Discover which minimalist watches are best for you, and what to look for in a high-quality watch
It seems like there are dozens of new minimalist watches coming out every year — and it can be a true nightmare to find out which ones are worth it and which ones aren’t.
It’s clear that wearing a minimalist watch can really make us feel good and look good. It makes you look elegant, distinguished, and smart, it can boost your self-confidence, and, most importantly, it reminds you of your precious relationship with time – the most valuable resource in the world.
However, like all types of watches, minimalist watches may vary in quality, and sometimes that can look different in real life than in the pictures. While most minimalist watches are relatively well made, some of them can look and feel really disappointing, by surprising you with cheap materials, clumsy mechanisms, and sometimes even manufacturing defects.
That is why it’s important to do some research before you purchase any minimalist watches – to make sure that what you buy is reliable, effective, of the highest quality, and not a complete waste of money.
This guide was specifically made to help you narrow down the choices available on the market today.
Why Wear A Minimalist Watch
What are the main reasons to wear minimalist watches?
- They can enhance your style and appearance immediately, and can look fantastic with any clothes you’re wearing – whether it’s casual or professional
- They make you look more reliable, organized and professional
- They make a distinguished statement about your personality and style
- They can boost your self-confidence and make you look more trustworthy
- They can make you proud of wearing an outstanding piece of precise craftsmanship at your wrist
- They can remind you of your valuable relationship with time, and make you more respectful of your own time
- They can give you the time immediately, wherever you go, whenever you want, without having to look at your smartphone
3 MYTHS About Minimalist Watches
There are tons of great things said about wearing minimalist watches, but it comes with the spread of false information, or the inevitable myths, that influence your decision to purchase certain products. But they’re exactly that: myths, and are highly likely untrue.
Myth #1: Minimalist watches look cheap
Some people think that minimalist watches will look cheap on their wrist just because they don’t have any fancy complications or expensive-looking design. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Minimalism is all about doing a few things, but doing those select things extremely well. In fact, high-quality minimalist watches, despite their apparent simplicity, can be extraordinarily complicated to craft: some high-end minimalist models require hundreds of hours of dedicated craftsmanship before seeing the light. It’s all about quality over quantity.
And the truth is, depending on which watch model you choose, a carefully selected minimalist watch can make an even stronger impression on others than a fancy and highly complicated watch. That’s why many celebrities and highly successful people often wear minimalist watches – it’s the ultimate sign of elegance and sophisticated luxury. In other words, in the world of watches, like in many other things in life, less is more.
Myth #2: The higher the price, the higher the quality
By far one of the biggest misconceptions! Watch experts know very well that you can find poor quality watches at indecent prices, and high quality watches at affordable prices.
Prices are determined by multiple factors, including: the number of middlemen between the brand and the consumer, the cost to manufacture the watch, and the brand positioning. There can be a massive difference between the retail price of the watch, and the objective amount of care and effort that went into it.
For example, many expensive watches with a retail price of over $5,000 can actually be manufactured for just a few hundred dollars! Since price is so subjective, it should never be used as a reliable indicator for quality.
Instead, the best way to truly evaluate the quality of a watch, according to several Swiss watch specialists, is to look carefully at each individual component of the watch, including the case, the crown, the second-hand, etc. And if you know where to look, you can find high quality minimalist watches from top brands for a very reasonable price (even under $200). We’ll talk about the most important criteria to find a high-quality minimalist watch later on.
Myth #3: You don’t need a watch when you have a smartphone
It is true that at a time when everybody has a smartphone, we may wonder: what is the point of buying a watch if I can see the time on my phone just fine?
Well, first, from a practical point of view, having a watch at your wrist is a way to be 100% certain that wherever you go, and no matter what happens to you, you will always have the time with you – even if your smartphone battery dies (and we all know how often it can happen…). On top of that, a watch can give you the time in the blink of an eye, without breaking your concentration with useless distractions and notifications.
But beyond the mere practical aspect, wearing a carefully chosen watch is a guaranteed way to elevate your sense of style, make a strong impression on others, and remind you of the precious bond between you and time – the most valuable resource on earth.
3 TRUTHS About Minimalist Watches
Here’s a checklist of three known facts to help you further understand the other benefits of minimalist watches.
Fact #1: Minimalist watches are timeless
One of the key advantages of minimalist watches is that they can never go out of fashion. Their classic and quintessential design transcends time itself. Minimalist watches were popular 100 years ago, they are still highly popular now, and will continue to be so for decades to come.
As most sartorial experts will argue, wearing a high-quality minimalist watch is simply the safest, most reliable way to demonstrate elegant style and good taste everywhere you go.
Fact #2: Minimalist watches are highly versatile and look great in any circumstances
Another key benefit of minimalist watches is that they are extraordinarily versatile -they can look great in any setting, and with any type of clothes that you are wearing.
Whether you’re looking to make a strong professional impression in a formal networking gathering, look at the top of your game during a romantic date, or simply enjoy a casual day with a simple pair of jeans, these minimalist timepieces will look perfect on you in any circumstances.
