For many, dress watches are an essential part of any gentleman’s wardrobe, let alone a collector’s watch collection.
In this week’s article, we will be exploring the universe of dress watches, and select six exceptional examples across different price points.
There are quite a variety of definitions that determine what exactly a dress watch is. However, we are not going to strictly define it, and instead we will just go with the textbook example of a simple watch (preferably two- or three-hands without complications) with a slim and elegant case profile. It should also look discreet, but it must be well-executed.
Here is what we have selected.
Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary
We begin the article with one of the hottest launches in September: Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary.
Longines could not have selected a better watch to celebrate its 190th anniversary. The maison has been producing some rather incredible pieces with a modest price point, and the latest timepiece is perhaps one of the brand’s best offerings thus far. What we particularly adore is its simplicity, but with attention to the minute details. This includes the stunning grained (or brushed) dial, as well as the beautifully engraved Arabic numerals. For the stainless-steel mode, the watch is even fitted with blued steel hands.
The 40mm is powered by the brand’s self-winding Calibre L888.5, although we feel that a manual-winding movement would have been the perfect accompaniment to this rather poetic timepiece. Notably, the watch is available in stainless steel, rose gold, and yellow gold; prices for the base model begin at S$3,420.
Kurono Tokyo Classic
Since the brand broke into the scene in 2019, Kurono Tokyo had offered collectors a chance to own a timepiece that is produced by master watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, at a fraction of the price as compared to the watches produced at his eponymous independent watch brand.
The idea of Kurono Tokyo was simple. Hajime-san wanted to produce a good and reliable timepiece at an accessible price point. This is what the 37mm Classic is all about. The watch is devoid of anything superfluous; it is an honest and well-made piece that features a workhorse movement that rarely skips a beat.
Despite it being made more accessible to collectors, getting an allocation for the Classic is still an elusive task for some indeed. The demand far outstrips the supply, and Hajime-san only launches a handful of watches for each iteration (sans certain models, which is limited for sale over a 10-minute window). The time-only watches are typically priced at JPY 189,000 (approximately S$1,885), and we do think that this is good value – provided you have had the opportunity to lay your hands on one.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Small Seconds
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most revered watch manufacturers in the industry, especially with its achievements. It is not touted as the watchmaker’s watchmaker for no good reason; after all, it had produced in excess of a thousand movements to its name.
Despite its stellar contributions, JLC is still a brand that is rather underrated by many in today’s context. However, that should not deter one from buying a timepiece from the Le Sentier manufacturer. The Master Ultra-Thin Small Seconds, for example, is an example of a brilliant timepiece from the brand. Despite the simple nature of the watch, every element of the timepiece is executed with refinement. This is further highlighted by its beautiful movement, which is done up rather nicely for an “entry-level” piece.
The MUT Small Seconds pictured above is the older variant, at 40mm. The latest model is sized at 39mm instead, which further reinforces the dressy nature of the watch. Prices for the base model in the MUT collection start at S$12,600 for the stainless-steel variant.
A. Lange and Söhne Saxonia Thin
When it comes to dress watches, A. Lange & Söhne must be mentioned in the same breath. The exquisite Saxonia Thin will tell us why.
Launched in mid-2016, the two-hand Saxonia Thin pretty much encapsulates the conventions of what a dress watch should be. The 37mm watch is simple and discreet, but it effortlessly oozes class and elegance. The highlight for the piece perhaps lies in its impeccable finishing. A. Lange & Söhne is known for its incredible attention to detail, and collectors will be pleased to know that the finishing of the Saxonia Thin, especially for its movement, is on par with its higher-end brethren.
The watch retails at S$31,000, and we believe that it is fairly priced for a timepiece of such quality. The Glashütte-based watch manufacturer certainly gives the traditional “holy trinity” brands a run for its money, and they have definitely captured the hearts and minds of many collectors successfully in the last few years.
Credor Eichi II
The penultimate timepiece for today’s article is a lesser-known timepiece, but it is one that packs a punch. Cue the sublime Credor Eichi II, from Japan.
For those who are unfamiliar with Credor, the brand is a part of the extended Seiko family. However, this is no ordinary Seiko watch – it is perhaps one of the finest watches to have come from Japan, and perhaps even rivalling some of the best that Switzerland can offer as well.
Two noteworthy points come from its dial and movement. 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. As for 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 – and all executed as best as humanly possible.
The 39mm Eichi II is last known to be priced at £50,000 (approximately S$77,635) for the platinum variation. We do love the purity of this piece, with the fine details being done at the highest level. It may be pricey, but for serious collectors, this may be worth every single dollar that the watch is priced at.
We round up the article with a masterpiece from the legendary Kari Voutilainen: Vingt-8.
Kari is touted as one of the most talented watchmakers of his generations, and that certainly shows in his fine works of art. This particular Vingt-8, launched in 2019, features a brilliant 39mm case with welded teardrop lugs. It is also fitted with a luscious black grand feu enamel dial, which compliments the rose gold case and appliqué brilliantly.
Of course, when it comes to Kari’s watches, the movement is where it really shines. Designed and crafted in Kari’s workshop, the movement features touches such as Geneva waves, perlage, and snailing. Other key techniques include exterior and interior angling, polished bevels, refined screw heads and rounded balance bridge. It is not difficult to see why the brand is so highly regarded by many.
The Vingt-8 is priced at CHF 86,500 (approximately S$126,100). The price is definitely eye-watering, but this is what one has to pay for such superlative craftsmanship. Granted, this watch is not for everyone. But if one is lucky enough to be able to afford it, we’d highly recommend this stunning watch any day.
In today’s article, we have covered six dress watches at vastly different price points.
Despite the price differences, each timepiece has its own merits. The Longines, for instance, offers collectors a well-made and handsome watch at a rather reasonable price point. The JLC, having a five-figure price tag, is a timepiece that showcases the expertise of the maison with a well-executed timepiece. Of course, as for the last two timepieces featured, it highlights the best that the industry is able to offer – when cost is not a concern. There is just something for everyone, at different price points.
We hope you have enjoyed this week’s article. Today’s selection covers only the tip of the iceberg; do let us know what are some of the watches that deserve a spot on the list today in the comments section below.
Till then, dress well and stay classy.