back to top

What’s The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained

What's The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained Featured Articles

Why are watches today so big? That is a question we at aBlogtoWatch get asked a lot – and it is a typical source of conversation (and contention) among people who like watches. It is true that wrist watches today are larger than they have been historically, but perhaps not as large as they were a few years ago. What we are talking about is mostly the diameter of a watch case (usually measured in millimeters) and to an extent the thickness of a case.

How do you define a “big watch?” There is no specific size at which a watch becomes “big” or “massive” or “small.” Though, I will say that people started commenting on large watch sizes when timepieces measuring 44mm wide from companies such as Panerai and others started to become popular in the early 2000s and, to a degree, the late 1990s.

In the 1990s, the typical size for a men’s watch was in the 37-39mm wide range. A few years later that size went up to 41-44mm, and by the mid 2000s it was common to see watches sized from 45-48mm wide (and even larger). Historically men’s watches were perhaps 35-37mm wide, though in the 1970s we did see a lot of larger men’s sport watches. It is true that over time there has been a gradual trend to increase the size of men’s watches, but starting in the early 2000s, that trend rapidly accelerated.

Even though many of the aBlogtoWatch writers are fans of large timepieces the purpose of this article isn’t to defend them or convince you to wear one. Our goal is to explain the reasons why timepieces for both men and women have become larger, and help consumers feel comfortable with the watch sizes that they prefer.

What's The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained Featured Articles

The Big Issue

Watch lovers literally argue about the “proper” watch size. People who like comparatively larger watches say that smaller-sized watches look like timepieces for women or boys, and people who prefer smaller-sized watches complain that large watches look silly or indicate that the wearer is trying to compensate for something. The bottom line is that members of each faction are literally insulting one another on a regular basis in an on-going debate. That is how passionate people are about this topic.

Advertisement

The watch industry often uses the term “oversize” to indicate that a watch they are producing is larger than “average.” While there is no “average size” any longer, they are referring to the size of their watch in comparison to traditional sizes of 40mm wide and under. We won’t use the word oversize because we don’t like the term oversize. aBlogtoWatch fans have heard me complain about this before, but the term literally means “too big.” If it is too big, you can’t wear it. Thus, an oversize watch is a watch too large to wear – and logically speaking, you can’t actually refer to a watch you are wearing as oversize if it actually fits. So, if you see this term being used, you know what it means, and now you know why we won’t be using it ourselves.

What's The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained Featured Articles

Large watches are a big issue because they make it difficult for people to wear “traditionally sized” watches. Often times “larger watches” are also called “modernly size” or “contemporary.” Vintage watches are often smaller and thus often don’t conform to modern size taste. In any event, this watch size issue is a huge source of debate among watch wearers.

So why all the fuss and what does it mean for you? It really comes down to personal taste, as we will discuss, and there is no correct or incorrect watch size. There are, however, certain rules to see if a watch is too big for your particular wrist. The first thing to do is put on a watch and see whether or not the lugs stick out past your wrist. If your wrist does not have enough real estate space for the watch to fully sit on, then in our opinion the watch is too large for your wrist. If the watch – no matter the size – completely sits on your wrist from top to bottom, then you can technically wear it without breaking style rules. It is also a good idea to make sure that the crown of a watch doesn’t jab into your wrist while wearing it and moving your hand around.

So if a watch passes the above test then have no qualms about wearing it. The bigger issue is the emotional element, and deciding whether or not a watch is worth showing off as much.

What's The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained Featured Articles

With its 48 millimeters width, large indicies and protruding crown, the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 offers plenty of real estate to show off the aviator inside of you

Space To Show Off

In the late 1980s the mechanical watch was slowly coming back into fashion after the quartz watch market more or less killed it with cheaper prices and superior timing accuracy. Swiss watch brands were able to rebound (in a manner of speaking) by upgrading the status of the mechanical watch to being a luxury item versus a utility item. Case designs and quality improved, and by the 1990s timepieces were more than ever a status symbol and designer product versus mere tool to indicate the time. This meant that more emphasis was being placed on people seeing you wear a watch versus just the wearer being able to see it.

Further, as watch case and dial design became more complex, it was increasingly desirable for wearers to show off the artistic and decorative value of their watches – which meant that larger cases and dials were increasingly of interest. More so, as (mostly) mechanical watches became luxury items, watch features often increased in complexity. Thus, brands needed more dial real estate for the many complications that were becoming more and more popular compared to the traditional popularity of mostly time-only watches.

Therefore, one major reason for the overall increase in watch size is that timepieces became much more of a visual status symbol, and because watch designers began to offer increasingly complex designs that merited larger case sizes to show off.

Once You Go Big, You Don’t Go Back

Size is a funny thing, and once someone buys a larger car, larger home, or bigger television it is difficult to return to a smaller size. The same is true with watches. When I first started getting into mechanical watches I was buying timepieces sized from between 36-40mm wide. Today I barely wear anything under 42mm in width. Once I began to wear larger timepieces smaller ones seemed petite by comparison, and the same is true for many people who go from more traditional watch sizes to modern ones.

The funny thing is that sometimes when I go back to wearing a smaller watch, I recall what I am missing. But the sensation is bitter sweet. On the one hand, I appreciate the diminutive nature and comfort of a 40mm wide and under timepiece (especially because you don’t notice it as much), but I also miss the visibility and boldness of larger diameter watches. The bottom line is that once most people begin to wear a larger watch, in the 42-44mm wide range and above, it becomes very difficult for them to go back to wearing a smaller watch again.

