So you’re thinking about adding a watch to your EDC, but you’re a minimalist at heart. You’ve looked around and it seems like most watches you’ve seen in people’s EDCs tend to be too chunky for your tastes and cluttered with features you’d probably never use anyway. What you need is a truly minimalist watch—one with a clean design, that wears comfortably thin on your wrist, and makes it easy to tell the time at a glance.
In this guide, we've got you covered with ten solid watches for any minimalist EDC. You won’t be able to go deep-sea diving or take on critical military missions with these watches, but they more than make up for it with their everyday wearability, style, and simplicity. By the end of this guide, you’ll know what to look for in a minimalist watch, as illustrated by our 10 favorite minimalist timepieces, all under $200 and readily available.
The Four Design Cues of Minimalist Watches
When looking for a watch to complement your minimalist EDC, it should have these four characteristics:
- A simple design: Less is more. Keeping your watch thin and lightweight on your wrist makes it more comfortable and easier to wear. For example, a minimalist timepiece can slip under your sleeve cuff much more easily compared to a clunky tool watch. Details like a slim, circular case and unimposing lugs make for a distraction-free watch that won’t get in the way during your everyday tasks.
- An uncluttered face: Your watch’s face will be the center of attention. Many watches tend to cram this prime real estate with features like subdials, rotating bezels, flashy layered faces, large numbers, and many hands. The key design cue in a minimalist watch is elegant restraint—not information overload. So instead, look for smaller numbers, lines, or dots to show the time.
- Tasteful branding: Your watch’s minimal design cues should add to its design and legibility, not just make more room for showing off logos. Look for subtle branding and small logos so that the watch’s features can speak for themselves. Minimalist watches are great if you're looking for a more timeless design, or prefer your gear to be sterile and unbranded.
- Core functionality: Balancing minimalism with functionality is often overlooked. Your watch’s ability to tell the time and do it well is the difference between a useful tool and a fashion piece. Make sure your pick is easy enough to read, and that it’s also water resistant enough for EDC. You don’t want your watch to quit because of an accidental splash or hand washing.
The Best Minimalist Watches for a Minimal Budget
Timex Weekender Fairfield
The Timex Weekender is one of the most popular “entry level” watches, and for good reason. They’re affordable, accessible (as a unisex option too), and easy to wear with any outfit or for any occasion. The new Fairfield's reliable quartz movement, 99 feet of water resistance, and interchangeable band highlight Timex’s most minimal entry into the Weekender line. The watch features an Indigo nightlight for easy time-telling, no matter what the hour. The Fairfield’s clean face, small dot markers for each minute, and slim lines instead of numbers make for an excellent everyday watch.
Daniel Wellington Sheffield
Daniel Wellington’s Sheffield takes the minimalist watch a bit more towards the dress category. A padded leather strap and 40mm case size make this watch an ideal part of your office wardrobe or companion to a more formal outfit. The polished hands are easy to read and the dial subs out numbered indices for lines. In true minimalist fashion, the Sheffield ditches the seconds hand, only telling time to the minute and hour.
If you’re looking for a watch with a little bit more wrist presence, look no further than the Magnus by Kimono. This watch features a large, 56mm case made of tasteful brushed steel. The white face is easy to read, and features the brand’s mark at the 4 o’clock position. Slim black hour and minute hands nicely contrast the litter face, and a red seconds hand adds just the right amount of pop while keeping the overall look of the watch understated.
Braun Classic Stainless Watch
A classic example of form-follows-function Bauhaus design, the Braun Classic makes an excellent everyday watch. The high contrast white on black face is easy to read, and the yellow seconds hand sets it apart from the others. A steel case, impressive 50m water resistance, and high-quality Japanese quartz movement round out the spec list. The leather band with buckle closure and conservative 38mm case result in a comfortable watch that will nicely complement your minimalist EDC.
MVMT's goal when creating this watch was to cut down on the costs associated with brand inflation, and reinvest that saved money back into the watch itself. As a result, the MVMT offers up high quality materials like mineral glass for the crystal, stainless steel for the case, and premium leather for the strap. Coming in at around half the price of its competitors, the MVMT offers a minimalist look that's ideal for both casual and professional settings.
Skagen Ancher SKW6082
The Ancher collection by Skagen features slim watches that are easy to read and comfortable to wear. The case measures in at only 8mm thin—perfect if you're looking for a watch with minimal wrist presence. Bold numbered indices for hours are paired with thin smaller lines for minutes, making the watch very easy to read. The Ancher also integrates a small, circular date window at the 6-hour mark to give you additional information without overwhelming its minimalist look.
Tsovet Stainless Steel Watch
Tsovet's SVT-CN38 is a great entry into Bauhaus design. The watch features a matte steel case, modern elongated numerals, and a quality leather strap. Its balanced 38mm case hits the sweet spot between size and wearability. Although it may look minimal at first, the face actually has quite a bit of information on it. Instead of just printing it on there with contrasting ink, they've opted to deboss the text so it's stamped into the face itself. Look closely and you'll see the model name, series, and water resistance rating hiding in plain sight.
Alessi Al13003 “Out Time”
Designed by an architect, this all-black watch is practically as minimal as they come. The “Out Time” by Alessi ditches the second hand and only shows the hour and minutes with white contrasting hands. The dial opts for dots over numbers or lines, further adding to the understated appearance. Notable specs include a Japanese quartz movement, black leather band, and low-profile crown.
The Evo Swiss Railway Watch by Mondaine is definitely the busiest looking of the bunch. This time piece draws inspiration from the iconic Swiss Railway clocks seen throughout the country's transit system. Not only is the design visually pleasing, but it's also easy to read without being cluttered. The watch features a durable hardened mineral crystal, a stainless steel case, and 30m of water resistance. Add a piece of timekeeping history to your wrist with the Railway by Mondaine.
Void Watches V03B
Somewhere between a military-inspired scout watch and a Bauhaus minimalist design lies the Void V03B. The watch takes a different approach to minimalism with how they’ve numbered the watch face. Instead of the standard 1-12 hour markers, the Void counts up in five-minute intervals. The watch is fitted with a NATO-style strap for minimal bulk on your wrist while giving you the option to easily swap in different straps.
Did your favorite minimalist ticker not make this list? Let your fellow EDCers know your favorite understated watch in the comments below.