When you hear the words “dress watch,” you envision a timepiece that has a simple design, yet adds nothing but class to any formal outfit. Most people associate dress watches with expensive brands, such as Cartier, Rolex, and other luxury brands. However, you can get the same effect as expensive options for a much more affordable price.
Designer watches for men have been something males have been lusting after as a symbol of status and class. That’s not to say the ladies don’t have their fair share of drool-worthy options. Let’s take a look at some affordable yet elegant options.
View The Best Dress Watches Below
1. Orient ‘2nd Gen Bambino Japanese Automatic Dress Watch
What’s interesting about this design is the domed mineral crystal surface. Instead of a glass watch case surface, it’s a little convexed. It’s such a modern yet minimalistic piece that can complement any outfit. From a casual loafer and dress shirt ensemble to a suit and tie, the watch is the perfect staple piece for any occasion. It’s an automatic movement watch, which means it takes its energy from you.
Wearing it, and being in motion, is what powers this superior timepiece. Choose from different watch faces and strap colors for the perfect pairing between watch and outfit. It’s water-resistant up to 30 meters, making it great for every day, but not for swimming.
+ Swiss automatic movement
+ A stainless steel watch case
+ Domed crystal mineral surface
Why We Like It – We like automatic movement for simplicity and convenience. All you need to get the hands moving and the watch ticking is your own inertia.
2. Citizen Eco-Drive Stainless Steel Watch with Date
This Citizen Eco-Drive is a beautiful watch with stainless steel. In terms of dress watches, the Citizen Eco-Drive, with a genuine leather strap, sits high on our list. The silver-tone dial features Roman numerals as hour markers spread across a 40mm surface, a good size for most male wrists. As for movement, the Japanese quartz movement gives precise time-telling.
The buckle closure holds the wristwatch firmly in place. The mineral crystal surface, and 100 ft of water-resistance, make this quite a durable timepiece. The Eco-drive only needs sunlight to operate, never needing a battery!
+ Features Japanese quartz movement for an accurate time.
+ 40mm stainless steel case with mineral crystal face.
+ Powered by light
+ Genuine leather band.
Why We Like It – The Citizen Eco-Drive is powered by sunlight, something that doesn’t require any effort on your part, or extra power or batteries.
3. Timex Unisex Weekender Watch
Made for men and women, you’ll notice dress watches have a classic design that’s simple and blends in with any style. The Timex Weekender comes in many colors and many different straps, from genuine leather to nylon slip through straps.
You get your pick of what satisfies your inner style icon. With military time and regular time labeled clearly with Arabic numbers on a smooth and simple monocolored watch face, telling time will be clear and easy. When it gets dark the Indiglo light-up watch dial will keep everything visible.
+ Indiglo light-up night light
+ Water-resistant up to 100 feet.
+ A wide range of straps and colors to choose from.
+ Scratch-resistant mineral watch face.
Why We Like It – Unisex watches offer a lot of variety and more options for matching watches! Now you can get the same watch for you and your loved one in different colors for special occasions.
4. Michael Kors Men’s Slim Runway Quartz Watch with Stainless Steel Strap
This next one is a watch we’d like to see on our other half’s wrist. This next classic dress watch is from a very famous brand in terms of fashion influence. Michael Kors offers a two-year warranty for these elegant gold, black and rose gold options.
The slim and sleek design is operated by a Japanese quartz movement and has a case diameter of 44 mm, making this great as a statement piece but with some subtlety. It’s also water-resistant up to 50 m, which means it’s suitable for recreational swimming, but diving and snorkeling are, unfortunately, out of the question.
+ Two-year warranty
+ Slim design with many metal options
+ Quartz movement
+ Water-resistant up to 50 m
Why We Like It – Something so simple in design can exude so much class, making it best if you’re looking for something more subtle. These stainless steel strap watches from Michael Kors come with a two-year warranty.
5. Fossil Grant Sport Leather Chronograph Quartz Watch
For those looking for more of a nautical or aviator feel, the Chronograph Quartz watch from Fossil will be the best watch to give you that. It’s not only suitable for sporty occasions, but it makes a great addition to a more formal ensemble. Take your pick between a rose gold watch case, with a deep blue genuine leather strap, or a gold watch case with a brown leather strap.
Either way, nothing screams masculinity like a chronograph watch. Chronographs are multifunctional. This one has three dials to track hours, minutes and seconds. It operates on quartz movement and is also water-resistant up to 50 m.
+ Chronograph design
+ Waterproof up to 50 m
+ Two choices of appearance.
+ Three dials
Why We Like It – The first chronograph dress watch we have included on our list. Dress watches don’t always have to be minimal and simplistic, sometimes when you’re dressed down you want something to give you a bit of extra flash. This is best for someone opting for something less subtle.
