Much of what we consider to be modern or minimalist watches today are marked by a neo-Bauhaus aesthetic (look at Nomos or Uniform Wares or Junghans) — clean-cut dials with modern fonts and slim cases with thin bezels. Truth is, that look can trace its roots as far back as the 1920s when Bauhaus design principles permeated the German watch industry. The look would continue through the decades that followed, though we often forget because many of the lusted watches from the mid-century are decidedly busy tool watches. But the minimalist dress watches of this era are phenomenal in their design, and often reasonably priced because nobody’s been paying attention. Thus, it’s worth being ahead of the curve with these three minimalist beauties.
1960s Fortis Streamline
What we like: This is the epitome of a minimalist ’60s dress watch: super thin bezel, domed crystal and a clean dial. There’s no second hand here (not that you really need one on a dress watch) and at 35mm its a great size.
From the seller: The movement is accurate and just cleaned. Comes with the original and very amazing looking white bakelite Fortis box, complete with original purchase receipt (from Germany) dating to 1962. We bought this from the family of the original owner.
What we like: This watch was made by oft-forgotten (unless you’re a vintage watch buff) Swiss watchmaker Cyma. At 35mm in diameter it was big for its time, and feels very ahead of its time today thanks to its thin bezel and wire lugs (think Nomos Tangente). The faded radium numerals, though, are very telling of its true age.
From the seller: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with minimal signs of wear. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including radium burns. Unsigned crown.
1950s Longines Cal. 12.68Z “Calatrava”
What we like: Longines’ made tons of these oversized, “Calatrava” style dress watches during the ’40s and ’50s and they’re starting to catch on with collectors today (no doubt thanks to a similar re-issue from Longines). This model comes in at a whopping 37mm and powered by Longines’ ubiquitous (for the time) 12.68Z handwinding movement, though take note the dial appears to be refinished (thus not fully original). If that’s not a problem tor you it’d make for a great, unique dress watch.
From the seller: The watch went through complete service in May 2017. Professionally refinished dial in outstanding condition. Case is professionally polished, showing no signs of use or wear.