What's The Deal With Big Watch Sizes? The Large Timepiece Explained Featured Articles

Sylvester Stallone wearing the humongous, 60 millimeters wide Panerai L’Egiziano PAM341, a tribute to a massive piece Panerai originally made for the Egyptian army around the ’50s.

Modern Tastes

As much as we don’t like to admit that fashion trends play a part in what fine timepieces we wear, they do. Many people credit celebrities for helping to popularize large sport watches that eventually led to the popularity of other large watches being made. It was in the late 1990s that actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore and Sylvester Stallone wearing a Panerai Luminor began to capture media attention with these larger-than-average (at the time) watches. The public seemed to quickly warm to the idea of wearing larger sport watches with a bold personality, especially because on larger or bulkier guys they looked much better than smaller watches.

Explore

Comments

Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991190429

  • It’s not size per se so much as fit that matter in my book. How big depends on how it wears on your wrist and how it work with what you wear. Thickness was not mentioned as much in this post as I would have expected. Case shape and color makes a big difference in the appearance of how big a watch looks on your wrist too.
    If a watch does not stay planted in one location on your wrist, or makes you look like a kid wearing Daddy’s watch, then it might be too big for you, ha ha.

  • gadgety

    MarkCarson Fit certainly enters the equation. A large diameter slim wrist watch will look smaller, than a thicker one.
    How big is too big and what is the ideal size? Compare the Breitling Super Avenger I and II, the I is 53mm, the II 48mm. I believe this is an indication that the 53mm was judged too big, and didn’t sell enough (I have no data to back it up, though), and they made the II smaller because of it. 
    Part of fit has to do with what the wearer is used to. I used a 39mm,
    went up to 44. It was also significantly thicker. Gee, it seemed big in
    the beginning. Then switching back, the 39mm seemed tiny. 
    In addition, human beings have become larger with each generation. The average US male in 1850 was 5’7”, and weighed 146lbs, in 1980, he was 5’10” and weighed 174lbs. The  average mid 18th century Norwegian male was 5.5, and in the late 1990s, nearly 5’11”. Larger humans can wear larger watches, while maintaining proportions.

    Watch size and women is intriguing. The watch size/wrist size ratio seems more sensitive for men than women. Simultaneously the Swiss watch industry’s marketing department wizards have been pushing for larger watches for women because it brings advantages of scale in the production.

  • gadgety Good points – thanks. I wonder if wrist sizes have been going up over the decades in proportion to height or if only the long bones in the body have become longer (but not thicker).

  • Zeitblom

    One should also take hand size into consideration. Even if you have small wrists, a big watch can still look good if you have big hands. Not an uncommon combination.

  • Ulysses31

    I’ve said it several times and I guess i’ll have to repeat it.  “Oversize” does NOT mean “too big”.  It means “larger than average”, or “larger than is usual”.  There is never an indication in any definition that i’ve seen that would indicate that “oversize” implies something negative or excessive or wrong. Merriam Webster, the OED and various other dictionaries agree with me here.  Ultimately the correct size for a watch is whatever looks right on your wrist, and you should be able to tell if you’re a very skinny guy that a 200 gram lump of a watch isn’t best suited to your physique.  Likewise, if you have arms like tree-trunks as is the case with the guy in that photo, you should wear a larger watch, though not something as crass as a SISU.  Kinda sounds like the name of a brutal Egyptian military dictator, doesn’t it?

  • Fraser Petrick

    The only person I have to impress with my watches is a fuddy-duddy retired teacher from Eastern Ontario. Anything above 42mm would be clunky and downright silly for anyone with sticks for arms – like me. I do have a big “bling” watch, but I only wear it an a dreary winter day when no one’s watching. Oooo, it’s so shiny. Don’t tell anyone.

  • Itai

    Anything beyond 41mm is silly.

  • DanielPatrick35

    gadgety MarkCarson I would wager that there’s a golden ratio of thickness as well as diameter. My wife got me a Breitling Super Avenger (48mm) on a bracelet and at even at 6’6 and 280 lbs. I barely ever wore that watch because it just was too thick for my tastes even though it was the only watch in my collection that she ever liked. It was only ever slightly wearable when I put it on a leather strap.

    I’ve  never have had wearability issues with similar-sized watches like my Breitling Superocean Chronograph (46mm) or Navitimer World (46 mm) because they are both a bit thinner and slightly smaller.

    Meanwhile, anything less than 40 mm seems absolutely teensy on me, which cuts off some truly classic pieces like the Rolex Daytona. That watch has long been my grail, but every time I see it on my wrist, I just wish they would release a slightly larger version for giants like me.

  • AtotheG

    The perfect size watch?  Whatever that Terraluna is…

  • marbstiu

    whenever there is a size trend, there’s alwqys a comoany that pushes the fad over the top. (Tw steel, u-boat, etc)

  • mktcrasher

    The usual statement we always see, usually from Rolex lovers. Similar to iPhone trend followers, anything over a 4″ screen is too big. Everyone is different, body type, bone structure. I have lifted weights since age 15,which equals large forearms, so a standard Submariner size watch feels like a toy. So I like 43 or so to start, but depends on design too. You will see Ariel in some reviews will say it doesn’t wear like a 44, because a lot things comprise fit. So cannot discount a watch on simple mm number.
    I am sick of the anything over 41 is ridiculous argument, times change, I do not want to live in a world where everyone wears a 41mm Rolex, boring.

