It’s impossible to know when “The Itch” is going to hit you hardest, but the odds are pretty good that as a man you’re going to one day wake up with an almost impossible to ignore desire to own a proper watch.
We are talking about a dress watch, about as far away from a Casio G Shock as you can get – the kind of dress watch that tells the world that you have arrived, your finances are in order, you are someone to be taken seriously, and that you take time seriously enough to invest in the keeping of and tracking of each passing moment.
Almost every man is going to go through this same desire, and every man is going to approach resolving this problem in the same kind of way.
They are going to look for a watch that really defines them, they are going to look for a watch that projects the kind of image that they want to project, and they are going to find themselves almost completely overwhelmed throughout the process.
Simply because there are so many watches to pick and choose from!
Thankfully though, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you navigate the world of top end (but still affordable) timepieces. By the time you’re done reading all of this you’ll be able to get your hands on a quality dress watch that you can be proud, the start of a possible collection and hobby that may consume you for the rest of your days.
Shall we jump right in?
It’s all about understanding the major movements
Though we would love to tell you that all you have to do to get your hands on the right timepiece is simply by something – anything – from a brand like Breitling, Rolex, or Omega (or some other top of Olympus brand), the truth is a lot more complex than that.
But to get you started down the path of finding the best watch for your money you’re going to first want to ignore all of the brand names and fancy designs out there and instead focus on the “guts” of a watch, the “movement”.
The actual components that come together to tell time and to track time on a watch are called “movements”, and there are two major types of movements that you were going to come across.
On the one hand, you have mechanical movements, the kind of movements that you’ll find in all of the greatest watch companies throughout history. Serious watch collectors won’t even full around with the second movement that we will describe in just a moment, just because of the intricacy and flat-out watchmaking skill necessary for producing mechanical movements.
These are some of the most accurate and drop dead gorgeous movements, but like a lot of watch collectors say – the least important thing a watch does is tell the time. A lot of people purchase mechanical movement watches simply because they are jaw-dropping the beautiful and a pinnacle of watchmaking engineering.
On the other hand, you have the “automatic” movements. Automatic movements can most famously be found on the face of Rolex watches (an automatic movement produces the sweeping secondhand while quartz-based movements tick-tock along the dial), and they are known to be in credibly accurate.
Automatic movements are less maintenance (they “recharge” simply by staying on your wrist), but if you are going to be keeping them in a box and off of your wrist for extended amounts of time you’ll want to purchase self-winding storage cases so that the automatic movements never runs down.
Understanding the different design styles of dress watches on the market today
You’re also going to want to think about the kind of design and aesthetic that your new dress watch shows off before you pull the trigger on a purchase.
There are lot of distinct styles out there, ranging from somewhat simple and straightforward timepieces to incredibly ornate and “in your face” timepieces – with everything in between. Choosing the right style for your new dress watches going to come down to your taste and your personality, but hopefully we’ll be able to help point you in the right direction.
Maybe the most popular of all the dress watches out there, almost all modern dress watches pull from the “original” dive watch – the 1953 Rolex Submariner. It was the first watch to promise accurate results even after being submerged in up to 100 m of water, and its overall aesthetic has been cloned and copied by almost every major manufacturer on the market.
These watches are rugged, masculine, and utilitarian – the perfect addition to a clean and classic suit.
“Traditional” dress watches
These watches are probably the most jewelry like of all the different men’s watches you’ll have the opportunity to shop for, and are usually pretty minimalist with some very distinct design features.
Almost all of them have a very simple and uncluttered face, usually take advantage of Roman numerals, and are almost always mated to a leather strap (though sometimes crocodile is swapped out). These watches are usually incredibly slim, made out of precious metals and materials, and rarely do anything but tell the time and look fantastic.
The diving below the surface of the ocean isn’t for you but soaring up in the clouds is, you may want to look for an aviator watch to really elevate your formal wear.
Some of the best aviator watches on the planet (especially those designed by Breitling) harken back to the early days of aviation when pilots needed to rely on their watches to determine pretty much everything that led to them being able to navigate their planes in the first place.
Similar to dive watches in form and style, they are usually a little bit larger than traditional dive watches and usually have more cluttered faces.
The final point of the “Holy Trinity” as far as masculine activities are concerned (right up there with diving and flying), driving watches are incredibly masculine, are incredibly “chunky” and usually have some of the most impressive timekeeping mechanisms as far as accuracy is concerned.
Many of the best driving watches (like the Omega Speedmaster) include a tachymeter right on the bezel, allowing the individual wearing the watch to measure speed accurately as well. These watches really reflect automotive history, are super popular in the motorcycle world, and look fantastic in a boardroom setting as well.
All things considered, you really shouldn’t have too terribly much trouble finding the best dress watch for the money when you take advantage of the inside information we’ve been able to share above.
You now understand the most important things to break down during the research process, and thanks in large part to the power and reach of the web, you won’t have any trouble whatsoever finding great deals on the dress watch of your dreams.