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Best Simple Stainless Steel Luxury Watches

While we love a dressy gold timepiece or a sporty diver, a watch collection is simply not complete without an understated stainless steel piece. In fact, a stainless steel luxury watch can certainly be a one-watch collection thanks to its all-round style and durability. So we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pieces from our pre-owned watch collection here at Gray & Sons to bring you the best simple stainless steel luxury watches to own right now.

Rolex Datejust II

The Datejust is one of Rolex’s most varied collections with a vast assortment of sizes, materials, bezels, bracelets, and dial styles to choose from. However, a simple stainless steel Rolex Datejust is an absolute classic–one that looks great with just about any getup.

Simple Stainless Steel Luxury Watches: Rolex Datejust II
Simple Stainless Steel Luxury Watches: Rolex Datejust II

This particular model is the Rolex Datejust II ref. 116300 with a stainless steel Oyster case, smooth steel bezel, and steel Oyster bracelet. As this is part of the Datejust II collection, the case size measures 41mm–larger than the classic Datejust 36 but still perfectly proportional for those with larger wrists. Emphasizing the restrained style of the Datejust is the white dial, punctuated with baton hour markers and the customary date window at 3 o’clock.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

As one of the pioneering watchmakers in the pilot watch space, IWC is well known for its collection of aviator watches. They range from pared-down vintage-inspired executions to complicated pilot timepieces.

Simple Stainless Steel Watches: IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII
Simple Stainless Steel Watches: IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII IW327009 is a direct descendant of the legendary Mark 11, which was designed specifically to meet the requirements of the British Royal Air Force in the 1940s. And because the Mark XVIII is based upon the Mark 11, it is a straightforward pilot’s watch built with optimal legibility in mind. The black dial encased within the 40mm stainless steel case features large Arabic numerals, a prominent minute track, and oversized center hands, all coated with luminescence. Inside the case is an automatic movement placed within a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields.

Cartier Tank Solo XL

The master of “shaped watches” (i.e. non-round timepieces) Cartier’s watch collection runs the gamut from square cases to tonneau cases and plenty in-between. But it is the rectangular Tank watch that is Cartier’s most famous watch, first conceived in the early 20th Century taking design inspiration from the military armored vehicles that roamed the battlefields during the First World War.

Cartier Tank Solo Automatic XL
Cartier Tank Solo Automatic XL

The stainless steel Cartier Tank Solo Automatic XL is the modern version of that inaugural Tank timepiece from 1917. It features a simplified 31mm x 40.85mm rectangular case, housing Cartier’s signature dial style of black Roman numerals and blued-steel sword-shaped hands on a silvered opaline background. Also on the dial is a discreet date window at 6 o’clock and the watch is finished off with a matching stainless steel bracelet for a handsome streamlined look.

Panerai Luminor Base

Panerai has made a name for itself by manufacturing watches that almost never stray from a certain set of strict design guidelines. The resulting effect has been a collection of Panerai watches that are recognizable almost instantly (at least by watch fans).

Panerai Luminor Base PAM00002

One such example is the collectible Panerai Luminor Base PAM00002, circa late-1990s/early-2000s. And although it was made over two decades ago, it still looks like modern Panerai Luminor–thanks to Panerai’s guiding design language. The watch sports a 44mm stainless steel cushion-style case, not counting the oversized crown-protecting bridge found across all Luminor watches. The dial is as bare-bones as you’d expect from a Luminor Base model with just a pair of luminous hour and minute hands at center sweeping around the dial to point to large and luminous Arabic numeral and stick hour makers.

TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 5

Although the Carrera name is often associated with sporty chronograph watches, TAG Heuer does make a range of simpler Carrera models as well perfectly suited for everyday wear.

TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 5
Simple Stainless Steel Luxury Watches: TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 5

Take for example this TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 5, with a 39mm steel case and matching steel link bracelet. While the dial is in a neutral silver shade, look a little closer and you’ll see that the outer section features a snailed pattern motif while the inner section is smooth. The dial features straightforward baton hour markers, a minute track around the periphery, and a date window at three o’clock. The caseback includes sapphire crystal for a view of the automatic Caliber 5 mechanical movement inside.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Ultra Thin

For those who want elegance in their simple steel luxury watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre usually has the answer. The Master Control collection is where Jaeger-LeCoultre brings it back to the basics with understated timepieces made to the highest standards–both aesthetically and mechanically.

Simple Stainless Steel Luxury Watches: Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Ultra Thin
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Ultra Thin

The Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Ultra Thin 145.8.79 in stainless steel is a great watch for slim wrists or for fans of smaller timepieces. Living up to its ultra-thin designation, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch includes a 34mm case that measures a mere 6mm thick. The crisp silver sunburst dial includes slender and tapered hand-applied hour markers along with numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. This Master Control only includes a pair of hour and minute hands, powered by the manual-wound movement visible through the display caseback.

Whether small, medium or large, fitted with a bracelet or a strap, a stainless steel watch is a must-have in any collection. Browse our vast selection of pre-owned luxury watches at Gray and Sons to find the one that matches your taste, budget, and lifestyle.

Written by

Celine Simon

Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls Southern California home.