When one thinks of a dress watch, the typical image that would come to mind is a two or three-handed watch – preferably in yellow or rose gold – with a rounded case that looks simple and clean.
But does it necessarily have to be the case? Perhaps so, if one is a purist. For other collectors, there might be some leeway in this aspect. In this article, we will adopt the latter, and look at candidates which we think will add a vibrant touch to this genre of watches.
Now, here are the six watches that we reckon will make great dress watches, without being too “conventional”.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds
We begin the article with an unmistakable icon in the horological world. Cue the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, in the form of the Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds.
The Reverso first debuted in the 1930s, for an interesting reason. Back then, the Polo players requested César de Trey to produce a timepiece that can withstand the knocks from polo mallets. This gave César the idea to create a timepiece with a reversible case, and hence the Reverso was born.
While this particular version is a departure from the initial intention of the Reverso, there is still something inherently cool with a watch that has two separate dials. Not only is it useful to tell time in another time zone (for this particular variant), one can also have the option to choose which side of the watch that they would like to wear, depending on their mood. The Reverso Classic Duoface Small Seconds is priced at S$16,700, and perhaps one can consider that it might be a bargain for getting two great watches for the price of one.
Piaget, as a brand itself, is similarly not as widely-known within the circle of watch collecting. However, we reckon they do deserve much more attention than they are currently receiving.
The Altiplano is a great example. Touted as one of the thinnest watches in the world, the Altiplano is a testament to Piaget’s commitment to horological excellence. For this particular 38mm timepiece, this is achieved through extremely precision engineering, where every component is produced to be as thin as possible. In addition, for the watch to achieve its 3.65mm thinness, Piaget had to also incorporate the dial and movement onto the same plane altogether.
Priced at S$38,200, the Altiplano is a great timepiece that showcases the prowess of the manufacturer. We love the concept behind the Altiplano, and the entire execution. It is an incredible timepiece, and one that surely does not look as conventional as the dress watches that most will commonly associate with.
Cloche de Cartier
When it comes to sophisticated and elegant designs, nobody really comes close to Cartier. The exquisite Cloche de Cartier is a testament to that.
Originally introduced in 1920, Cartier revived the old icon a couple of years back. The inspiration behind the watch – as the name suggests – is the cloche – which is a tableware cover that is also shaped similarly to the service bell. We like how Cartier has seamlessly integrated the design into the timepiece, and made it into a novel case shape that we reckon most manufacturers will find it difficult to pull off.
The watch is available in either gold or platinum, and it is limited to a production run of 100 pieces each. Prices of the Cloche begin at S$39,400, and this is certainly one of the coolest dress watches that one can perhaps own.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 White Gold
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 is a well-loved model by collectors. Many appreciate the beautiful design, with that little bit of quirkiness with its 45-degree rotated dial.
Dubbed the driver’s watch, the idea was to allow the user to tell time easily while his or her hand is on the steering wheel. Although the concept was simple, it was (and still is) quite a novelty which makes the American 1921 rather charming even in today’s age. The cushion case, as well as the position of the crown, further adds an interesting and intriguing touch to this timepiece.
The watch is available in both 36.5mm and 40mm variants. The watch retails at S$43,600 and S$53,000 respectively for the white gold variant, which we thought works very well for this model. Notwithstanding the price point aside, the American 1921 is a brilliant piece, with a nice touch of history to it. For those who are able to afford its slightly princely price tag, this Vacheron Constantin is definitely a great piece to supplement any watch collection.
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
While collectors are constantly chasing the likes of Nautilus and Grand Complications, the Golden Ellipse is quietly lying in the shadows within the Patek Philippe collection. Launched in 1968, the timepiece certainly has a special place in the hearts of most Patek Philippe collectors.
In 2018, to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Golden Ellipse, they produced a special edition of the watch. The magic of the piece definitely still lies in its timeless case design. The elliptical case follows the golden ratio, which naturally makes it look rather proportional. This particular edition is the “Grand Tallie” model, which means that it features a larger case dimension at 34.5 mm x 39.5 mm. It was perhaps made with modern consumers in mind, who tend to have a preference towards slightly larger timepieces.
The watch is powered by the legendary Calibre 240. The self-winding movement is only 2.53 mm thick, playing a key role in the watch’s overall slenderness. It is fitted with a 22k gold micro-rotor, and it also comes with the brand’s proprietary Gyromax balance and patented Spiromax balance spring for improved rate accuracy. This rose gold timepiece retails at S$40,700, and it is a great choice especially for a gentleman who wants to be different.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret
A. Lange & Söhne is a brand that is familiar to many by now, but the Cabaret is perhaps a timepiece that only the hardcore enthusiasts will know.
The Cabaret, with an unusual rectangular case, is one of the less loved (unjust, we know) models amongst the Lange family. What we particularly like is the simplicity of the watch, as well as the effort that Lange had put into this piece – in the form of a form-shaped movement that also incorporates the usual elements of a typical Glashütte-made timepiece (think three-quarter plate, Glashütte-ribbing, engraved balance cock, etc.).
Unfortunately, A. Lange & Söhne no longer produces this model – sans the limited-edition Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst that was launched in 2021. We believe that the Cabaret is a stunning piece, and one that deserves much more attention than what it is currently receiving.
Today’s article has shown that dress watches do not necessarily have to fit into the typical stereotypes. Dress watches can be fun and expressive, which is what these six watches today have proven to us.
Admittedly, the price points of the watches today are a little steep. Then again, we are talking about a market that is more niche, and where clients are willing to splash to attain that level of exclusivity. We will perhaps explore this genre of watches again with a lower price point as a challenge to ourselves.
We hope you have enjoyed today’s article, as usual. Beyond that, we do want to see a more vibrant watch collecting scene, and one that does not just stick with the “safer” options. We are getting there, slowly, but surely.