Another Friday, another list! We have come to the last Friday of the year, so this will be the last Top 10 list in our 2023 roundup series. Today, we’re looking at the best dress watches. It only makes sense to cover the best dress watches of the year during the holiday season. While it might not be the category that gets the most attention, it does see some amazing releases every year. Having said that, we had to come up with 10 phenomenal examples to populate this list, and for many people, that might be a challenge.

Let’s face it: most of us don’t always focus on dress watches. Sports watches tend to make up the majority of releases that we see every year. Consequently, we also tend to cover sports watches more often. But it’s always a breath of fresh air when we find a nicely executed dressy timepiece in our offices. It mixes things up nicely in the ever-rushing stream of divers, chronographs, GMTs, and field watches. The term “dress watch” also tends to have a high degree of personal interpretation. As there are no strict spec requirements or rules, we will not apply any to this list. A year ago, Thomas wrote a thought-provoking piece about the definition of a dress watch. With that article in mind, here are our picks for the 10 best dress watches of 2023.

best dress watches of 2023 Chopard L.U.C 1860

Chopard L.U.C 1860

We had the Chopard L.U.C 1860 in the office not too long ago, and most members of the Fratello team were impressed. Robert-Jan wrote a great, insightful review of the watch, explaining what makes it such a nice timepiece. He also featured it in his list of favorite watches of 2023.

Chopard L.U.C. 1860 on wrist

In a year that saw Chopard do well with its Alpine Eagle XPS, this is the second much-praised release from the brand. Looking back at 2023, it’s safe to say that Chopard had a pretty amazing year, with more long-overdue recognition from the watch community than usual.

The L.U.C. 1860 has a modestly sized 36.5mm case, measuring only 8.2mm thick and 44.5mm from lug to lug. It is combined with a beautiful salmon dial that has a tremendous amount of detail. But as Robert-Jan mentioned, the dial does not feel busy or cluttered. It features a sub-seconds register at 6 o’clock that is integrated neatly. I especially love the spearhead-shaped hour markers and the sharp dauphine hands. They give this piece a great amount of character.

If you turn the watch around, you are greeted by the beautiful automatic caliber L.U.C 96.40-L. This Geneva Seal-bearing micro-rotor movement is only 3.3mm thick, has 65 hours of power reserve, and perfectly completes this €25,700 piece. You can find out more about it here.

A Watch Catalog With Fewer References best dress watches of 2023 Orient Bambino 38

Orient Bambino 38

Another recent highlight came in the form of four limited-edition Orient Bambino 38 watches. Daan explained in his review that these four limited dial colors make for a tasty quartet of dressy timepieces. I missed these when they were in the office, but I would have loved to try one out because a 38mm dressy piece is perfect for my wrist. Specifically, all four watches come with a 38.4mm case that is 12.9mm thick and measures 44mm from lug to lug.

best dress watches of 2023 Orient Bambino 38

You can have a sunburst dial in creamy yellow, dove gray, or copper. The fourth option is a matte dial in baby blue. All of the dials slope down nicely towards the edges, and in combination with the domed crystals, they create a nice vintage vibe. In addition, the sharp hands and indices add charm and sophistication to these four great-looking and affordable watches.

Finishing the look of each one is a beautiful tan nubuck strap, which certainly helps make the Bambino 38 quite versatile for a dress watch. Inside the case, you will find the Orient F6724 caliber. This automatic movement has automatic and hand winding and 40 hours of power reserve. All four pieces will be made in a limited run of 360 pieces, and based on the positive reactions, they will be gone soon. All four are still available from the Orient USA site and are currently marked down to $330.

best dress watches of 2023 Grand Seiko SBGW295

Grand Seiko SBGW295

We can always count on Grand Seiko to have several great releases each year that are perfect for a list like this. This year, we picked the SBGW295, a modern remake of Grand Seiko’s “First” from 1960. It combines a Brilliant Hard Titanium case with a stunning deep black urushi (lacquer) dial with 24K gold maki-e hour markers. The 38mm case is 10.9mm thick and 45.7mm long. Because it is made of titanium, the sheen is a little darker than that of stainless steel.

