The classic dress watch, sleek and minimalist, is all about understated luxury, following the design credo that less is more. Less is not necessarily more, however, unless the details and finish are impeccable, both inside and out, and the movement is state of the art. Components made of silicon or super alloys, variable inertia balance wheels and a degree of micro-engineering are the signature elements of the luxury classic watch.
In the early 1900s, the great challenge was to design movements that were as thin as possible, which explains why those who excel at this technology today are the heritage brands with a history of research and innovation in this category. Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example, came into existence for the sole purpose of perfecting an extra-thin caliber. Horological minimalism is not an easy feat. As JLC points out, “watch mechanisms naturally resist being pared down.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin, with automatic caliber 898C, in an 18k gold watch measuring just 7.48mm thick. The watch has a 43-hour power reserve. With Dauphine hands and gold hour markers on an eggshell sunburst dial.
The Calibre de Cartier chronograph in 18k gold is part of a new generation sports watches styled as dress watches, with minimalist, two-tone dials, Roman numerals and, in this case, the brand’s signature railroad chapter ring. With caliber 1904-CH MC, Cartier’s first manufacture selfwinding chronograph movement.
Piaget Altiplano Date 40mm, in 18k white gold, contains the world’s thinnest automatic movement with date, at 3mm thick. The fully cased watch is only 6.36mm thick, making it the world’s thinnest automatic watch, with date.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 has an officer’s style dust cover on the caseback, with an invisible hinge. The case is still only 9.24mm thick. It contains caliber 324 SC, with a Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring. In 18k gold, with Dauphine hands.
Breguet Classique Reserve de Marche, with caliber 515DR, featuring a newly designed barrel with a longer mainspring for a power reserve of 96 hours, hence the prominent power reserve indicator on the dial. With signature Roman numerals, coin-edge case and hobnail dial.