I am not a big proponent of the one-watch policy. Oh sure, it seems like every new watch brand tries to convince us that their watch is the one suitable for all occasions, but don't believe them. Watches are like any other article of clothing or accessory; nothing is truly suitable for all occasions. Sure, you can bend the rules a bit, but you wouldn't wear Crocs with a suit, or wingtips to the beach. Similarly, if you are preparing to scuba dive, you should probably leave your grandfather's pocket watch on the boat. Finally, if you are getting all dressed up for a formal affair, you need the right dress watch, like maybe the Rotary Les Originales Ultra Slim I'm reviewing today.
When it comes to dress watches, I'm strictly old school. I want them small, thin, simple, and elegant. The Rotary hits every mark. Its polished stainless steel case is 36mm wide and a mere 4.7mm thick. Bowl shaped case sides and slightly curved lugs make it appear even slimmer, almost disappearing when viewed in profile.
Current fashion favors 42mm or larger for most men's everyday watches, and about 40mm for dress pieces. In this climate, 36mm sounds small, even dainty, but until recently, it was was considered perfectly reasonable. Obviously, you should wear what makes you comfortable and suits your size. An NFL linebacker can wear a larger watch than I can, but dress watches should quietly complement you, not steal attention by shouting their presence.
The Rotary's stepped dial is a warm pearl white with a fabulous starburst texture on the inner section. The hands and markers are gold batons, which present a pleasant contrast to the white and silver. I know it just my own hang up, but I find it hard to warm up to most gold watches. I've tried, really I have, but have found precious few that speak to me. I'd much prefer a steel case with gold accents on the dial to tie the watch to my other accessories.
Like all Rotary watches, the Les Originales Ultra Slim is Swiss made. The movement is a 8 jewel, gold plated Ronda Slimtech 1006 quartz with a date complication. I know many of my readers have read just read "quartz" and lost interest, but stick with me. Quartz movements offer certain advantages, one of which is a low profile. Sure, you can find mechanical watches that are less than 5mm thick, but not many, and you had better be prepared to pay for the privilege.
A dress watch needs a suitably dressy strap, and the Ultra Slim delivers with crocodile-embossed burgundy leather. For truly formal wear you would want black, but the burgundy is an excellent complement to the Ultra Slim's silver and gold tones and it looks great with a charcoal or navy suit. Its sculpted buckle is signed. Other versions are available, including a two-tone link bracelet to dress up the watch even further.
On my 6.5" wrist, the Ultra Slim was understated without looking undersized - ideal for a dress watch. Needless to say, it slipped under the tightest of shirt cuffs with room to spare. There is nothing effeminate about the watch, but it could easily be worn by a woman. I suspect it would be more of an everyday piece than a formal dress watch (women's dress watches tend to be on the tiny side) but the wafer-thin 36mm case is a good match for smaller wrists, making it a truly unisex design.
The Rotary Les Originales Ultra Slim pictured here lists for £229, or about $284 USD. European shoppers will have an easier time finding Rotary Watches in stores, but US buyers may have better luck with Amazon or other online retailers. For more information see RotaryWatches.com.