The watch houses Grand Seiko’s hand-wound caliber 9S64, providing a three-day power reserve and daily accuracy of +5/-3 seconds. But the true star of the show is that beautiful dial. It is understated in all its elegant appearance but amazing in all its detailed craftsmanship. Brandon explained that Grand Seiko takes great pride in using domestically sourced lacquer for its urushi dials.

best dress watches of 2023 Grand Seiko SBGW295

For the SBGW295, the wet lacquer is sprinkled with gold dust by urushi master Isshu Tamura to form the hour markers and Grand Seiko logo. The result is a stunning dial matched with sharp dauphine hands and a polished seconds hand with a curved tip. Lastly, the Grand Seiko SBGW295 comes with two black straps and retails for €14,700.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 best dress watches of 2023

Rolex Perpetual 1908

Another standout this year was the new Rolex Perpetual 1908. The new series of stylish dress watches replaced the unsuccessful Cellini collection. After the unveiling at Watches and Wonders earlier this year, fans and media praised Rolex for creating a great, stylish replacement for the Cellini.

The case of the new 1908 measures 39mm in diameter and only 9.5mm in thickness, as Daan explained. The case is available in white gold and yellow gold, with the former having a nice, understated presence and the latter a stylish chic that fits the concept well.

The new dial design feels comfortable but has plenty of character thanks to the large 12, 3, and 9 numerals, the small seconds at 6 o’clock, and the railroad minute track. Unsurprisingly, Rolex offers the dial in white or black, tremendously changing the overall presence. Inside the case, you will find the brand-new 7140 automatic caliber.

The movement is slimmer than the previous Cellini movement, thus allowing the thinner case. It has a healthy 66-hour power reserve and is visible through a display case back, which is a rarity for the brand. The yellow gold 1908 models are available for €22,000, while the white gold versions are a little more expensive at €23,300. Of the four, I’d take the version in yellow gold with the black dial. It’s a great, stylish statement from Rolex.

Breguet Classique Répétition Minute 7637 header best dress watches of 2023

Breguet Classique Répétition Minutes 7637

The single most impressive release that I had a chance to try out was the Breguet Classique Répétition Minutes 7637. Sure, at 42mm wide, it’s larger than most dress watches, and as one of the brand’s Grande Complication pieces, it’s not your standard three-hander. But we would be stupid not to feature it in our best-of lists.

Additionally, the dial’s relatively unadorned and elegant style might trick you into thinking this is a much simpler watch than it is. The giveaway that it is not is the lever on the left side of the case, which indicates that we’re dealing with a minute repeater.

best dress watches of 2023 Breguet Classique Répétition Minutes 7637

But as this is Breguet we’re talking about, nothing about the seemingly straightforward style dial is simple. As Robert-Jan explained, the Grand Feu enameled black dial, with its Arabic numerals, minute markers, and Breguet logo applied in a powdered silver color, is a work of art. It looks stunning.

But turn the watch around, and you will be left speechless. The hand-engraved and hand-finished 567/2 caliber shows what makes Breguet so special. At €266,700, this is a prohibitively expensive timepiece for all but the very wealthy. But there’s not enough space here to do the Breguet 7637 justice. I suggest you read Robert-Jan’s review to understand why we wanted to feature this special watch on this list.

best dress watches of 2023 King Seiko SJE089 SJE091

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

This year also saw an expansion of the King Seiko collection. In January 2022, we all welcomed the return of the King Seiko brand — unlike Grand Seiko, a sub-brand of Seiko — with open arms. The movements were the main gripe that people had with the earlier models. This year, however, saw the release of the slimmer and higher-end King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091.

The two new models feature a 38.6mm case that is only 10.7mm thick. As Robert-Jan explained, that was possible thanks to the upgraded 6L35 movement. It inspired the designers to create a new case construction and use a lower box-shaped crystal, resulting in a slimmer series of watches.

At €3,400, these new models are a step up from last year’s pieces powered by 6R movements. However, the 6L35 caliber is also a step up in performance and dimensions. The movement is more accurate and has a higher beat rate than its 6R31 and 6R35 counterparts, although it also has a significantly shorter power reserve of 45 hours versus 70.

The white-dial SJE089 and black-dial SJE091 are fitted with a brick-style bracelet, taking a step away from the classic look of a dress watch. But we all know these two pieces look amazing on a leather strap. We already got a good idea from the pictures of the limited-edition SJE095 (above) with its distinctive Chrysanthemum dial.

best dress watches of 2023 Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding

Is it a dress watch or a sports watch? We will let you be the judge of that in the comments section. We wanted to feature the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding (as it is officially called) because it shows the great design potential of the Code 11.59 line.

In CEO François-Henry Bennahmias’s farewell year, we were graced with impressive releases from Audemars Piguet. From the return of “The Beast” in black ceramic and Royal Oak 39mm “Jumbo” with a grainy blue dial to the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle R.D. #4, it’s been a great year for AP.

