Whilst over the years I’ve liked the multifunction models, it’s a fact that my favorite style is probably still the conventional “Dress” watch. The one overriding word that says it all for me is “elegance” and my choice would always be for a slim cased model that can in turn show off a truly “elegance” with simplicity of dial and case, in fact an “ensemble” of complimentary features that simply work. And I do not mean “minimalist” even thought this seems to be the modern way of expressing this, I tend to find those offerings both bland and unexciting, certainly not elegant.
Frederique Constant Automatic Slim case
So having had a look round at the currently available slim and elegant models this is the first of a few that caught my eye. The Frederique Constant of Geneve Automatic slim cased model above. A nice sized 40mm diameter case at only 9mm thick, with a sapphire crystal, 30m Water Resistance, FC-306 25 jewel Automatic movement, in a Yellow Gold plated case. I think this dial face though simple also has an elegance (note it is slightly bowed, not flat), nice gold applied stick hour markers, beautifully shaped gold hands and a neat sized date window @3. The onion crown is a nice touch and perfectly sized and overall a classic dress watch I’d say and mid priced too for this class of watch.
As you can see for a dress function there is absolutely no need for an overly “busy” face with sub-dials and extraneous features. It’s about elegance.
It’s also interesting to note that to find a Quartz watch that can be described as truly elegant is not easy. I show the same maker here as an example – this is the Frederique Constant Quartz version of an almost but not quite similar model.
Frederique Constant Quartz slim Gents.
Now it looks fine of course, but that “elegance” of the previous version is, for me at any rate, just not there. This model is slightly smaller at 37mm diameter and is actually thinner, being an ultra-thin 5mm with a sunray silver dial, stick hands, and sapphire crystal. The case has that double stepped bezel top that for me doesn’t have the style of the first. The gold hands are not “quite” as well shaped and the marker @3 is chopped almost in half, plus that “bowed” look to the dial just isn’t the same. All that said of course, it is still a very nice watch (and perhaps the image does it an injustice) but the first one is my personal and more expensive choice (£1750 to £750 for the quartz).
However an interesting point about models without seconds hands, is that it’s not easy to see at a glance if the watch is mechanical or quartz. So if you are with friends that are mechanical nuts, then you might just get away with it. 😉
Rotary Originals Quartz
Another quartz offering is this model from The Originals collection from Rotary – and not a bad looking watch it is too. PVD Gold plated case is very slim at 5.7mm and a diameter of 43mm including crown and a nicely patterned champagne dial face plus neat contrasting black stick hands and printed numerals. Crystal is Sapphirite (a sapphire coated mineral glass). Simple case design with the “bar” lugs from another age and a quality leather strap. A pretty good dress watch and at a low/mid price of around £150 – £220. I understand the “Originals” series feature Swiss Quartz movements. Overall it seems a pretty decent dress watch for the money.
For me the above Rotary whilst a nice dress watch loses out on the elegance stakes for various reasons. The black stick hands in this context are just that, pointers, and the printed numeral here are rather bland. The whole comes across as more plain than elegant, though in reality as opposed to the image, it does look a class watch. At the price of course it has to be worth a look.
Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz
Another stick hands dress watch comes from the Stuhrling stable. The Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz, which is an even lower priced model than the Rotary at around £56.00. This is 38mm diameter and only 5,5mm depth, so is a very thin watch indeed, with a Krysterna Crystal, white face, printed hour batons, 10M Water Resistance and a Swiss movement, represents very good value. However in looks it comes across as just simple or even minimalist and with no hint of any elegance at all, so falls short as a dress watch for me personally. Nice enough watch, but not for me.
Skagen UltraSlim 858xlgld
I mentioned minimalist at the start and this is such a model. The Skagen 858xlgld – whilst a dress watch I suppose it has this Danish design minimal look which frankly does absolutely nothing for me. Flat gold hands are positively inelegant and the flat featureless dial and printed hour batons just add to that barren look. The case at 39mm diameter and only 5mm depth is fine, but I find this a non starter in the elegance stakes, though for a cheap dress watch at £50 – can’t be bad.
This watch from Dugena Classic range is a better affair than the above and even though it has stick hands, it does have a certain elegance about it overall. It has a two tiered dial face and applied gold numeral batons, nicely shaped gold case at 38mm diameter and just 6mm depth, so is slim too. Mineral glass crystal. It also has a very good quality quartz movement of Swiss/German origin and a price point well below it’s quality (around £70.00). An excellent dress watch and with a touch of elegance perhaps.
Piaget Alto Plano
Well here’s a watch that’s close to home for me as I actually own two of this maker. One vintage and one modern. And now we have to be talking elegance. This is the Piaget Alto Plano ultra slim model (current) and although this model has a sub dial for seconds @10 (mine is at@4) it is one of the few dress watches with a seconds feature that looks both different and yet retains a certain elegance too. Stick hands here don’t look wrong in this setting and neither do the printed baton markers. They blend together very well indeed as I mentioned at the start – the “ensemble” or combination of elements is superb. Again you have, as the Frederique Constant Auto mode,l this slightly bowed dial face that just looks right. This particular model is 38mm diameter and just 4.1mm depth is incredibly thin, an 18ct pink gold and subtly shaped elegant case (even the automatic is only 5.25mm depth), though as you can guess this is not a cheap model but pretty expensive at around $13,00o. You better believe it, this sort of elegance costs!
Of course there are many, many more dress style watches out there and if I look long enough I’d probably find quite a few more, that would suit my own particular requirements and opinion. But suffice to say, there are literally dozens around. And this is very encouraging, especially in this modern day obsession for big, sometimes clumsy, over featured, extravagant models that seem to proliferate now. The fact that the “classic” dress watch is still available, says to me that with a bit of luck others may enjoy the feeling of wearing such wonderful watches, well into the future – and that has to be good.
But a word of caution – I’ve found over the years and confirmed it yet again – that true elegance = expensive!
Isn’t that the way of it . .