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We've all heard of "dressing for success," and the sage advice on dressing for "the job you want, not the job you have." These wardrobe rules of thumb also apply to the watch one wears to go to work, whether your workplace is a corporate office, a restaurant kitchen, a science lab, an aircraft cockpit or anywhere in-between. Here we've listed 20 occupations and suggested a proper timepiece for each. The list is, of course, quite subjective, so please feel free to add your own alternatives in the comments. We'll likely be updating this list regularly, so if you've got an occupation that's not covered here, plus an idea of the perfect watch for it, do chime in with that as well.
A corner-office executive needs a watch that projects understated style as well as classical luxury, and perhaps no brand embodies that ethos better than Patek Philippe, which recently added a hobnail “Clous de Paris” bezel, first used on the classic Ref. 3919, to its iconic Calatrava (Ref. 6119R). The watch comes in at 39mm in either rose gold or white gold — larger than its 36mm predecessors but still elegantly sized and also very thin at just over 8mm high. The harmoniously balanced, creamy white dial — with Roman hour numerals on the rose-gold model, gray-to-black with applied indexes on the white-gold — features a recessed small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and a railroad minute track on the periphery. Inside is Patek Philippe’s in-house Caliber 30-255 PS, which boasts an extended power reserve of 65 hours and the host of high-end finishing for which the Swiss maison has become renowned.
Few watches project both affluence and professional gravitas more than the Rolex Day-Date, aka the “President.” The original Day-Date, introduced in 1956, was the first wristwatch that displayed both the date and the current day of the week. The earliest models had 36mm gold Oyster cases and the hallmark fluted bezel; in the early 2000s, Rolex began offering Day-Dates with larger 41mm cases, now referred to as the Day-Date II models. Today, the two sizes available are the 36mm version, which carries on the spirit of the original, and the 40mm Day-Date II, which are aimed at larger wrists but subtly more modest than the 41mm Day-Date II models; both are equipped with the ultra-modern Rolex automatic Caliber 3255. The Day-Date earned the nickname “President” in the 1960s when President Lyndon B. Johnson wore one regularly in office, kicking off a tradition of U.S. presidents and other heads of state wearing one and establishing the Rolex “President” as a badge of luxury for all types of powerful people.
At the upper levels of the advertising game, one can’t go wrong emulating the style of Mad Men’s fictional ‘60s exec, Don Draper, who famously started wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso after making partner in his firm. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s signature dress watch, the Reverso was originally designed as a sports watch, its reversible swiveling case making it a practical timekeeper for polo players during a match. In production since 1931, the Reverso is now available in numerous variations but the core three-handed Reverso Tribute model most faithfully echoes the classical Art Deco look of its ancestor. The rectangular case has the model’s clean lines and gadroons, the sunray dial features Dauphine hands, trapezoidal applied hour indexes, and a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manually wound manufacture Caliber 822, shaped to fit the case’s soft rectangular dimensions, beats inside. In another callback to the Reverso’s polo-playing origins, the leather strap is from Casa Fagliano, an Argentinean purveyor of high-end polo boots.
A wrist-worn chronograph with a potentially life-saving application, the Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition resurrects a style of chronograph once widely known as a “doctor’s watch,” thanks to the dial’s specially designed pulsometer scale that can be used by doctors to measure a patient’s resting heart rate. The stainless-steel case measures 40mm in diameter and contains the in-house monopusher chronograph Caliber MB M13.21, visible through an exhibition caseback. The domed, smoked-finish tobacco dial features several design elements that reference Minerva timepieces from the 1940s and ’50s, like the applied Arabic numerals and dots for indexes; dauphine hour and minute hands, and baton hands for the chronograph registers. Also calling to mind vintage timepieces are the old-school payphone indications at the 3-, 6-, and 9-minute marks on the chronograph’s minute counter that would let payphone users know when to add a coin for more time — admittedly, something a doctor these days would not need to worry about.