But the one release that surprised us in all the right ways was the stainless steel Selfwinding version of the Code 11.59. With a new dial design that eschews the much-debated Arabic numerals and introduces a new radial wave pattern, the transformation was striking. The dials were developed with Swiss guilloché craftsman Yann von Kaenel, and they show tremendous depth.

Audemars Piguet

The hundreds of tiny holes play with the light and are graced by the applied white gold hour markers. Inside the 41 × 10.7mm stainless steel case of the Code 11.59 Selfwinding, you will find the brand’s automatic caliber 4302, helping make this €26,200 release a standout this year.

NOMOS Tetra best dress watches of 2023

Nomos Tetra Limited Editions

Nomos graced us with various releases that could have been on this list. Some of the brand’s most notable ones were especially the limited-edition models that celebrated 175 years of watchmaking in Glashütte. A good example is the Tangente Rose Gold Neomatik that Daan wrote about in early November.

The three Nomos Orion Neomatik 175 models could have also been a perfect fit for this list. But we were the most surprised by a quartet of Tetra releases from the Glashütte-based brand with remarkable dial colors and even more remarkable names.

best dress watches of 2023 Nomos Tetra

All four models have a 29.5mm square stainless steel case with the in-house hand-wound NOMOS Alpha caliber inside. The case is paired with a series of unique dial colors that look amazing as a set. But as Nacho explained, that is only half of the story. The other half is the names.

The first is Die Unerreichbare, “The Untouchable” one, with its silver sunray dial and pale lilac sub-dial with a small blue seconds hand. The second is Die Wildentschlossene “The Fiercely Determined” one, with a soft pink dial and a silvery sub-dial with a yellow seconds hand.

NOMOS Tetra Extravagence best dress watches of 2023

The third is Die Fuchsteufelswilde, “The Mad As Hell” one, with a powdery lavender dial and a coppery/golden sub-dial with a light blue seconds hand. Finally, there’s Die Kapriziöse, “The Capricious” one, which has a coppery salmon dial, a silver sub-dial, and a bright yellow seconds hand. Priced at €1,860 with the closed case back and €2,080 with an open case back, these are four of this year’s best.

Cartier Privé Tank Normale

A list of dress watches would not be complete without something from Cartier. But which one to pick? Clear standouts for us this year were the two Cartier Privé Tank Normale models in gold and platinum on bracelets. The understated brushed platinum version was especially impressive.

Both watches come with a 32.6 × 25.7 × 6.85mm case in either 18K yellow gold or 950 platinum. As we know from Cartier, the gold version features a sapphire cabochon, while the platinum version has a ruby in the crown.

Both feature seemingly standard dials but a beautiful vertically brushed silver finish. Inside the case, you will find the hand-winding caliber 070 with 38 hours of power reserve. But as most of you will agree, it’s all about the 100-piece limited editions with seven-row bracelets.

This beautiful bracelet is not only stunning, but it also guarantees extreme comfort on the wrist. As Daan explained, the platinum model immediately stands out because of its weight, something you might not expect from its elegant presence and understated finish. This €57,500 statement of elegance is one of this year’s highlights from the French maison.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

Is it a dress watch or not? Purists will probably point out that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso didn’t debut as a dress watch, and they would be right. But the Reverso has become a classic dress watch over time. This year saw the introduction of the spectacular Reverso Tribute Chronograph that we featured in “The Best Chronographs Of 2023.” But we would not leave the beautiful Small Seconds models off of this list.

As Lex explained, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced three new Tribute Small Seconds models in pink gold and one in stainless steel. The gold versions have a 45.6 × 27.4mm case with an almost 1mm reduction in thickness to just 7.56mm. The stainless steel model keeps the previous thickness of 8.5mm.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

The three pink gold models come with a black sunray dial, a burgundy lacquer dial, or a silver sunray dial. The stainless steel model features a silver-colored dial. All four watches are powered by the manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 822. The watches come fitted with beautiful straps from the Fagliano Collection, showing what makes these stylish timepieces a perfect last addition to this list. The stainless steel model comes in at €11,500, while the pink gold models are available for €24,900.

Final thoughts on the best dress watches of 2023

There you have it — our top 10 picks for the best dress watches of 2023. Some of them fit the traditional mold and some play with the definition of a dress watch. That’s why I’d like to pass the question over to you. What are your favorite dress watches that came out this year? Let us know your picks in the comments section. As this is our final list of this year, it leaves me nothing more to say than have a happy new year, and see you in 2024!