15 BEST Dress Watches Under $2,000 (Most Value for Money!)
Everyone should have at least one dedicated dress watch. While attitudes about what is appropriate in formal settings may change, you can never go wrong with the classic style of a dress watch. Just as it’s become acceptable to “dress up” a diver or other tool watches in a more formal situation, a dress watch can also be worn in a casual setting.
Put on a beautiful Cartier Tank with jeans and a T-shirt, and you’ll blend right in next to someone sporting a rugged G-Shock. Dress watches don’t have to fit into the narrow box they once did, making it that much more fun and exciting to wear one.
What is a Dress Watch?
As was alluded to above, the strict expectation of when and where you should use a dress watch has evolved over time. However, some of us traditionalists prefer the understated class of a traditional dress watch. By definition, a dress watch should typically have a smaller footprint on your wrist.
Most dress watches will have a diameter of 40 mm or less, although that’s not a hard rule. A dress watch also typically comes on a leather strap rather than a steel one, adding to the more formal aesthetic. When they do include a steel bracelet, it’s usually more adorned than that of a standard steel sports bracelet.
As for the dial of a dress watch, unlike most things these days, less is more. A dress watch dial should be clean and simple, without too much going on. They can have stick indices, Arabic, or roman numerals. The only type of indices typically not found on a dress watch is circular dive style indices, as they have a sportier look.
Another hallmark of a proper dress watch is that the case should be thin enough to slide comfortably under the cuff of a dress shirt. Beyond those basic rules, pretty much anything goes. Formality doesn’t have to be to the detriment of variety, nor does price. Review the following list of dress watches and see if one of them doesn’t just tickle your fancy.
Best Dress Watches Under $2000
Tuxedo dial watches were a popular men’s style in the past, utilizing art deco design to create dials that had dimension and fun. This heritage model from Longines has all of the design elements of a classic tuxedo dial watch but with the convenience of modern materials and mechanics.
It has a classic 38.5 mm diameter, perfect for any formal occasion, and a small sub-second dial, giving the watch a cool vintage feel. With a sapphire crystal, luminous hands, Arabic numerals, 30 meters of water resistance, a supple black calfskin leather strap, and a Swiss automatic movement, this watch is pure class. With this beautiful piece, you’ll be the best-dressed man on the dancefloor at any event.
Baume et Mercier is one of the best value-for-money Swiss watches you’ll find anywhere, and their dress watches are designed with men in mind. Their Classima Quartz model is a modern take on the classic dress watch.
While most standard dress watches measure 40mm or less in diameter, this model is slightly more bulked up for those who may not have wrists that accommodate smaller options. At 42mm, it’s not too big or too small. It also has a beautifully lined satin violet dial, rhodium-plated Arabic numerals, a solid case back, sapphire crystal, and interchangeable alligator leather and fabric straps. This one is a modern dress watch for a modern man.
Tudor is known for their steel sports beauties, but don’t count them out of the dress watch race just yet. Their vintage-inspired 1926 line brings a whole lot of cache to the dress watch game. With a classic size of 36mm, the 1926 has a beautifully textured dial (this one with diamond indices), a bulletproof ETA 2824 Swiss automatic movement, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, 100 meters of water resistance, and a solid Rolex-style case back. Add to that the gorgeous sparkling stainless steel bracelet, and you’ve got one for the record books.
The Seiko Presage line offers the most expensive-looking watch for the most reasonable price on this list. The concept behind the Presage line is a watch that is a step up from Seiko’s standard sports watches but is more affordable than Grand Seiko. The winner in this situation is all of us, as you can see with this beautiful watch.
The Presage SRPB77 has the impressive dial we’ve come to expect from the line, with a light-pressed pattern and gloss finish, a Hardlex boxed crystal, a see-through case back, Seiko automatic movement, and a classic diameter of 40.5 mm. This beautiful dress watch has everything you could ever want and more.
You may be surprised to see another Longines on this list, but to be honest, it’s hard not to have a lot more from the classic brand on this list. They have some of the most beautiful standard dress watches of any major brand, and their Master Collection fits that bill to a tee.
This model includes a cream-colored waffle-textured dial, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, stunning blue hands, a six o’clock date window, and a supple brown leather watch strap with a tang buckle.
It also has an ETA-based automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve, 30 meters of water resistance, an exhibition case back, and a classic size of 38.5 mm. This definitely ain’t your grandfather’s Longines.
Frederique Constant has made a name for itself by providing high-quality Swiss-made watches at a reasonable price. This Classics model shows why they seem to be more popular with every passing year. It has all the hallmarks of a vintage dress watch but with nods to modern design.
The 40mm diameter and clean dial surface offer this standard dress watch a great jumping-off point. The polished stainless steel case, sapphire crystal, Swiss automatic movement, stick indices, a three o’clock date function, and bright blue seconds hand make this one as fun as it is classy.
