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Size matters - what to consider when looking for the perfect watch

As humans, we are naturally drawn towards balance. The size of a watch can make a big difference to it's overall look and feel. When shopping for the perfect watch, there are six key elements that should be considered:

  • Case diameter

  • Case thickness

  • Band width

  • Band materials

  • Watch details

  • Strap size

Watch elements to consider when selecting your next time piece

Case diameter

The watch case is the heart, soul and body of a watch. It’s the part that gets the most attention. Therefore it’s always a good idea to buy the size that is right for you. Here are a few tips on how to buy the right watch size for you:

  • If an oversized look is what you’re seeking, these tend to be watches with a case size of over 45mm. Anything above 46mm tends to have a very big and powerful presence on the wrist.

  • If a refined, elegant look is what you’re after, these tend to be watches with a case size of 38mm and below. This is usually where women’s watches come in. However, do note that watches are currently trending more towards larger case sizes for both men and women.

  • A medium or average case is somewhere between 38mm and 42mm.

So how do you know what size works for you? Simply measure your wrist. Below we have what your measurements mean in relation to your watch case diameter:

  • 14-16cm (very thin) – select a small or medium watch with a diameter of up to 38mm.

  • 16-17cm (slender wrist) – a design that is 40mm is usually ideal.

  • 17-18cm (medium wrist) – 42mm is recommended.

  • 18cm and above (thick wrist) – select a larger case, such as one that is 44-46mm

Case thickness

Case thickness refers to the width between the case back and the top of the crystal. Back when mechanical watches were dominating the market it was perceived that a thinner case was higher quality. However, this is no longer the case since electronic watches have entered the market, as well as quartz designs.

The thickness of the case will usually be best proportioned to your body if you choose the correct case diameter. As a general rule of thumb, the case thickness should be proportional to the case diameter. For example, as the case diameter increases so should the case thickness.

Typically, a watch that is 38mm to 42mm in diameter will feature a 7mm thickness. Those that are 44mm and above will be around 9mm thick or more. It is important to remember:

  • 8mm is ideal for thin wrists

  • 12mm is ideal for medium wrists

  • 18mm is ideal for thick wrists

Band width

A well-proportioned watch will have a band width that is half of its case diameter. For example, if your watch has a 42mm case, it should have a 21mm band width. However, this is just a guide. Depending on your style/preferences this can change. For example, some people with smaller wrists, like myself, sometimes prefer a smaller band.

Band material

When choosing the perfect watch, the material of the band is just as important as the width. For example, a metal band (even one the same size as a leather/material band) will always appear a lot heavier and thicker on the wrist in comparison to a leather/material band. Metal bands are usually best suited for those with larger wrists. However, a lot of this can also be affected by personal preferences regarding what style you like and what feels comfortable on your wrist. Not to forget, practicality. I once purchased a beautiful stainless-steel watch that picked up a lot of desk diving scratches. This was because my job at the time required me to do a lot of frequent desk work and I quickly found myself switching to a more practical rubber strap.

Leather Strap

Pros: Leather straps are comfortable, lightweight, sits well on the wrist. Leather watch straps have a variety of hues and textures. They are great for dress watches and pair well with vintage watches. You can easily purchase a new leather strap to update the look of your watch Cons: Not ideal for hot weather as leather soaks in sweat and can give off an unpleasant odour. Perspiration and water can also make the leather deteriorate. Leather watch straps can become worn and discoloured with use creating the need to be replaced.

Metal Strap

Pros: Metal straps can easily be cleaned. They do not stain or produce odour due to sweating in hotter climate. Metal watch straps are durable and have a sleek appearance. Metal straps are great for dress watches. Cons: Cheaper bracelets may pull arm hairs. Depending on the metal used, it can become scratched easily and due to the material used, metal watch straps can be heavy.

Rubber Strap

Pros: Rubber straps are good for active lifestyle as they are waterproof, easy to clean, durable and lightweight. Rubber watch straps are also affordable and are available in a variety of colours and styles. Cons: Can cause your wrist to sweat and they're aren't ideal for formal situations.

Ceramic Strap

Pros: Ceramic straps weigh less their metal counterparts. They are available in a variety of colours and offer a unique and modern appearance. Ceramic watch straps are also scratch resistant and durable.

Cons: Some ceramic watch bracelets may pinch arm hair and they can be expensive.

Fabric Strap

Pros: Fabric straps are comfortable, sits well on wrist and lightweight. With fabric wrist straps you have the ability to remove strap from watch for cleaning. The fabric construction makes them breathable, waterproof and quick drying. Fabric wrist straps are available in a variety of colours and styles, making them good for active lifestyles.

Cons: Not ideal for dress watches and they will become worn with use as the edges may fray away.

Watch details

Details, including markers, hands, sub dials, and crowns, should also be considered when investing in a new watch. As these components grow in size and thickness, it gives the illusion of a bigger watch.

Therefore, if you have a smaller wrist, sometimes a watch with large details may appear to be out of proportion. Those with slimmer wrists tend to suit a watch that has minimal features, whilst those with larger frames and styles are more suited to a watch with dominant features.

Strap size

There are two lengths required to determine the length of a watch strap:

  • The tail end (length of long section) and

  • The buckle end (length of short section, excluding the buckle).

The strap length is expressed as follows: 125/75. The first number (125) is the length in millimetres of the tail end with holes. The second number (75) is the length in millimetres of the buckle end.

Below is a guide to help you decide your watch strap length:

  • 6.0 - 6.5 inch wrist (150 – 164mm) = 120/70mm

  • 6.6 – 7.0 inch wrist 165 – 178mm) = 125/75mm

  • 7.1 – 7.5 inch wrist (179 – 190mm) = 130/80mm

  • 7.6 – 8.0 inch wrist (191 – 203mm) 135/80mm

  • 8.1 – 8.5 inch wrist (204 – 216mm) = 140/85mm

  • 8.6 – 9.0 inch wrist (217 – 229mm) – 145/90mm

However, please note that this is only a guide. Choosing a strap length can also have a lot of influence from personal preference. For example, if your wrist is 6.7 inches, you could also go with a 125/75mm strap for a more conservative look (less tail, centred buckle), or you could go up to 130/80 for a longer look (more tail, buckle more over to the side).

Our final thoughts on selecting the perfect watch?

When selecting the perfect watch, it is always important to remember that it is an incredible personal decision to make. You have to be completely happy in how your next luxury watch will fit and feel when you wear it. No matter the style you wish to have, there will be brand out there to suit. Whether that be Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega or Cartier your wrist will certainly be getting the upgrade it deserves.

Have a question or wish to find out more? Then simply get in touch with us today and a member of The Watch Village team will be on hand to help.

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