The Essential Watch Wardrobe

by Carol Besler

Photography by: Robert Watson

You already know about Charvet shirts, you’ve gone to the trouble of finding the right shoes to go with a tux, and you know better than to wear a ski jacket with a suit or to tuck a man bag under your arm. But unless you have three different watches—or more specifically, at least one watch from each of three different categories—you cannot be said to have yet mastered the art of the wardrobe. Allow us to make a few suggestions to set you on the path to full sartorial enlightenment, or at least get you to dinner on time.

$500 to $1,500

Looks good with: jeans, leather jackets


Multi-function movements. In this category, most movements are quartz rather than mechanical, but that should not suggest any sort of technical compromise. Multi-function quartz movements are loaded with features, including world
timers, barometers, altimeters, compasses, and countdown functions, even solar-powered batteries.

Steel or titanium? Both are solid options. Steel is standard and non-
corrosive (preferable to a leather strap if you’re diving in salt water) but rubber works, too. Titanium, lighter and stronger than steel, is great for sports watches, but generally more expensive.


Gold plating, unless it’s used strictly for trim. You won’t get a solid 18k gold watch in this category, only electroplated gold. Plus, full gold plating can look fake. Solid plastic and ceramic are better alternatives
to steel.

$1,500 to $5,000

Looks good with: suits, ties, overcoats


Mechanical movements, usually with at least one complication (anything beyond hours, minutes and seconds) like the large date window on the
Bell & Ross Commando, the air speed measurement function on the Hamilton or the chronograph timers on the IWC and
Raymond Weil.

In this category, you should expect some kind of outstanding quality feature, such as luminescent-coated hands and markers (Longines, Bell & Ross, IWC), guilloched finishes (Hamilton), adjustable deployant buckles (Ebel), or some sort of special coating, like the carbon case of the Bell & Ross Commando.


Trends. Don’t go for anything too wacky in this category, like striking colours or obscure case shapes. You want to demonstrate a sense of style, not reckless abandon. Leave the mauve lizard straps to the ladies and Mickey Rourke.

$12,000 to $15,000

Looks good with: anything


Elite Swiss brands. The guys that invented watchmaking, and whose workshops routinely produce complications priced upwards of $200K, are also making high-quality watches at comparatively reasonable price points, which represents solid value and reliability. For example, Blancpain, whose average price is $20,000, makes a Grande Complication that sells for over $1 million, making the Fifty Fathoms a bargain at $14,300.

Unique bonus features, such as IWC’s iron shield for magnetic and shock resistance or Ebel’s micro-adjustable deployant buckle. A COSC accuracy rating is also common in this category.


The Internet. It goes without saying that you should acquire one of these watches from an authorized dealer. Specialists at jewellery outlets are generally steeped in product knowledge and having a chat with a store’s watch expert is time well spent.