Throwback Sunday: Six Dressy Watches for the Tropics, from Our Archives

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Ah, the tropics. The area where the weather is erratic, but it is constantly alternating between the two extremes – it can be hot and humid for a moment, before turning into wet and gloomy at the next instance. 

The combination of such weather conditions is definitely detrimental to the leather strap on our watches. The sweltering heat definitely make us sweat more than our counterparts from countries that are not in the tropics, in which the perspiration will cause the strap to have odours.

There are certainly ways to alleviate the solution. First, and the most common method, is to ensure that the user takes care of the strap by ensuring that he/she does not wear the watch too often in hot and humid environment. Next, many guides online have recommended users to clean the straps after they have worn it, to prolong its lifespan. Furthermore, some watch manufacturers have even gone ahead to stitch a layer of rubber as a lining, instead of using leather.

However, the first two processes are tedious, and the latter is not available for most of the dressier watches in the market. Hence, the next alternative is to look at dressier watches that is not fitted with a leather strap. While some may argue that dress watches should only be worn with a leather strap, but this might not be something practical in the tropics. Therefore, in this week’s article, we are looking at six watches without leather straps that can be considered “dressy” to a certain extent. What have we chosen? Let’s find out!


Seiko Presage SJE073/SARA015


The new Seiko Presage SJE073/SARA015. Some dubbed it the “Baby Snowflake”, all thanks to the nicely executed dial that resembles its Grand Seiko counterpart.


The first watch that we have is one of the highlights from Baselworld 2018: the Seiko Presage SJE073/SARA015, also known as the “Baby Snowflake”.

The Presage is a line of affordable dress watches from the Japanese watch manufacturer. With a relatively thin case profile, simple design, and excellent value proposition, it is no wonder that the collection had attained a strong following by many collectors. The “Baby Snowflake” is one of the latest pieces from the collection, and its greatest appeal is perhaps the textured dial, which is similar to its Grand Seiko sibling.

Powered by the new in-house Calibre 6L35, the self-winding timepiece boasts a movement that is 3.7mm thick. It has a power reserve of 45 hours, and an improved accuracy of +10/-15 seconds a day.

Priced at €2,200 (approximately S$3,516), the 40.6mm “Baby Snowflake” is definitely pricier than the usual models in the collection. However, we reckon it is perhaps the best looking one as well. This is certainly dress watch that is worth considering, especially if one is looking for a well-made and low-profile timepiece.


Omega Globemaster


The Globemaster – a lesser known collection from the celebrated Swiss watch manufacturer.


When it comes to Omega, the Globemaster is probably not one of the collections that would come to mind. But it is certainly not one that should be missed.

The 39mm Globemaster is arguably a homage to the classic Constellation – with its pie-pan dial, the star emblem, as well as the “signature” Constellation medallion on the caseback of the watch. It has a very classic design cue too, with the fluted bezel and pie-pan dial that gives the watch a rather nice touch.

The watch is fitted with Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement. The self-winding movement is COSC-certified, and it is anti-magnetic as well (more than 15,000 gauss). It has a power reserve of around 60 hours, and it has a date indicator at the 6 o’clock position.

With a retail price of S$9,950, the Omega Globemaster certainly offers an interesting alternative to the usual choices. It would be great choice for someone who wants something classy and different from the crowd.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41


The Rolex Datejust 41, fitted with the iconic two-toned Jubilee bracelet.


Following the Omega Globemaster, we have yet another timepiece that is both classy and iconic. Cue the Rolex Datejust 41.

Launched in 1945, the Rolex Datejust is a watch that had graced the wrist of many luminaries and celebrities. Despite some subtle changes that were made to the timepiece over the years, the Datejust still remains true to its roots. It is very timeless as well.

Our choice piece in the collection would be the Datejust 41. As its name suggests, the timepiece is 41mm – which is 5mm larger than the original iteration. We feel that while 36mm is a good size, but we reckon a modern gentleman would prefer something that commands a larger wrist presence. The timepiece is fitted with Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer certified Caliber 3235, and prices begin at S$9,900 for the stainless-steel variant.


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-thin, Reference 15202IP.


The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, when it first debuted in 1972, was touted as a “luxury sports watch”. However, as many imagined, it is not easy to see how you’d want to wear Royal Oak to play sports – especially for activities such as Tennis or Golf.