  • BIGCHRONO

    Sometimes watches need to be larger to accommodate added features. Other times it fills niches for big & tall, corporate images, etc., & evoking garden variety penis envy.

  • village idiot

    Maybe  this newest trend in sizing, is a reflection of many folks modern lifestyles. . My aviator  52mm. watch with a  high contrast face and hands,  can  be read  with a flick of the wrist.  From waist height..  Compare that to my vintage  Benrus with drop dead gorgeous art deco lugs. It has a dial requiring  a close up. Not quite a loupe needed,, but  more than a flick… Those updated pocket watches that morphed into wristwatches, have such  tiny dials.. My premise is this.  Folks in past generations had a more leisurely lifestyle..  Could afford the time to pause and peer at their watch. 
    Although, when it comes to cars,  size is just the opposite.. .Even a mundane family chariot was a  land yacht  compared to today’s  sized.   Unless you are a urban cowboy, or has other size issues,  and somehow feels the need for a gignormous  SUV for corraling milk and bread at the local supermarket?.  As with most of us watch connoisseurs, we watch your watch. What you choose tells more than just the time.

  • phozfiend

    Even by Ablogtowatch’s comically (yet at times refreshing) lax journalistic standards this opinion piece is just one under researched sweeping generalization after another. I get it, it’s click/flame bait – and here I am chiming in (though not quite with the subject at hand, but I guess you’re still ‘winning’) – but come on, write something real!

  • phozfiend

    Not all is lost though – the new bits of graphic design you guys are mixing into the articles are well executed (iconic watch hands).

  • mgennone

    village idiot perfect profile name

  • bichondaddy

    Itai Maybe for you anything over 41mm is ridiculous looking.  But you probably are not 6’6″ tall…and the size of an NFL Offensive lineman, like I am.  A 41mm watch looks like I have a quarter strapped to my wrist…and in fact…the only watches I own that are that small or smaller are my vintage watches….or my 3 watches I wear when my wife and I go to company functions.  I have a 23 cm wrist…or 8.75″ wrist…..and I can comfortably wear a 52mm watch.  My normal day to day watch is a 50 mm TW Steel or 52 mm Diesel SBA Dual Time Chronograph…or a 52 mm Pilot watch a buddy gifted me.  
    Like mktcrasher…I spent many years lifting weights…since I played football and wrestled, and I have always tried to find the largest watch I could find….since I don’t like the smaller watches myself.  But then again…I don’t worry what about what anyone thinks about my watches….and as of yet…no one has ever come up to me and said anything to my face about my watch looking ridiculous….but then again…it could be my size that makes those people think twice about saying to me about it.

  • JonnyD

    Argument provoking article indeed. For me it is a very simple proposition. It’s the lug-to-lug measurement that matters  and I am amazed at how many manufacturers omit this vital piece of information in their technical data regarding a watch model. I’m currently choosing a watch for an upcoming birthday and had to email three companies just to get that data. I could wear a 44mm with a moderate lug-to-lug ratio, whereas I’ve come across a 40mm with a lug length of 48mm which I feel is disproportionate (for instance Nomos are known for their long lug-to lug lengths). As others have said, thickness of a case also plays a part, so I feel these two factors often outweigh the immediate diameter size of a piece.

  • bichondaddy

    @DainelPatrick35……as a person the same size as you are…well…I weigh a bit more than you     ….my wrist size tends to allow me to wear 48 mm – 53 mm watches without any problems….and I have a couple of watches that are very thick….one actually being…the horror of all horror’s….a  52 mm Invicta that is extremely thick.  (Hey…it was a gift from a friend….and I don’t sell or give away gifts)  My wife teased me for a while for wearing the big watches…but now…if I wear one of my dress watches when we aren’t going to a company event…she tells me not to wear any of my “Grandpa” watches.  She prefers it when I wear my larger watch now days….and if my wife is happy….well…you know the rest!

  • bichondaddy

    JonnyD Totally agree….lug to lug is important also.  Some people can’t wear a watch comfortably that has a 48 mm or above lug length.  With my large wrist…measuring at 23 cm’s….I have a couple of watches that measure nearly 60mm from lug to lug…and I still have room on my large wrist.  But…I always say…wear what you like, what you can afford…and don’t worry about what anyone else says….it’s not their money that you are spending on YOUR watch!

  • somethingnottaken

    The current style for watch size seems to  be that sport and causual watches should push the boundary of too big, with the lugs to lug distance being as close as possible to the width of the wearer’s wrist without being noticably wider. For most men in western countries this size is around 44mm, varying a few mm one way or the other depending on the details of case and lug design. Switerland is a western country, so it isn’t a coincidence that so many Swiss watches are made in this size range! 

    In contrast Japanese and Chinese watches tend to be a bit smaller. And with the Asian watch market growing the Swiss watch brands so seem to be gradually adding smaller models to their lineups. I’m not sure wrists are smaller in asia, the style there calls for smaller watches, or a bit of both.

