The 14 Best Dress Watches To Buy In 2024
— 12 December 2023

The 14 Best Dress Watches To Buy In 2024

— 12 December 2023
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

Even though the watch-idiot-savant (“WIS”) brigade might have oversold us all on the promise of dress watches staging a global comeback, we’re not above admitting that — these days — refined time-tellers on leather straps, rather than metal bracelets, are appearing in Australia in greater numbers.

We don’t necessarily have the page space to unpack why that’s the case, but between the pull towards smaller shape watches in celebrity culture and last year’s emphasis on aesthetic — as opposed to merely technical — sophistication, it’s clear that luxury watchmaking’s more elegant aspect is finally getting some much-needed airtime.

In yet another horological edition of the BH Buyer’s Guide, we zhush things up with a shortlist of the best ‘dressy’ designs we’ve encountered this year. To be sure: each one of the pieces we’ve included fits the bill if you’re after an elegant timepiece that excels in a formal setting. Beyond that, this is watchmaking at its most essential. Good today, and hopefully, better tomorrow.

RELATED: 5 Vintage Rolex Watches Worth Your Time And Investment



BH Approved: The Best Dress Watch Overall

Longines Master Collection (Silver)

Exceptional

96/100

SCORE

PROS

  • Engraved Breguet numerals
  • Size & wearability
  • 72-hour power reserve

CONS

  • Movement feels like a missed opportunity
$4,025 at longines.com

On paper, the recent Longines Master Small Seconds referencesinitially made to commemorate the company’s 190th anniversary — don’t quite scream ‘innovation’. And yet, on the wrist and in the metal, the line’s singular focus around refinement (of a classic mid-century bent) has delivered one of the most interesting Longines dress watches in years.

Praised by media and collectors alike, the obvious allure here is the dial’s execution: textured and, somewhat unusually, engraved with Breguet-style numerals. Alternately available in a salmon or anthracite configuration, our go-to is the silver reference (which also bears the distinction of being fitted with blued steel hands).

Described by one notable journalist as a “vintage-style watch…not a reissue”, this Longines Master achieves a deft synthesis between old and new. The details are in keeping with the aesthetic you’ll encounter with the brand’s historical three-handers; whereas technology and fit orientate the wearer’s experience firmly in the modern age.

All told, this is a satisfying take on the traditional dress watch — timelessly styled and full of interesting macro detail. And the fact that the movement possesses a 72-hour power reserve? Pure icing on the cake.


The Best Dress Watches To Spruce Up Your Collection In 2024

Baltic MR01 In Gold PVD

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 36mm
  • Case Thickness: 9.9mm
  • Case Material: 316L stainless steel with gold PVD coating
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Italian calf leather
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Hangzhou CAL5000a
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours

For a gold dress watch that doesn’t demand commodity pricing, I’d argue you can’t do much better than Baltic. The Parisian brand recently unveiled a trio of gold PVD-coated watches — including a chronograph and sector dial — with our pick of the lot being this MR01.

An existent design, distinguished by the use of an off-centre sub-seconds, my colleague James described it as “a timeless addition to any collection” as far back as 2022.

Consequently, a lengthy interrogation of what makes the MR01 so special feels unnecessary. What we will say is that if you’re a fan of dress watches which intricately reproduce the look and feel of a vintage Calatrava (all while delivering robust value for money to boot), chances are you’ll enjoy this new black-and-gold number.

In typical form for a smooth operator of Baltic’s reputation, these gold-plated MR01s come standard with a 24-month warranty and complimentary shipping.


Furlan Marri ‘Salmon Sector’ Ref. 2154-A

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 37.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 10.5mm
  • Case Material: 316L stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Textured French calf
  • Dial Colour: Salmon
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: G100
  • Power Reserve: 68 hours

Up an echelon in pricing from Baltic’s gold MR01, we have this Ref. 2154-A from fellow independent Furlan Marri. A brand built for (and by) seasoned collectors of mid-century Patek and Vacheron, that backstory makes the 2154’s chosen design language altogether unsurprising.

Considered, handsome details — akin to what you’d expect in 1950s-era dress watches — abound here: ranging from the sector dial (emblazoned with Breguet numerals for the hour segment and minute track) to the ‘cow horn’ lugs, evoking the profile of Vacheron’s influential Ref. 6087.

