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The modern man’s guide to wearing a dress watch

Dress watches are designed as an accessory for formal wear, and they characterise minimalist fashion. For the modern men who like subtlety and perfection, the innovative design of a dress watch makes slipping a luxury watch below a shirt cuff both aesthetically pleasing and effortlessly chic. We cannot deny that the best dress watches bring together an outfit, projects confidence and gives the wearer the ultimate finishing touch. It’s not dramatic and yet it catches people’s eye, it plays a supportive role rather than being a star, it’s cool and contemporary yet classic.


The first example of a dress watch appeared in the earth 20th century but its origins trace back much further. During the Regency period, men’s tailoring underwent a dramatic transformation, giving rise to the two-piece suit with a more simple silhouette and an understated look. Fit became the focus for well-groomed gentlemen and a thinner and more discreet dress watch complements the look without resulting in bulky pockets and distortion to a clean silhouette. Back then, a sleek pocket watch wasn’t just about style, it was also a display of wealth. A thinner watch requires a high level of skill and innovation on the part of the watchmaker, and with that, the costs is greater. leather watch bands

At the end of World War 1, officers returned home sporting some of the first wristwatches and before long the wristwatch had replaced the pocket watch. They started off as practical pieces, created for use by soldiers and pilots on the front lines. But then practicality became unimportant, and watchmakers created more refined and elegant versions. This gave birth to the dress watch we all know.

Slim profile

Created to be worn with formal and business attire, slim profile dress watches avoid bunching and keep the suit jacket looking fit. A slim profile can slip under a cuff, and it’s usually less than 15mm thick. If you like a subtle design, tradition, power and precision, the slim profile typifies beauty. A rounded case shape and slim hand winding movement would make this a handsome watch for the special occasion, suitable for small and larger wrists. A good luxury piece would feel as though it’s customised just for you, offering you the perfect fit.

Modest size

A dress watch must be well fitting and proportional to the wearer’s wrist. You’ll achieve an elegant look if you find the perfect one, just try looking for a timepiece that is between 33mm to 41mm in size.

Simple dials

Simplicity is elegance. A less overwhelming design will not overpower the entire outfit. One of the key components is also a thin case. This enables the wearer to dress up or dress down the watch for casual and formal functions. A thin case is also more comfortable as it’s lighter.

Precious materials

If you’re attending a rather glitzy event, you want to feel high-class, stylish and sophisticated. A watch with precious materials lends well to this aesthetic. 18k gold is often a favourite for dress watches, coming in variations like rose gold and yellow gold.

Leather straps

Many dress watches spot leather straps. The elegant design and textures of the leather lend well to the minimalist look of a modern man’s style. Staying to colour palettes of black, brown and navy will make it timeless no matter how much the trend changes, and opting for leather types like alligator and calfskin are good choices. Of course you can always change the straps, add colours and get creative to express yourself depending on the event you’re going to. If a leather strap is not for you, a bracelet watch strap can also be worn with a dress watch.

Our favourite dress watch…

The Rolex Day-Date 36 comes top on the list. It has probably graced the wrists of more company board members than any other watch ever made and broad rooms are really dressy places where you need to appear confident and sleek. In all seriousness, the Day-Date has had a profound impact on style and fashion over a number of decades. To explore more dress watches, the official Rolex retailer is your best place to find out more.

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