Every man looks good in a suit, yet every man looks best in a suit and a good watch. And while there are set parameters for dive, aviation, or worldtimer watches, the dress watch stands in a league of its own, without a definition so clearly pronounced. It’s the black-tie of timepieces, the James Bond (at dinner, not on a mission), Jay Gatsby, or Crazy Rich Asian’s Nick Young of watches. Simple and sophisticated, dress watches are a symbol of understated elegance. After all, you wouldn’t wear a dive watch with a tuxedo. You’re not an animal.

Yet though subtle, the dress watch is not to be undermined. It needs to be thin enough to fit under a shirt sleeve cuff and simple enough so as to not steal attention from the dinner jacket and leather shoes with which it is paired. Most commonly, dress watches bear a leather band, an unornamented dial, and traditionally, a black or white face. It’s a mature watch that makes a statement on the wrist that does not scream too loudly, but rather, speaks eloquently, much like its wearer at the gala dinner he is attending.

From a few selected classics to some delicate reimaginations, we’ve put together a list of 8 timeless dress watches for the modern dapper gentleman. Whilst you may never swim 500 metres under the sea with your dive watch, or cruise at high altitudes with an aviation watch in your jet – think about it: you’ll always have parties and dinners to attend. Here’s what you should wear to them.

Featured and hero image credit: IWC Schaffhausen