In a departure from the 2154’s mostly period-inspired brief, the watch is fitted with a transparent caseback; allowing for the display of a decidedly modern movement — the calibre G100.

An honest-to-goodness Swiss ébauche, it still incorporates loads of practical tech for just north of $2,000: a tungsten rotor, 68 hours of power, and (for the accuracy addicts among you) even hacking seconds.


TAG Heuer Carrera Date

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.5mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Alligator
  • Dial Colour: Blue
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: Calibre 5 Automatic
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours

In a testament to the versatility of good design, this time-and-date incarnation of the iconic TAG Heuer Carrera makes our shortlist of the best dress watches in 2024.

Working with many of the characteristics that define the original chronograph, this three-handed automatic (equipped with a bifurcated day-date aperture) is similarly sharp, legible, and suitable for wear in an array of situations.

Conceived with a crowd-pleasing combination of 41mm case and sunburst-blue dial, there are almost no situations we can think of where wearing this would be a downside.

Good news for inveterate online shoppers: when purchased from TAG’s official website, this Carrera is also delivered with one of the brand’s stitched leather travel pouches!


King Seiko SJE087

King Seiko SJE087

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 38.1mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.4mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Crocodile leather
  • Dial Colour: Silvered
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: 6L35
  • Power Reserve: 45 hours

This SGJE087 — Seiko’s second limited re-issue of a historic King Seiko model in three years — is a great avenue for embracing much of the craftsmanship affiliated with Grand Seiko, all while remaining faithful to the aesthetic of its spiritual predecessor.

For #SeikoBois who are familiar with the history of the ‘KSK’ line (i.e. the second generation of King Seiko models), the SGJE087 will present more of what you already know and love. Seiko’s watchmakers have been meticulous in their recreation of the original proportions — notwithstanding the fact that this SGJE087 is slightly bigger than the watch it’s based on.

The sharply faceted indexes and Zaratsu-polished surfaces work in tandem with the champagne dial, delivering a watch with plenty of [but not too much] lustre on the wrist. A medallion, crafted from solid gold, rounds out the caseback: leaving enthusiasts in no doubt that they’re wearing a living piece of history.

Limited to a run of 1,700 pieces globally.


Grand Seiko SBGY007 ‘Omiwatari’

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 38.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 10.2mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Crocodile leather
  • Dial Colour: Blue
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: 9R31
  • Power Reserve: 72 hours

The first 5-figure dress watch to grace our Buyer’s Guide, the SBGY007 is — in many ways — the convergence between Grand Seiko’s formally underrated and now-increasingly aspirational brand identities.

Powered by a pared-back version of the same Spring Drive movement that goes into Seiko’s $70,000 Credor Eichi II, the SBGY007 expresses only the most vital aspects of the modern Grand Seiko style — at a price point that is increasingly underserved by many Swiss brands.

As with any number of Grand Seiko’s most desirable references, the SBGY007 features a dial that evokes the majestic landscapes surrounding the brand’s watch studios.

In this case: the powdery white ridges, highlighted by the dial’s sweeping seconds hand, are a tribute to Omiwatari — the seasonal phenomenon in which Lake Suwa freezes over, and large ice fissures (said to resemble the footsteps of a Shinto God) form on its surface. Epic stuff.


OMEGA Speedmaster ’57

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 40.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 13mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Calf leather
  • Dial Colour: Burgundy
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: OMEGA 9906
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours

For many classicists, the notion of the chronograph as a dressy watch will be anathema; but in the best tradition of years gone by, the Speedmaster ’57 (named for the date of the collection’s inception) shows how that thinking is a decidedly recent phenomenon.

In fact, throughout the mid-20th century, it was common among high-end Swiss watchmakers to offer a dedicated ‘dress chronograph’. Bearing that in mind, the new Speedmaster ’57 has more in common with OMEGA designs of the past than it does the current-gen Speedy. If nothing else: the former wears a helluva lot better with a suit or sportcoat.

Yet another inclusion that delivers a lot of value at its nominal price tag, these throwback Speedies are all equipped with OMEGA’s superlative calibre 9906. A hand-wound chronograph with an unusual Glashütte-esque architecture (and METAS certification), it is an excellent foundation for the watch’s otherwise relatively classic design language.

