Watch buying can be a chore. Unlike clothes, we usually have to spend a bit more to secure a high quality piece that’ll last – and that’s where the conundrum lies.
Choice, though often seen as a benefit, can sometimes be a bad thing; chronographs, date apertures, sub-dials, extended lugs, stopwatch and GMT displays are just a few things that can confuse and convolute the average watch customer. So, how do we cure such an ill? Easy: go minimal.
Keeping your timepiece simple and stripped-back allows for maximum versatility and thankfully, there’s a wealth of brands on the current market – from affordable to luxury – that specialise in no-frills, stylish timepieces that will quickly become your daily go-to.
Although most famous for watches, Skagen operates an umbrella company dedicated to a menagerie of discreet products and – surprise, surprise – they’re from Denmark, where practical minimalism reigns supreme.
Now based in the US under the Fossil Group, the brand’s founding ideals are still ever present in every design produced.
The ‘Ancher’ line is indicative of Skagen’s subtle approach and offers very little in way of detail. The appeal lies in a style so clean that it’s almost clinical – index markers, no numerals and a single brand detail to the dial.
Skagen’s Ancher line is available at The Watch Hut, priced from £118.
Inspired by the grey but glorious locale of the British seaside, Shore Projects is a home-grown success story. A partnership with the Marine Conservation Society gives a little back to the same environment Shore Projects idolises, while the timepieces are kept simple and classic.
The brand’s new Project 2 collection incorporates new Milanese mesh strap designs that perfectly complement the original leather styles the company launched with back in 2014.
Minimalism is ensured through a clear dial and subtle branding, while index markers give a pop of contrast to the magpie metals, making for a good daytime or evening watch.
Coming in at just £135 with the ability to alter the strap yourself to suit the occasion, season or your mood, it also represents great value for money.
Project 2 watches are available now at shoreprojects.com, priced £135 each.
Named after the quintessential British gent, Filip Tysander launched Daniel Wellington in a bid to popularise a unique idea: pairing weathered NATO straps with hyper-modern timepieces. Over time, the brand has quickly become a go-to for style-conscious gents, particularly those that like to dress in a smart, preppy fashion.
The St Andrews model, named after the third oldest university in the English-speaking world (you learn something new everyday), is a thoroughly traditional option from the brand that will add a touch of menswear prestige to any look.
Featuring a classic round face, discreet branding and contrast indices, we particularly love the on-trend rose gold finish for a subtle hint of luxury.
Daniel Wellington leather strap watches are available at ASOS, priced £179 each.
Larsson & Jennings
Inspired by the brand’s home cities of Stockholm and London, Larsson & Jennings produces contemporary timepieces that fuse a classic British aesthetic with Swedish minimalistic design.
The new kid on the horological block has quickly garnered a cult following and despite the company’s relative infancy, they’ve successfully modernised the entry-level watch market.
The Kulor family is arguably the most basic line from the brand, but also undoubtedly the most minimalist. Usual criticisms of ‘sparsity’ are countered with coloured fabric straps and hints of gold, rose gold and steel throughout.
Larsson & Jennings Kulor watches are available at Selfridges, priced £205 each.
While strong branding is often considered an advantage, Uniform Wares built their stellar reputation by avoiding such a mantra. In 2009, founders Patrick Bek and Oliver Fowles set out with an ambitious objective: to create an alternative to the ubiquity of over-embellished statement watches. The result was a new breed of modern, minimal timepieces that has arguably inspired many of the other names on this list.
The brand’s M40 model is clinical in its approach yet big on impact. Monochrome dials are countered with neutral straps and while eye-catching features are nowhere to be seen, a statement is made through total design cohesion.
Scratch-resistant sapphire glass with anti-reflective coating and a Swiss-made movement provide superb value for money at £380.
The M40 is available now at Uniform Wares, priced £380.
As a pillar of the Swiss watch industry, Mondaine offers all the associated craftsmanship at a more accessible price point. The timepieces themselves are modelled after the Swiss railway clocks prominently displayed at every station, and through the brand’s adoption, these are now considered a core part of the country’s culture.
The Helvetica line keeps it traditional and minimal with a simple white dial, gold bezel and basic leather strap. However, a point of difference lies in the Helvetica font utilised for the watch’s name and country of origin – a subtle addition for contemporary design and typography fanatics alike.
The Helvetica line is available at The Watch Gallery, priced from £280.
Germany is renowned for its skilful engineering and Junghans is a brand partly responsible for this image. Every timepiece is designed with classic craftsmanship in mind without trying too hard; instead, a statement is created through an almost scientific watchmaking process that has been in place since 1927.
The Max Bill family was a genius collaboration for the brand; they used the eponymous designer’s understated aesthetic to complement their own basic design principles and the result is, in short, a minimalist’s wet dream.
The Junghans x Max Bill line is available at The Watch Gallery, priced from £475.