Watches worn in a bustling restaurant kitchen tend to get banged around a lot while also encountering heat, moisture, and the occasional submergence in a sudsy sink. This is an arena suited for a ceramic-cased watch, which is generally more lightweight, heat-absorbent, and scratch-proof than a metal one, like the Captain Cook High Tech Ceramic from Rado, one of the watch industry’s pioneers in using ceramics. The Captain Cook, available in 37mm, 42mm, and 44mm sizes, is based on a 1960s diving watch and eschews Rado’s usual modernist aesthetic in favor of a sporty, vintage look. The unidirectional rotating bezel has a dive-scale insert made of high-tech ceramic, a hallmark material of the brand. The 200-meter water-resistant case has a solid caseback stamped with three seahorses, an aquatic motif that references historical Rado dive watches. The dial sports another vintage touch, a rotating anchor symbol at 12 o’clock with a ’60s-inspired ruby-colored background. Behind the stamped caseback is the automatic ETA C07.611 caliber, notable for its 80-hour power reserve.
Breitling secured its leadership role in the field of aviation watches with the release of the Navitimer in 1952. Developed for the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), the watch has been a favorite of commercial airline cockpits ever since thanks to its innovative slide-rule bezel, which allowed the wearer to make crucial flight calculations on the wrist. In 2010, Breitling started equipping the Navitimer with its in-house Caliber B01, which features an integrated column-wheel chronograph function and a substantial power reserve of 70 hours. The stainless steel case measures a robust 46mm in diameter, with a screw-down crown, pump-style chronograph pushers, and the aforementioned slide-rule bezel, whose fluted edge makes it easy to rotate in both directions. The tricompax dial has contrasting subdials for the chronograph counters and running seconds and, in a nod to the model’s origins, the winged logo of the AOPA below the Breitling logo at 12 o’clock.
IWC’s first Big Pilot’s watch, made for the German Air Force in 1940, basically defined the look of a classic military aviation watch. In 1948, Britain’s RAF commissioned from the Swiss maker a special timepiece for its members, built to exacting specifications called the Mark 11. Notable for its smaller dimensions, optimum legibility, and antimagnetic case, the Mark 11 remained standard issue for the RAF and other military aviation squads for decades. The Mark XX, introduced to the civilian market by IWC in 2022, is the modern successor to that historical trendsetter. It features a modest yet substantial case diameter of 40mm and a water-resistance of 100 meters secured by a sizable screw-down crown. The steel case’s finish is mostly matte brushed, and the dial (in either black or sunray blue) has the historical orientation triangle at 12 o’clock along with a ring of big, luminous Arabic hour numerals. Inside, behind a solid caseback, is IWC’s in-house automatic Caliber 32111, with a 120-hour power reserve.
Mühle Glashütte, founded in 1869, holds the distinction of being the oldest family-owned German watchmaking company while also being, in practice, one of the youngest, having not produced a wristwatch until 1996. The company’s history of making speedometers, dashboard clocks, and other equipment for military vehicles provided the impetus for the modern purpose-built wristwatch that has become emblematic of the brand, the S.A.R. Rescue Timer; S.A.R. refers to the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service, the unit that requested it and which still uses it to this day. The watch’s tough rubber bezel acts as a shock absorber for the Mühle-customized automatic Swiss movement inside the steel case. Under an uncommonly dense 4mm sapphire crystal with a cyclops lens to magnify the date, the white dial of the Lumen model — with the emblematic large triangular markers in black at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock — is fully coated with luminous paint for nighttime visibility. Shop here
If your vocation is helping to chart humanity’s next steps in exploring the cosmos, there is no better accessory than the Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch,” the first watch worn on the moon, and one that’s been a standard item on every NASA space mission since the historic moon landing of 1969. At just under $5,500 in its basic version, it’s also one of the most accessible “icon” watches on the current market. Best of all for traditionalists, the contemporary version of the watch is still more or less identical to the one that Buzz Aldrin rocked on the Apollo 11 mission more than 50 years ago, with a 42mm steel case, a hesalite crystal over the tricompax dial, luminous hands and hour markers, and the trendsetting tachymeter-scale bezel that speaks to the model’s origins as a watch for auto racing. It’s even equipped with a modern version of the hand-wound movement that powered the original, Omega Caliber 1861, with a 3Hz frequency and a 48-hour power reserve.
If you’re wearing a watch in the recording studio, why not one with a real musical pedigree and a connection to one of the world’s most legendary hitmakers? American watchmaker Hamilton introduced the first electronic watch, the Ventura, to great fanfare in 1957, and the watch would go on to even greater fame when it was worn by Elvis Presley in the 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. The watch was notable not only for its unusual, futuristic curved case design but for its movement, Caliber 500, which used a battery, magnets, and an electronic coil rather than a mainspring to drive the gear train and balance wheel. The Ventura (above) remains a presence in Hamilton's collection today, though modern models are now equipped with quartz or mechanical movements rather than the now-outdated electronic mechanism. It remains one of the most uniquely iconoclastic designs in the watch world, with the lightning-bolt motif on its dial and the shield-shaped case that calls to mind the contours of a guitar.
