Don’t kid yourself desk diver: Why you should wear dress watches more Don’t kid yourself desk diver: Why you should wear dress watches more

Don’t kid yourself desk diver: Why you should wear dress watches more

Jared Belson

In many ways, dress watches have become an overlooked genre in the watch world. While manufactures haven’t forgotten them, we certainly don’t see the same hype surrounding the latest Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso release as we do for, say, a new Rolex sports watch. While that’s not to knock Rolex by any means (I’m guilty of owning a Milgauss), it strikes me as odd that we don’t pay dress watches much attention. That’s why I’m going to make the case for the dress watch to be an everyday watch, a valuable member of any collection, and not just a passing amusement on the horological merry-go-round.

Adventurers of the Modern Office

Let’s not kid ourselves: the vast majority of tool watches are seldom worn for their genuine purpose. The scores of people who wear dive watches likely don’t even wear them in the pool, let alone exploring a shipwreck – we’re more often then not desk divers rather than divers of the deep. Omega Speedmaster owners are not typically astronauts: they’re more likely to time an espresso than a controlled burn of rocket fuel. Large and bulky in stature, these watches stand out as statements. They let us play pretend, imaginary lives where we venture out into the world as explorers and more interesting versions of ourselves.

While we’ve come to accept tool watches as a standard in society, in the not-too-distant past dress watches were the choice du jour. In reality, the farthest many of us venture is to the new coffee house down the street, or maybe to a nice restaurant. For these endeavors, even 30 metres of water resistance is unnecessary, let alone 300. Presently, dress watches have been stigmatised as “special occasion” watches; ones we take out just a few times a year for a wedding or formal event. However, these watches often fit our lifestyles far better than we care to admit. While the words “dress watch” conjures images of crocodile leather straps and formalwear, it’s fairly simple to dress them down. With a change to a more casual leather strap like a shell cordovan or simple calfskin, what was formerly a solemn dress watch can become a welcome compliment to a casual outfit. If we as enthusiasts are now comfortable wearing tool watches at weddings, why not a dress watch with a t-shirt?

The Importance of Horological Tradition

dress watches

Contrary to their bolder sports brethren, dress watches aren’t meant to draw attention: smaller proportions, thin cases, and muted colors are typical. Precious metals are often used to provide a bit of visual intrigue, but the key is for the wearer themselves to feel special. These watches aren’t about shouting their intentions so much as speak softly and fade to the background. And yet, this category is where watch makers often showcase their most impressive feats of engineering. Rarely (if ever) do we hear of the ultra-thin dive watch, or the monopusher rattrapante with a ceramic bezel. On the other hand, the thinnest movements ever created were made for dress watches. There are incredibly complex dials made via engine turning or enamelling, or unique complications like perpetual calendars, retrograde seconds, and jump hours. They’re often steeped in tradition: manufacturing techniques, design language, and the like. These watches are where classic design and timeless sensibility meets horological ingenuity. And they do so with grace.

Enjoyment for Any Occasion

dress watches

While I know the famous Patek Philippe tagline is that you’re looking after a watch for the next generation, I like to remind current owners that they should enjoy them too. People often forget that watches are meant to be worn and manufacturers engineer them as such. If I’ve learned nothing else from this pandemic, it’s that life is too short not to savour it. Break out that bottle of champagne: no need to save it. Eat that special meal, take your dream trip, but most importantly, wear your dress watches with pride. Why not take every opportunity to enjoy that special watch in your collection? Not to mention, in doing so you’ll also achieve an exceedingly difficult thing to do in the watch world: you’ll stand out from the crowd.