    I’m tall with long, thin, arms and hands. My wrist is smaller than average (a bit under 7″) but very flat. I find I can wear watches from 38 – 44 mm (with average lug lengths), though at the upper end only complex dials (chronograph, skeleton, etc.) really look good. Most of my watches are in the 42 – 44 mm range, but I’m thinking of switching to slightly smaller watches in the 38 – 42 mm range.

  • JonnyD Or more precisely the springbar to springbar width (sort of like wheelbase on a car). That plus how much the springbars are above/below the case back plane.

  • While a 60mm watch would almost wrap around my wrist, it looks about OK on Stallone’s wrist.  My limit is 42mm, for I don’t like when the band goes straight down from the lugs and prefer to see them wrapping around my wrist.

    Now, I appreciate how ABTW refrains to editorialize in general and, when it does so, it states that it is editorializing.  However, currently there is a tendency to use the term modern to refer to whatever is particular to our times.  ABTW doesn’t escape this cliche either.  Yet it’s a term that popularly implies better and that what is not modern is worse.  This is a positivist perspective in that things only get better with time and that what is here and now is always better than what is there and then.

    Though I admit that it is my pet peeve, instead of stating modern tastes, I prefer to say current tastes.
    Perhaps ABTW disagrees with me, but whenever I see the word modern being used, it hints at a casual use of words and part of editorial quality is an intentional choice of words.

  • emenezes That is an interesting point about “modern versus current.” I suppose that latter implies more of a fluctuation versus and evolution. I think we are both correct actually but thank you for bringing up the point. Tastes can and will change and it is difficult to imagine what the future will hold in regard to size preferences.

  • JonnyD I agree honestly. When it comes down to it the lug-to-lug measurement in relationship to my wrist always wins. Whether the watch is 40mm wide or 45mm wide, this ability for a case to not fit over my wrist is the biggest factor in my ability to determine whether a watch size is right for my wrist.

  • phozfiend I appreciate the comment for sure. Though I’d like for you to consider the years of casual interviews, questions, comments, and information that I have observed before writing a piece like this. Questions that remark on style and other non strictly utilitarian things don’t always have answers that are easy to compile. In a sense the conjecture from someone who has simply thought about it a long time and has had the opportunity to ask a lot of the right people is the best answer we are going to get. 

    As such, there is no one or two clean answers on why watches are so big. The answer, in my opinion, is a compilations of factors that span various topics and considerations as viewed from the perspective of people who have been able to see things change over the years. 

    Any time you or anyone else have suggestions on topics you’d like to see us cover then please do share them with us. Many times the aBlogtoWatch audience comes up with great concepts that we haven’t thought of ourselves.

  • Lkcons

    DanielPatrick35 gadgety MarkCarson Very interesting comment – throw the lug design/distance between lugs/lug width also into the mix & you are getting there.

    Ariel, by the way, thank you for putting this size issue (which admittedly gets me hot under the collar when people start talking about the “ideal” watch size) into a nice perspective, much appreciated – good balanced journalism 🙂

  • Ulysses31 I am glad you brought this up. I like a little discourse about my OCD obsession over “oversize.” I take the mixture of words in the phrase literally and do so because the definition you offer is one that I also don’t like. 
    If the term “oversize” implies that something is larger than “usual or average,” then what is usual or average? The normal, average, mean, usual, size of a watch varies over time as we know. It is a moving target and if you say “oversize” is larger than normal then you can no longer call 44mm wide watches oversize as what is average is changing. 
     Using that logic I can easily start calling 38mm wide watches “undersize.” And I don’t want to do that as it implies a degree of bias. While I have my personal tastes I would only call something over- of under-sized if it was strictly too small or too large to fulfill its purpose. 

    At the end of the day I think you and I both agree that when it comes down to it people should select a watch that looks good on their wrist subject to the rules we all see to agree on. Thanks again for the comment.

  • Lkcons DanielPatrick35 gadgety MarkCarson Our pleasure. I am happy people are discussing this. I feel that there is no institutional idea as for what the proper watch size is. 

    The purpose of this article is to help answer questions as well as assist people new watches that aren’t quite sure how to handle the great diversity in sizes when it comes to selecting something for their own wrist. 

    The majority of people who commented here ironically have long since determined that best watch sizes for them because of a lot of trial and error and simply thinking about the implications of what various sizes look like on them. I try to consider those people who haven’t yet done and feel that the range of input here from everyone is extremely useful to those people who we haven’t been able to sit down at a table and explain how to appreciate, select, and wear watches 🙂

  • Lkcons

    phozfiend Having a bad hair (sorry, bad wrist) day?

  • Ulysses31

    aBlogtoWatch Ulysses31 That’s kinda my point.  “Oversize” doesn’t have a hard, standardised meaning.  What is average or usual is simply whatever is the norm or what is fashionable for the time.  It is indeed a moving target and that is why we shouldn’t take too much offence at its use.  The definition is loose and means different things to different people.  I don’t think those who use the term are deliberately trying to attack those who have a preference for larger watches.  There are plenty of other ways to do that that are far more entertaining.  “Undersize” could be used in the same way but is ultimately equally fuzzy.  Is it suitable to describe a watch 30mm or less?  Maybe 36?  
    At the end of the day if it looks good, it’s the right size.  I’ll tell you what bugs me more than an excessively large watch… people who don’t bother sizing the bracelet, and just let the watch flop around on their wrist. Maybe not worthy of an article in itself but something i’d be interested in getting to the bottom of.

