How to buy the right size watch

Is your watch too big?

by Michael Satterfield - 11/19/2020

Nothing can throw off the look of a nice timepiece than it being the wrong size for the person wearing it. Men's watches for years averaged 34-36 millimeters in diameter, like my classic Tudor Prince Date or my Grandfather's Bulova 23 Jewel Automatic, both are 34mm, for years a "big" watch would something like a 40 millimeter Rolex Submariner, but today most men's watches start at 38 millimeters and range all the way up to 50 millimeters, so how do you know what size watch is right for you? 

Oversized watch on small wrist

An oversized watch on a small wrist looks out of proportion. 

Here are a few tips on how to buy the right watch size for your wrist: 

Start by measuring your wrist, if you are buying online this is very important as you will need to know the size for not just how it is going to look on your wrist, but for the strap length. A quick way to measure your wrist is using a dollar bill, which is 6 inches in length, if a dollar wraps around your wrist you will be small, if it is close to wrapping around your wrist but you are a medium, and if it has more than an inch of space you are large or extra long when it comes to strap size.

A good rule for case diameter size to wrist size is:

Wrist              Watch 

6-7 inches      34-38mm

7-8 inches      38-40mm

8+  inches      40+ mm

Diameter is only part of it, watch case thickness is something else to consider. If you wear long sleeves and suit jackets you will likely want something that slips under the cuff of your shirt without a lot of fuss. Generally, the bigger the diameter the thicker the case most watches will be between 7 to 9 millimeters thick. I have an 8-inch wrist and still wear my vintage 34mm watches and they look perfectly fine with the right strap combination, like anything else it is more about your personal preference.

Obviously, if you can shop in person and try on different sized watches that is the best option, but with the global pandemic and ongoing shutdowns and restrictions, it might not be possible for everyone.