For the most part Rolex (outside of its Cellini line) does not make true dress watches as defined in the traditional manner: thin case under 40mm, time only, no seconds hand or discreet seconds hand, leather strap and possibly in a precious metal. But Cartier is a brand that certainly has and the discussion of the brand often starts with the Cartier Tank.
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The Tank with its rectangular case shape is available in a variety of configurations. As a person who wears his Rolex sport watch about 85 percent of the time, I would actually opt for a quartz Tank Must Large ($2,700) since the Cartier would see action only occasionally, but I would want to be ready to go. Most Tank watches do not use a seconds hand, so those with an aversion to the ticking of quartz movements will likely prefer this omission. After all, the idea behind the dress watch is minimalism and the Tank is minimal but does not lack character.
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Warning, most Tank watches will look too small if you are used to wearing a 40mm Rolex. This effect is intensified by the fact that the width of the Tank is very small so it wears more like a bracelet. Some dudes will just not be able to stomach that look, so another model such as the Extra-Large Santos Dumont (which has a more square shaped case) will make this group more comfortable. This watch features a hand-winding movement and retails for $6,150. It’s pretty spectacular on the wrist and will give you a nice showpiece in more dressed up situations.
But if you don’t dress up often, you can and should wear your dress watch with more casual looks. That’s the wonderful thing about great watches, they can elevate your entire look and the juxtaposition of more formal and casual elements can work really well. Alligator or crocodile straps look really good with denim.
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Another model that could serve well as your dress watch is the Cartier Extra-Flat Drive. At 39mm and housed with a Piaget manually wound movement and finished with a blue alligator strap, this watch is only 6.6 mm thick. The subtle silver dial also gives this plain looking watch some subtle visual spark. This model retails for $6,150.
If you think you might wear your dressier Cartier watch more as a regular watch that needs to be called on for dressier duty, consider the 35mm Santos Medium at $6,800. It’s a classic with a blued seconds hand and an easy tool-free strap changing system so you can quickly take off the metal bracelet and switch to the stock leather strap.
Photo by Watch Mania
With the lack of availability of Rolex steel sport watches, it might be time to dig into the world of Cartier. It’s also classic of a brand and carries an instantly recognizable look that exudes class.