For as long as humans have been creating scales to measure natural phenomena, we’ve been striving to shrink those scales small enough to stuff them all onto a watch face.
Some watches are so complicated that you need an instruction manual to figure out what time it is.
But unless you pilot hot air balloons in your spare time, there’s really no need to have a barometer on your wrist. If you’re not hitting the hiking trail every week, you don’t need an altimeter.
There’s a lot of watch features you just don’t need on a day-to-day basis in the modern era.
A simple timepiece makes its own kind of statement. There’s just something wonderful about a watch that only tells you the time of day, while adding some style to your step.
We’ve selected eleven minimalist watches to add that stylistic element you’re after, while keeping things clean and simple.
Dressed up or buttoned down, each of these will add a subtle sophistication to your look.
1. Nordgreen Philosopher
It’s no stretch for me to associate minimalism with Denmark. After all, Danish culture is uniquely attuned to the less-is-more style of living.
A Kickstarter success story, and designed by award-winning Danish designer, Jakob Wagner, Nordgreen is all about embracing Scandinavian luxury in all of its designs.
We also love that they run a giving back program—but with a unique twist that we haven’t seen with a lot of watch brands. With any watch purchase, you can choose which cause you’d like a donation to be made to on your behalf—health, education, or the environment. Nordgreen currently donates 5-10% of its revenue to these causes.
In terms of the watch, we really like the classic elegance of the Philosopher. It features a 316 Stainless Steel case, Japanese Quartz movement, and interchangeable straps (sold separately).
And while this one isn’t technically below $200, our discount code will get you there.
To learn more about the brand, check out our extensive review of Nordgreen, where we take a close look at two of their other popular collections, the Pioneer and the Native.
(Get 20% off with our exclusive discount code THEADULTMAN)
If you've got a watch addiction problem like us, taking just one watch on vacation just isn't on the cards. When I want leather, I look to leather experts, and renowned Spanish shoemaker Morjas makes my favorite watch roll. It has a soft removable cushion to fit up to three watches, has a really elegant feel, and is perfectly small enough to not take up too much space in my luggage.
2. Daniel Wellington Classic Black ST Mawes
Dependable and relentless, Daniel Wellington has a watch for just about every occasion you could think of.
The minimalist approach of the ST Mawes puts full focus on the bronze-colored hands and hour markings, matching with the leather band in a glorious way.
Thanks to the simple color scheme, you’ll be able to apply this to just about any casual or corporate wear.
Japanese quartz, rose-gold plated case, and a fantastic waterproof rating for day-to-day use: straight to the point, no time for nonsense.
3. SONGDU Slim Quartz Analog Watch
Minimalist approach, minimum budget. SONGDU is notoriously inexpensive, and keeps it close to the basics, which is exactly what we’re going for here.
You get a powerful Japanese quartz movement, durable glass lens, and a milanese mesh band.
It rests nice and comfortably on your wrist, and it keeps things nice and simple with minimal markings along the watch face, rounded out with a convenient date window right up front.
Waterproof enough for everyday use. Dapper enough to garner some compliments and augment your attire.
4. Tonnier Stainless Steel Slim Fit Watch
You can never go wrong with stainless steel.
Match that with the metal mesh, low cost and super resistant glass lens, and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive masterpiece.
Tonnier likes to keep things on the lower budget end, without sacrificing quality.
You get a thinner watch face and lower average millimeter diameter, while still having a reliable, functional watch that adds a slim-fit appeal.
Japanese quartz, a two-year warranty provided by Amazon, and a full charcoal black minimalist design: what’s not to love?
5. MVMT Classic Analog Watch
We’re after a simple palette and minimal markings here: MVMT aids in defining what a minimalist watch truly is.
You get three simple styles to choose from, a two-year guarantee directly from the manufacturer, and Miyota quartz movement to power your three-hand dial.
Narrow stitching along the leather band, and a prominent stainless steel bezel and case add durability beyond compare.
Your day may be complicated, so keep your style simple and clean.
6. Vigor Rigger All-Black Minimalist Watch
Similar to some of the other sexy models on this list, the BUREI Men's Fashion Minimalist Wrist Watch Simple Ultra Thin Watch Analog Quartz Date with Stainless Steel Mesh Band (All Black Watch) has a metal mesh bracelet, and a charcoal black primary template.
It comes with a fairly small overall diameter, slate gray background to the watch face, and a drop of snow where the calendar window is.
