Does size matter?


55mm Laco Type-A vs 40mm Stowa

I was recently part of a watch related group email (obviously not a rare occurrence), the subject of which was also clearly not a rare occurrence – watch sizes.

The discussion was about a particular watch that someone is (was?) interested in possibly acquiring, and there were lamentations about its size (47mm) being too big. I could identify the watch in question but I won’t (except to say that I have blogged it), because for the purposes of this ‘musing aloud’ post, it is irrelevant except as the object which has lead to these bloggish ruminations.

Devon Tread 1 - 53.3mm x 47mm.19mm thick.

Devon Tread 1 – 53.3mm x 47mm.19mm thick.

With the now well-established tendency towards large watches and 47mm arguably ‘the new 44mm’, this leaves those whose preferences run towards the ’36mm – 39mm’ category in particular, periodically frustrated.

For me, the issue of watch sizes really isn’t that complicated. My general approach is that barring those watches that are over 47mm, which tend to be worn by those with larger wrists, chutzpah, or a combination of both, we should not let a silly thing like a number get in the way of considering a watch that we otherwise like.


Well if we go back to basics, watches were made to be worn. You may think that a 44mm or 47mm watch is too big but until you have worn it, felt and looked at it on your wrist, can you really be certain that you will find it uncomfortable or too large?

49mm Longines Avigation A-7.

49mm Longines Avigation A-7.

Differences in case shape, design or height, lug lengths and design – all these contribute to how any watch sits on one’s wrist, but especially for larger cases. As I have mentioned in previous posts on Horologium, it is surprising how two watches with the same case diameter can sit so differently on the wrist; one may feel far too big whilst the other, not at all. It depends on that magical interaction between the watch and the wearer and that, dear reader, is unpredictable.

We all have our preferred size ‘comfort zones’. For me, it’s 36mm – 42mm. However, I have tried 44mm watches and even a 47mm watch that feel comfortable and don’t look stupidly big, just as I’ve tried 44mm and 47mm watches that look utterly daft on my wrist.

47mm Seiko GPS Astron

I know men with smaller-than-average wrists (and smaller than mine) who can rock a 47mm pilot watch that I can’t even contemplate wearing, and men with 8in wrists who wear 35mm watches. I also know women who only wear women’s watches because they are intimidated by the idea of wearing men’s watches for size reasons, but also women who wear both women’s and men’s watches, and women who only wear men’s watches. I say throw the idea of gendered watches out the window (there are certainly major brands which do so) along with the idea of size restrictions.

In the end, letting go of the whole ‘numbers thing’ means that you have more options when looking for a new watch, and how is this anything but good? If you see a watch you are drawn to then put its size last on your factors under consideration. Try it on if possible and then decide how you feel about it. Bah humbug to an extra millimetre or three. You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised.

How else can I end this but with a tip of the hat to my friends and acquaintances who wear 55mm and 60mm watches with aplomb. I salute you.


55mm Laco Type-A on owner’s wrist

PS: Obviously, the same applies to those who have mental blocks against watches under 38mm.

Categories: Devon Works, Laco, Seiko, Stowa, watches

7 replies

  1. Well done on avoiding all the obvious jokes


  2. I often don’t worry about the circumference but rather the height and the location of the lugs etc. I found the Astron to be a great fit at 47mm, but my Helson Blackbeard due to it’s 3 o’clock lug and manly height it sits as a working watch (in the field) and not an office watch. I was fortunate enough to try on my wrist a series of Lange and Sohnes and I found the sub-40mm quite tiny and inconspicuous on my wrist and was a bit shattered as I love the Lange 1 look. But the Max Bill sub-40mm looked fantastic with its domed top – a must buy in the years ahead.

    My little watch collection now falls into categories of my day’s activities. As I am active in the field and vineyard as well as suited up for the office I get to wear all my watches, with all their sizes on a regular basis. And in a way that’s what I enjoy about them most.


  3. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve gone backwards and forwards on the size thing and come to the same conclusion. The numbers don’t mean anything, it’s the watches that count. I have 6.25″ wrists and for a while wouldn’t wear anything over 41mm. My latest purchase is a G-Shock GW6900 which is (on paper at least) a whopping 50mm in diameter. It wears comfortably and looks great.


  4. true true…

    I have no issues wearing some 45 or 47mm due to the short lugs, but some 42mm with long flat lugs looks utterly silly on my wrist.

    as you point out, it’s not the size, but the overall dimension on the wrist, and that’s where *wrist*watches belong, that’s important!


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