It may be a cliché, but in 2017 we’re all complicit in the understanding that one size does not fit all. Learning to dress for your body shape is the key to looking great, but this wisdom doesn’t end at the wardrobe – it should tick over into the wristwear department, too.
Just like a longline T-shirt isn’t for every frame, neither is a 48mm gold-gilded arm cannon – the same rules apply. Since the watch world is quite different to the clobber hanging in your wardrobe, we enlisted some expert help to crack the formula.
Very Thin Wrists
In the same way big suit syndrome doesn’t do a small frame any favours, a watch that’s not bought with proportions in mind will not be a wise investment.
“Men with smaller wrists should take into account how a watch will fit and look when worn,” says Erica Redgrave, a buyer at The Watch Gallery. “Anything too large, and it won’t sit comfortably beneath a smaller shirt cuff and can look too big on the arm.
“Aim for around 34mm. It may sound small in comparison to most other men’s pieces, but it’ll make just as much impact when you consider smaller proportions of clothing size.”
We’re not quite talking a ladies’ diamond-encrusted delicacy, though. “Just remember that there’s a big difference between men’s watches and women’s cocktail pieces – don’t opt for a feminine version, or worse, a child’s,” adds Redgrave.
For wrists that are a little larger but not quite Schwarzenegger level, Redgrave suggests keeping the case thin, while upping the diameter.
“A 38-40mm dial, which is a fairly average size, sits comfortably on a slender wrist. Since lower arms are slightly thinner, ensure case thickness is no more than 7-8mm. Anything larger will stick out on the wrist and draw attention a smaller frame.”
It’s also worth paying attention to the type of bracelet on the watch. “Smaller watches sit better on leather straps or Milanese bracelets, as these are generally slimmer and won’t outflank the dial,” adds Redgrave.
If lucky enough to clock in at the middle of the wrist spectrum – rejoice, there’s an abundance of watches that’ll suit. However, there are still rules to consider.
“Just like smaller wrists shouldn’t wear larger dials, a thicker arm can’t suddenly pull off a chunky number,” says Redgrave. “A slighter watch won’t work either. Middle-bracket builds demand middle-bracket pieces, so play it safe in the centre and aim for around 40mm [diameter].”
Despite being confined like everyone else when it comes to size, remember to enjoy the greater choice of bracelets and straps. “Metal clasp bracelets are chunkier than leather or Milanese options and lend themselves to a statement watch. If your wrist is in the middle of the spectrum, you can experiment without risking skewed proportions,” adds Redgrave.
Whether it’s down to natural selection or a gruelling workout regime, thick forearms and wrists still aren’t free license to wear whatever you like.
“Don’t fall into the trophy trap,” says Redgrave. “Many stockier men seek out the biggest watches on the market, and size doesn’t always translate to style.”
Instead, opt for a significant 42mm diameter case. This gives plenty of room for chronographs and detailing aplenty, but without the risk of looking like you’re, ahem, compensating.
The same rule applies to excessive bling. “Just because there’s more space for embellishment doesn’t necessarily mean you should take them,” says Redgrave. “A classic watch will age better than an of-the-moment piece. Plus, it’s more likely to hold or even accrue value.”