Despite a more casual and relaxed Google or Apple style approach to office wear spreading through the working world in the last decade and a half, there are still several companies that enforce a strict dress code for both men and women, even if they are remote working from home. Dress trousers and a short or long-sleeved professional style shirt are still required. Fabrics and colors should be of sober hue, jewelry should be minimal and office discreet.
The same applies to watches. While flaunting wealth on Wall Street may be encouraged, simple and unexaggerated watch choices are required for public facing roles where it could be judged an employee is taking home too much tax payer’s money if an expensive watch is clearly on view.
Believe it or not, the same principle used to apply to executives serving in several ad agencies. To avoid the client gaining the impression the agency was profiting wildly from their business, suits would be toned down, watches and jewelry kept to a minimum.
Both the Swiss and Japanese watch markets, if anything, over cater to the sober dress code style, so here is a selection of contemporary dress watches that will impress conservative management types thanks to their sober, unostentatious, discreet, classic, elegant and reasonably priced character. Leave the louder and flashier watch wear for the weekends.
The Presage collection was introduced to the international market by Seiko in 2016 and offers affordable but quietly stylish Japanese mechanical watchmaking. The SRPB series consists of simple three-hand watches with date. Seiko offer two variants that come with yellow and rose gold-plated cases. Case diameter is 40.5mm. The Seiko Presage SRPB series is priced between $425 and $495.
A quality dress watch from budget conscious Christopher Ward. The C1 Grand Malvern Power Reserve has at its heart a new automatic power reserve version of their in-house movement, Calibre SH21. With timeless, understated English design supported by Swiss technical excellence. The 40.5mm watch is said to be inspired by the tactile and dynamic lines of an Aston Martin DB9 and the Malvern landscape. From £1,695
A classic yet contemporary dress watch from TAG Heuer named after the famous Pan Americana road race of the 1950s. While you won’t be kicking up the dust on any South American roads with this watch, you will look reassuringly in control during a Powerpoint presentation. The watch is a sensible 39mm and runs on a caliber 5 movement with a 38 hour power reserve. The logo and polished and fine-brushed faceted indexes are all hand applied. Price: $1,975
A satisfied customer writes: ‘A simple, but very elegant watch. When worn, it would not draw attention as do some of the other watches in this price range. But, this is a luxury product and it is worth more than you spend.” And there you have it, according to the strict business dress code, a watch that does not attract attention.
Baume & Mercier’s 42mm Classima Executive automatic chronograph runs on a trusty Valjoux 7750 movement. The case is of polished stainless steel with a white dial, an understated line decor, date window and three sub dials, upholding the code of luxury. Complementing the design is the black alligator strap. UK price: £2,550
A watch that pays tribute to the pioneering spirt that has inspired Longines designers for generations, this handsome but classic Longines Flagship Heritage watch combines traditional style with a luxurious brown alligator strap with buckle. The watch is an old school 38.5mm and features a screw-down case back with a polished bezel. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal features anti-reflective coating on the underside, the silver dial features applied baton hour markers, a date window at 6 o’clock and elegant gilt hands. From $1,595.
More of that overused term, ‘classic elegance’, but this is what some firms want you to exude. Contained, sensible, unassuming classic elegance. Hamilton Jazzmaster comes in almost as many variations as there are jazz artists on Spotify. If you like our choice the reference number is H42725151. It’s a 44mm watch – which is as large as you can dare go with an unobtrusive watch – and it runs on an H-10 automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve. Price: $739
Frédérique Constant is one of the contemporary go to brands for classical and refined timepieces offering good value for money. It’s all about clean lines and a traditional appearance are the hallmarks of every watch within the Classics Collection. You can enjoy a world of clean and quiet watchmaking just with the Slimline collection alone, but if you long for something a little racier, and you think you can get away with it, there’s the Healey Automatic Chronograph, complete with a punched hole racing leather strap. This is a rose gold plated 42mm watch running on an FC-397 Automatic chronograph movement with a 46-hour power reserve. From $982