Nomos is a German watchmaker that takes the idea of Bauhaus design to another level. Their Tangente 101 model is the epitome of German dress watch design. With the clean dial, stick hands, modern Arabic text, and crisp sub-seconds dial, there’s nothing in the way of telling the time here.
Nomos watches have a way of being traditional and somehow completely new at the same time. This one has a diameter of 35mm, making it a great unisex model for sharing with your partner. The Nomos alpha caliber is a manual wind movement that doesn’t disappoint, with 43 hours of power reserve. Das ist gut!
Rado makes some of the most fun and interesting watches in the middle price range of any Swiss brand. While their dive watches seem to get much of the glory, their dress line is no slouch. Enter the Rado Men’s Swiss Automatic.
This piece has an almost perfect size of 38mm, a beautiful rose gold-tone PVD case and indices, a champagne-colored pressed dial, and a brown leather strap with a deployment clasp. It also has 50 meters of water resistance, so you can feel safe if you spill a little bubbly on it.
Montblanc is a brand that’s all about luxury, and this watch fits right into that mold. The clean white dial and simple roman numerals are pure class, and the jubilee-style bracelet adds just enough sparkle to this beautiful dress watch.
It has a case diameter of 40mm, a pleasing thinness of just 8.5 mm, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a three o’clock date window, and 30 meters of water resistance. This watch is one of the most classic and classy options available, so don’t miss your chance to get one.
Hamilton’s Intra-Matic line is all about beauty and utility. Those who like the monochromatic look but may not favor the boldness of a traditional tuxedo dial should give this model a second look. It has a simple black and beige dial design with standard baton indices and sword hands.
However, it also includes a minute track around the outside of the dial that offers just a little added dimension to this simple dress watch. As the name would suggest, it has an automatic movement. In addition, it also includes a screw-down crown, 50 meters of water resistance, a beautiful black leather strap, and a sapphire crystal. It’s the perfect date for the ball!
Tissot is one of those brands that offer expensive looks for a reasonable price, especially when it comes to dress watches. The Le Locle is a watch that can fit in with those five times its price and more.
The lovely textured dial with roman numerals is reminiscent of classic luxury watches of the 1950s but with a much more modern ETA-based automatic movement under the hood. It also includes a diameter of 39mm, a sapphire crystal, 30 meters of water resistance, a quick-release cowhide strap, and a shocking 80-hour power reserve. You will Le Love Le Locle.
Junghans is another German brand that prides itself on classic design and attention to detail. This gorgeous deep-blue dress watch makes a serious splash without actually trying all that hard. At 37.7 millimeters, it strikes the perfect balance between diminutive and substantial.
The balanced sub-seconds and simple stick indices show great design restraint and make the dial interesting enough not to be dull. The movement is hand-wound, and the crystal is convex plexiglass with a SICRALAN coating.
Few styles evoke watches of a bygone era like the sector dial. This gorgeous Longines heritage model looks like it stepped right out of the golden age of Hollywood. The bright silver dial and small seconds give the watch that classic look that’s not always easy to achieve.
It also comes with a free NATO strap for dressing the watch down a bit, as well as an automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve, a sapphire crystal, 30 meters of water resistance, and a case size of 38.5 mm. This watch is punching far above its weight class, so don’t miss your opportunity to get one.
The Tissot Visodate Automatic has a substantial footprint at 42mm, but not one that’s overpowering. It also has a day date function, which is not always easy to find, especially in a dress watch.
It includes an 80-hour power reserve, a display case back with decorated movement, and a domed scratch-resistant sapphire case back. The vintage logo styling is one of the most fun elements of this great little dress watch. The affordable price is just the icing on the cake!
Zodiak offers what may be the most interesting-looking dress watch on the entire list. The Olympos Automatic comes with Zodiac’s vintage-styled manta ray case, originally used by the storied Swiss brand back in 1961. It has a diameter of 37.5 mm, but the interesting case shape makes this model anything but a shrinking violet.
It has 50 meters of water resistance, a leather strap with a tang buckle, a domed sapphire crystal, a black dial with silver-toned applied indices, and a Swiss-made STP 3-13 automatic movement. There is a lot of fish in the sea, but this may be one of the best.
Should You Buy a Dress Watch?
Whether or not to purchase a dress watch is a personal decision. However, as stated above, dress watches aren’t exclusively for use during formal events as they once were. There are few days that the average man wouldn’t be able to wear a dress watch in a casual situation, so fret not if you’re not invited to a black tie dinner every week.
Buying any watch is ultimately about your own personal style, likes, and dislikes. As such, you can make up the rules as you wish. Don’t limit yourself to any one kind of watch in any particular situation. Feel free to strap on the dressiest watch you want and take your dog for a walk. It’s your prerogative to wear what you want, when and how you want. We’re sure you’ve found a few options that suit your thirst for a new dress watch above. So drink up!