Dress-Watch Season Is Here — My Fall-Friendly Picks From Cartier, Omega, And Baltic
Have you felt it already? That cold nip in the air as the daylight hours taper away one day at a time. The trees lose their summertime verdure as leaves blush with the ochre and copper tones of fall. Dress-watch season is finally here. As we begin to leave the long, warm, short-sleeved days of summer behind — that time of the year when the sports watch reigns supreme — and the pre-winter layering begins, it’s the slimmer dressier pieces that get their chance to shine. Sure, watches should be worn regardless of season, but there’s something about the first days of fall that gets me thinking about the smaller, dressier pieces in my collection. However, the occasional day (or week) of torrential rain and gale-force winds will certainly see the sportier (more water-resistant) pieces make a comeback. But for me, fall will forever remain dress-watch season.
I suppose that I’m not alone in this phenomenon of seasonal watch preference. I have noticed some of my colleagues at Fratello HQ also opting for leather straps and ridding themselves of bezels, pushers, and tachymeters in favor of the understated simplicity of time-only three-handers. Perhaps it’s a post-summer palette cleanse or a mere coincidence. I, however, blame the season and the shift in fashion that it dictates. With the end of summer comes the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of color, weather, and autumnal style. We’ve all had those days where you leave the house with clear skies and a crisp chill in the air, only to return a few hours later with warm, rainy weather. This is why layering is important. It allows for versatility. But when several long sleeves reduce your wrist real estate, wearing slimmer and smaller watches just makes sense.
Are you a seasonal watch wearer?
I don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’ll keep it brief. But I do genuinely wonder where you (our readers) stand on this. It’s a discussion that does come up from time to time during our lunchtime breaks at Fratello. Do you wear all of your watches all year, or are you a “seasonal watch wearer”? I think that, ultimately, it comes down to several factors. The first is the fact that leather straps don’t lend themselves too well to hotter weather. There’s truly nothing more uncomfortable than a sweaty leather strap. Furthermore, getting leather straps wet can seriously decrease their longevity (with some exceptions, of course). This means that during the hotter months, there’s a tendency to gravitate towards bracelets as well as rubber and nylon straps — basically, anything but leather. But as the days grow colder, leather tends to make a comeback.
The next factor comes down to seasonal fashion. Most people will stick to short or rolled-up sleeves in summer. These lend themselves well to wearing larger, sportier watches. Again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s just more of a general observation. In fall, however, most of us will start to wear long sleeves and multiple layers as we head into winter. This means that smaller, flatter (and often dressier) watches tend to make more sense. In the end, rules are meant to be broken, but I still find myself following this natural trend every year (even if I still break out a dive watch on a NATO now and then). The time of year has come when I’m in the mood for smaller, dressier watches. Here are three of the ones that will be getting some serious wrist time in the coming weeks!
Classic: Cartier Tank Solo
My first pick for dress-watch season is one I don’t wear often enough, especially not during the warmer months. This Cartier Tank Solo is a quartz classic from a brand that has shot up in popularity in recent times. It shines on a leather strap, which means that it tends to hibernate through the summer, only to make its return when the weather cools down a bit. That said, it accompanied me during a handful of muggy outings during Geneva Watch Days earlier this year. The exact model here is the Tank Solo “large” reference 2715. It’s roughly 27 × 34mm and wears extremely well. The 20mm lug width means that you can find many strap options for it. That’s a beautiful thing, too, because it’s a bit of a strap monster. It can be dressed up with the OEM black alligator leather strap or dressed down on a cognac leather strap with contrast stitching.
The Cartier Tank in quartz is also the epitome of low maintenance. You never need to worry about setting the date (there isn’t one), and you only have to change the time twice each year unless you travel across time zones often. In my experience, you could not ask for a more accurate movement, especially if you’re used to mechanical watches. Even if you are and you hesitate to head down the quartz route, you certainly won’t notice any harsh ticking as the Tank Solo does away with a seconds hand altogether. The imperceptible advance of the hour and minute hands certainly doesn’t reveal its electronic heart. The new Cartier Tank Solarbeat is a worthy upgrade should you also be looking to enjoy a bit of Cartier quartz this fall. It’s a classic look that you can’t get from any other brand.
Vintage: 1961 Omega Seamaster
We now move on to something on the other end of the spectrum. We leave a square, quartz-powered icon behind and move on to something a little older yet equally classic. I am, of course, referring to my 1961 Omega Seamaster ref. 14762, equipped with the caliber 562. With a 35mm stainless steel case, it’s certainly on the smaller side of things. However, thanks to the famous “beefy” lugs, it wears perfectly well on my 18cm (7″) wrist. I’m excited to continue to wear this one. As opposed to my other dressier pieces, this one actually comes with a fantastic stainless steel beads-of-rice bracelet. This means that it has continued to be worn well into summer. Still, a change to leather is a most welcome one. And in true “go big or go home” fashion, I’ve kicked off the season with a Bund strap.
A generous gift from Fratello’s very own Balazs, I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to wear it, and as soon as cooler days came about, I knew exactly which watch to put it on. Now, I’ve gone with this classic little Omega Seamaster with a lovely bit of patina on its originally silver dial. Honestly, though, you really can’t go wrong with any of these classically-sized vintage pieces out there. Those from Omega sit at the €800–1,500 price point (with some wiggle room depending on condition, rarity, and materials). But I’ve recently noticed many brilliant options in the €300–700 price point from Doxa, Longines, and Zenith. Obviously, when buying vintage watches, we always advise plenty of caution. Remember to check everything you can, ask as many questions as you have, try to see the watch in person first, and buy the seller, not the watch!
Micro: Baltic MR01
We jump back into our horological time machine and warp forward six decades to 2021. This was when Baltic introduced the MR01. I already wrote quite a comprehensive article about my experience with this watch here, but as you can see, I liked it enough to buy into it. At 36mm, it wears only slightly larger than the Omega and has a little bit more wrist presence than the Cartier. This is namely due to the large, flat, polished bezel and the wonderfully reflective Breguet numerals that jump off its grainy blue dial. I called this watch one of the most photogenic watches of all time, and that’s a statement that I stand by to this day. Since I last wrote about it, Baltic has gone through two waves of pre-orders and has begun to deliver the first. I’m aware of this as my Instagram feed continues to flood with amazing pictures of this watch.
Unlike the vintage Seamaster, the MR01 has a 20mm lug spacing. As a bit of a strapaholic, I certainly appreciate this as it means that I already had many options perfectly suited to this watch. To kick off the cooler, leather-appropriate season, I’ve gone with a blue leather strap from Hasnobounds. But it won’t be long until it also makes its way onto my grey nubuck strap from our very own Fratello Shop. Though Baltic makes an OEM beads-of-rice bracelet for this one, I can’t help but find it so much better on leather. Whether you go with the ton sur ton look like I have here or choose a contrasting option, you really can’t go wrong. At 36mm, the Baltic MR01 is a stunning, versatile piece, one which I enjoy wearing both casually and on dressier occasions.
Dress-watch season — Final thoughts
Whether you are as excited as I am to embrace the season and get dressy or you’re not a seasonal watch wearer at all, I hope you enjoyed seeing these picks. That said, I’d love to get your opinion on this. Do you also tend to gravitate towards smaller, dressier pieces on leather in these cooler seasons? Or do you wear your watches all year round, regardless of the weather and sleeve situation? Though I tend to do a bit of both, I’m far more of a seasonal watch wearer, especially regarding these “dressier” pieces.
Leave your thoughts in the comments down below, and let me know which watches you’re excited to wear this fall!