8 Of The Best Watches For Black Tie Events

The watch world is full of rules. Gold and silver shouldn’t mix. Automatics are invariably better. The bigger the watch, the manlier the man… But with every passing year, the old guard’s grip softens, and we’re slowly learning to ignore Switzerland’s wagging finger. Nowhere is our subtle rebellion more evident than at black tie events. Dress watches – understated and elegant, with a leather strap and unassuming dial – were once considered the sole option for a formal look, but as brands take more risks and tastes diverge, it seems there are plenty of alternatives to accompany your dinner jacket this party season.

Cartier Ballon Bleu De Cartier

Money doesn’t always equal taste – just look at the top-table peacock trussed up in blinged-out wristwear. Which is why it’s better to opt for a signature piece from a respected brand, like the Ballon Bleu de Cartier. Pricey, yes, but definitely not tacky. Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £4,800.

Cartier Ballon Bleu De Cartier Automatic Silver Dial Watch

IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Annual Calendar

These days, a black tie watch needn’t actually be black, or even white. As the IWC Portugieser proves, you can pack a colour pop that’s no less fitting than a monochrome approach. Available at Mr Porter, priced £16,750.

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Annual Calendar Stainless Steel And Alligator Watch

Armani Exchange Gold Watch

The Swiss watch rulebook might be getting smaller, but sometimes there’s still call to rip it up entirely. This Armani Exchange option might eschew tradition, but it promises to pack a mighty glint with a tux. Available at Watch Shop, priced £104.

Armani Exchange Watch

Thomas Earnshaw Longitude Watch

Some skeleton automatics (in which kinetic energy powers the visible movement) can run up a bill worthy of an oligarch. But not Thomas Earnshaw’s – its Longitude timepiece offers exemplary Swiss craftsmanship at a fraction of the usual price. Available at Thomas Earnshaw, priced £139.

Thomas Earnshaw Longitude Watch

Longines Conquest Heritage Watch

There’s a gap in the market for affordable pieces that still pack some branded muscle – a gap that Longines is quickly filling. With pieces like the Conquest Heritage, the manufacture proves itself amongst the greats: the watch’s classic-looking dial ticks all dress watch specs (apart from price). Available at Jura watches, priced £760.

Longines Conquest Heritage Watch

Links Of London Noble Watch

A black jacket isn’t the only option for formal events. If you opt for white or take the plunge with velvet, try mixing up your strap colour too with this richly hued classic from Links of London. Available at Links Of London, priced £225.

Noble Slim Mens Rose Gold Plate & Brown Leather Watch

Gucci GG2570 Watch

Much to the chagrin of watch snobs, many luxury fashion brands are taking on the old guard with in-house Swiss-made watches. Case in point, Gucci’s GG2570. Sure, it’s not as understated as a Piaget, but it’s bound to turn more heads. Available at Gucci, priced £790.

Gucci GG2570 Watch

Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum

What do you get when you cross German efficiency with Swiss subtlety? No, not a divisive WWII joke, but the Montblanc Heritage – a legacy line from the brand that lets an assortment of muted details amp up the volume. Available at Montblanc.com, priced £4,200.

Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum World Map Automatic Men's Watch

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