Perfectly Simple: 10 Great Minimalist Watches
If there were a global ranking for tired clichés, “less is more” would probably be right near the top. In the world of watch design, however, it still rings true. Tasteful minimalism can bring out the best elements of a watch, instead of burying them in a sea of unnecessary detail; its very nature makes a watch more comfortable to wear, and more versatile in the styles it’s paired with. Above all, a well-executed minimalist watch is an artful accent, rather than a flashy main course. With that in mind, here are our picks for ten of the best.
Stock Watches S004R
Well-designed minimalism needn’t break the bank. The Stock Watches S004R comes in at only $270, and features a beautifully clean dial, Swiss Ronda quartz movement, and eye-catching brushed-PVD rose gold finish. It’s sized at a classic 38mm, and is discreet enough to work with almost any outfit while not fading completely into the background. Stock also offers a huge variety of color combinations, so you’re sure to find something that fits your style.
There aren’t too many watches made for the blind, for obvious reasons. With the Eone Bradley, however, this niche market has been making waves in the sighted world. Once you see it, you’ll understand why: this minimal, tactile approach is a completely different way of telling time, with magnetic bearings instead of hands. By engaging touch as well as sight, it’s engaging on a new, unique level.
Mondaine Helvetica Light
Over the past 70 years, Helvetica has become the most widely used typeface in the world, and a Swiss design icon in its own right. Mondaine, famous for creating the Swiss railway clock, decided to pay tribute to a fellow design legend with the Mondaine Helvetica, which has a minimal design that still keeps a bit of playfulness. This version, the Helvetica Light, takes the simple theme even further, and creates a beautiful design in the process.
First off: yes, that is the same Braun that makes your electric shaver. The brainchild of Braun Chief Design Officer Dieter Rams, the BN0095 chronograph brings the brand’s signature functionalist aesthetic to the watch world. The integrated bracelet and lugs along with the sterile numerals give it an industrial, slightly futuristic feel on the wrist, while the unique one-piece case construction makes this a durable, streamlined choice. It might be stark, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty.
Looking for a splash of restrained Mad Men cool on your wrist? The Hamilton Intra-Matic has you covered. Available in either a retro 38mm or more modern 42mm size, the Intra-Matic’s silver sunburst dial gives off a slick mid-century vibe. The ETA 2892-2 movement powering the Intra-Matic is impressive in itself, and its decorated rotor is on display through a wide sapphire case back.
Sinn 556 I
Not every minimalist design is some waifish dress watch. Minimalist watches can be tough and sporty too, as evidenced by the Sinn 556 I. 200 meters of water resistance, a bold, super-legible dial and a generous helping of glowing green lume make this watch as functional as it is handsome. Its pared-down pilot-watch looks blend classic military themes with an ultramodern vibe, and make this a natural choice for more casual wear.
Georg Jensen Koppel Automatic
Summed up in one sentence, the Koppel is a nearly perfect expression of Danish design. Everything here is pared down, not just minimal but almost skeletal. The hands are elegantly thin needles, and you won’t find any text or numerals here. The only markers are a ring of tiny black dots, unobtrusive but still easily legible. It’s the kind of thing you expect to see on the wrist of a famous architect.
Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope
The modern minimalist design movement started at the Bauhaus school in Germany in the early 20th century, and Max Bill was one of its greatest students. Responsible for one of the most famous pieces of designer furniture ever, the multipurpose Ulm Stool, Bill also laid down the groundwork for this watch in 1961. It’s remained nearly unchanged since.
Nomos Ahoi Atlantik
One of the oldest styles of watch in the world is the marine deck watch. The designs have been basically unchanged for many years, until now. Nomos changes that with their gorgeous Ahoi Atlantik, with a simplified nautical look and gorgeous deep-sea-blue dial. Its in-house caliber Epsilon movement is a work of art itself, richly decorated with Geneva stripes. It’s rare to ever see a pared-down take on anything nautical, and this rarity makes it a standout on our list.
Ochs und Junior Moonphase
Moonphase watches are considered by many to be some of the greatest expressions of watchmaking prowess. What they aren’t usually considered, however, is minimal — most moonphases are ornate, finely detailed pieces. The Ochs und Junior Moonphase bucks that trend in favor of a clean, simple design that also includes a novel date-indicator track. Even more impressively, it’s one of the most accurate moonphases in the world, needing readjustment every 3,478 years.
Buying a groom-to-be a new watch is a great new wedding tradition. And if you’re not sure what to get, consider one of these. Read the Story