Aficionados love complicated watches: from complex chronographs to sophisticated calendar indications, ultra-rarified tourbillons and sonorous minute repeaters, they are the bee’s knees in the realm of haute horlogerie.

However, the great majority of these highly sought-after masterpieces have a price tag similar to a decent mid-range car and are not really made for everyday wear. Many collectors buy these as investments, store them in safes, and rarely put them on their wrists.

Elegant dress watches indicating the time and possibly date also make a serious statement on the wrist as the new crop of great stainless steel models in 2019 highlight. Here are three of my personal favorites from Chopard, Omega, and Montblanc.

“Simplicity is the glory of expression,” Walt Whitman, America’s famous poet, once said. These words of wisdom might well have been the motto of Chopard’s designers when they created the L.U.C XP.

At first glance, the L.U.C XP doesn’t necessarily grab you: two hands, four Arabic numerals, and eight applied hour markers. However, there is so much more than meets the eye on first sight.

The two-handed timepiece perfectly embodies the essence of L.U.C watchmaking, which is all about the understatement of pure horological elegance. The 40 mm case is only 7.2 mm high and perfectly proportioned. The bezel is notably slim to allow the dial to open wide.

And what a dial! The matte blue hue is enhanced by the satin-brushed, fabric-like texture of its surface, which seems like it was tailor-made for this very dial. And the warm pink gold hues of the numerals, markers, and hands go exceptionally well with it.

No wonder if you consider that it is from Chopard’s couture capsule collections. As such, it comes fitted with an elegant merino wool strap. Dyed a deep blue, the woven fabric follows the blue cashmere strap launched in 2017. In addition, an embossed cognac alligator leather strap is included.

And the outer beauty is continued on the inside: powering the L.U.C XP timepiece is the ultra-thin automatic L.U.C Caliber 96.53-L measuring a svelte 3.3 mm in height. The movement is beautifully finished with black engravings and Geneva waves on the bridges.

The tungsten micro rotor is also engraved. Using the sheer weight of the heavy metal, this elegant rotor powerfully winds the movement by supplying the twin spring barrels characteristic of Chopard’s patented Twin technology with power.

Quick Facts Chopard L.U.C XP Case: 40 x 7.2 mm, stainless steel Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber L.U.C 96.53-L, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 58-hour power reserve, twin serially operating spring barrels Functions: hours and minutes Price: $8,810/€8,100

Over the last couple of years, one of the major trends I have observed in the world of high-end horology is that the brands are putting ever more effort into the quality of their dials.

The year 2019 in particular has seen a host of expressive gradient examples that feature finely shaded hues, a technique that adds depth and vibrancy to the watch “faces.” The same rings true for textured dials that put a spotlight on carefully selected patterns. By that I don’t mean traditional guilloche, which is a decoration technique in its very own class, but rather stamping/embossing techniques that transform dials into gems.

A beautiful example is one of the latest additions to Omega’s line up of the DeVille Trésor family, a traditional collection first making its debut in 1949. For me, this is a textbook example of how a harmonious design can preserve its charisma over decades. Today, the vintage style of the DeVille Trésor is as beautiful as it was 70 years ago – and that is in no small thanks to dials that go with the times.

The slightly domed dial in the blue color du jour features a stamped pattern recalling the finesse of a finely woven fabric. It could well even echo the pattern of some tailored jacket you are wearing this season.

This delightful structure provides a marvelous background for the applied white gold, baton-style hour markers and hands, which are slightly curved to match the dial’s shape, and the trapezoidal date window at 6 o’clock. One cool detail to note here is that the date is printed on a blue background to keep the dial’s overall color style uniform.

If you take the timepiece’s name literally, I find it is indeed a “safe” that guards a small treasure: one of Omega’s latest cutting-edge, METAS-certified movements. Manually wound Caliber 8910 features a free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring for added chronometric precision. With a power reserve of 72 hours (three days), it withstands magnetism to 15,000 Gauss.

This technical supremacy is complemented by a high standard of decoration and finishing: the rhodium-plated finish with Geneva waves in the line’s signature arabesque style along with the blackened screws are well worth admiring through the sapphire crystal on the watch’s rear.

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Quick Facts Omega DeVille Trésor Co-Axial Master Chronometer 40 mm Case: 40 x 11.6 mm, stainless steel Movement: manual winding Caliber 8910, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, power reserve of 72 hours, certified METAS Master Chronometer and officially certified C.O.S.C. chronometer, free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring, two serially operating spring barrels, resistant to magnetic fields to 15,000 Gauss Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date Price: $6,500

When we talk about the finesse of watch dials, Montblanc’s revamped Heritage line is certainly a true standout.

On the Automatic, a textured salmon-colored or silvery-white dial provides perfect legibility thanks to some carefully selected design features such as a grained hour ring with dot markers and four Arabic numerals. The markings for the seconds around the dial perimeter as well as the central sweep second hand strongly contrast against the dial backgrounds with their blue color.

This vintage styling echoes that of the fine design of historical Minerva wristwatches from the 1940s and 1950s.

The “sfumato” (“smoky”) alligator skin strap from Montblanc’s pelletteria based in Florence beautifully complements the understated yet very expressive aura of the Heritage Automatic. As befits a classy dress watch, the 40 mm stainless steel case is still slim at 11.65 mm in height.

With a very competitive price tag, this classic three-hand watch proves that a very sophisticated everyday watch with unmistakable style doesn’t have to break the bank. The fact that it does not feature a manufacture movement is secondary in light of its extreme elegance and wearability.

Read more about this line in Montblanc 2019 Heritage Line: Minerva More Visible Than Ever. And That Is So, So Good.

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Quick Facts Montblanc Heritage AutomaticCase: 40 x 11.65 mm, stainless steel Dial choices: white or salmon Movement: automatic Caliber MB 24.26 (base Sellita SW240-1), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve Functions: hours, minutes, seconds Price: $2,270 (grey Sfumato alligator skin strap); $2,480 (stainless steel Milanese bracelet); $8,320 (red gold with brown Sfumato alligator skin strap)

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