In 2022, “dressing up” is basically whatever you want it to be. Tux with a skirt? Go for it! Green velvet suit with a gingham shirt? By all means! Canadian Tuxedo as an actual tuxedo? Big mood! Because sure, why not? It all comes down to what you like and what you can get away with. Likewise, the best dress watches for men are an entire ecosystem unto themselves, ranging from Swiss masterpieces with glittering diamond-set bezels to understated modern designs with perfect office vibes. Better still, while there’s really no limit on how much you can spend on a special occasion watch, you can easily put something refined and dressy on your wrist for a couple of hundred bucks. Whether you’re dressing for a job interview or the Met Gala, all of the pieces below will get the job done in high style. After that, it’s just a matter of deciding what dressed up means to you.
As the dressiest watches in the dress watch hierarchy, this category is all about refinement and finesse. A black-tie watch should have a razor-thin case, a black leather strap, and a white or black dial. No chronographs, rotating dive bezels, or other adornments needed. Unless, of course, you’re planning on arriving by experimental watercraft, James Bond-style.
Office dress codes are all over the map, which means there’s no such thing as an all-purpose office watch. These, however, have just the right amount of gravitas to look swell with a suit and tie, and enough versatility to elevate your favorite chinos and chore jacket combo.
You can be dressy without being stuffy (just ask Thom Browne). Likewise, your dress watch can have a lot going on without overpowering the rest of your fit. These watches take the age-old codes of dressiness and infuse them with modern character, like Bauhaus-inspired hour markers and smokey, translucent dials.
There are a few good reasons why the Cartier Tank has remained one of the most popular watches in the world for more than a century—among them its minimalist rectangular case. In 2022, you still can’t go wrong with Tank, but it’s far from the only way to add a rectangular watch to your collection. Dressy as it is, you might be surprised how much you’ll wear it.
Unlike the bejeweled bust-downs from the likes of Jacob & Co. and Audemars Piguet, gem-set dress watches aren’t an attempt to add as many diamonds to a watch as possible. Instead, they tend to use fewer stones, placed for maximum impact. And unless you’ve got your own security detail, that’s probably for the best.
Traditionally, a watch dial that displays anything other than hours, minutes, and seconds (a chronograph, moon phase, or power reserve, say) is a no-no in the dress watch world. But where’s the fun in that? These watches deliver on classic looks in full, with a little extra functionality on the side.
The invitation may say “black-tie” but that doesn’t mean color isn’t on the table. Even if you’re not feeling a full pink velvet tux, there’s no reason you can’t liven things up with a pop of red, green or rosé on your wrist.