Roughly ten years ago, there were too many Big Watches out there, far outpacing the number of Big Wrists, and we were all at risk of becoming consumers of clown-sized timekeeping devices that could be read from space. But now that the invading horde of monster watches is no longer on our doorstep, we can look at them in a different light. It’s hypocritical, we know, but when we see some guy or gal rocking a Panerai that more closely resembles a hunk of deep-sea treasure than a Nilla wafer, we can’t help but think, damn, that’s kinda cool, isn’t it?
It wasn’t that Big Watches were evil — it’s that the average watch becoming a Big Watch was a bad trend. Nowadays, however, watches have seemed to come back down to earth, and we’re no longer in danger of Big Watches taking over. Now, they simply have their place in brands’ catalogs, available for those who want them, which is the way it should be.
Below are some of our favorite Big Watches, both from brands who specialize in them, and from the watch world’s major players.
Swatch Big Bold Fire Taste
Just as watch tastes are swinging back toward retro styles and sub-40mm diameters, Swatch bucked the trend when they released the new, descriptively named Big Bold — as if it were still the height of the Big Watch boom several years ago. In characteristically fashionable designs and plastic cases, the Big Bold collection comes in a range of variations, including this monster with its dial partially exposing the movement and colorful hands to retain legibility. A summer watch if ever there was one.
Divex Offshore 500
You don’t have to be a millionaire to afford a monster-sized professional-level dive watch. Divex makes professional dive equipment, and their Offshore 500 is powered by a Japanese quartz movement and has a big-toothed bezel for good measure. It's even used by professional saturation divers.
Movement: Japanese Quartz
Even when Nixon watches aren’t big, they look it, thanks to oversized numerals and oversized design touches. Well, the Regulus, the brand’s tough digital watch, is a square 46mm beast with loads of functionality, like dual time, dual chronographs, three alarms, and an LED backlight. For a sub-$200 beater, that’s tough to beat.
Movement: Nixon digital
Seiko Prospex SNJ029 “Arnie”
When Arnold Schwarzennegger got to da choppa, he could tell he was on time thanks to his Seiko H558, a 45mm beast. Seiko recently announced this modern update, nicknamed the “Solar Arnie,” since it’s powered by the sun. And it’s only gotten bigger and offered in more variations, such as this "Safarnie" colorway.
Movement: Seiko H851 digital solar powered
Casio G-Shock Master Of G Frogman
It helps when a G-Shock actually has a name rather than just a cryptic reference number. The Master of G designation marks this line as one of the brand's particularly badass, professionally focused watches, and the Frogman name means it's a dive watch with a distinctive off-center case. The new Frogman for 2020, however, breaks with its past by offering a fully analog dial and unique features for divers.
Movement: G-Shock solar-powered quartz
Lum-Tec Combat Field X2
Lum-Tec might not have the recognizability of say, a Shinola, but this American company has been making tough, reliable watches for many years. Their Combat Field X2 field watch measures 44mm in diameter, but wears even larger thanks to its very loud coin-edged bezel.
Movement: Sellita SW200
Alpina AlpinerX Alive
Alpina launched the AlpinerX hybrid smartwatch on Kickstarter in 2018. The new "Alive" versions for 2020 combine customizable options as well as upgrades like new heart rate monitor tech and hi-res AMOLED screen. Housed in a fiberglass fiberglass case, it continues to feature a range of functionality, including a digital readout with analog hands, sleep, altitude, temperature, and UV tracking and more.
Shinola Runwell Automatic
An automatic version of the popular Runwell series watch, the Runwell Automatic has classic looks, but is housed in an enormous 45mm case. Available in black, blue or white, it also comes in a 39.5mm size for smaller humans.
Movement: Sellita SW200-1 automatic
Gorilla Fastback GT Modena
Gorilla Watch was created by Octavio Garcia and Lukas Gopp, two designers with experience at Omega, AP, and IWC. Their microbrand makes watches like the Modena, which features a colorful, modern design. With its large diameters and monster crown guards, however, it isn't a watch meant for small wrists.
