sentry Leather is one of the label’s smarter styles but still shows off a little adventurous side—making it the perfect everyday option. Featuring a solid stainless steel case, it has a simple yet strong face, with a classy day-date window and a waterproof rating of 100m. You can wear it with a suit, or it’ll look just as good with jeans and a crew neck T-shirt.
Case Size: 42mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 7.5mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
Minimalist watches and dress watches share many of the same similarities. In fact, styles like this one from Void can quite often be put into both categories. Understated in silhouette and color, its streamlined design makes it a versatile option for work and weekends.
The 7mm thickness is the thinnest in the brand’s collection, allowing it to slide easily under your choice of shirt. There’s a tiny date window and a red accent on the second hand, which provides a subtle pop of color. When you’re not wearing it with a suit, it’ll look great with jeans and a turtleneck sweater.
Case Size: 38mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 7mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
Type ‘the best dress watches’ into Amazon’s search bar, and you’re presented with thousands of options that’ll pimp up your wrist. From luxury watch brands to cheap tickers, there’s endless styles for every man and occasion.
This one from Bulova ticks all the right boxes with a reasonable price tag that won’t break the bank. It’s inspired by your favorite vintage styles, with its bold roman numerals and back alligator leather strap. The ultra-slim 6.3mm case is perfectly sized to wear with fine knitwear, shirts, and suits.
Case Size: 41mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 6mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
If I were given a dollar every time a new watch brand entered the market, I’d be a very rich man (and probably lying on a beach somewhere instead of writing this article). However, while there’s always a new kid on the block, not all of them impress quite as much as Breda.
Based in Dallas, the brand was established in 2009 and uses a minimalist design approach to produce an excellent collection of light, refined rectangular watches, otherwise known as the Virgil. This one, featuring a sleek 18k gold-plated case and black leather strap, is a fine choice for business dinners, awards evenings, and everything in between.
Case Size: 26mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 7.5mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
Defining what makes the perfect watch is very much a matter of opinion. But when it comes to the most desirable dress watches for men, there’s no denying that the Swiss do it best. Not surprising, seeing as they’ve been in the business of luxury timepieces since the early 16th century.
Tissot’s PRX Powermatic 80 has an authentic ‘70s feel but comes packed with a bunch of 21st-century features. There’s a see-through case-back, 80 hours of power reserve, and a quick-release interchangeable strap. It’ll impress your work colleagues and become a real conversation starter at business events.
Case Size: 40mm | Movement: Automatic | Thickness: 10.9mm | Water Resistant: Yes | Material: Stainless Steel, Leather
What To Look For In The Best Dress Watches
There are three types of watch movement available: automatic, mechanical, and quartz. Each has its own advantages. The one you choose will depend largely on your budget and convenience. Quartz is the most affordable (and is powered by a battery), while mechanical timepieces are considered highly luxurious (but need to be self-wound). Automatic watches are a popular choice for dress watches and use the motion of movement to charge.
The best dress watches should have an elegant case with a low, slim profile. Instead of being big or bulky, they should be able to sit neatly beneath the cuff of your shirt or jacket. The shape of the case can be circular or square.
Typically speaking, a dress watch will have a smart strap in brown or black leather. However, stainless steel is now just as popular (and every bit as luxurious). Which one you choose will come down to personal preference and what you plan to wear it with. Leather can be an excellent option for wearing with suits, while steel offers a little more versatility.
Now you’re up to date with the best dress watches available, the fun can finally begin in choosing the right one for you. Take into consideration your personal style, budget, and needs, and you’ll be able to narrow your options down further.
If, however, you’re looking for a nudge in a certain direction, I’d recommend Rado’s Coupole Classic Automatic. It doesn’t follow any watch trends; instead, it provides you with a timeless design that’ll impress wherever you want to show it off. You can wear it to work with a suit, or at the weekend with a shirt and jeans.
A refined style, the dress watch is designed to be worn with your smartest attire—although it’s more than versatile enough to be worn every day. It should have a slim, classy case and be made from materials such as stainless steel. The strap can also be stainless steel, otherwise it should be leather in brown or black.
Dress watches are defined by an elegant appearance. They will have a slim circular or square case with a smart strap made from stainless steel or leather. Detailing will be minimal, and the movement will often be automatic (but not always).
While dress watches are best paired with formal attire, there’s no reason why you can’t wear one every day—especially if you spend the majority of your time smartly dressed. Most of the best dress watches can look just as good with the kind of smart-casual clothing you would wear on a daily basis.