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
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. - 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 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.
- 8mm is ideal for thin wrists
- 12mm is ideal for medium wrists
- 18mm is ideal for thick wrists
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.
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. For example, 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 / Comfortable, lightweight, sits well on the wrist - Variety of hues and textures - Great for dress watches and pairs well with vintage watches - Can purchase a new leather strap to update the look of your watch Cons / Not ideal for hot weather, leather soaks in sweat and can give off an unpleasant odour - Perspiration and water makes leather deteriorate - Can become worn and discoloured with use, needs to be replaced
Pros / Can easily be cleaned - No sweat, odour, or stains - Durable - Sleek appearance - Great for dress watches Cons / Cheaper bracelets may pull arm hairs - Depending on the metal used, it can get scratched easily - Heavy
Pros / Good for active lifestyle - Waterproof - Easy to clean - Durable and lightweight - Affordable - Variety of colours and styles Cons / Can cause wrist to sweat - Not ideal for formal situations
Ceramic Strap Pros / Weighs less than a metal bracelet - Variety of colours - Unique and modern appearance - Scratch resistant - Durable
Cons / Some bracelets may pinch arm hair - Can be expensive
Pros / Comfortable, sits well on wrist, lightweight - Ability to remove strap from watch and wash - Breathable - Waterproof and quick drying - Variety of colours and styles - Good for active lifestyle
Cons / Not ideal for dress watches - Will become worn with use, edges may fray
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.
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, centered buckle), or you could go up to 130/80 for a longer look (more tail, buckle more over to the side).