For someone who dives for a living, Japan’s Citizen offers an array of highly functional yet eminently affordable options, most of which hail from its Promaster line of professional-grade, tool-oriented sports watches that launched way back in 1989. The Promaster Diver models — equipped with the Japanese brand’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology, which uses light to perpetually charge the movement — have proven to be among the most popular of Citizen’s vast portfolio of timepieces. The 44mm steel case features a 60-click rotating bezel made of aluminum (here in maritime blue) and a screw-down crown positioned at 4 o’clock. The blue dial sports wide hands and large applied hour markers, all generously lumed for underwater visibility, and a date window at 4 o’clock. The prominent minute hand with its orange detailing adds another layer of contrast, and hence legibility, to the dial. The Eco-Drive movement offers six months of power on a full charge and boasts an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month.
What could be a better shorthand to flex your underwater cred than rocking the OG dive watch, a model worn by Jacques Cousteau himself? The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, introduced in 1953, established the template for all the others and is today the foundation for a vast and versatile collection within the Blancpain portfolio. As of 2013, that collection has included the Bathyscaphe, named for the undersea vehicle invented by Auguste Piccard and offering a more vintage-style aesthetic as well as a more widely wearable alternative to the rather massive Fifty Fathoms, which clocks in at 45mm. The first 38mm Bathyscaphe, which debuted alongside the main 43mm model, was clearly targeted at ladies with its all-white colorway, but subsequent models, like those with steel cases and either black or blue dials, are decidedly more unisex to reflect changing tastes among watch consumers. The automatic movement inside the Bathyscaphe is Blancpain’s in-house Caliber 1150, which offers a lengthy 100-hour power reserve in its twin barrels.
Mechanical watches are the most environmentally sustainable timepieces, simply owing to the fact that they don’t require battery changes. But some watchmakers, like Oris, go even farther in their initiatives to protect the planet’s endangered ecosystems, particularly focused on threats to marine life and waterways. In 2021, the same year the Swiss company was officially designated “climate neutral” by independent climate-action organization ClimatePartner, Oris wowed green-leaning watch aficionados with the Aquis Upcycle, whose colorful dials are made of PET plastic waste recovered from oceans in a process that produces random patterns of color that make each dial unique. While most Aquis models are fairly masculine in their case dimensions, the Upcycle models speak to both men and women, offered in either a 41.5mm or 36.5mm size. Like the standard Aquis Date models, the Upcycle versions, available in 41.5mm or 36.5mm sizes, feature a unidirectional dive-scale bezel with a ceramic insert, luminous-coated hands, and a 3 o’clock date window. The Upcycle, powered by automatic Sellita-based Oris 733 Caliber, allows someone toiling on behalf of the planet the chance to walk the sustainable walk while still projecting singular style.
This sport-luxury chronograph is not only the same model that NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers wears; it’s also the most precise stopwatch you can wear to record vital training stats like lap times and two-minute drills. The reason for the latter is the watch’s high-frequency El Primero chronograph caliber, which powers a central seconds hand that makes a complete rotation around the three-register dial in a lightning-fast 10 seconds rather than the usual 60 seconds. This enables the wearer to read elapsed times to 1/10-second using the hand and the ultra-legible etched 1/10-second scale on the ceramic bezel. The 41mm stainless steel case hosts the vintage-style pump-style chronograph pushers of the early El Primero chronographs; the dial’s overlapping subdials are in the familiar color scheme of blue, anthracite, and light gray. The El Primero Caliber inside the case is on display behind a sapphire caseback, offering a view of the large blued column wheel, a lever-operated lateral clutch, and an openworked rotor with a Zenith star motif.
Looking for a timepiece that reflects your artistic spirit without distracting from the works on the gallery walls? The Max Bill collection from Germany’s Junghans, named for the Swiss artist that designed it, offers an elegantly minimalist aesthetic (we explore the collection in depth here). The first Max Bill Automatic Bauhaus Edition was released in 2019, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the famed German school that had a profound impact on Max Bill and other pioneers of 20th century design. A chronograph version (pictured) followed in 2023, with a matte-finished, 40mm stainless steel case and matte white dial. The matte finish evokes the facade of the school building in Dessau while the red hands and red date window pay tribute to its famed red doors. The gray strap is inspired by the concrete used in the construction of the building, which is also represented in an illustration on the sapphire caseback, behind which beats the automatic J880.2 movement, amassing a two-day power reserve.