Over time, people felt that the Royal Oak was actually a good candidate as a dressy watch. This is helped by the fact that it possesses a simple yet elegant design, and its relatively thin case profile allows the watch to slip easily under the cuffs. Its design is incredibly clean as well, but it is not boring at all. We particularly love the tapisserie dial, as well as the distinctive octagon bezel with exposed hexagon screws. It adds a nice and bold touch to the timepiece, without making it too sacrilegious.

There are many iterations of the Royal Oak available, but for someone who is looking for a dressy piece, the 39mm Extra-thin is perhaps the best bet. The Reference 15202IP, which is an interesting model that uses both titanium and platinum in its construction, is priced at US$34,800 (approximately S$46,732). This particular model is only available at the boutique, and it is limited to a production of 250 pieces. It is surely difficult to go wrong with a timepiece that is so magnificent.


Vacheron Constantin Overseas


Vacheron Constantin Overseas in stainless steel case and silver dial.


Since Vacheron Constantin revamped the Overseas collection in 2016, the brand had certainly seen a spike in interest in their watches over the last couple of years. It is not difficult to see why, especially with the brilliant execution of this timepiece.

While there are many excellent pieces in the collection to select from, but our choice is perhaps the entry-level model with an additional date function. We feel that the clean and simple dial brings out the design elements of the watch, such as the Maltese-cross bezel and the integrated bracelet. The finishing of the movement is a work of art too.

Besides that, the other highlight of the Overseas is perhaps its new quick strap changing mechanism. The straps can be easily changed by unhooking a latch that is attached to the back of it. What is also brilliant is the fact that Vacheron Constantin had provided the owner with three different straps in the package: leather, rubber, and metal bracelet. This allows the user to mix and match their straps to match their attire, which makes it a rather nifty and versatile timepiece. The watch retails at S$30,800, and we reckon it might be perfect for someone who wants a timepiece that can adapt to different styles.


Patek Philippe Nautilus


The Nautilus, Reference 5711, in rose gold.


We round up the article with Patek Philippe’s Nautilus. After all, how can we miss out on the Nautilus, after mentioning about its “Holy Trinity” counterparts above?

The Nautilus was Patek Philippe’s answer to Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. The watch, which was also designed by the legendary Gerald Genta, had captured the attention by many over the years for its interesting design cues and exclusivity. Similarly, its simple and clean design allows some of the watch’s interesting elements to shine, such as the horizontally embossed dial and rounded octagonal bezel.

While the 40mm Nautilus is available with different complications, but we reckon the base model (Reference 5711) is the most highly sought-after piece within the collection. It is the one that remains the closest to the original iteration, and we really feel that the minimalist design really makes it an excellent choice for a dressier piece. The stainless-steel variant is priced at S$39,300, but do be prepared to stay on the waiting list for an extended period of time.


Concluding Thoughts


We believe that some of the pieces that we have selected are choices that were expected by many. It is actually pretty clear cut, considering that the selections available are rather limited. Yes, there are quite a lot of dress watches. But dress watches with metal bracelet? There aren’t as many as we thought.

As mentioned, watch manufacturers have understood the problems that collectors are facing. Many of them are producing straps that comes with a layer of rubber on the underside, to prevent sweat from deteriorating the leather strap. Others, such as Vacheron Constantin, had come up with quick strap changing mechanism to allow users to switch between different strap options, to allow users to mix and match their style. This allows the user to wear the timepiece with a leather strap in the office, and easily switching it out to another option when he or she is exposed to the outdoor weather elements. These ideas have certainly helped us to alleviate the rapid deterioration of our leather straps.

So, what are your thoughts on our selections? What are some of the dressier watches that looks good on metal bracelets? Let us know in the comments section below!


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  1. The Omega Globemaster is an an absolute favorite of mine; I am fortunate to own the blue-dial version featured here . But for an even dressier Omega on a bracelet, check out the De Ville Hour Vision. Omega has updated this line with its master chronometer movement. It too is an oft-overlooked model in the current Omega lineup, but one most worthy of consideration.

  2. Milanese style straps got popular for a while and were attached to dressier watches. The IWC Portofino comes to mind.