The Difference Between a Sports Watch And A Dress Watch

Dress watches and sports watches are both extremely popular styles in the luxury watch world, but which one is right for you? Let’s look at the main differences between them, and check out a few stunning examples by Filippo Loreti.

A huge part of the appeal of watch collecting lies in its subjectiveness. There are no hard-and-fast rules in horology - different trends come and go and personal taste largely dictates which watch you select on any given day.

Ascari Monza Two Tone Blue Gold Rubber Watch

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However, it’s important to know the basic differences between watch types when choosing which watch to buy or wear. For example, you wouldn’t wear your elegant, small-faced gold watch to go water skiing, and you probably wouldn’t select a colorful racing watch to go with your black-tie tuxedo. These are obvious examples, but there are many more subjective ‘grey areas’ which provoke a lot of discussion among watch lovers!

A lot will depend on your lifestyle and your priorities, but it’s always a good idea to have a few different types of watches in your collection so you’re stylishly covered for any situation.

In this article, we’re going to explore the difference between the sports watch vs the dress watch. We’ll discuss their various characteristics and uses, and check out some amazing examples by Filippo Loreti. 

The Dress Watch

The primary purpose of a dress watch is to complement your black-tie or other formal wear, rather than direct attention to itself. 

With this in mind, you should be looking for a design that is simple and elegant. Dress watches are usually cased in gold or silver and feature a classic dial color such as white, black, or brown (although colors like blue and green are beginning to become more common). 

Dial details are tasteful and minimalist, with simple indices and perhaps some small but interesting features such as a date wheel or moon phase complication. Dress watches should also be discreet in size - no more than 40mm in diameter and certainly thin enough to slide easily beneath a sleeve and stay out of sight until needed. 

An exposed, chunky watch getting in the way and bunching up your sleeve is not a good look.

As for the strap, fine Italian leather is perfect. Leather is simple, elegant, and subtle, all characteristics that a good dress watch aspires to. That said, other variations such as Milanese mesh or steel bracelet work too in certain situations, perhaps in a business setting rather than black-tie. 

Keep in mind that everyone has a different view of what defines a ‘true’ dress watch, so feel free to wear what you like and treat these as guidelines only. Sometimes a dive watch works perfectly well with a tux - just ask James Bond!

James Bond

The Sports Watch

Originally designed for functional uses such as diving, flying, and racing, sports watches have become a true staple of the luxury watch world. 

With a masculine character, bold looks, and nifty complications that appeal to the gadget-minded, it’s no surprise that sports watches are as popular as ever - and even stand in for dress watches occasionally. 

Depending on its specialty, a sports watch will feature either a chronograph timer, which works as a stopwatch for capturing lap times; a tachymeter, which can be used for measuring speed; or a rotating bezel, for making sure your dives are precisely timed. Sports watches will also be tough and rugged, with heavy stainless steel casing and water resistance down to hundreds of meters, and feature large, colorful dials for easy visibility. 

While many of these features are made largely obsolete by digital tech these days (who really needs a luxury watch at impossible depths of 800m beneath the waves?), the classic, retro style and fine craftsmanship of the sports watch means that they are always in style. Their functionality and flexibility with strap, complications, colors, and design bring all kinds of different options into play, giving watch lovers the freedom to choose the watch that best reflects their personality. 

In general, sports watches are suitable almost anywhere and anytime, except for those formal occasions where dress watches are more appropriate. However, even then it might be possible to wear a discreet and simple sports watch - providing that the strap and colors are right and the dial is not overly cluttered. Again, feel free to use your own judgment on this! 

Dress and Sport Watches By Filippo Loreti

With their innovative direct-to-consumer model that delivers quality right to your doorstep, Filippo Loreti has become synonymous with affordable luxury. Now you can own a dress or sports watch of the highest quality, for just a fraction of the price that you’ve become accustomed to! 