If your professional evenings are spent behind a bar mixing tasty concoctions for discerning imbibers, Seiko has a sturdy yet colorfully stylish series of timepieces to wear on your wrist, whether it’s shaking or stirring. The “Cocktail Time” models within Seiko’s automatic-only Presage family of attainable, attractive dress watches are designed to evoke the types of high-end cocktails served at Japan’s famously atmospheric rooftop bars. This model with a stainless steel case and a radial-textured red dial takes its nickname and inspiration from a classic Negroni. The dial’s ridged, rippling edges help give it the look of a birds-eye view inside the cocktail glass; the tone-on-tone date window is a subtle but impressive bonus, as is the in-house, automatic movement inside. The 40.5-mm case is topped by a box-shaped crystal made of Seiko’s proprietary Seiko Hardlex material. A specially sculpted crown helps ensure the case’s 50-meter water resistance, and the movement is magnetic-resistant to 4,800 A/m.
With a dial display straight out of a telescope lens, the MeisterSinger Lunascope is a timepiece ideally suited for stargazers and anyone enraptured by the phases of the moon. Based in Münster in northern Germany, MeisterSinger has cultivated a substantial following for its iconoclastic single-hand time displays, as well as a slew of Red Dot design awards, since its founding in 2001. One of those awards was for the Lunascope, which paired the signature gauge-needle hour-and-minute hand with a big, bold, photorealistic moon-phase, the latter feature occupying nearly the entire top half of the dial. The dial’s dark blue sunburst finish blends subtly into the star-filled sky in the aperture behind the golden moon, which is set to be accurate for 128 years — a rarity at this price point — while the central hand offers a surprisingly intuitive reading of the time on the subdivided 12-hour scale. Inside the 40-mm steel case resides a Swiss ETA 2838 automatic caliber, enhanced with an exclusive in-house moon-phase module from MeisterSinger.
Since 1939, Canada-based Marathon Watch has been making timepieces for the North American market and since 1941 has been supplying them to the U.S. armed forces; today, the company is the sole supplier. Designed in Canada and manufactured in Switzerland, Marathon watches have become well regarded for their military durability and mission-ready precision. The Marathon General Purpose Mechanical, housed within a 34mm stainless steel case, is tactically small, designed to be a lightweight companion to the large loads of military gear utilized by its wearers in combat operations. A functional military watch needs to be readable at all times in all situations, hence the dial’s use of tritium-filled H3 gas tubes, which offer brighter and longer-lasting luminescence than standard luminous paints on watch dials, whose luminescent elements need to be recharged by light. Completing the utilitarian package is a reliable third-party caliber from Seiko.
Law enforcement professionals have embraced Casio’s tough, tactical G-Shock watches for quite some time, drawn to their reliable functionality and durability as well as their decidedly blue-collar pricing. The familiar and very affordable DW5600 version of the G-Shock is the model on the market now that most closely replicates the design language of the first G-Shock from 1983, aka the DW-5000. While it’s available in hundreds of variations, the basic black rectangular model is what most people envision as the classic, no-frills G-Shock. Its durable resin case boasts a 200-meter water resistance (standard on G-Shocks, actually) and its digital functions include a 1/100-second stopwatch, countdown timer, multi-function alarm, a full calendar accurate to 2099, and an electro-luminescent backlight with afterglow.
Bulova’s Frank Sinatra collection pays tribute to popular music’s legendary Chairman of the Board, who owned many Bulova watches throughout his life and counted Bulova as a sponsor of his Frank Sinatra Show on TV in the 1950s. The watches’ designs are inspired by Sinatra’s 1950s-1960s heyday, when smaller, thinner watches were in vogue. The Fly Me to the Moon model has a multi-part cushion-shaped case, alternating applied Arabic numerals and pyramid markers for the hours; sword-shaped hands, a 3 o’clock date window, and a reproduction of Frank’s signature at 6 o’clock, all set against a lyrical, radiating line motif from the center. The watch’s automatic movement is from Miyota, Bulova’s sister company within Japan’s Citizen Group, and visible behind a clear caseback.
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