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These Are the Best Small Watches for Men

A watch should be framed by your wrist, not envelope it.

collage of three watches
Gear Patrol

There’s been much written about the “sweet spot” for watch sizes. Ten years ago, tastes skewed larger and the conventional wisdom ranged between 40mm and 42mm. Today, things have widened a bit to include watches down to around 38mm. Why the drop in millimeters?

I’d argue it’s largely about comfort. You see, the way a watch sits on the wrist is hugely affected by its diameter, which is mostly what we mean when we refer to a watch’s size. But there’s more going on here: the way a watch wears has just as much to do with its thickness, also measured in millimeters; and its lug-to-lug length, literally measuring from the tip of one set of lugs to the other, has much to do with whether you want to take it off at the end of the day or sleep in it. And generally, a watch with a smaller diameter width will also be slimmer and have a shorter lug-to-lug length.

There are exceptions, of course. But they don’t sway me, personally. I have what you’d call average-sized wrists, and I wear a 35.5mm vintage Zodiac Sea Wolf every day. It’s great. The crown doesn’t dig into my hand, and when I camp, I wear it to sleep with no problem. Here’s the other side of things, the one I think a lot of guys think about but don’t mention when they talk about why they don’t wear small watches: No one has ever seen this watch, taken it into their hands, and said, “But it’s so small!” Men wore them this small throughout the middle of the 20th century, and I’m not buying that we’ve “moved on” from that size. Fashion is cyclical, after all.

The truth, I believe, is that any size between 35mm and 38mm offers plenty of legibility and simply looks good, even on a larger wrist. But don’t take my word for it. Try on any of these "small" watches, which we're defining as 38mm in diameter and under, and you’ll see that a small watch might just be the best watch.

Casio F91W-1

Casio F91W-1

amazon.com
$14.00

Nerds Rule! The classic dweeb watch has become cool, proving that having thin wrists and being good at math can be perfectly sexy. Oh, and it costs less than twenty bucks. Eat your heart out, Bill Gates.

  • Case Size: 30mm x 30mm
  • Thickness: 8mm
  • Movement: Casio quartz

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    Bertucci A-1R Field Comfort Watch 10501

    Bertucci

    Bertucci A-1R Field Comfort Watch 10501

    amazon.com
    $54.00

    The oft-overlooked tough watch brand makes many durable watches for outdoorsmen. The new A1R Field Comfort might be slightly thicker than many other watches on this list, but its polycarbonate 36mm case is incredibly light at just 1.3 ounces.

    • Case Size: 36mm
    • Thickness: 12.2mm
    • Movement: Japanese quartz

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      Seiko 5 SNK

      Seiko 5 SNK

      amazon.com
      $195.00
      $140.00 (28% off)

      The Seiko 5 is as ubiquitous as it gets: it comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. This means you can find many of its iterations in case sizes below — and sometimes well below — 38mm. Some are meant for sport, some for diving, and some are more formal, but all deliver incredible value, such as this classic SNK field watch in blue.

      • Case Size: 37mm (varies)
      • Thickness: 12mm (varies)
      • Movement: Seiko automatic 7S36 (varies)

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        Timex Marlin Mechanical Hand-Wound

        Timex Marlin Mechanical Hand-Wound

        timex.com
        $199.00

        Timex’s Marlin is a hell of a great watch to have around: it’s mid-century on a budget, available in a number of great colors (the silver dial is our favorite, especially on mesh), and, particularly for those with smaller wrists, it’s a great dressy watch to match with all sorts of looks.

        • Case Size: 34mm
        • Thickness: 10mm
        • Movement: hand-wound mechanical

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          CWC G10

          CWC G10

          cwcwatch.com
          £334.00

          Here’s another military watch with some serious chops: the Cabot Watch Company has made mechanical and quartz watches for the British military since the 197-s. The G10 is a modern execution of a model from the 1980s, with a solid quartz movement and a slight cushion-shaped case.

          • Case size: 38mm (with crown; 36mm without)
          • Thickness: 10mm
          • Movement: ETA quartz 955.102

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            Marathon General Purpose Mechanical

            Marathon General Purpose Mechanical

            Marathon amazon.com
            $1,801.03

            Speaking of military chops. Marathon’s MGP is built to military spec, with a thick sapphire crystal, tritium tubes for legibility in the dark, and an ultra-light, 34mm case made of ultra-light high-impact fiber. (You can get it in a quartz version, too, if you so choose.)

            • Case Size: 34mm
            • Thickness: 11mm
            • Movement: Seiko NH35 automatic

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              Shinola Vinton

              Shinola Vinton

              shinola.com
              $550.00

              The Runwell is synonymous with Shinola. But collections like the Vinton carry a similar attraction with a throwback style and 38mm size. The brand's Detroit-assembled quartz movement helps keep it thin, too, at 9.02mm thick.

              • Case Size: 38mm
              • Thickness: 10.8mm
              • Movement: Argonite 715 quartz

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                Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical

                Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical

                hamiltonwatch.com
                $795.00

                Based on the historic W10 Hamilton made for the British military in the 1970s, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer is one of the best examples of how small-sounding dimensions can be deceiving. At 33mm it might sound downright dainty, but on the wrist we can fully confirm that it just clicks and is an absolute pleasure to wear. Like other small watches, its presence is appropriately boosted a bit by the bulk of a NATO strap.

