Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding, $795
Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding (Pre-owned)
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In some ways, buying a dress watch is liberating: you don't have to take water resistance into account (generally, there's not much need for it), or if the steel bracelet will be comfortable (it's probably going to be on a leather strap), or what all those little subdials do (there shouldn't be any on the watch's dial). A dress watch is about telling the time as unobtrusively as possible, with a design that doesn't distract from whatever else you're wearing, or from the occasion on which you're wearing it.
Oftentimes dress watches will be simple, time-only affairs but be made in precious metals. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't find a perfectly nice dress watch in stainless steel — or, indeed, that stainless steel might not be perfectly appropriate. In fact, one of our favorite dress watches comes in stainless steel: the Max Bill Hand-Winding from German brand Junghans.
We're so darn into the Max Bill Hand-Winding that we've made it our Just Get This pick in the dress watch category — meaning that if you need a dress watch stat, we say don't even think twice, just get one of these. Here's why.
Its Bauhaus Character Is Timeless
When famed industrial designer Max Bill created his eponymous wristwatch line with Junghans in 1961, he called upon his Bauhaus training to shape his vision: minimal text, clean lines and extreme legibility anchor the watch's design. A Max Bill watch wouldn't look out of place in 1930, 1960, or today.
Its The Right Size
I know, I know — you've been conditioned to think that any watch smaller than 40mm is emasculating. I assure you it is not. A diameter of 34mm is perfectly fine for a dress watch (even if 37mm would've been perfect): this is the type of timepiece you'll be wearing with a suit, after all. You want it out of the way, unobtrusive, and under the radar — which it is.
Its Hand-wound Movement Keeps It Thin
Though the Max Bill is available in an automatic version, the use of the cal. J805.1 hand-wound movement (based on the ETA 2801-2) keeps this version nice and thin at 9mm. You'll barely notice it on your wrist, which is sort of the point with a dress watch. And a 42-hour power reserve is plenty to get you through the evening.
A Lumed Dial Means You'll Be Able to Read It At Night
One welcome concession to modernity is the presence of small lume plots at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock, in addition to the lume on the hands (which was present on the original model). This way, you can actually, you know, see the time at a dark event.