6. Anne Klein Resin Bracelet Dress Watch
Next up we have our first ladies’ watch on our dress watches list. This brand watch option from Anne Klein resembles the option from Michael Kors for men. It’s quite simple, yet has its own unique flash. There is also a wide variety of color selections. The slightly domed mineral crystal lens protects the dial and hands and Roman numeral markers.
The famous Japanese quartz movement powers the watch with comfortable chain links to strap securely around your wrist. Measuring at 37mm, it’s best for women of almost all wrist sizes, and even men if you like it.
+ Water-resistant up to 99 feet.
+ Domed mineral crystal lens
+ Japanese quartz movement
+ Lots of color choices
Why We Like It – Simple yet elegant are the two best words to describe this best dress watch for women. This model comes in a wide variety of colors to suit the everyday female.
7. AX Armani Exchange Chronograph Dress Watch
Armani is a well-known brand for clothing and accessories, so it’s no surprise their watches are also quite coveted as well. There are two choices for this model, a sleek black silicone set with gold numbering, and a tag or a very unique iridescent design with a stainless steel band. With a 45mm case size, it’s among the larger watches and fit a man’s wrist very well.
The analog quartz movement, with a chronograph, makes this dress watch one that’s highly searched for. The dial window is made from mineral crystal and resistant to scratches, one of the best traits for an everyday dress watch.
+ Stainless steel case with crystal mineral lens
+ Analog quartz movement
+ Water-resistant to 50 m
Why We Like It – The iridescent surface of the stainless steel option is very unique, however, if you choose the black silicone option you get a bonus tag!
8. Stuhrling Original Casual Calfskin Watch
If a simple and understated style is what you’re going for, this option from Stuhrling is exactly that, and with calfskin band! As stated, it’s a minimalist design that still brings elegance to the table. The super slim design sits flat and comfortably against your skin, with the soft calfskin leather band offering optimal comfort.
There is a little date window you can easily set to remind you what day of the week it is. Not to mention, it goes with any outfit you have in your closet. If you purchase a Stuhrling product, it comes with a 2-year comprehensive warranty.
+ Calfskin straps
+ Comes with a date window
+ Minimal yet elegant design
+ It comes with a 2-year comprehensive warranty.
Why We Like It – Stuhrling makes elegant watches with extra slim cases that are not meant to weigh down your wrist. The soft calfskin strap allows this watch to accompany any outfit you have.
9. XIN LINGYU Luxury Waterproof Dress Watch
It’s not a well-known brand or known with the luxury watch brands, but these watches have such high reviews for a reason. They are affordable and do the job. With Japanese quartz movement and a small date window at the 6 markers, you get all the information you need to keep to your schedule right on your wrist.
The comfortable leather straps, and different colored dials, offer more variety. For those men looking for slightly smaller styles, these ones are only 40 mm, and the leather strap is incredibly soft. It’s a shockproof scratch-resistant option that puts it on par with many of the other well-known brands.
+ Japanese quartz movement
+ Small date window at the 6 markers.
+ Soft and breathable leather strap
+ Great for outdoor and indoor sports
Why We Like It – This timepiece may be an underrated and lesser-known brand, but XING LINGYU is still capable of bringing us a luxury timepiece wrapped up at an affordable price.
10. Bulova Straps Water Resistant Wristwatch
Have you started noticing a trend in men’s dress watches? The best ones are simple yet wonderful. Of course, you can style your timepiece up with a band or two, but most options are very basic in terms of the watch face. For such a simple watch, the Bulova wristwatch also features a calendar date window at the three marks.
It still affords you a stainless steel watch case with a beautiful black python-looking leather strap. You do not always need to spend an arm and a leg for a piece that has style is classic and will stand the test of time.
+ Basic design with the date window
+ The stainless steel watch case
+ Beautiful and soft leather strap
+ Water-resistant up to 30 meters
Why We Like It – While it’s not stressed in the product description, this watch is shock-resistant and made with calfskin. With the stainless steel watch case, this is very high-end if you ask us, for such an affordable price, too!
Dress Watches Buyer’s Guide
A lot of us (guilty as charged) own many different watches for different occasions. But wouldn’t it be nice to save on some cash and just have the one reliable option that can complement every outfit? That’s our definition of money well spent.
If the watch of your choice comes with interchangeable straps, then that’s even better! For dress watches, casual watches, or any other kind of watch, what are some essential things you should make sure it has?
Style doesn’t usually make it to the top of our priority list, but in this case, we’ll make an exception, because a dress watch is all about the style. What constitutes a dress watch? The features should include most, if not all, of the following:
Simple watch face (no embellishments just hands and the marker and dial)
Minimal and basic leather strap (sometimes silicone, mesh or bracelet or stainless steel links are acceptable)
The dress watch doesn’t overpower your wrist or draw too much attention and take away from the outfit.