Lovers of neo-vintage have spoken at length about their love for the black variation (the only model made with a ‘sandwich’ dial) but, here at Boss Hunting, we’re all about the burgundy. For a really sartorial flourish: consider swapping out the flat-link bracelet for a matching leather strap.


Chopard L.U.C 1860

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 36.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 8.2mm
  • Case Material: Lucent™ steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Calfskin
  • Dial Colour: Salmon
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: L.U.C 96.40-L
  • Power Reserve: 65 hours

An inclusion that would have wrested the ‘Best Overall’ title clean from the competition, were it not for its +$35,000 price tag, Chopard’s L.U.C 1860 is easily the best new release I’ve seen from the brand in half a decade. And it’s not even close.

A permanent addition to the top-shelf L.U.C collection going forward, this particular 1860 model is cased in Lucent steel — a proprietary alloy from Chopard that is more luminous and ecologically sustainable than run-of-the-mill stainless steel.

Kudos to Chopard for having the guts to stick to its historical blueprint: in a side-by-side comparison, this new steel number looks and wears a lot like its ’97 forebear. Even this watch’s movement bears a striking (and undoubtedly calculated) resemblance to the calibre 1.96. Save for the welcome addition of hacking seconds and the even more welcome departure of that previous movement’s date window.

Naturally, there are a number of small tweaks to distinguish the two (e.g. bigger lugs, a brushed mid-case) yet the net result is a watch which recreates — and possibly even eclipses — the triumphs of the original 1860.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Monoface Small Seconds

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 45.6mm x 27.4mm
  • Case Thickness: 7.56mm
  • Case Material: 18K pink gold
  • Bezel Material: 18K pink gold
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Calfskin/bi-material
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Calibre 822
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours

The dressiest of the already dressy Reverso Tribute models, this ‘Small Seconds’ in pink gold evokes Jaeger-LeCoultre’s early experimentation with coloured dials throughout the ’30s and ’40s.

True to the model’s origins, the rectal side is left intentionally blank: the ideal canvas for any number of creative personalisation ranging from simple initials to JLC’s in-house engraving program.

As for the watch itself? Simplicity in its most elegant of forms. Following in the mould of other Tribute models, this Reverso wears very discretely: sliding effortlessly beneath shirt cuffs, and revealing its presence through a carefully contrasted palette of sunray blacks and polished golds.

In a wink to the eponymous collection’s origins on the polo field, this Tribute Small Seconds is sold with a duo of straps. The first of these is your standard calfskin deployant, but the second — a combination of cotton canvas and leather, crafted by Casa Fagliano — is a game-changer, turning the Reverso into a commendable option for daily wear. Even in the summer.


Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Manual-Winding Ref. 81530

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 36mm
  • Case Thickness: 6.72mm
  • Case Material: 18K white gold
  • Bezel Material: 18K white gold
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Satin/Alligator
  • Dial Colour: White
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Calibre 1400
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours

For a high-end dress watch made with a real puritanical streak of subtlety, it doesn’t get much better than this Vacheron Constantin Patrimony. From a collection that’s all about “radiating an elegance inspired by 1950s Vacheron”, this is the mythic standard to which so many micro-brands hold themselves (99% of which fall short).

Often marketed as a ladies’ watch — erroneously, I might add — this Ref. 81530 is a near-perfect encapsulation of the difficulty involved in crafting a seemingly simple time-only dress watch.

Unable to fall back on visual gimmickry, complications, or even an independent seconds hand (only the hours and minutes are indicated) Vacheron’s designers were left with the most basic form language for the purposes of beautifying this timepiece.

That’s why all the detail you can see feels so vital: from the faceting on the hands to the slender triangular indices, or a whisper of diamonds set within the mid-case.


Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 31mm
  • Case Thickness: 8mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Alligator leather
  • Dial Colour: Skeletonised
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Calibre 9629 MC
  • Power Reserve: 44 hours

Once upon a time, the Santos-Dumont was primarily considered to be a design object, rather than an extremely sophisticated showcase of mechanical watchmaking.

The release of this skeletonised variation (complete with a rotor decorated in the shape of a bi-plane) is just the most recent shot across the bow, as Cartier seeks to broaden the Santos-Dumont’s appeal with a range of budgets and client bases.

To that end, if like me, you were one of those enthusiasts who enjoyed the skeletonised Santos references of the past four years, then this micro-rotor-powered number is almost certain to appeal.

