When Does Watch Size Matter?

In my experience there are few more polarizing topics in context of watch enthusiasm than watch size. We are talking about the physical diameter of a watch, which is measured in millimeters. Watch lovers argue this at length. The size of a watch is very important. All reputable watch retailers and brands list a watch’s size as a necessary detail when discussing their products. If it isn’t something you are paying attention to, you should.

Unlike the size of clothing for example, the size of a watch won’t necessarily mean it “doesn’t fit.” But certain sizes look better on people than others. This combines fashion trends, as well as simple geometric rules. Let me first say that there is no “correct” watch size. If you fancy something a bit larger or smaller, then there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is worth noting what most people are buying, and how to determine whether something will look too large or too small on your wrist.

People are wearing larger watches these days compared to the past. It was once the case that a man wore a watch that was about 35mm wide. Today that is considered a woman’s watch size. As timepieces have become more a style icon as opposed to purely a tool, their size increased to grow their “artistic palette.” This means you want people to see what you are wearing. In the 1980s the typical size of a men’s watch grew to about 38mm, and these days men’s watch sizes are typically even larger.

I did a poll one time and based on a handsome sample pool I determined that most men want to wear a watch that is between 40 and 44mm wide. That is the sweet zone of what you should be looking for, with the 42-44mm wide size range being the most popular.

What is considered too small? If a watch feels too large on your wrist, it is appropriate to get something a bit smaller. However, most men want to avoid wearing a watch that looks feminine on their wrist. When a watch’s lugs and case don’t take up enough room on your wrist it will look feminine. A good test is to determine how much of the watch versus strap is visible when looking straight down at your wrist. If you see as much strap/bracelet as you see watch case, then the watch is likely too small. Like I said, going for something in the 40 – 44mm range is going to be appropriate for the majority of wrists out there.

When is a watch too large? Again, you can use the surface area of your wrist as a guide. Also, if something simply feels too awkward and heavy after wearing it for a while, you might want to consider a piece with a smaller profile. When determining if a watch is actually “over-sized” for your wrist, look to see where the lugs end. Those are the attachments to the case that the strap or bracelet is connected to. If the lugs extend past, or hang over the edges of your wrist, the case is likely too large. Most people actually should be looking for a watch with lugs that approach the end of their wrist without actually going over the edges.

I hope that this simple guide will help you find a watch that is appropriately sized. Note that watches with widely spaced lugs will often appear to look larger than they are. Once you start wearing enough watches and keeping their size in mind, you’ll be able to determine how a watch looks on your wrist just by knowing it sizes and seeing a picture of it.