Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

Five Super-Stylish Dress Watches to Get You Through Gloomy Days

The timeless elegance of the dressy side of the watchmaking industry.

| By Robin Nooy | 6 min read |

Subtlety, refinement and elegance in watchmaking is an art form in itself. It’s very easy to overdo it and end up with a watch that is just a bit, well, off. Then again, delivering a discerning little twist to an otherwise super-refined watch can work absolutely wonderfully. Incorporating a certain dial colour, pattern, or even material can truly elevate a watch. And it doesn’t even have to cost a literal fortune, as this episode of our weekly Buying Guide starts below EUR 2,000. With that in mind, we’re taking a closer look at five dress(y) watches that are destined to become favourites among enthusiasts and collections. 

Vacheron Constantin TraditionNelle

As the oldest manufacture in continuous production, Vacheron Constantin has a long history of elegant dress watches. The aptly named Traditionnelle collection, for instance, is home to plenty of gorgeous examples, such as this rose gold and green one released during the Shanghai Edition of Watches & Wonders 2023. The dial has a silky texture with a sunburst finish, rose gold applied indices and Dauphine-shaped hands. It’s equipped with the manually wound calibre 4400 AS, which has a 65-hour running time and the Hallmark of Geneva certification. The finishing touch is the deep green alligator leather strap. The price is set at CHF 23,700, but this is exclusive to the Chinese market for one month only, unfortunately.

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Quick Facts – 38mm x 7.77mm – 18k rose gold case, polished – sapphire crystal front & back – 30m water-resistance – sunburst deep green dial – faceted & applied rose gold indices – rose gold Dauphine-shaped hands – railway-style minute track – calibre 4400 AS, in-house – manual winding – 28,800vph – 65h power reserve – Hallmark of Geneva certification – deep green alligator leather strap with 18k rose gold pin buckle – Chinese exclusive edition for one month only – CHF 23,700

Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Cartier and the dress watch go hand in hand, and the recent Tank Louis Cartier is a perfect example. Paying tribute to the 170th anniversary of the first Cartier watch, this special edition of the Tank Louis Cartier has a laser-engraved Art Deco design on its blue PVD-coloured dial. The effect is masterful, almost like a delicate marquetry dial. The case is made in platinum and houses the manually wound calibre 1917MC. The watch is fitted with a semi-matte blue alligator strap that complements the dial perfectly. It is limited to 170 pieces, exclusive to the European market and has a price of EUR 13,800.

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Quick Facts – 33.7mm x 25.5mm x 6.6mm – platinum case, polished & brushed – beaded crown with ruby cabochon – mineral crystal – solid platinum caseback – 30m water-resistance – Art Deco dial with laser-engraved texture – blue PVD coated – oversized Roman numerals – rhodium-plated sword-shaped hands – calibre 1917MC, in-house – manual winding – 21,600vph – 38h power reserve – semi-matter blue alligator strap with platinum pin buckle – limited to 170 pieces, Europe-only edition – EUR 13,800

H. Moser & Cie Endeavour centre seconds Vantablack

H. Moser & Cie is known for its original and stylish creativity, often with subtle and clever twists, such as not using a logo on the dial. One of the latest masterpieces is the rose gold Endeavour Centre Seconds with a Vantablack dial. The dial is constructed with a rose gold back plate that carries the indices, with an extremely delicate Vantablack top dial with cutouts so the indices come through. Time is indicated with leaf-shaped hands. The beautifully finished in-house HMC 200 movement is driven by an openworked rose gold rotor. It’s paired with a grey Kudu leather strap with a red gold pin buckle. The price is CHF 25,000 before taxes. There’s also a far more expensive Tourbillon alternative if you’re interested.

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Quick Facts – 40mm x 11.2mm – 18k red gold case, polished – sapphire crystal front & back – Vantablack dial with rose gold base (sandwich construction) – rose gold indices – rose gold leaf-shaped hands – calibre HMC 200, in-house – automatic winding – 21,600vph – 72h power reserve – grey kudu leather strap with 18k red gold pin buckle – ref. 1200-0411 – CHF 25,000 (incl. tax)

Seiko Presage craftsmanship series SPB407

While purists may state this is not a dress watch because of the date, the Seiko Presage Craftsmanship Series SPB407 is worthy of the exception to the ‘rule’. The handcrafted green Urushi lacquer dial has a unique silkiness to it, unlike anything else. Combined with the white bar-shaped applied indices and the gilt detailing on the outer minute track, the hands and the date window, it’s a very lovely and balanced style. It uses the Seiko calibre 6R55, which beats at a rate of 21,600vph and delivers 72 hours of running time. It comes on a brown leather strap with a folding buckle and is exclusively available at Seiko Boutiques for a price of EUR 1,800.

Seiko Presage Craftsmanship Series Urushi Lacquer Green SPB407

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Quick Facts – 40.2mm x 11.6mm – stainless steel case, brushed & polished – sapphire crystal, see-through caseback – 100m water-resistance – handcrafted green Urushi lacquer dial – bar-shaped applied indices – gilt hands, date outline and minute track – calibre 6R55, automatic – 21,600vph – 72h power reserve – brown leather strap with folding clasp – Seiko Boutique Exclusive edition – EUR 1,800

Longines Master Small Seconds

Last on the list, but certainly not least, is the Longines Master Small Seconds. This beauty of a watch was first presented last year to celebrate 190 years of watchmaking by Longines. For this year, two new editions join the inaugural non-limited stainless steel model from last year. With it, you have a choice between silver, salmon or anthracite dials, all finished with a dotted minute track, leaf-shaped hands, and a small seconds sub-dial. The real stars of the show, however, are the engraved Breguet-style numerals, adding a profound flair to the dials. Around the back, the Longines calibre L893.5 can be seen through the sapphire crystal. Worn on a grey leather strap with a folding clasp, all three retail for EUR 2,700.

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Quick Facts – 38.50mm x 10.20mm – stainless steel case, polished – sapphire crystal front & back – 30m water-resistant – salmon, anthracite or silver dial – engraved Breguet numerals – leaf-shaped hands – small seconds sub-dial with railroad track – dotted inner minute flange – calibre L893.5 (ETA A31.501 base), automatic – 25,200vph – 72h power reserve – silicon hairspring – dark grey leather strap with folding clasp – EUR 2,700

3 responses

  1. Different prices and all, but in my opinion the less accomplished design is also the one that has a date window at 3.

  2. Its insane that the top three come with a cheap pin buckle and not strap/deployant. Same with the superior JLC master moon, pin buckle in gold, deployant in steel.

  3. Well put sir not an accomplished design, the article though, nicely accomplished


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