That’s why millions of people love these watches. They don’t have to buy ten different watches, one for work, one for weddings, one for groceries, etc. They can just wear only one, elegant watch that makes them feel good and look good everywhere they go, whatever they do.
Fact #3: High-quality minimalist watches can be found at affordable prices
The good thing about minimalist watches is that you can get your hands on an exquisite and high-quality timepiece without having to spend a fortune.
By cutting down all the unnecessary features, minimalist watchmakers can save costs, focus on doing a few things extremely well, and sell their elegant watches at a fraction of the cost of more complicated, feature-heavy models. As a result, it is entirely possible to find top-notch, carefully designed, and highly reliable minimalist watches for less than $200.
There are just a few criteria that you need to have in mind before choosing a minimalist watch – as we explain below.
Key Things To Look For In A Minimalist Watch
Criteria #1: Has to use a high-quality movement
A watch movement is the “engine” of the watch that acts as the powerhouse to make the watch and its functions operate (hands, calendars, chronograph, etc.). If you want a watch that is precise and reliable – and which remains so for decades – you need to choose one that uses a high-quality movement.
According to most reputed watch experts, the best quality movements available on the market, used by nearly all high-end minimalist watches, are the Japanese and Swiss movements.
For example, the Japanese “Miyota” movement is widely considered as one of the most reliable and accurate quartz movements in the world. This Japanese movement uses top-grade quartz crystals that vibrate at 32,768 times per second, to guarantee an incredible accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month. The “Swiss Ronda series 5 movement” also has a strong reputation in terms of precision.
When choosing a high-quality watch, it’s therefore good practice to look for these types of movement (which are usually indicated in the watch characteristics).
Criteria #2: Watch parts need to be distinctive and show high attention to detail
One of the best ways to appraise the quality of a watch is to look at the level of detail of each of its parts (including the case, the crown, the hands, etc.). If you look at a watch and see that each of its parts has been precisely crafted, using a very distinctive shape, then you can be confident this watch was made by a quality watchmaker.
For example, high-quality minimalist watches tend to have unique engravings on the crown, like the signature of the watchmaker. They also usually use unique and very distinctive shapes for the hands – specifically the second-hand. In other words, high-quality minimalist watches have a distinct design “personality”.
On the other hand, poor quality watches are often designed exactly in the same way, with no distinctive elements. They use very basic crowns, unoriginal hands, and undifferentiated cases. Many well-known high-street brands are selling these poorly designed watches for over $200, so it’s very important to look for these details when you buy a minimalist watch.
Criteria #3: Has to use high-quality materials
Finally, the best and most reliable minimalist watches all use high-quality materials. You can tell if a watch is extremely well made if the case is built using 316L stainless steel, a high-end steel that has a very high purity level and which is virtually unbreakable. It’s also called “marine grade stainless steel”, because it is often used in marine environments due to its ultra-high resistance to corrosion.
If you’re looking at watches with leather straps, make sure it uses at least “genuine leather” – it’s a sign that the strap is made with smooth, comfortable, and reasonably durable leather.
The Top 5 Minimalist Watches On The Market Today
After hours of extensive research, in consideration of professional watch advice, combined ratings and verified online reviews from customers just like you, we’ve compiled a list of the top five minimalist watches for women on the market today.
1.Nordgreen – Unika
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Unika is a very high-quality, elegant-looking minimalist watch made by the renown Scandinavian watchmaker Nordgreen. This sleek, smart and modern timepiece was designed by Jakob Wagner, a world-class designer acclaimed for designing collections for Bang & Olufsen, Hay, and Capellini. He is also a five-time recipient of the IF Product Design Award and Designer of the Year.
The watch was designed to look and feel luxury for a competitive price, by only using high-quality materials and precise craftsmanship. It’s powered by a state-of-the-art Japanese Miyota mechanism for maximum precision, and the case is entirely made of premium 316L stainless steel, carefully polished to give the watch a sharp and robust look. The crown is highly distinctive: precisely tapered with bevels at the tip for easier grip, and engraved at the centre with the logo of the watchmaker – a premium feature that we usually only see in higher-end, more expensive timepieces.
But perhaps the most astounding and unique element of the watch is the asymmetric second-hand: it is shaped like a blade, slicing through the minutes and hours of the day. According to the Chief Designer Jakob Wagner, this unique shape serves as a metaphor to illustrate how we are constantly slicing through time.
The company also deeply cares about making the world a better place. For every watch purchase, they make a donation to charities that serve noble health, educational, and environmental causes.
Many wearers of The Philosopher can vouch for its superior quality, elegant look, and exceptional value for money.
Taking all these into our consideration easily places Nordgreen – Philosopher at our #1 spot.
– Unique, one-of-a-kind design that makes the watch really stands out among other minimalist watches of this range
– Robust and sharp-looking steel case using premium 316L “marine grade” stainless steel
– High precision Japanese Miyota movement
– Incredible level of detail, with engraved crown, distinct case shape, and blade-shaped second-hand “slicing through time”
– Comfortable, soft, and high-quality leather straps. Abundance of choice for strap colors
– Sustainable and ethical watch
– Designed by world-class designer Jakob Wagner
– Exceptional price-quality ratio
– Established and engaged Scandinavian watchmaker trusted by thousands of happy customers
– Unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee
– Can run out of stock quickly
2.Mondaine Helvetica No1 Light
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Mondaine Helvetica Number 1 is a clean and elegant minimalist timepiece designed with a modern play on design. Simple and concise, it’s an effective everyday Swiss watch that is quite well made considering the price. If we look at each component individually, we can tell that the level of craftsmanship is high.