You get all the features you’re looking for: a scratch-resistant crystal dial window, Japanese quartz movement, and nothing but the basics on the aesthetic front.
Bold and flashy are two separate characteristics of your wardrobe: which are you striving for?
7. VAVC Simple Leather Band Watch
Two separate watch face designs to choose from, casual apparel-ready, and the subtlety you’re aiming for.
Minimalist watches sacrifice the bells and whistles, and make up for it in a lower cost, and a central focus on solid construction.
You have two years worth of warranty time on this, and thirty days to either love it or send it back for a full refund.
The daily grind won’t stand a chance: waterproof up to 98ft, durable stitched leather band, and a scratch-resistant crystal lens.
Throw the world at it, and VAVC will still be sitting pretty when the dust clears.
8. Timex Weekender Fairfield
Timex is an old trusted brand and they produce all kinds of watches, including the type of watches meant for hot-air balloon pilots and wearers of leather helmets.
This watch is solidly built, lasts a long time, and is a great for everyday use.
One issue with the Weekender Fairfield is that some say it ticks loudly, so if you are on the verge of an existential meltdown or a mid-life crisis, don’t get this watch.
If you’re fine listening to the precious seconds of your life tick away like fluid dripping into lost consciousness, you’re good to go.
Also, it’s waterproof.
9. Bijouone Minimalist Leather and Stainless Steel Watch
It ain’t easy finding Swiss quartz movement for this low of a price, but we’ve never failed you before, and dammit we aren’t going to start now.
A solid price for a killer watch, featuring simple dash markings, a comfortable leather band, and eggshell white block face.
If you could give the word “classic” a headshot, this would be it.
There isn’t much more to this watch, which is why we love it: ample waterproofing capabilities, and a two-year warranty backed by Amazon.
10. Komono Winston Regal
Komono’s well-built collection offers a lot of appealing styles if you dig the minimalist look like we do.
The Winston Regal has a large face, and is extremely lightweight. You don’t have to weigh down your wrist with a slab of steel for it to look expensive.
Komono also produces reliability in the form of Japanese quartz, and a supple band that hugs your wrist without causing sweating or chafing.
11. Skagen Ancher Steel Mesh Watch
Steel is the breakfast of champions… or is that Wheaties?
Right, it’s the watch of champions.
With steel mesh wrapped around your wrist, a white and light gray appeal throughout the face and smaller features, and excellent day-to-day waterproofing, you’re basically on the way to being a total boss.
This watch doesn’t draw attention; it merely solidifies your style, and shows your sensibility.
You seek out the best of the best, you wear the cream of the crop, and you find your next best fit for all things style-related right here on The Adult Man.
12. Projects 7404 5 O’Clock Watch
Projects 5 o’clock watch has a mysterious 5 sitting at the bottom.
It’s not the date: they’ve just opted to add the single number.
For us, that’s just crazy enough to work. You sort out the lovable oddity and get right down to it: a white, blank canvas with a rhythmically moving hand, a leather wristband, and narrow bezel to emphasize the more delicate parts of your wardrobe.
Add a few narrow, slimming qualities to your usual getup, all while filling the void on your wrist.
13. Fossil The Minimalist
Fossil is a great company with a solid repair policy.
Their bands are easy to swap out, and there are tons of style options take take your pick from.
As one of our staffer’s personal favorite brands, this borders on the fence between minimalist and luxurious.
They went bold on the markings and depth along the bezel, but one look at it, and you know it’s just itching to slip over your wrist.
Epic water resistance, a leather band and quartz movement; it’s time to bring it on home.
14. CakCity Stainless Steel and Nylon Watch
Last but not least, this beautiful beast boasts a blue-and-red nylon band, extremely low cost, and stainless steel case.
Rose-gold tone on the bezel, buckle and fixtures give this an alluring element, while the stainless steel primary construction keeps this nice and sturdy.
Thin, a low diameter case, and a simple set of markings to stay right on-point with our theme here.
You’ve got a two-year warranty by Amazon, and a quick way to replace your band when it eventually weathers.
Boom—there we go. Which watch was your favorite?
What was your favorite part of this guide? Drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook and let us know, and what guides you’d like to see more of.
Each brand has their own specific pluses and minuses, but they all have one thing in common: they’re TAM-approved.
These are the goods that we’re on the lookout for, have personally purchased, or have simply researched the hell out of.