A Comprehensive Guide to Dress Watches

A Comprehensive Guide to Dress Watches

An elegant suit watch is essential for the modern and style conscious.

The classic dress watch is an ideal complement to every formal outfit. However, thanks to modern-day living, sports and tool watches are more commonly spotted on the wrists of everybody everywhere. 

At Watches and Crystals, we know the importance of a dress watch. After all, looking smart is essential to feeling good - and planning out all aspects of your outfit for special occasions will go a long way in boosting your self-esteem. 

What is a dress watch? 

Formal wristwear can be traced back to the pre-twentieth century when men used to wear pocket watches as a sign of their wealth and status. Clothing during this era was big and bulky, so hiding away a pocket watch was easy. In fact, having your watch on display was seen as a sign you had better places to be and was considered a social faux pas!

As fashion in the Regency era moved to crisp cut suits and elegant slimline dresses, formal wristwear had to move with the times; think minimalist straps, clean lines and a sleek, classy, yet subtle flair. 

To be seen in a bulky watch that interfered with the cut of a suit would have been a sartorial slip that would quickly have people turning their noses up. However, in modern times, it's now standard to see an elegant watch with casual day wear or a pilot timepiece on the arm of a wedding guest. 

At Watches and Crystals, we would like to see the revival of the formal watch, a treasured timepiece you bring out for special occasions that makes you look and feel fabulous; defined by horologists as an elegant accessory that perfectly complements formal wear. 

Amongst these watch connoisseurs, there are debates about the specific traits necessary in formal wristwear.

Generally speaking, a dress watch should be slimline, stylish, minimalist in mechanics and aesthetics, crafted from precious metals, and, most importantly, feature a leather strap. Put simply, less is always more when dressing your wrist. 

Read on to discover a more in-depth discussion of the characteristics to look out for when deciding which men's dress watch or women's timepiece to choose. 


Materials can cause quite a debate in the horology industry; initially, only gold was fit for formality. These days, silver and even rose gold has joined the ranks of elegant slim wristwear; whichever metal finish you decide on, make sure your timepiece isn’t flashy and large; allow your wristwear to remain subtle.

Regarding the finest materials on the market, shopping for a Swiss-made watch never disappoints. 



Wristwear was initially crafted to fit effortlessly under suits, so we recommend against choosing a bulky watch face for a formal look. Instead, opt for a slim and streamlined timepiece; an ideal case thickness is around 15mm, while the diameter should remain within 33mm and 41mm bounds. 

A perfect example of a man’s slimline watch is from Emporio Armani, whose classic crocodile leather and sophisticated three-hand timekeeping are perfect for slipping under crisp white cuffs.

For ladies, Burberry has beautiful, elegant bracelets with minimal decor to compliment but not overpower your outfit.    

Bracelet Choice

A leather strap is essential for keeping vintage style alive and well. Ooze sophistication with a crocodile leather strap in sophisticated black or classic brown. 

Tissot possesses some outstanding leather timepieces for men with rose gold casings and simple numerical designs; these watches are the perfect suit watch. 

For women, Nordgreen has some stunning minimalist options in line with the classic Danish style. These timepieces are beautiful yet understated. 

Minimal Design 

In 2016, logomania took the fashion industry by storm, a trend still apparent in 2022’s The Fendi by Versace pre-fall show. However, forget logos and maximalist style for your accessories; minimalism is key for an authentic dress watch. 

There should be no room for excess and exuberance; a timeless watch will tell its story through classic cut precision. Think metal-only casing and no gaudy embellishments while avoiding bulky straps and mechanisms. 

Instead, look for Roman numerals, sword-shaped arms and neutral colours such as white, cream or black. If you need to add colour, a dash of navy can set you apart from the crowd while maintaining an understated elegance. 

While some may argue that these designs are a little boring, a watch with no distractions allows you to show off exquisite craftsmanship and high-end functionality. 

Choose wristwear that fits you.

When choosing a timepiece, consider what factors you need from your wristwear. 

How do you feel when you wear it? Do you want it to blend with your casual clothing, or will it be strictly for formal wear? If you want a piece that can carry you through all occasions, it could be worth indulging in something more luxurious to ensure it still looks sophisticated with your suits. 

Your dress watch deserves to be looked after and treasured for years; head to our blog post for tips on keeping your timepiece clean and functioning for a lifetime. 

Watches and Crystals are committed to providing the best designer watches in the world at affordable prices. So shop our range today and contact us with any questions.

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We offer free battery replacement for the lifetime of your watch. *Excludes Mazzucato and delivery fees.

Free bracelet adjustment*

To ensure the perfect fit, we can remove links to ensure utmost comfort. *Excludes re-delivery costs

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