The idea of a dress watch can seem antiquated to watch lovers, especially in a day and age where the codes of style are fairly fluid. Even at the recent watch fair, Watches & Wonders, gender-neutral and occasion-agnostic designs were quite pronounced. However, the charm of a dress watch is more for those who believe in the need for elegant timepieces that pair perfectly with suits and tuxedos worn for business meetings and formal occasions. Typically with traditional colours, precious metals, and slim profiles, these watches are a far cry from the bigger, chunkier sports watches that have a more casual bend. Even though over the years, the idea of dress watches have evolved — watchmakers have built upon it with new colours, an increase in dial size, addition of complications — its essence is instantly recognisable. We round up the latest timepieces that make the cut.
Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 Red Gold
Price: Rs15.2 lakh (approx)
This is an out and out sports watch – the Duograph refers to a ‘chronograph rattrapante’, whose function is to measure two elapsed times at once (intermediate and split time), as shown by the two hands on the central chronograph. But its design and aesthetics easily confer upon it the title of a dress chronograph. In red gold and black, the watch has a definite vintage, old-world feel, ideal for the category in question. And those who dig technical details will love the fact that the 42mm watch in red gold is powered by the manually wound, COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber B15. It has two patented innovations: One to simplify the mechanism and the other to improve accuracy.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar
Price on request
The Lange 1 is regarded by many as the perfect dress watch family. One of the first watches to be created by the German watchmaker after establishing its manufactory in Glashütte, the focus of the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, unveiled in March, is the eponymous complication — the month features on the periphery of the dial, alongside an outsize date (inspired by the famous five-minute clock in Dresden’s Semper Opera House), a retrograde day display, a moonphase display with an integrated day/night indicator, and a leap-year indication. All the elements come together in an off-centre design, crafted against a grey-silver dial. The watch features a new self-winding movement L021.3, the watchmaker’s 67th manufacture calibre, resulting in a power reserve of 50 hours. The 41.9mm pink gold case is flanked by a red-brown leather strap. It is a limited edition of 150 timepieces.
Cartier Santos-Dumont Extra Large
Price: Rs7.3 lakh (approx)
The Cartier Santos-Dumont has been a shoo-in for the dress watches category ever since it was launched two years ago. While initial sizes hovered around a small and medium, 2021 sees the elegant square case come in an extra-large size of 46.6mm x 33.9mm. This pink gold and steel watch has a crown set with a blue synthetic spinel cabochon, and its caseback is engraved with the sketch of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s flying machine. The manual winding watch has a power reserve of 38 hours, and is a limited edition of 500 pieces.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième
Price: Rs33.7 lakh (approx)
At a case diameter of 49.4mm, the Reverso Tribute Nonantième is a big watch, but one that takes size in its stride. Being a Reverso, the pink gold watch — a manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 826 — has two faces, the front featuring a silvered, sunray-brushed dial with applied golden indexes and Dauphine hands. At 12 o’clock is a large date display, while at 6 o’ clock sits a moonphase display and small seconds counter. Flip the case over, and the pink gold becomes the backdrop for a digital hour and minute display. The small upper aperture displaying a semi-jumping digital hour indication is inspired by the digital displays developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre for wristwatches in the 1930s. The minutes are displayed on a rotating disc, above which is the lacquered three-quarter plate depicting the night sky, and just below it, a day-night indicator. The timepiece has a power reserve of 42 hours, and is limited to 190 pieces.
Montblanc Heritage Pythagore Small Second Limited Edition 148
Price: Rs18.7 lakh (approx)
This time-only watch could well be for anyone who is obsessed with symmetry. Inspired by the Minerva 1940s Calibre 48, which was designed by Andrey Frey, owner and watch engineer of the Manufacture at the time, and based on the mathematical principles of Pythagoras’ Golden Ratio, the new Calibre MB M14.08 takes things up a notch. A large manual wind (14 lignes), the movement now comes with Villeret’s famous finishing. With a dial size of 39mm and a power reserve of 80 hours, there are two versions available, in rose and white gold. A detail to love: The ‘secret’ Minerva signature in between 4 and 5 o’ clock on the periphery of the dial.
IWC Big Pilot's Watch 43
Price: Rs6.5 lakh (approx)
This is IWC’s signature aviation/tool watch, and there is no denying its sportiness with the large crown, rivets on the straps, and clean, spaced out dial. But we’re willing to argue that it could work for dressier occasions. What’s new about the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (Ref. IW3293) is that it does not feature a date window or a power reserve display, which gives the dial a cleaner, slicker face (there is also an option of a blue dial). The 43mm stainless steel watch has an IWC-manufactured 82100 calibre with Pellaton winding beating inside, and in a bid to make it a multi-occasion watch, its EasX-CHANGE system allows for it to be paired with calf leather and rubber straps or a stainless steel bracelet.
H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Centre Seconds MEGA Cool
Price: Rs11.3 lakh (approx)
It is unlikely that in the history of Swiss watchmaking, any brand has used the words ‘mega’ and ‘cool’ to name its design. But then CEO Edouard Meylan is ensuring that H. Moser & Cie. is not most Swiss brands — this year, he announced that going forward, the brand’s watches will not be featuring the logo, as he wanted the design to take centrestage and become the brand’s insignia. In line with this is the Pioneer Centre Seconds MEGA Cool, although it features a transparent logo visible when holding the watch at an angle under lights. The Blue Lagoon fumé dial, in shades of turquoise, is a standout, while the anthracite grey faceted indices are topped with Super-LumiNova® markers. Inside is an HMC 200 movement, designed, developed and produced in-house. It has a power reserve of at least 72 hours.