  • msirinsky

    Lots of good arguments here.  I was pleased to see the end of Ariel’s article state that “we recommend that a well-rounded timepiece collection offers some watch size variety.”  I have pretty small wrists in general, but my watches run the gamut of what I’ve personally found to be an acceptable range for my physique and comfort level.

    Also, in terms of range, much of it also has to do with one’s individual personality.  Some people want a watch that illicits comments as soon as they walk into a room, while others want to enjoy their timepiece in a more subtle way.  I have watches in my collection that serve both purposes…and while my larger watches probably get the most notice, many of the best in my collection are on the smaller side and garner more than enough notice for my liking.

  • kevingrr

    Almost every heading and subsequent paragraph is in favor of a larger watch:
    The Big Issue (neutral-informative)
    Space To Show Off (pro big)
    Once You Go Big, You Don’t Go Back (pro big, neg small) (phrasing) (
    Modern Tastes (pro big)
    A Matter Of Masculinity (pro big, neg small)More Space Inside (pro big, neg small)What Is The Perfect Watch Case Size? (neutral informative)
    A watch, like anything you wear, is something you should feel comfortable and confident about.  If that means a very large watch for you that is fine, but whenever I see most people doing it I think they look like a clown.  Most of them are not wearing a A. Lange & Sohne or Panerai – they are wearing mall fashion watches of the worst sort.  It’s all about the bling. Look at me! Conversely, wearing a more reasonably sized watch is rarely going to draw criticism of those around you.   This is especially true in business or formal occasions.  Classic styles are always in style because they are classic, timeless, and balanced.
    If you want to take your style cues from Sly Stallone go ahead and get that 60mm Panerai or a 55mm mall watch special.  If you can’t read a watch easily from as far as your hip you may want to get your eyes checked.  

    This article was about as fair and balanced as Fox News or MSNBC and nearly as enlightening.  Your bias and preferences in full effect from nearly start to finish..  I usually enjoy kicking back and reading your articles on a Sunday evening but this was certainly an exception.

  • kevingrr That was a good comment, and boy is this discussion overall demonstrating how passionate everyone is about watch size. 

    The article was never meant to be a fair and balanced discussion of whether watch sizes should be larger or smaller, but rather an explanation of why they are larger. The headings are meant to summarize those reasons, not advocate on their behalf. It is true that I like larger watches but that is a personal preference and not an agenda I am pushing though I feel it is important to be honest with the reader about the feelings of the person writing this. Watches began increasing in size before aBlogtoWatch existed and we aren’t trying to convince people it is a good idea but rather answering a question of why. 

    Those who hate watches above a certain size are fully entitled to their tastes and I hope they find plenty of excellent options to wear with pride. People have asked for a long time why watches are “larger now than in the past” and we attempted to answer the question using the information we have gathered over the years as well as our own opinions on the matter. 

    Again, the passion this brings out in people is wonderful (though I am sure for those who get angry it doesn’t feel great all the time), and I think these strong emotions are worth exploring as they apply to (small) machines we wear on our wrist.

  • Zeitblom

    kevingrr “Conversely, wearing a more reasonably sized watch is rarely going to draw criticism of those around you. ”

    Oh, heaven forbid that those around us should criticize us! I mean, that would just make us cry.

  • kevingrr

    aBlogtoWatch kevingrr Thanks for your reply.  I guess I just had the impression like you were making a case to ditch smaller watches in favor of larger ones.  Maybe I went a bit far in my comments.

    I still think most of the real monsters do not match well with a suit like Stallone is showing.  I have seen it at conferences and it just looks silly. 
    Conversely, if someone is going out to the club on Friday night…well its all about the latest fashion then isn’t it?

  • kevingrr

    Zeitblom kevingrr No.  They will never say anything to you.  They will just think you don’t understand the proper time and place to wear such a watch.  Pairing it with a suit looks silly.

  • kevingrr aBlogtoWatch No worries, and I appreciated the comment. I have a range of watch sizes in my collection from 36mm to over 50mm. I like the variety and only want people to focus on watches that look like they aren’t ill-fitting on their wrist. Those could either be too small or too large. It really depends on the person and their tastes. 

    I will be the first to admit that I see a lot of people wearing large fashion watches that look silly – so there is enough of that out there for sure.

  • MisterDeal

    Oh, what the hell, I will jump into the scrum…

    I recently read an advice column from a style guru about tie widths. He said he’d lived through various eras of tie-width trends, and that the three-inch tie seemed to kinda work in all of them. I tried this out: while two-inch ties are certainly looking au courant, the three inch ties neither look too trendy or anachronistic – just right; timeless perhaps. Whenever I wear the three-inch tie, people compliment it. When I wear a much wider or shorter tie, I’m placing myself in the past or the right now, and nobody notices.