Movement: Miyota 90S5
Citizen Promaster 1000m Professional Diver
Upstaged in size on this list only by G-Shock, the Citizen Promaster 1000m Professional Diver is an intimidating 53mm wide and looks like a genuine piece of dive equipment — perhaps more so than the kind of wristwatch one would wear on land. Housed in the brand's scratch-resistant Super Titanium case, it'll be lighter than its size suggests and it's powered by Citizen's light-charging Eco Drive technology.
Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive quartz
Vortic Springfield 133
Vortic builds custom case housings for American vintage pocket watch movements. It’s a brilliant business, really, celebrating heritage, producing watchmaking art, and keeping construction and assembly in the US. It also requires some damn big watch cases: The Springfield 133, for example, houses a 1926 Illinois Watch Company movement in a 46mm case.
Movement: Vintage manually wound Illinois Watch Company
Seiko Prospex 1975 Diver “Tuna Can”
The SLA041 is the descendent of the legendary Seiko “Tuna Can,” the ultimate professional’s dive watch. The original was made in 1975 at the request of a saturation diver, and Seiko’s solution involved a monster of a watch, complete with a titanium shroud that indeed made it look like a can of the chicken of the sea. Today the SLA041 can go 1000m down. And it’s a really big fish.
Movement: Seiko 8L55 automatic
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue
Want a massive watch with some handy functionality as well? Zenith’s Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue is a black-coated steel leviathan that offers a chronograph. Giant pilot's watches make historical sense, since many of the earliest such examples were similarly sized (and even larger) and strapped to a pilot's thigh — just imagine how big it must have seemed to mid-20th-century wearers accustomed to even smaller watches than today's consumers.
Movement: Zenith El Primero 254 automatic
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
Big Pilot’s watch, indeed. At 46.5mm, this baby's got plenty of space on the dial for a power reserve sub-dial and date window. The line is a longtime favorite of a certain guitarist whose last name rhymes with "slayer."
Movement: IWC 52110
What the hell does one need 51mm of diameter for? This watch is driven by a quartz movement, anyway. Oh, what’s that, you say? It has a dual-frequency distress beacon that you can turn on if you're lost and need help? Oh, gotcha. 51mm. Not bad.
Movement: Breitling 76 quartz
Ressence Type 5
Ressence continues to produce a line of watches that are completely unique, thanks to an oil-filled case that makes it appear as if the dial is printed on the crystal itself. Part of that design involves being large and in charge; the Type 5 is 46mm in diameter. If you’re buying something this cool, you’ll want to show it off, anyway.
Movement: ROCS 5 powered by a custom ETA 2824-2
Panerai Submersible Bronzo PAM968
This special edition Panerai Submersible, with its 47mm bronze case and matching highlights, was dropped at SIHH 2019. Panerai helped kickstart the popularity of bronze watch cases, and this one is made from 161g of the metal, with a brown ceramic dial and tonally appropriate leather strap for a unique look.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph
The Royal Oak’s octagonal design is the stuff of watch legend. But even the “Jumbo” versions are a (relatively) small 41mm. That’s where the Offshore, an oversized chronograph, comes in. But hell — even those are just 44mm. To get to the big boy size here, you’ve got to go loud, with this insane, openworked dial tourbillon chronograph. May we recommend it in pink gold?
Movement: AP 2947
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
Lange is legendary in the watchmaking world for, among other things, fitting an insane amount of horological mastery inside relatively reasonable case sizes. An exception is their Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, which includes a massive bridge on the dial, plus a time readout in the digital style (“7:52”) — it also crams in a minute repeater, which chimes out the time with the press of a button. At over 44mm in diameter and 14.1mm thick, it’s a big, beautiful chunk of horology.
Panerai Luminor Daylight Slytech
“But it’s only 44mm!” you yell. Yes. But Sylvester Stallone commissioned the special edition — simply a white-dialed Luminor with the words “Daylight” and “Slytech” on the dial — after wearing one during his epic action movie “Daylight.” That, my friends, is big.
Movement: Unitas 6497