Fuss free: minimalist watches for modern tastes

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Meet six timeless watch designs that are collectively as clean as a whistle

The watch world is filled with bells and whistles; with super-complications, second time zones, chronographs or chronometers, the lot. But, every now and then, there’s satisfaction to be found in something that works in its simplicity. If, like us, you’re craving a touch of fuss-free watch design this autumn, then look no further. These six designs have been curated for their minimalistic sensibility, their understated looks and to suit any taste or budget.

Nomos Bauhaus edition watches1. Nomos Glashutte’s ‘Bauhaus’ editions

Nomos Glashutte’s watches are clean cut at the best of times, but the brand’s newly released ‘Bauhaus Editions are a design buff’s dream. The Tangente has something of a cult following; it’s the oldest Glashutte produced watch in continuous production, and with the Bauhaus movement turning 100 next year, Nomos’s nine new limited edition watches are coming only in 100 pieces each. The Bauhaus Editions are available in 33, 35 and 38mm cases, and each comes with a sketch paper coloured dial, surrounded by a primary coloured ring; either red, blue or yellow, inspired by the sketches of Bauhaus stalwart, Paul Klee. They’re fitted with Nomos’s in-house Alpha manual winding caliber, and feature a stop-seconds function, too.

£1,260 to £1,520,

Cartier Tank Solo watch2. Cartier Tank Solo in steel

For classicists, the Cartier Tank is elegant as can be. First designed in 1913 by the man himself, Louis Cartier, and inspired by the shape of the new fighting machines of the First World War, nowadays the Solo is among Cartier’s smaller, simpler watches – perfect for discreet dressers who nonetheless appreciate fine design. It’s finished with Cartier’s traditional Roman numerals, blued-steel sword-shaped hands and signature beaded crown, inset with a faux blue cabochon spinel – classic as can be. Cartier offers the Tank Solo with a variety of different straps, but we think the taupe grained calfskin is a chic choice. It softens the watch’s impact, and is a little more interesting than traditional black.


3. Baume & Mercier Classima 10415

Today, the Classima range forms the backbone of Baume & Mercier’s collection, and combines understated styling with Swiss watchmaking prowess and an appealing value proposition. This reference mixes a subtle silver-coloured dial in a sun-satin finish with elegant gold plated hands and Roman numeral time markers – mixing traditional and contemporary design tropes seamlessly. The date function’s a handy addition, and the 42mm case is sensibly sized, too. It’s finished with a versatile tobacco coloured crocodile leather strap, which makes it an easy piece to dress up or down as the mood takes you.

£820, shop now via Mr Porter

Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope black4. Junghans Max Bill chronoscope

The Max Bill takes many forms, from Junghans’ annual limited editions, to the funky Max Bill Mega with its radio-controlled perpetual calendar, and this, the Max Bill Chronoscope. Another clean-cut German watch brand that draws inspiration from Bauhaus design, the Max Bill is named after the Swiss architect, industrial designer, painter, sculptor and all-round maestro of the same name, and its dial uses a font designed by Bill himself, and which dates to 1961 in its earliest form. Slim hands, slimmer markers, a thin case and pared back sub-dials combine to create a minimalist watch par excellence, which looks particularly mean in black. A smart buy for those of you who appreciate purist design aesthetics.


Ressence Type 1 watch5. Ressence Type 1 MRP

Not all minimal watches need to be equally understated, mind you. The Ressence Type 1’s a clever thing not only because the technology at work is impressive, but also because it looks so markedly different to a conventional timepiece. Made in Switzerland, Ressence uses its patented ‘Orbital Convex System’ to shape the watch; convex sub-dials around the face display the hours, seconds and days of the week in a continuous revolution. It’s a mind-bender at first sight, but is nonetheless intuitive to use. It’s made from fine rose gold and grade-five titanium, which combines extreme lightness with impressive toughness. The price point’s a little eye watering, but if you’re after a pared back watch that’s nonetheless striking, you’ll struggle to find anything else quite like this.

£25,850, shop now, exclusive to

Bell & Ross BR-S-92 Golden Heritage6. Bell & Ross BR-S-92 Golden Heritage

Bell & Ross has a reputation for making chunky, attitude-laced watches inspired by its military watchmaking past, but that’s not to say the brand doesn’t do a smart job of keeping things simple from time to time. This is the BR-S-92 Golden Heritage, part of the Golden Heritage collection ange that launched at Baselworld in 2013, and is as appealing today as it was then. Its power lies in its simplicity; the satin-polished steel case, slim hour markers, black sun-ray dial. It also features a 39mm case, so sits at the smaller end of the spectrum. Clean, simple and without any affectation, this Automatic is the perfect way to channel B&R’s signature shape if statement watches aren’t your thing.