    How does this relate to watch widths? Well, I was discussing this with a guy at a World Cup party this weekend. He had on a 38mm Blancpain Flyback –  although personally I like chronographs a little bigger, it’s a great watch, looked really great, and fit his wrist perfectly. He told me he kinda wanted a Panerai, and I steered him towards the Omega Dark Side of the Moon. Why? Well, we discussed that the Speedmaster has been 42mm for what, 46 years? It never looks bad in any era at that size. It is the three-inch tie of watches…

    So, anyway, while I think there will be watch sizes in fashion/on trend, there are some timeless diameters that have proven themselves. For a truly dressy watch, 36mm – 38mm is nice. For a sportier watch, 39mm (thinking Speedmaster Reduced) to 42mm never gets old for the most part. 
    At 44mm, you are getting into big watch territory and making a bold style choice, period. That’s okay, but any watch that size or bigger is large, period. Doesn’t mean you can’t pull it off, but wrist size, the kind of watch, etc. comes into play more when choosing extremes, big or small. On the other hand, today I saw a friend wearing a vintage Borel. It was quite small, but
    the spirit it was communicating was “This is a vintage watch, dammit –
    that’s why it’s small, so bug off!” It was as bold in its smallness as a
    Panerai.

    Now, there are major exceptions to all this. I tried on the new model 2014 Omega De Ville, and for a dress watch it is a little big at 40mm, but it is just so awesomely designed, with perfectly proportioned bezel and a wonderfully modern, minimal dial, that it just feels right. You could wear it in any dressy situation you would wear a more formal watch – but that it is a more “current” ; ) size makes it more versatile as well in other situations. It is a perfect storm! That’s because every element of the watch has been thought through, from the pattern on the dial to how it sits on the wrist.

    Meanwhile, some watches just seem bigger because they have a big expanse of dial and thin bezel, or they’re square, or lugless, or have prominent lugs, etc. Certain kinds of watches IMHO just work better on the larger side – dive watches, for example, usually look better taking up some real estate, and chronographs with more than one subdial have so much going on that I prefer them in the 40mm zone or bigger. Some watches are just in the spirit of big – I am loving some of these Orient divers that read huge on the wrist at 49mm, but that’s just the spirit of them. Conversely, a NOMOS the size of a pancake would just be weird…
    So, in conclusion, I will sum up. There are some watch diameters that have proven the test of time; there are some watch sizes that are purely of the here and now, or evoke the past; and that when making a bold choice in the extreme of large or small, many factors come into play that one needs to balance.

  • somethingnottaken

    kevingrr Zeitblom Wearing a watch that is too small will draw just as much criticism (silent or not) as wearing on that is too large. Though, most of the time, nobody will care one way or the other.

  • Ryan B

    Being a big/tall person wearing a large watch that looks good on me, I am getting a kick out of this thread.

    Good article Ariel

  • TheLockean

    Last year, I started to collect vintage Elgin and Bulova watches, mostly from the late 50s and early 60s.  At first, I thought I would be turned off by the small sizes, typically 32 to 34mm, but I quickly came to appreciate their legibility and light weight.  

    Something to consider, though, is that the dial, on the Lord Elgin is 33mm across while the dial of the huge Invicta Venom is also 33mm across, despite being 53mm across.  If the basic function of a watch is to tell time, the dial from a 50’s watch is no different from that of an “oversized watch.”  

    That being said, watches like my Tissot PRC 200 at 39mm and my Revue Thommen at 43mm seem to wear fine to me, but are not at the top end, size wise, of what I’m willing to purchase.

    • Mike Brooks

      I have a pre-war 30mm Favre Leuba sea king which is the same size as my first “boys” watch. It’s a bugger to wind!

  • Sanreb

    Totally off-topic: Which camera do you use for your pictures (in the Terra Luna pic for instance)? They look great. 

    Totally on-topic: Lately, who knows why, I am wearing my old 38 mm Girard-Perregaux 7000 (steel case, burgundy dial, hands and markers in gold). I love how innocent yet elegant it looks, but I can’t help thinking that perhaps it would look better in 40 or 41 mm.

    Or perhaps I am getting old and losing my eyesight -yeah, that’s it :o)

  • Zeitblom Exactly the case with my hands. I have tiny 6.75 inch wrists–my wife only needs to microadjust my watches by one hole to wear them. BUT (said in a Sherlock from “Elementary” way) I am 6.1 and 200 pounds so unless you isolate the wrist, the whole picture looks fine and well proportioned with my favorite 48mm pilot watch.
    Bottom line, I am fine with large watches, if the extra real estate serves a purpose (easier to read, larger fonts, more spread out dial).
    What I cannot stand is a 55mm watch with a 20mm movement, even if it looks good on the wrist.

  • ArlemJM

    I’m still learning about how people feel about this trend, so this article is full of great information and the conversation is equally good. Now that I understand the concept of size, my question to you guys is… how do you find the perfect watch? the one the guy is going to keep in the family for as long as possible. 

    Thanks, 

    Jennifer
    http://www.jzandf.com

  • PlanoTXWX

    Not sure if any of you saw the Wall Street Journal article from a couple day ago; if not look it up. It mentions how watches are trending back to simpler times which I agree with. Watches have gotten way to big for my tastes.

  • cowboynoir

    mktcrasher Your certainly entitled to your opinion and style choices, just as much as I am entitled to say implying a choice of 41mm means you’re a rolex fan and only rolex lovers want smaller than 41mm is very uninformed. Many prefer the balanced and restrained style offered by classic watches and use their sizes as a yardstick for refined tastes..