The watch contains a few distinctive features, including the design of the lug structure, which connects the strap to the case, and the asymmetrical text on the dial that tapers down to the date window. The watch uses a precise Swiss movement Ronda 715, and the case is made of brushed stainless steel (the brand doesn’t mention if it’s 316L steel or not).
Although this watch has many strong characteristics, we could perhaps expect a few more distinctive features – especially for a watch of this price range. For some users, this minimalist timepiece may look a bit too similar to other undifferentiated minimalists watches on the market (even this one is higher quality than most models in this range).
– Well-made Swiss match
– Clean and minimalist design that is highly versatile
– Solid craftsmanship
– Includes a few good-looking distinctive features
– Affordable price considering the quality of the watch
– Could expect more distinctive features for this price range
– Could look a bit too similar to other minimalist watches on the market
– Lack of transparency regarding the grade of steel used for the case
3.Solios – Solar White Silver Mesh
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Solios Solar White is an original, distinctive minimalist watch that is a great fit for those who want to buy a sustainable watch, in line with environmental values. The watch is made of green technology and durable materials to offer a clean and elegant look, while making a positive impact on the environment.
The particularity of the watch is that it uses a solar cell to recharge itself, meaning that the watch can keep functioning without changing the batteries. The case is made of 316L stainless steel – a sign of high-quality and robustness.
With that, we note that aside from its solar power movement, the watch looks relatively undifferentiated. Even though it has a clean and elegant appearance, it is rather hard to distinguish it from other minimalist watches on the market, just because each component – whether it’s the case, the crown, the hand, or the case – is very simplistic, perhaps too simplistic, in our view.
– Unique solar mechanism that is both distinctive and good for the environment
– Clean and elegant look
– No need to recharge the batteries thanks to solar powered battery
– Strong case made of 316L stainless steel
– The watch looks relatively undifferentiated. Extremely basic components
– Slightly expensive considering the lack of visual differentiation
4.Skagen – Ryle Two-Hand Silver-Tone
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Skagen – Ryle Two-Hand Silver-Tone is a minimalist watch with a classic, modern, and elegant design. It distinguishes itself with unique Roman numerals on the face of the watch, and a rectangular face which is quite rare for this range of minimalist watches.
It can be worn very easily on any type of occasion – whether it’s casual or professional – because the watch looks incredibly versatile. It is made of relatively high quality ingredients, at least considering it’s affordable price, and users appear to be satisfied with the look and feel of the watch.
Perhaps one of the main weaknesses of the watch is that the crown looks extremely basic, there is no sign of distinction on this critical part of the watch, which is somewhat disappointing for a watch that is otherwise audaciously designed. We could also expect more transparency on the building materials.
The company mentions that the case is made of stainless steel, but we don’t know if it’s 316L stainless steel or a lower-end steel. Finally, some users have mentioned that the watch was a bit “too thick” – but this could just be a matter of taste.
– Unique Roman numerals and rectangular-shaped case make the watch stand out among other minimalist watches
– Clean and highly versatile design, can look great in any circumstances
– Reasonably high-quality materials considering the price
– The crown looks extremely basic – disappointing craftsmanship on this part
– Lack of transparency regarding the grade of steel used for the case
– Some users have mentioned that the watch was a bit “too thick”
5.Daniel Wellington Classic St Mawes 36mm
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Daniel Wellington Classic St Mawes is a unisex, Scandinavian minimalist watch with a sleek and ultra-simple design. Due to its quintessential yet elegant look, this watch can match with any type of clothes and style, which makes it incredibly versatile.
It is powered by a precise Japanese movement, and the beautiful rose gold case is built of stainless steel (no more indication on the type of steel). Many users who have never worn a watch before seemed satisfied with this simplistic yet appealing minimalist timepiece, which can be bought at a very affordable price.
With that said, this watch model is not for those who want a truly distinctive minimalist timepiece. The design is extremely basic, with no clear signs of differentiation. Hundreds of other models of watches use similar case shapes, similar crowns, and similar hands.
Even though the quality appears reasonably good for the price, it doesn’t really stand out from the crowd of minimalist watches, in our view. Further, we note that there is a noticeable lack of transparency with regards to the quality of materials used. The brand doesn’t mention the calibre of steel used for the case, and we don’t know anything about the grade of leather either – which is somewhat disappointing.
But it might satisfy those who want a simplistic and good-looking watch for an accessible price.
– Affordable price
– Clean and elegant look
– Highly versatile
– Highly undifferentiated watch. Looks extremely similar to other minimalist watches
– Clear lack of transparency on quality of materials
– Brand has become rather unoriginal
– No sign of dedicated craftsmanship