9 of the best minimalist watches

9 of the best minimalist watches

Buffy Acacia

Sometimes, less is more. Minimalistic design language covers a number of visual elements, at times translating to having fewer of those elements, but often it can just be a simplistic representation of a unique concept. It’s a fantastic style to apply to watches, because it can incorporate the use of simple colour palettes, basic shapes and textures to give a clean and subtle aesthetic, rich in functional simplicity. Whether you’re a conceptual architect, a connoisseur of the Bauhaus movement, or just prefer a more modest appearance with your watch, there’s a minimalistic watch for you.

Swatch Skin Classic Caricia Negra


In terms of Swiss watches, you can’t really get more accessible than Swatch. The brand with the plastic cases pretty much saved the entire Swiss watch industry, and its products are still adored for their design inventiveness and lightheartedness. The Caricia Negra isn’t just another black watch though, because it’s in an ultra-thin, Bioceramic case measuring just 4.3mm in height. The result is a surprisingly elegant wearing experience, backed up by a total lack of markers on the blacked-out dial with a small dish to contain the stark, white hands. The 34mm diameter is gender-neutral, and all Swatch watches get free battery changes at Swatch stores. Price: US$135

Braun BN0211 Classic

Braun’s design applications are legendary. The company is known as the first to introduce “good design” to the mass market, producing kitchen appliances, electric shavers, and radios to name a few. A minimalist design classic, the German-made Braun BN0211 has simplicity in abundance. The proportions are understated, with a 38mm diameter and 6.6mm thick stainless steel case linked to a fine mesh bracelet. The black dial is perfectly balanced and uncluttered, featuring a simple minute track and three-hand setup, connected to a simple, no nonsense quartz movement. Even the hands are simple, thin rectangles, free of complication. Price: £200

Junghans Max Bill Automatic

Junghans is one of the pioneers in German watchmaking, and part of this journey was the iconic Bauhaus-inspired Max Bill collection. Max Bill was a Swiss artist, product designer, architect, and student at the famous Bauhaus art school, and was commissioned by Junghans to design a wristwatch. The result was a minimalistic and functional timepiece, which Junghans has now formed a whole collection around. The Max Bill Automatic is a slim 38mm stainless steel watch with a classic domed crystal covering a white dial, with the thinnest indices you’ll ever find. Its caseback features Max Bill’s signature, and the watch is finished with a simple black calfskin strap. Its uncluttered details were described by Max Bill as “logical”, and this sums the watch up perfectly. There’s nothing unnecessary, it simply tells the time in the most functional way possible. Price: €1,375

Rado DiaStar Original 60th Anniversary Edition

Rado DiaStar Original 60 Year Anniversary

The best thing about stripping back details is that it allows for experimentation in other areas, and that’s exactly what the Rado DiaStar Original 60th Anniversary Edition does best. With a healthy amount of inspiration from the original watch, the cushion case capped with scratch-resistant Ceramos flows easily into its Milanese mesh bracelet. Above a brushed silver dial sits the hexagonally faceted sapphire crystal, creating subtle layers of distortion and shadow. There’s a small date display at 6 o’clock and a slot above it for the weekdays, but instead of words the slot merely fills up as the week progresses, keeping the minimal effect going. Price: US$2,050

Cartier Tank Must

Tank Must de Cartier Black

For all of Cartier’s extravagance as a brand, sometimes it’s best results come from reining it in. With a focus on colour, the Cartier Tank Must in green, red, blue or black are all elevated to an artistic realm beyond dress watch traditions. The case architecture is borrowed from the Tank Louis Cartier, offering a more affordable taste of perhaps the most iconic rectangular watch of all time. Paired with a quartz movement, the simplicity of its design extends to its utility and reliability. The “large” model wears beautifully at 33.7mm long, 25.5mm wide, and just 6.6mm thick, and the colour-matched alligator straps allow the perfect balance between decadence and minimalism. Price: US$3,450

Grand Seiko SBGW301

grand seiko elegance sbgw301 wrist

With a delectable eggshell dial and a stainless steel case which could easily have time-travelled from 1958, the Grand Seiko SBGW301 proves that the Japanese brand doesn’t need to rely on flashy dial textures to reel us in. Sharp dauphine hands and cleanly-faceted applied indices are all it needs to be captivating, and its 37.3mm case is spot-on for vintage accuracy. The gothic-style GS logo is about as loud as the dial dares to get, before you turn the watch over and get to see the beautiful calibre 9S64. It’s hand-wound with a 72-hour power reserve and an average daily rate of -3/+5 seconds per day. Price: US$4,800

Ressence Type 8

ressence type 8

Just because a watch is minimalist doesn’t mean it can’t be complicated. Ressence is a unique brand that takes watchmaking out of the confines of a simple three-handed mechanism, and uses a completely different method to display the time. For the Type 8, it uses a large central dial, so big it covers most of the front of the watch, and a highly modified ETA movement to rotate an off-centre disc which displays the hours, and a wider central disc that moves eccentrically to display the minutes. Available in Cobalt Blue and Sage Green, the movement is housed in a large, 42.9mm, grade 5 titanium case, which is almost completely circular, with hidden lugs and even missing a crown, giving in to the unique winding system which uses the caseback. Ressence’s uniqueness and charm has earned it growing interest in the watch world, with the Type 8 being the least complicated in the brand’s line up, and despite being considered the entry level piece, is certainly one of the most stylish. Price: CHF 13,500

Nomos Lambda 39

Nomos Lambda 39 Gold

Nomos’ Club collection gets a lot of praise as an option for gifting or celebration, but the Lambda in 18k gold doesn’t get nearly enough attention. This is the brand’s true representation of high Glashütte watchmaking, but packaged within its modest Bauhaus design philosophy. The needle-thin baton hands are blued in stark contrast to the clean white dial, itself nearly bare but for thin, elegant printing. A large power reserve at 12 o’clock holds presence without visual weight, as the small seconds and other markers take up as little space as possible. Turning the watch over reveals the in-house calibre DUW 1001 with its radial three-quarter plate as Glashütte tradition dictates, plus a hand-engraved balance cock and an 84-hour power reserve. Price: US$17,000

Laurent Ferrier Classic Micro-Rotor Gold-Toned

laurent ferrier classic micro rotor gold toned

Geneva-based independent Laurent Ferrier has produced some of the finest contemporary dress watches, calling back to historic design cues, but also introducing modern elements and twists of minimalistic elegance. The Classic Micro-Rotor is one such piece, capturing classic lines and adapting them to their elegant, signature pebble style case. Sculpted from stainless steel, the 40mm case wraps around a stunning sunburst gold dial, with Assegai hands and finely applied 3, 12 and 9 indicators. Besides those, the dial is clean and uncluttered, aside from a simple sub-seconds dial. The watch is powered by the stunningly finished calibre FBN229.01, visible via the huge sapphire caseback, and is one of the most tantalising movements on display from a lot of watches in this class, especially with that micro rotor. Price: CHF 55,000