    I do not, however, disagree with your view that everyone is different and should choose watches that best suit them. Build, height, wrist size do all come into play when deciding what size works better. What I want to communicate tho, is the fact that many prominent, big and manly guys wear moderately sized watches and it doesn’t diminish their masculinity the slightest -a common worry from watch novice and the reason that drives them to bigger watches. People like Sean Connery, J.J. Redick, Louis c.k. and Brandon Webb are not afraid to wear refined and mid size watches. The watches on them do not “look like a toy”, and if anything they show that their owners are informed and confident. Like clothing, there is a more refined level at appreciating and choosing things, whether you like it a not.    Hip hop styled clothing, for instance, certainly has its appeal, and can even be respectable, but it simply isn’t refined, at least not in the context of discussions like this one. I hope that “refined” is still the foundation of the discussion that we’re having, because otherwise, we might as well be talking about G-Shocks or fitness bands(which I own and love, but that’s not the point.)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes everyone should wear their own sizes, but don’t draw the conclusion too fast that smaller watches are toyish simply because they are under a particular size, and that they’ll be effeminate, that they’ll not fit you, or whatever, especially when such conclusion is motivated by people who are considered not fitting as role models in such subject matter. I am willing to bet, that a large number of the “hate responses” towards bigger watches are just aggravated versions of that message.

  • flaviothepage

    aBlogtoWatch kevingrr

    I really don´t agree with article statements. The trend was discussed “an passant” in the book “A Time To Change”. Watch designs changed so munch in the past few years because of the growing markets. Watches at the growing markets tend to be a “show off” dress article, and “bigger is better”. So, as the manufactures decrease its sales in regular markets (Europe), they look at the growing markets, where watches are itens to show to other how much money you have in your wallet.

  • stefanv

    flaviothepage aBlogtoWatch kevingrr How much money you HAD in your wallet.

  • Perhaps I missed it, I didn’t see mentioned that an obvious reason behind bigger watches is baby boomers. (Hey, we get blamed for everything else!)

    As this “demographic bulge” got older and richer, their eyes grew weaker. So the people with more money tended to select bigger watches.

    I don’t want to have to go find my reading glasses in order to see what time it is. 🙂

  • Bruce Lennon

    I saw a magnificent Hugo Boss watch; blue face with a stainless steel case and bracelet, but it was too large. If it was 5 to 7mm smaller in diameter I would have bought it. Hugo boss lost a customer simply down to case size.

  • DavidH

    To me, these larger watches look like you’re wearing a Timex alarm clock on your arm. Overall I’d rather wear a watch so that I can tell what time it is, not to impress everyone else. Truthfully, when is the last time you judged a person’s worth as a person by the watch he wore? Anyway, with the proliferation of $10 counterfeit and other phony watches available today, you can get a pretty nice looking large watch that few would disparage without close examination.

    • these larger watches look like you’re wearing a Timex alarm clock on your arm

      But if you’re “of a certain age,” then “these larger watches” can mean the difference between telling what the time is, and going searching for your reading glasses.

      • DavidH

        That’s a valid argument however, I’m some amount over the Biblical “three score and ten” and need corrective lenses full time. Even given that, without glasses I can discern the contrast between white hands on a dark field or vice versa. Of course, being retired I have very few obligations so for the most part, it rarely matters to me what the actual time is.

        • Mike Brooks

          Retirement renders you a free spirit. I spend most mornings at the beach cafe chatting with friends, then maybe a few beers. It has also allowed me to buy a few watches of slightly higher quality.

    • SmarterEnu

      With that logic, no wonder one would buy a better pair of shoes or a nicer car. If you cannot appreciate luxury then stick with your knock off watch made by criminals.

      • DavidH

        OK.

    • Mike Brooks

      A smaller guy with wrists to match, doesn’t want to be left out, and so may wear a watch with so much heft that it makes his arm tire. I’m the guy walking behind, sniggering quietly to myself.

  • Hello Everybody

    My favourite Blog to watch review so far. Very well balanced and objective.

  • j238

    I see plenty of oversize watches on sale in shops. Not so many being worn in the wild.
    Is this really a trend driven by consumer tastes, or are manufacturers just making watches bigger to justify higher prices for themselves?
    Most people won’t care what watch you wear. But people who wouldn’t wear an oversized watch themselves may decide the people who do are a little full of themselves.
    I’ve got a great watch properly sized sized for me, and most guys. Its a rare model, so most guys won’t have it. I’m happy to hear complements on my watch, which happens fairly often.
    I doubt the guys with 46mm watches hear the same. In this respect, I believe size matters.

  • Mark

    “While that may be true, it is not true that people do not still use their watch to tell the time. All of the world’s best selling watches, at all price levels, do one thing very well – offer the time in a very legible manner.”

    The examples of the, A.Lange & Sohne and MCT contradict the statement because, quite frankly, it’s difficult to quickly reference the time on those pieces. Those make telling time as easy as a Movado, or an 80’s Swatch watch! You are quicker to pull out your smart phone to get a fast reading.

    It’s time to admit that being able to legibly and quickly reference the time is one of the LEAST rational reasons for buying a luxury watch.

    The big size is the trend and we want whatever is cool now. Also BIG conveys power and other more implicit symbolisms. It’s caveman mentality and Darwinism rolled into one in a modernized context to show we have the bigger club.

