How Big Should My Watch Be?

 
Robert W. from Texas, USA asks:

I recently received a Tissot 1853 chronograph with automatic movement. My son has one also but with a quartz movement. My question revolves around the width of the watch. My automatic seems to be twice as thick as my sons watch. Does the thickness of a watch add value, performance or is it just a design. I have small wrists so the watch looks huge. My son is 6' 4" plus, so either watch looks good on him. it seems the watches are catering to large people or does size relate to fashion?

It used to be, that the smaller and thinner the watch was, the "better" it was because the movement needed to be finer and more miniaturized. True enough, the smaller space you work with the more clever you need to be about engineering. At the same time the more complex a movement its the larger it needs to be. Generally speaking, quartz movements are smaller that mechanical movements and can this fit in smaller, thinner cases. Just because a case is large doesn't mean it has a good movement or is high quality. Today there are many cases that are large for fashion reasons and contain relatively small movements inside of them.

Only recently have the major Swiss watch brands been developing movements for larger-cased watches. These larger movements bucked the trend of mechanical miniaturization that was a major part of the 20th century. Larger men's watches are in style right now and most men prefer a timepiece between about 40-44mm wide. Some like them even larger, but probably 95% of men would feel good with a watch in that size range. The short answer to your question is that larger watches are simply in style and will be for the foreseeable future.

For more, take a look at what what we wrote on this topic a couple of years ago, including the opinions of our readers at the time on this subject »


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  • ZL

    I have 6.5″ wrists and generally like smaller thinner watches. 38mm is usually good, but I’ve discovered that the size of the watch face also has a big effect on wrist presence. Although occasionally a big 45mm watch is ok, watches catering to my taste are relatively few.

  • fathom50

    40-44 mm watches are really “making a statement”.  I wish manufacturers would go back to producing watches in the 35-38 mm range.  Or at least offer the same designs in a smaller case.

  • emenezes

    Count me among the 5%. I found that i prefer watches that occupy about 2/3 of my wrist between the lugs. Not  unsurprisingly, that’s the time honored good ratio in aesthetics, which suggest me that the fad of large watches is a passing one too.

  • Mr. Small Wrist

    I agree with emenezes on this one. I have a 6.25-inch wrist and anything larger than 37mm looks huge on me. As important, as someone who bought and sold a Tudor Black Bay in the last few years, larger watches, especially with bigger crowns, can be annoyingly uncomfortable.

  • TheHacksaw

    My collection ranges from 39mm up to 46mm. As long as the watch falls into that range and feels right on my wrist, it’s a keeper. Some sizes might sound perfect, but look and feel like utter garbage once placed on your wrist.

  • Dan Kelly

    I generally feel like 40mm is the sweet spot for me. However, some watches wear smaller than their size may indicate depending on design.