Back to Basics: Another Six Simple Time-Only Dress Watches

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There is just something about simple time-only dress watches.

If you ask us, there are some real charms with simple, rudimentary watches without superfluous complications. In fact, we think that it is more difficult to make a simple timepiece stunning, as compared to one with numerous features and complications. After all, there are lesser elements that one can tweak, and any imperfections or flaws are easily magnified without the confluence of other details. But this does not stop the watch manufacturers from being creative in finding ways and means to create something different from the rest.

So, following our past installment on simple time-only watches, we are covering yet another six of such watches today. Unlike the past article, we will be focusing on the higher-end pieces today. What have we selected? Let us find out!

Cartier Santos-Dumont XL

Cartier Santos is one of the icons within the industry, and it is not very difficult to see why. Blessed with good looks and ideal proportions, the Santos – especially the Santos-Dumont variant – is a great piece that is elegant and timeless.

For us, what really sets the Santos-Dumont apart is its design. As this is a simple two-hand watch, it is the tiny details that will allow the watch to shine. The Santos-Dumont does that with its refined image, together with the ubiquitous square case that features a bezel with 8 exposed screws. The beaded crown, roman numerals, and blued-steel sword-shaped hands complete the looks of this timepiece.

Powering the watch is the Caliber 430 MC, a manual-winding movement that has a power reserve of 38 hours. This is another element that gives the watch a nice charm to it – as the manual-winding movement allows the collector to interact with the Santos-Dumont in a more intimate manner. Prices of the Santos-Dumont XL begin at S$8,700 for the stainless steel model.

Blancpain Villeret Ultraplate 6605

Often known for its Fifty Fathoms and complicated pieces, Blancpain also offers collectors something on the other end of the spectrum with its collection of fine dress watches. Cue the Villeret Ultraplate 6605.

The 40mm Villeret Ultraplate 6605 is Blancpain’s answer to its competition within the ultra-thin dress watch category. Distilled in its most basic form, the watch only features two-hands to tell the time at the front. Having said that, Blancpain had definitely done its best in incorporating the applied roman numeral markers and openworked feuille hands to give the watch some features on the dial.

As with most high-end dress watches, the movement is where magic happens. This Villeret is fitted with the Caliber 11A4B – a manual-winding movement that boasts a power reserve of around 100 hours. The movement also features a discreet power reserve indicator at the back, and the finishing is notably done brilliantly, especially with plenty of outward and rounded edges to enjoy.

The Villeret Ultraplate 6605 is available in stainless steel (CHF9,500/S$13,885, with leather strap) or red gold (CHF17,000/S$24,846). It is a great watch, and we reckon it will be perfect for someone who is looking for a dress piece – albeit one that is a little uncommon from the usual crowd.

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin

For readers of Deployant, it is no secret that A. Lange & Söhne is one of our favourite manufacturers in the scene.

The Saxonia may be the brand’s entry-level offering, but do not let this timepiece fool you. What sets A. Lange & Söhne apart from the other manufacturers, in our opinion, is the brand’s attention to detail – even with its entry-level two-hand model.

Whilst the Saxonia looks simple on the surface, the 167-part Caliber L093.1 is where the magic happens. The manual-winding movement features the quintessential Lange treatment, with all the signature touches (e.g. three-quarter German silver plate, Glashütte ribbing, bevelling, and hand-engraved balance cock) done to the highest standards. It is a beauty, and frankly, it is certainly a league ahead of most competitors from other established names.

Notably, the 37mm watch is only available in white gold or rose gold. It is priced at S$25,500 for either variant, and we do highly recommend collectors to consider adding a Lange into their collection, if the finances allow.

Breguet Classique 7147

Breguet is a well-established name in the field of dress watches and complications, but it is still often overlooked.

The Classique 7147 is one of the watches that we think deserves some attention. Seasoned collectors will see why, especially with the quintessential Breguet-styled touches such as the signature hands and numerals, fluted coin-edge case, and the welded lugs. But aside from those, the 7147 also features a stunning grand feu enamel dial with an off-center sub-dial. Notably, the latter is depressed, which gives the dial a rather smooth transition.

Fitted with the 40mm watch is Breguet’s self-winding Calibre 502.3SD. The 35-jewel movement boasts a decent power reserve of 45 hours, with great finishing techniques that add a nice touch to the timepiece. Finally, the watch is available in either rose gold or white gold, and they are priced at US$21,500 (approximately S$29,2143) and US$21,000 (approximately S$28,466) respectively.

Urban Jürgensen The Alfred

Urban Jurgensen The Alfred crown view

We take a slightly different path with a lesser-known independent watch manufacturer, where its roots can be traced back to both Switzerland and Denmark. Introducing The Alfred, from Urban Jürgensen.

The Alfred, interestingly, is a model that pays homage to Alfred Jürgensen and the opening of its new workshop in Biel/Bienne. The Alfred is a 42mm time-only timepiece, with an unusual stainless steel case (unlike its brethren). It is a classic timepiece, with Breguet numerals and two very beautiful pairs of teardrop lugs. The design is subtle, but very well executed in the right places.

Powering The Alfred is the Calibre P4, a manual-winding movement with a power reserve of 72 hours. The finishing is excellent, with a variety of haute horlogerie finishes such as anglage, chamfering, blued screws, and perlage. It is sublime, and the attention to detail is exemplary.

Priced at €14,300 (approximately S$22,398), the timepiece is certainly priced very competitively against other independent watch manufacturers. The watch looks great, and it is well-made as well. This is another great timepiece from a solid independent watch manufacturer, and we do think that this is another compelling alternative if one is looking to enter into the slippery slope of collecting watches from independent watchmakers.

Credor Eichi II

We round up the article with perhaps one of the finest watches to come out of Japan: The Credor Eichi II.

On paper, the Credor Eichi II seems like a simple piece. But this is where it gets interesting. The level of detail on the Eichi II is amazing, with immaculate touches all around. The flawless dial, for instance, is made of porcelain by Noritake – whose clients include the Japanese Imperial family. It is then painted by the artists at Seiko’s Micro Artisan Studio.

And then we get to the movement. The Caliber 7R14 is the pièce de résistance of this watch, with finishing techniques done at the highest level possible. These techniques include convex bevelling, engraving, flame-blued screws, anglage, and linear brush finishing.

The 39mm Eichi II is priced at ¥4,300,000 (approximately S$51,932) for the platinum variation. We do love the purity of this piece, with the fine details being done at the highest level. If you have the means to afford one, we do reckon it is a highly compelling addition to any respectable collection.

Concluding Thoughts

In today’s article, we have some pretty compelling time-only dress watches. However, as one might imagine, this is still perhaps the tip of the iceberg – there are still a lot more great pieces that will be covered perhaps sometime in the future with subsequent installments.

Finally, let us know your thoughts on our selection today. What are some of your favourite pieces that we have featured, as well as the watches that you reckon deserves a spot on the list? Till the next article, ciao!


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1 Comment

  1. Robin, Great article and Excellent article. From this list, the Lange Saxonia in rose gold would be my pick.

    Other pieces that deserve a spot are the:
    A.Lange & Sohne 1815 – three hander.
    Vacheron Constantin Patrimony – Manual wind with calibre 1400
    Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle – Manual wind with calibre 4400
    Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
    Patek Philippe Calatrava 6119