    The brand name, the size, complications, and especially looks and the lifestyle it conveys are far more salient reasons and it’s time we all admitted it without making excuses. And for those of us who are not rich and famous who wear genuine Rolex, we want people to think we are captains of industry even if that watch was purchased 2nd hand or from the Jomashop. It’s the inner dreamer and closet show-off in many of us. As Ralph Lauren once said, (paraphrased), “We look at the Chairman of the Board and want to be like him. But before we can BE him, we want to DRESS like him.”

    We are all victims of what they call “snob effect” in macroeconomics. Let’s admit it but not apologize for it.

  • Vivian Li

    Watch size/diameter is really a matter of your individual body size, wrist size, and height. The 45mm+ behemoths, however, look out of place on the vast majority of men who aren’t 6’5″ bodybuilders. Similarly, 38mm+ looks out of place on women who aren’t tall (a shame, since most automatics/manuals marketed to women are so big at 36mm+). Overall, I’d say a watch that looks slightly too small is still vastly more elegant than a watch that looks too big.

  • Vee Blood

    Some of the coolest looking watches (+43mm) are just too big on the wrist of shorter people or people with smaller wrist. It would be great if watch makers produces a smaller version (35-38mm) of the same larger size (+43mm); actually I believe they will get much more additional revenue catering to a smaller wrist size audience.

    • Mike Brooks

      This is exactly what Rolex, Omega, and probably many others do. I would rather they were referred to as “unisex” though.

      • Vee Blood

        I’ve seen many ‘men’ styles that I prefer than then unisex. The +43mm doesn’t feel right on my wrist and prefer not to comprise prefer design styles just because it can fit on my wrist.

  • Mike Brooks

    I put the blame squarely on the modern competitive woman who doesn’t want to wear a watch sized for a petite feminine wrist, and why shouldn’t women wear a watch that’s big enough to actually see. The problem is that watch sizes which were previously considered the preserve of men, are now referred to as women’s sizes. My 41/42mm watches are just about ok for my slim wrists, but I wouldn’t want to go larger. I am awaiting delivery of my latest, an Omega Seamster PO, which I have ordered in the 37.5mm size. This is referred to by Omega as mid-sized, but denigrated in watch forums as a woman’s size.

  • Rachel

    I have a 6inches wrist. I used to wear a very oversized watch before. Now im using a 40mm watch. Felt like its too small. What size would you recommend for women who wants a not so bulky sports watch?

    • okulus

      6 in wrist finds 40mm too small. What kind of sports watch do you want? Diver, chronograph, case material (steel I would guess) Many sports watches for men are over 40mm, Appearance depends not just on size but on color and materials. Bracelet watches look more massive than strap watches, polished watches seem larger than brushed or matte-blasted finish cases, light dials seem larger than dark dials, plain face dials look bigger than subdial watches, watches with functional engraved bezels look larger than plain bezels.

  • okulus

    The Stallone pic is hardly an argument for wearing utility watches with a suit. No one cares if a Hollywood celebrity shows up to an event with something like that, but it would be laughable for anyone else to wear that huge Panerai and the heavy leather strap with a fine sports jacket. I am sure he gets brand ambassador comps for the promotional work, like George Clooney and many others do for other brands.

    In dress watches, it seems to me the best size range is 37-40mm, but not larger. Watches over 40mm have too much face area and look clownish with their exaggerated dimensions. With technical watches, chronographs and divers particularly, larger than 40mm is still visually appealing, depending on the case features, height and dial features. Chronographs smaller than 38mm lose utility in lack of ergonomics due to lesser readability of the subdials. Classic hybrid dress-sport watches, Rolex Day-Date 36mm for example, look fine, but also benefit from the mass of the case and bracelet.

  • Frank Sierra

    This nonsense won’t stop till we get to Flava Flav size watches. They’re silly.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Ultimately, it what looks good. A man with gorilla wrists isn’t going to look as good with a tiny watch as compared to a larger one. I’m a large guy and a 48mm watch still looks small on my wrists.

  • enzomedici

    Because they are ballin’ !! haha…after 42mm maybe 44mm max, they start looking ridiculous.

  • Zoran Tkavc

    Recently I went from “normal” 39 mm to 43 mm for my daily watch. I have 17 cm wrists and at first, I felt silly, but not as silly as when I check the date on my phone because I could not see the date on the watch dial. Unfortunately, with years the eye vision worsens.
    Functionality should be always before fashion trends (at least for me). Otherwise, I believe that trend will soon turn towards smaller, lighter and very thin watches.

  • Jimmy

    41-43.99,44.01-46 are perfect. no Chinese wants to buy a 44mm size watch, that sound equal to “death death”. I just transfer from a 38mm Swiss watch to Huawei watch GT, 46.5mm, but it not looks giant at all, it’s perfect. I think the design make it seems smaller. This timepieces could be future of the watch in 3-10 year, cause it’s combined Fashion elements?Price Friendly(less than 200 usd)?Sports support?Smart and Internet idea(support E-pay, E-BusCard, message notice, etc). It’s neither a “traditional smart watch”(not like apple watch, cause they have more than 2 week battery), nor “traditional sport watch”(like Garmin?Casio), They are mixture, but they are monsters. In think in the future 2-10 years, tradional cheaper fashion watch(100-150 usd), low-mid class traditional sport like Garmin’s low-mid class, and even some cheaper Swiss watch(like swatch)? they will have a tough time…….

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, png.