The best men’s dress watches for business functions, black tie events and more
Besides suiting your taste and personality, a timepiece should also suit the occasion. Depending on the context, these eight tickers should do the trick nicely.
These days you could strap on a chunky sports watch with a tuxedo and still get away with looking rebel-chic, but there are just some occasions that require the refinement and dignity of a dressier timepiece. Conventional thinking often dictates these watches should be slim, keep additional functions to a minimum and generally not aim to overpower your outfit, but where’s the fun in that? Balance is key, as the year’s classiest novelties show.
BEST FOR BUSINESS FUNCTIONS: H. MOSER VENTURER CONCEPT BLUE LAGOON
H. Moser has been known to release some bizarre, tongue-in-cheek watches (this year it was the Nature Watch, adorned with real plants), but the brand’s true strength stems from pure and minimal designs. Which is why the Venturer Concept Blue Lagoon is what you’ll want when you’re heading into the boardroom.
The Concept line is defined by having very little on the dial – just the hour and minute hands in this case – but beautiful fume dials keep it from looking plain. It’s a smart, no-fuss watch, which is the attitude you want to see in a board meeting, and has the added benefit of not being so recognisable that your co-workers wonder how many zeroes are in your package instead of focusing on the task at hand. So yes, that means leaving your Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 at home.
BEST FOR BLACK TIE EVENTS: A. LANGE & SOHNE RICHARD LANGE JUMPING SECONDS
The trick to pulling off modern black tie is in sticking to the traditional rules that matter (keep most things black and restrained) while playing with the details (coloured cummerbunds, anyone?). This absolutely applies to your accessories as well, which is why we’ve chosen A. Lange & Sohne’s Richard Lange Jumping Seconds.
The regulator style dial is steeped in history and deliciously uncommon, but the third iteration of this watch brings it into the 21st century with a black dial and just the tiniest hint of red. The calibre L094.1, which combines the jumping seconds function with a constant-force remontoir d’egalite and zero-reset mechanism, is cased in white gold, so get the right cufflinks to match.
BEST FOR WHITE TIE EVENTS: BOVET TOURBILLON AMADEO FLEURIER VIRTUOSO IX
The white tie dress code sits at the pinnacle of menswear formality and thus allows few deviations. A white shirt, white tie (obviously) and evening tailcoat are a must, but the jury’s still out on whether a wristwatch is acceptable. If you or your host are particularly finicky about 18th century dress codes, go with a pocket watch.
Bovet unveiled the stunning Tourbillon Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso IX at its inaugural SIHH this year and its signature convertible system allows the reversible wristwatch to turn into a pocket watch (as well as a pendant watch or table clock). It also packs a lavish set of complications: Double-facing flying tourbillon, dual time zone, outsized date and a 10-day power reserve.
BEST FOR WEARING ON HOLIDAY: BLANCPAIN VILLERET GMT DATE
It’s understandable that a function as useful and travel-friendly as a GMT tends to be found in sports watches that are brawny enough to take the traveller anywhere. But travel watches can be dressy too, as Blancpain proves with the addition of a GMT to its highly classic Villeret collection.
The Villeret GMT Date features a 24-hour scale that works with a red-tipped GMT hand, and an unobtrusive date window at 3 o’clock. The red gold model comes with an opaline dial while the stainless steel one has a white dial, but the designs and colour schemes are wonderfully graceful either way. Both models are available with an alligator or matching miolle mailles metal bracelet.
BEST FOR AN OFF-DUTY (BUT STILL CLASSY) LOOK: JAEGER-LECOULTRE REVERSO TRIBUTE DUOFACE FAGLIANO
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Duoface makes an excellent traveller’s watch, it’s true, but the fact that it allows two looks in one snazzy Art Deco package should also make it a solid contender for a weekend ticker.
This year’s Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano Limited brings rose gold, blue and silver together with leather straps from renowned polo boot-maker Casa Fagliano. The main dial is a trendy blue with sun ray-brushed finish and small seconds sub dial, while its second face holds more old-fashioned appeal with its Clous de Paris guilloche and inverted figure-eight sections. The verso side also has an additional day/night indicator. Limited to 100 pieces.
BEST FOR STARTING CONVERSATIONS: MB&F HM6 FINAL EDITION
There isn’t a single MB&F creation out there that won’t raise questions and eyebrows but some may argue the HM6, also known as the Space Pirate, might be the zaniest. In addition to its unusual but ingenious design, you can also talk about how the HM6 Final Edition will be the last of its kind to come from Maximilian Busser and his pals.
Inspired by a spaceship from the 1970s cartoon Captain Future, the horological machine tells time through two spheres on the bottom. The middle dome shows off the one-minute flying tourbillon, which can be hidden under a “shield” of six blades that can be opened and closed via the left crown. The top two domes house the turbines that help regulate the winding efficiency of the rotor. What distinguishes the Final Edition from its predecessors is its grooved, stainless steel case. Only eight pieces have been made.
BEST FOR ATTENDING FUNDRAISERS: CARTIER SANTOS CHRONOGRAPH
Charity events are a wardrobe wildcard since the activity will determine the attire. But whether you’re donating blood, running for a cause or sponsoring a table at a gala dinner in Versailles, you want to look good doing it.
Cartier’s Santos Chronograph will is ideal for this because of its staggering versatility. Its design, despite being updated last year, remains iconic and tasteful; its QuickSwitch system allows the wearer to switch between bracelets, rubber and leather straps with ease, and the fact that it has a well-thought out chronograph movement that places the start/stop pusher on the left side of the case for pleasing symmetry doesn’t hurt, either.
BEST FOR WEARING TO A PARTY: BVLGARI OCTO ROMA GRANDE SONNERIE PERPETUAL CALENDAR DIAMONDS
Bulgari unveiled its most complicated watch, the Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar, earlier this year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Gerald Genta’s first grande sonnerie, making this a suitably over-the-top timepiece for a real blowout if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a piece unique.
Thankfully, an even more dazzling reference has been announced recently and Bulgari plans to roll out eight of them. The Bulgari Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar Diamonds is exactly what its name promises – the exact same watch, but now with 6.57 carats worth of diamonds. With 1,180 movement parts contributing to the grande and petite sonnerie, minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon phase, and power reserve indicators, this is a watch that begs to be seen and heard.