The Best Dress Watches, From Affordable to F*ck You

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Monoface

JLC’s Reverso was designed for polo players in India who were destroying the crystals on their watches — the Reverso’s flip-over case design meant that the dial could be protected during play. These days, however, the Reverso is a fine choice for a dress watch, with the best part being that you can engrave the back.

Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 6119R

The 6119 is the contemporary expression of what is perhaps the platonic ideal of the dress watch, the Patek Philippe Calatrava — albeit in slightly more decorated form. A hobnail (Clous de Paris) bezel draws the eye immediately in, while the classic Calatrava elements — simple, faceted indices, sword hands, sub-seconds — are joined by an outer “railroad” minute track.

NOMOS Orion 38

The Orion 38, with its stainless steel case, long lugs, simple baton indices, stick handset, and sub-seconds display, could easily pass for a design from the 1940s or 1950s. This one, however, features a sapphire display back to show off the hand-wound Alpha caliber and a black Horween shell cordovan leather strap.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto

We’re going to break our “look out for hand-wound or quartz movements” thing in this particular case, as Hamilton has not only managed to beautifully revive a vintage design in a contemporary guise, but it’s managed to sneak in a Swiss-made ETA 2892-A2 automatic caliber without making the watch too thick.

Here, we’re going to examine some of the best dress watches currently on the market from brands big and small, at prices both affordable and, um, not. Your mission, should you to choose to accept it, is to pick one for yourself and impress that chargé d’affaires at the next embassy gala. And if you find one you like better that’s not on this list? More power to you! We’re just here to offer some suggestions. (And also to suggest ridiculous, fictitious situations in which you might wear said suggestions.)

Our goal here is simple:  to help you live a more adventurous,  eventful and engaging life.