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What is a Dress Watch, and How Should I Wear It?

Posted by Nicholas Crusie on

What is a Dress Watch, and How Should I Wear It?

After World War I solidified the bonafide masculinity of wristwatches, watch designers began creating wristwatches for all occasions. A new world of high-society watchmaking was introduced, and the dress watch entered the world as a fashion statement and show of status.

Investing in a dress watch is like coming to an age of maturity for a watch collector. Purchasing your first dress watch propels you into the elegance and sartorial splendor of manhood like no other watch purchase could. Why? Because a dress watch will be the one watch you wear to your milestone achievements and distinguished occasions of life. 

So, let’s talk about what a dress watch is and some pointers about wearing one. 

What Makes a Watch a Dress Watch?

A dress watch melds style and etiquette. Much like choosing the right fork for the right course at a formal meal, choosing the right watch for these occasions is paramount to abstaining from offense while paling about with the aristocracy. 

Here’s a checklist for the must-haves of a dress watch:

  • Typically made of precious or semiprecious metals such as gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum.
  • Modern dress watches can be made of titanium or stainless steel.
  • The face can be inlaid with subtle pearlescents.
  • The watch hands are simple with subtle details.
  • Possible gemstone cabochon crown.
  • Worn on a slender leather band.
  • Designed with a slim profile.
  • The watch face is typically 40mm and smaller in diameter
  • Made for the gentility of very formal occasions.

Dress watches are not created to withstand the day to day wear of a man’s modern lifestyle. They are instead traditionally lightweight, of slim, delicate profile, and made with finer metals. Dress watches are crafted of elegant precision for the events in life where one should forget that time exists and be present for the pageantry and beau monde. Many dress watches do not include a second hand for this very reason.

When Would I Wear a Dress Watch?

  • Any occasion that requires formal wear
  • Your wedding, but the main thing is to choose the ones that are more suited to the bride's image, her wedding dress
  • Your best friend’s wedding
  • Winning an award
  • Your parents’ 50th anniversary
  • With a custom-tailored suit

How do Dress Watches Translate into the Modern World?

Just like most watches seeded in history, the dress watch has a prescribed past for which it was created and carries its own set of rules and etiquette. While etiquette still abounds, modern society has been able to pick and choose what is most important to the watch world and its collectors. Nevertheless, in some circles, the age-old rules do apply, but for the most part, a man can choose the rules of a dress watch that suit his life and style best. 

With a plethora of dress watch translations on the market, the watch’s etiquette is superseded by its style. Still call back to yonder days dress watches have moved beyond the slender, handsome, gilded, horizontal lines, and into a world of mixed polished metals and rounder cases that can fit with ease into the modern lifestyle and its occasions. 

The Jack Mason Canton Day-Date is a perfect example of a modern day dress watch with its slender style, 40mm yellow gold watch case, and dauphine angled hands. Thoroughly inspired by the classic dress watch, the Canton’s slender top-grain black leather strap exudes confidence and minimalistic elegance, pulling together the simplistic details of refinement into the modern world.

Based on delicate, elegant precision and craftsmanship over utilitarian wearability, the dress watch is designed to tell you the time in these formal settings without drawing too much attention to the watch itself and instead to the collective presentation of the man. 

Dress watches are not to be read quickly in dynamic, adventurous, or even day-to-day environments like a sport or military watch would. As a result, large, high contrast dials are no longer necessary and are replaced with understated with the subtle hint of eye-catching luster.

How to Wear a Dress Watch

The dress watch, being the most bespoke watch in any man’s collection, means that a tailored suit and Italian leather shoes are the most appropriate accessories when building an outfit around this watch.

In fact, a suit is tailored just so as to hide a dress watch when your arms are extended, perhaps a tiny bit of the crown is exposed to hint at something hiding beneath the sleeve. Then when your arm is bent at the elbow, your watch will effortlessly be on full display aiding in the act of telling the time or in simply showing off your timepiece.

This is not to say that your dress watch cannot be “dressed down” a little to be worn to less formal occasions when subtle luxury is still appreciated in the modern age. Swapping out your slender, understated leather band, for a quirky, more casual version like the Jack Mason Stitched Tan Leather Watch Strap that could take you from afternoon tea to tee time in no time.

Wearing a dress watch is as simple as dressing for the celebrations of your life. Preparing for each milestone should be effortless and almost weightless, your timepiece a steady reminder of your past accomplishments and joys. A dress watch is the timeless choice when it comes to making memories that will last a lifetime!





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