The watch case is typically smaller. For men’s watches, they range from 36-40mm and on occasion 44.
At times precious metals can be incorporated into the construction, such as rose gold, gold, or steel.
While a dress watch is not made for heavy-duty tasks, it still needs to be crafted from reliable materials to be an everyday choice. Look for a stainless steel option; this way the stainless steel will protect the watch against most forms of wear and corrosion. The watch case can be of any color you want, but mostly they are metallic and range from steel to silver and gold to rose gold and gunmetal.
As for the strap, here is where you have lots of options. However, a dress watch is usually comprised of a simple watch face and leather straps. Metal links or mesh can also be a great material for dress watch straps. However, generally speaking, if you go for the nylon or rubber or silicone material, you’re crossing into sports watch territory.
There is the analog, automatic or quartz movement, but which is the best? Mechanical watches are the grandfathers of all watches. They are the traditional old school classic timepieces that need to be wound. It can be a hassle but a watch like that comes with a history. They are authentic watches.
Automatic watches are exactly that – automatic. All they need is the movement of your body to function, making them one of the most convenient choices in terms of movement. If not worn for long periods you may need to bring them in for a tuneup to get them working again.
Last but not least is the quartz movement. They are battery powered and need to be replaced every two to three years. They tell time very accurately (especially Swiss quartz), and are the more affordable option of the three.
As mentioned, dress watches are usually smaller in size and more compact and slim, ranging from 36-44 for men, and even smaller for women. If you have trouble deciding on the right sized timepiece, which could be tough since online shopping doesn’t afford you the luxury of trying on the product, then you can refer to our watch size guide. While personal style and preference matter the most, dress watches have specific characteristics, and a classic, modest size is one of them.
What can you afford? All the other categories go right out the window if you cannot afford the watch in the first place. Establish your budget and look within that range. You’ll be able to identify what you can get for your allotted budget and decide if it’s right for you. If you would like a fancier dress watch timepiece with more functions, then you need to increase your price range.
This may not matter to some as much as it does to others. We feel that basic water resistance (up to 30m) is optimal. This only allows for waterproofing against splash damage; this is not for showers, and certainly not for swimming.
Washing your hands is the number one way to stay hygienic, and you don’t want to have to take off and put on your watch every time you do so. It’s also much easier to misplace your watch if you often remove it from your wrist.
If you are prepared to spend the big bucks you can expect fancier features. Let’s take a look at what some of them may include:
Alarm – This is quite useful, although we all have our smartphones handy now.
Stopwatch – Another function we have on our phones, but having it in a smaller device such as your wristwatch is much more convenient. If you opt for one of the chronograph options it should come with it.
Date – A date window, although it isn’t a fancy feature, proves useful when you forget the date.
As said before, dress watches aren’t what you should look into for fancy features. They are known for their simplistic, classic design and basic capabilities.
What is a Dress Watch?
We’ve gone through an entire article without exactly addressing this question. Some of you may still not understand what exactly a dress watch is. They are an understated, classic timepiece that complements your outfit without overtaking all of the focus. They were actually designed to be worn with suits and formal wear, but have gradually transitioned into being a staple piece for even a semi-formal getup.
They are simple, traditionally paired with leather bands, and not fancy at all. If you are one for flash, glitz, and glamor, then a dress watch isn’t for you. If you are still confused about how simple a dress watch really is, let’s put it this way: if it has a second hand and a date window, it’s considered borderline fancy.
Can You Wear a Dress Watch Casually?
As said, they were meant to be worn with suits and semi-formal ensembles. You can do whatever pleases you and, by all means, we feel a simple dress watch looks great with a plain t-shirt and crisp jeans. A dress watch with a metal band automatically dumbs down the formality.
For women, a dress watch can look great with a sundress and a cute hat. It depends on your outfit, but we feel they most certainly can be worn casually. If you were thinking about leggings and a workout top, then maybe go for a sportier digital watch with a silicone band.
Dress watches were meant to be paired with formal outfits in the past. In modern-day, they can be a great addition to any piece of clothing. They also make great transitional pieces from day to night or night to day outfits.
When looking for the right dress watch, don’t forget that simplicity is the key, and your new watch will only have the most basic functions. Keep in mind all the necessary factors to look for then choose the right color and watch band for the perfect staple timepiece.
The value of your new dress watch isn’t really the price tag it comes with, it’s how much use you get out of it. You need to make sure you purchase a piece you genuinely like and will wear. That is where the true value lies.
Did You Know
With all the hype placed on men and watches, it may interest you to know that wristwatches were initially designed for women! A man’s timepiece in the olden days was the pocket watch. The first woman recorded to have worn a wristwatch was Elizabeth the I. Wristwatches did not become a man’s accessory until much later in history, around the first world war in fact. That’s actually quite recent!