I don’t often get personal on here, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart: most new watches are just too damn big for me. As a short, skinny guy with proportionately slender wrists, it’s extremely difficult for me to find a new timepiece that fits well, and doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing a dessert plate on my arm. For a long time, watches with a case diameter of 34-36mm were the norm for men, and these small, delicate case sizes were seen to reflect the refinement of the movements inside – which is why most vintage watches from the 50s-70s are 36mm or less.
Sometime in the late 20th century (with help from Sly Stallone, whose muscle-bound wrists made his 44mm Panerais look puny by comparison) this changed, and now most new watch releases are in the neighbourhood of 40mm or more. This is great for big guys or guys who just want something that looks XXL, but it just does not work for me. Have I considered women’s watches? Yes, yes I have. But for the most part the proportions of women’s watches, which tend to also have narrower lugs and straps, just don’t feel right (plus, I’m not a fan of diamonds). So instead of singing the praises of the latest creation from one of my favourite brands (that, inevitably, I would never be able to wear) today I’m going to talk about the best watches for guys like me.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 (36mm)
Classics are called that for a reason, and it doesn’t get any more classic than the OP 36. A sleek Oystersteel case and simple baton indexes are the name of the game here, accented by a choice of bright dials in green, orange and yellow. The only downside here is that the beautiful champagne sunray dial is only available in 41mm. $6,550, Rolex.com
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical (38mm)
This watch is infamous for finding its way into collections alongside watches that cost ten times as much, or more. The reason? It’s got everything that’s great about field watches, from the 24-hour dial to the olive drab NATO-style strap, and a rock-solid Swiss mechanical movement to boot. Would this watch look even better at 36mm? In my opinion, yes, but it still wears really well as it is. $645, hamiltonwatch.com
Panerai Luminor Due (38mm)
If there’s one exception to my view that most modern watches are just too damn big, it goes to Panerai. Yes, their watches are big, but that’s kind of the point. Since they are designed as professional diver’s watches (which need to be big for a number of reasons) their size is part of their appeal. The 38mm Luminor Due, however, allows guys like me to get in on the action. Grazie mille. $9,000, Panerai.com
Breitling Chronomat Lady (36mm)
Yes, it says “Lady” in the name, but there is nothing specifically feminine about this scaled-down version of Breitling’s recently-relaunched Chronomat. The only negative thing I can say about this watch is it’s missing the chronograph found on its larger siblings (what, women don’t need to time things?) Still, it’s a beautiful watch that in my opinion would look good on anyone of either gender. $5,640, breitling.com
NOMOS Club (36mm)
Few watches can match the value of this under-the-radar pick from Germany’s NOMOS Glashütte, or its highly wearable 36mm case size. With a clean, modern dial, a small seconds subdial, and a selfwinding German-made movement, it’s pretty much all the watch you need at a very reasonable price. $1,930, nomos-glashuette.com