The Death of the Dress Watch

Fear not! This is not another article about Bond watches, however with the passing of Mr. Connery it seemed fitting to mention his, and in fact all the Bonds’, involvement in what I consider ‘the death of the dress watch’.

Being a Bond fan as a child I spent many hours watching and re-watching the numerous VHS tapes that I had diligently copied from the T.V. (even cutting the adverts in my later attempts!). On reflection I’m pretty sure that this means that Bond was the first man I ever saw in a tuxedo. If not Bond then it certainly would have been someone else on-screen, though none encapsulated the class and sophistication of Bond. So what did this man of impeccable style wear on his wrist? A small dainty gold two hander? Nope, a proper tool watch. (This was a time when a Rolex Submariner could undoubtedly be defined as a ‘tool’!)

Growing up, my father wore a suit to work but I don’t think I ever saw him in a three piece, let alone a tuxedo. Ironing shirts and polishing shoes appeared to be the ‘homework’ necessary for his occupation, as opposed to a cosmetically motivated desire to look sharp. I remember my father wearing a watch, which he kept on all the time, only removing it for tasks deemed too rough and likely to damage it. He certainly did not have a rotation of beaters, dress and dailies that seem to be the bare necessities of the modern collection!

The majority of the ‘dress’ watches I saw in my youth would be more accurately described as golden as opposed to gold. These were reserved for the wrists of older gents who would make the effort to wear a jacket and tie when propping up the bar of the local ID-exempt Weatherspoons. Ahhh, the good old days! These golden watches were just as likely to be a Casio as a mechanical heirloom. They all looked the same to my untrained eye. More Dell Boy than… I don’t know, and maybe that’s the point!

Scottish Watches and Fears Watch Company

In my current line of work I’m more likely to be seen wearing PPE than a suit but I do have many friends that brave the commute to high-rises and cubicles and I can say with confidence that very few of them wear what would be classified as a dress watch. Nowadays pretty much anything goes, perhaps with the exception of a G-shock.

Editors Note: Mr. Kikuo Ibe, original creator of the Casio G-Shock, might disagree!

Amidst the sea of Daniel Wellingtons and apple watches, you are more likely to find a ‘one for all’ kind of watch adorning the wrists of younger commuters. This of course includes dive watches. So much so that the term ‘Desk Diver’ has become part of the day-to-day lingo of the watch enthusiast. Perhaps this is in line with the decline of pin stripe suits, brogues and briefcases of former years. The modern commuter looks very different nowadays.

As office wear seems to become increasingly casual and open to interpretation there is at least one area where attire is very much formalised: the black tie. All the events that I have attended in a professional capacity were put on by the military/aerospace industry which brings its own style of wristwear: swathes of Brietlings and more recently Bremonts outnumber the more traditional timepiece.

I’ve often wondered if this extends to other industries….. In motorsport are you sharing tables with Tags and Daytonas? Do tech company executives share business cards via apple watches? Are there sometimes dozens of Dominoes Pizza Rolexes in one room?!? Perhaps not, but I’d like to think so.

There are endless articles and videos that include a dress watch as an essential part of every collection. I would argue that the average collector would get far more satisfaction and value from a well-chosen dive watch or daily wearer with a spare strap or two.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’d rather be James Bond than Archie Luxury.