Let’s check out some great examples of dress and sports watches, all available for under $300.

1. Odyssey Black & Red Racer Sport Watch

Odyssey Black & Red Racer

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The Odyssey is one of Filippo Loreti’s all-time bestsellers, and it’s easy to see why. 

Known for its classic Italian Riviera style, this racing-inspired edition of the Odyssey evokes thoughts of fast coastal drives in a Ferrari or Maserati, followed by cocktails on the yacht and nights out at the casino.

With sporty chronograph features, retro racing colors, and a tasteful Cordura strap, this is a sports watch that oozes confidence and masculinity and is ideal for smart casual dress.

2. Ascari Monza Two Tone Black Gold Tiger Rubber Sport Watch

Ascari Monza Two Tone Black Gold Tiger Rubber

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The Ascari is another racing-inspired sports watch, which gets its name from one of Formula 1’s all-time greats. 

Alberto Ascari was the first back-to-back championship winner, driving his Ferrari to glory in both the 1952 and 1953 seasons. The Ascari Monza pays homage to his achievement with stunning engraved artwork of his legendary car on the case back, and a complex dial with chronograph timer, tachymeter, and gold details.

A rugged rubber strap adds to the sporty character of this eye-catching and complicated timepiece, making it ideal for the active man who wants to make a statement.

3. Okeanos Rose Gold Green Link 2020 Edition Dress Watch

Okeanos Rose Gold Green Link 2020 Edition

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The Okeanos Rose Gold Green Link 2020 Edition is the perfect example of that subjective grey area. Is it a dress watch or a sports watch? 

With an elegant rose gold case, simple, clean dial, and discreet size, the Okeanos is exactly the kind of dive watch that could hold its own on any kind of formal occasion. Strictly speaking, this is a sports watch, with its rotating bezel and colorful dial. 

But with green dial being an up-and-coming color (even in dress watches) and its overall air of smart sophistication, this watch is a true all-rounder that works pretty everywhere. From the ocean to the office or even the most formal black-tie event, you can wear the Okeanos with confidence and style.

4. Eterno Gilded Hazel Link Dress Watch

Eterno Gilded Hazel Link

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Dress watches are always classic designs, and the Eterno Gilded Hazel Link is no exception. 

Inspired by the legendary Polerouter, one of the most iconic watches of the 20th century. The Polerouter was created for pilots and crew on the newly-created ‘polar route,’ which crossed the North Pole and cut the flight time between Copenhagen and Los Angeles by 14 hours. 

With a reliable and accurate automatic movement, this retro design gets a modern twist suitable for a 21st-century lifestyle. With a tasteful hazel face, gilded with a subtle golden sheen, the Eterno’s simple, yet elegant looks - paired with its fascinating history - create the ideal contemporary take on the classic dress watch. 

5. Venice Moonphase Black Gold Dress Watch

Venice Moonphase Black Gold

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The Venice Moonphase is indeed a classic design, with minimalist indices, a discreet all-black color scheme, and an Italian leather strap. 

However, the addition of some small but interesting complications makes this a dress watch with a difference. A unique and artistic moon phase complication is complemented by day-of-the-week, date-of-the-month, and month-of-the-year wheels, to create a refined and elegant style.

Ideal for the discerning gentleman of culture, this dress watch pairs perfectly with formal dress, but has the potential to be a real conversation starter in the right situation.

Wrap up

While there are clear and obvious differences between a dress watch and a sports watch - design, size, and color just to name a few - it’s not always so easy to decide which occasion is best for each. 

This subjectiveness is part of the joy of owning and collecting watches, you are free to break the ‘rules’ any time! Wear your favourite watch as you wish, and use our suggestions as rough guidelines only. 

The best solution is to curate a small collection of different luxury watch styles, which is now an affordable option thanks to Filippo Loreti. Check out men’s luxury watch collection for dress watches under $500 and much more, and start building your collection today!

Danielius Jakutis