Effectively straddling the line between a sports watch and something more archival, we’ve opted to shortlist the steel version since it is — in a relative manner of speaking — more affordable than its rose and yellow gold counterparts.


Berneron Mirage ‘Sienna’

dress watches

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 34mm x 38mm
  • Case Thickness: 7mm
  • Case Material: 18K yellow gold
  • Bezel Material: 18K yellow gold
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Barenia leather
  • Dial Colour: 18K yellow gold
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Calibre CH233
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours

In a list full of excellent dress watches that are, admittedly, often still derivative, the Mirage cuts through like a surrealist masterpiece. Designed by Sylvain Berneron (who also doubles as Chief Product Officer at Breitling) and currently available in white or yellow gold, this is an asymmetric design which will inevitably invite comparisons with the Cartier Crash or Patek’s Asymétrie.

Those parallels aren’t necessarily unwarranted, but the Mirage rises above its inspiration through an expert combo of aesthetics; and mechanical watchmaking that is impressively involved for a first attempt from an emerging, one-man brand.

Effectively a fully gold watch (i.e. case, dial, movement) the Mirage utilises an innovative movement architecture that actually accentuates the watch’s performance and unique ‘melty’ design. In short: any single aspect of the piece — ranging from its Fibonacci-inspired pebble case to the fact the movement has largely been developed from scratch — would be worth covering individually.

For now, readers who are interested in learning more about how Berneron conceived the design should check out Cheryl Chia’s in-depth piece at REVOLUTION.


A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin Ref. 205.086

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Thickness: 6.2mm
  • Case Material: 18K white gold
  • Bezel Material: 18K white gold
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Alligator
  • Dial Colour: Copper-blue
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: L093.1
  • Power Reserve: 72 hours

Where Chopard’s most recent L.U.C. 1860 qualifies as the overall ‘best’ dress watch on our list, this aventurine-dialed Saxonia (from legendary German marque A. Lange & Sӧhne) is, far and away, my personal favourite.

First introduced in 2018 — and better known to Lange loyalists as the ‘Blue Gold Flux’ — this Saxonia uses the framework of Lange’s most visually pared-back collection to focus wearers’ attention around interesting materials. In this case, aventurine.

Not to be confused with the mineral stone of the same name, the aventurine utilised here is a kind of glass (fused with crystalline inclusions) that is ‘cast’ onto a silver blank, whilst the material is molten. The result? A dial that shimmers and catches the eye gently: the kind of light show perfect for collectors who find the ‘bling’ of diamonds a touch too aggressive.

In line with Lange’s other ultra-thin watches — among the slimmest the brand has ever put into production — the Blue Gold Flux is powered by the manual-wind calibre L093.1. The set-up here is classic Glashütte: most of your view will be taken up with a plate of pure silver (decorated using a striped feathery finish). But unlike a majority of Lange’s three-quarter-plate movements, you can actually see the click-and-spring — superbly satisfying when you’re in the process of winding the watch.


Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 5738

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 34.5mm x 39.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 6.58mm
  • Case Material: 18K white gold
  • Bezel Material: 18K white gold
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Alligator
  • Dial Colour: Black enameled
  • Water Resistance: N/A
  • Movement: Calibre 240
  • Power Reserve: 48 hours

Truthfully, I’m more comfortable likening this very limited edition of Patek Philippe’s iconic Golden Ellipse to a piece of wearable Baroque art (inspired by an important collector’s shotgun) than I am any mere mechanical wristwatch.

One of the luxury watch industry’s clearest embodiments of the aphorism, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it,” the ref. 5738 (also nicknamed the ‘Volutes & Arabesques’) uses the canvas of the humble dress watch to push the boundaries of rare handcrafted art forms.

A simultaneous showcase of hand-engraving, champlevé, and vitreous enamel; this particular riff on the Ellipse collection is so difficult to make that Patek only produced 100 of them. In a move that couldn’t more clearly indicate its intended customer, this Ellipse is also sold with a pair of matching white gold cufflinks — also inlaid with enamel.

Equally suited to the Bruce Waynes and Roman Abramovichs of the world, even pricing for pre-owned examples of this reference starts at around $300,000.


If you enjoyed this breakdown of the best dress watches in 2023, then why not consider a few of our other horology-related stories below?

Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].

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