Time, Editor's Pick

The Rising Popularity of Small Watches

The Rising Popularity of Small Watches

The growing appeal of vintage watches is one of the reasons why small watches are gaining in popularity. Pictured here is the cushion-shaped Rolex Oyster from 1926 that formed the foundations of the Oyster Perpetual 36 seen later in the article.

We have seen watches of all sizes gracing wrists of well, all sizes and some guys make it look downright good but others appear a tad too awkward. This could be your personal experience as well especially with the boom in the popularity of small watches.

You might even wonder why a watch does not wear as well as another even though the diameters are the same.

Here’s a tip for you — the watch lugs should be positioned within your wrist when the watch is strapped on. 

Popularity of Small Watches

Here is a picture from the good folks at Hodinkee to illustrate the point.

Notice how the lugs of the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatique are well rested within the wrist? This provides a proper fit and maximum comfort as the watch does not rock awkwardly when strapped on.

Essentially, a watch’s diameter lets you know how big the watch is but the lug-to-lug measurement will let you know how it will fare on your wrist.

There is also the issue of the case construction as well. Some manufactures prefer long straight lugs while others opt for short and curved lugs which invariably affects the lug-to-lug measurement.

Where possible, always look to head to a boutique to try on a watch as these little factors do affect the wearability of the watch.

Popularity of Small Watches

A younger Sylvester Stallone and his Panerai

With this in mind, this sheds some light on why certain men wear small watches owing to the popularity of small watches themselves — because the watch will fit every single time!

Large watches have dominated for long periods of time (probably a case of size matters).

The influence of Hollywood on the popularity of said watches cannot be overstated either — Panerai-donning Sylvester Stallone almost single handedly put large watches on the world map while Jay-Z spits bars such as New watch alert: Hublots / Or the big face Rollie, I got two of those.

Popularity of Small Watches

Christian Bale spotted with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso in his portrayal as Bruce Wayne

But the trend is slowly shifting towards the popularity of small watches thanks to Hollywood’s influence as well as the burgeoning interest in vintage watches.

Other than a great fit, small watches exude elegance, charm and looks equally at home whether it is paired with a tuxedo or a Cuban shirt.

Its discreet nature allows it to slip out of attention, but when done right it exerts enough presence to be reckoned with. 

Here are our picks of small watches that we have kept between 35 to 38mm.

Popularity of Small Watches
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36: In the words of Rolex, the Oyster Perpetual is the purest expression of the Oyster concept, providing a clear and accurate time display.

First presented to the world in 1926, the Oyster construction has since been the foundation of the brand which it built its reputation upon.

The Oyster Perpetual is available in other sizes but the 36mm iteration hits the sweet spot for a modern luxury sports watch.

The case proportions are immaculate while the choice of dial colours (six in total) allows one to pick one to their liking.

Popularity of Small Watches
Rado True Square Automatic Open Heart: Rado’s mastery of ceramics extends past circular watches to square watches which are harder to construct given the angularity of the shape.

The True Square Automatic Open Heart is Rado’s finest example to emerge from the plasma ovens in Lengnau, Switzerland.

Measuring in at 38mm, the plasma high-tech ceramic case radiates a cool shade that captures the attention of onlookers, while its skeletonised dial invites admirers for a closer look at the ceramic beauty.

Popularity of Small Watches
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Co-Axial 36.25mm: Omega is very precise with the measurements of its dainty diver — measuring an unconventional 36.25mm (0.25mm are rarely seen in watches) in diameter.

It is true that sports watches possess a certain heft since it has to bear the brunt of impacts and shocks but the good folks at Omega brought theirs down to reach a larger demographic of smaller wrists.

The hallmarks of the larger Seamaster Diver are retained in the 36.25mm version, a ceramic bezel, 300m of water resistance, helium escapement valve at 10 o’clock and an automatic Co-Axial calibre to ensure this is not an inferior interpretation of Omega’s maritime legacy.

Popularity of Small Watches
Longines Heritage Classic Tuxedo: Longines has been hitting home runs after home runs with its vintage-skewed Heritage collection and the Heritage Classic Tuxedo proves to be another hit in their bags.

Released late last year with a sporty sector dial, the timepiece takes a dressier approach as seen in the black and cream combination that earned it the Tuxedo nickname.

It is 0.5mm larger than the upper limit we set but the 38.5mm case is still considered small in today’s context.

Popularity of Small Watches
Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW259: Seiko’s revered big brother Grand Seiko is known for producing stellar timepieces ever since the day it was founded in 1960.

The craftsmanship, dedication and precision put into the watches ranks among the best in watchmaking and it is exemplified in the SBGW259 (extreme right) made in tribute to the manufacture’s 60th anniversary.

Its 38mm case is made from Grand Seiko’s proprietary Brilliant Hard Titanium that allows the zaratsu polish to shine even brighter on the wrist.

The other pieces in the 60th anniversary are shown as well in platinum and yellow gold.