                • Case Size: 33mm
                • Thickness: 9.95mm
                • Movement: Hamitlon H50 hand-winding

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                  AnOrdain Model 1

                  anOrdain Model 1

                  anordain.com
                  £1,750.00

                  This Scottish company turned a lot of heads in 2018 with their enamel-dialed Model 1. The new version is the same watch we know and love with a slightly reworked case and dial. What's more: it also comes in special fumé variants. (Batches sometimes sell out but are expected to be replenished shortly.)

                  • Case Size: 38mm
                  • Thickness: 11mm
                  • Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic

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                    Oris Divers Sixty-Five 36mm

                    Oris Divers Sixty-Five 36mm

                    oris.ch
                    $2,000.00

                    The original Oris Divers Sixty-Five is a darling of the watch nerd community: the look, the price, the brand, are all near perfect. In 2018 they released a 36mm size, which is candy for smaller-wristed dive watch fans. And they’ve got it in several different configurations.

                    • Case Size: 36mm
                    • Thickness: 13mm
                    • Movement: Sellita 200-1

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                      Tudor Black Bay 36

                      Tudor Black Bay 36

                      tudorwatch.com
                      $2,950.00

                      The Tudor Black Bay dive watch, while sharp, clocks in at a chunky 41mm and almost 15mm of thickness (though the Tudor Black Bay 58 is smaller). Which is why Tudor (and Rolex) fans rejoiced in 2016, when Tudor released the Black Bay 36mm, which recalls vintage Tudor and Rolex models from the '50s, '60s and '70s.

                      • Case Size: 36mm
                      • Thickness: 10.5mm
                      • Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic

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                        Nomos Club Campus

                        Nomos Club Campus

                        nomos-glashuette.com
                        $1,500.00

                        Nomos is one brand that offers a lot for thin wrists or fans of smaller watches. Its Club Campus offers some of the brand's entry-level prices but still the German brand's chic sense and in-house movements. The Club Campus is a great example: at 36mm and just 8.2mm thick, it’s got maximum comfort and an ultra-clean design.

                        Case Size: 36mm
                        Thickness: 8.2mm
                        Movement: Nomos Alpha hand-w0und

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                        Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38

                        Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38

                        breitling.com
                        $4,450.00

                        Historically, Breitling has made some pretty big, complex-looking watches, but lately, the brand seems to want to offer some toned-down options. One example is the time-only Navitimer 1, which has the same basic look of the classic Navitimer chronograph, but in a smaller, simpler package.

                        • Case Size: 38mm
                        • Thickness: 9.9mm
                        • Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic

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                          Grand Seiko Elegance GMT SBGM221

                          Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW285

                          watchesofswitzerland.com
                          $4,800.00

                          Had a tough time finding a smaller, more elegant everyday watch? Well, look no further: This one's got a perfectly sized 37.5mm case, a gorgeous dial, and the manually wound Grand Seiko Caliber 9S64 with 72 hours of power reserve.

                          • Case Size: 37.5mm
                          • Thickness: 11.7mm
                          • Movement: Grand Seiko Caliber 9S64 hand-wound

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                            Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34

                            Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34

                            rolex.com
                            $5,500.00

                            Folks in the know view vintage Oyster Precision and Oyster Perpetual models from the 1950s — and their 34mm diameter — as the ultimate value play. So why would you ignore the modern equivalent? That’s not the 36mm version of the Oyster Perpetual — it’s the 34mm.

                            • Case Size: 34mm
                            • Thickness: 11.7mm
                            • Movement: Rolex 3130 automatic

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                              IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36

                              IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36

                              iwc.com
                              $5,150.00

                              As Jason Heaton noted back in 2016, the launch of the Pilot’s Automatic 36mm was the most genuine pilot’s watch from IWC in a while — for the first time, the dimensions of the watch were not blown up to a modern-sized 40mm. Instead, they stayed closer to the original. The result is a watch that your grandpa really would’ve worn.

                              • Case Size: 36mm
                              • Thickness: 10.7mm
                              • Movement: Sellita SW300-1 automatic

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                                Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Monoface

                                Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Monoface

                                jaeger-lecoultre.com
                                $5,850.00

                                Yes, it was invented because wealthy British colonialists needed a way to protect their watches while playing polo…but we say it’ll survive because it comes in a small size that’s just right. That, and because it’s damn cool.

                                • Case Size: 35.78mm
                                • Thickness: 7.4mm
                                • Movement: JLC calibre 846/1

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                                  Panerai Luminor Due 38mm

                                  Panerai Luminor Due 38mm

                                  panerai.com
                                  $6,200.00

                                  If you dig the Panerai aesthetic but not the idea of have a hulking 44mm or 37mm behemoth on your wrist, then this is the Italian naval-inspired watch for you. (Unfortunately this one is only water resistant to 30m, however, so you're gonna have to relegate it to land use.)

                                  • Case Size: 38mm
                                  • Thickness: 10.8mm
                                  • Movement: Panerai P9000 automatic

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                                    Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A3817

                                    Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A3817

                                    zenith-watches.com
                                    $8,400.00

                                    The vintage reissue done right. The recreated tricolor subdials, a 37mm steel case, and an automatic, in-house chronograph movement would make this El Primero a "buy" already, but it's the unbeatably unique case shape and proportions that truly tie the whole package together and make for one hell of a watch.

                                    • Case Size: 37mm
                                    • Thickness: 12.6mm
                                    • Movement: Zenith El Primero caliber 400 automatic

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