Watch size guide: A watch speaks volumes about the personality or character of its wearer, which is why it’s not just important to choose the right “look” but also the best fit. And so, for those who wish to “up” their watch game, this guide about watch sizes and styles should be able to help you become a well-informed watch buyer or owner.
At a Glance
- Before you buy a watch, you need to determine the sizes of its two parts: the (1) case (contains the face and components of the watch) and the (2) band (secures the watch to the wrist). To get accurate measurements for watch sizes, you’ll need a Vernier caliper and record in millimeters.
- To know the right case size for you, you need to choose a suitable (1) case diameter or width and (2) case thickness. Ideally, the watch case should be proportionate to the size of your wrists. When wearing dress shirts, a watch with a thinner case is preferable.
- Aside from the case diameter and thickness, you also need to consider the (1) watch band’s width and (2) band length. The band width of the watch is generally around 50% of the case diameter although personal preference is still the biggest factor to consider.
- Strap length of wristwatch products is usually presented as X/Y mm (e.g. 120/70) . The first number (X) is the length of the long end in millimeters while the second number (Y) is the buckle end in millimeters.
- To measure your watch strap length, use a measuring tape to determine the circumference of your wrist in inches. Then, refer to a watch size chart (as provided in this article) to determine the appropriate strap length.
Why Watch Sizing Matters
There are three important considerations when purchasing a watch: price, style, and size. As with rings, size is arguably the one that matters most. By size, it’s not just about width and length of the strap but also how wide the face or case of the watch is. There’s also the thickness of both the case and the bracelet to think about. How well the watch will look good on you will depend on the proportions of these elements.
All watches may essentially serve the same function – telling time – but each one will look differently on you and your wrist. There are watch sizes that are better suited for women than men. There will be watch sizes that are too big for people with slender wrists or too small for those with fuller forearms. There are also watch sizes that match the current trend or go completely against it. Naturally, personal preference will reign supreme over other considerations, but it’s very important for watch buyers to be well-informed of what their choices are in terms of watch sizes and how they are supposed to size a watch accurately.
What you need to know about Watch Sizes
Before you buy a watch, you need to determine two things: (1) your case size and (2) your band size.
For experienced buyers or collectors of watches, finding the watch size that suits them best can be a cakewalk. Beginners and online shoppers, on the other hand, may need a little help in this department. To get accurate measurements for watch sizes, you’ll need a Vernier caliper, preferably one made of plastic to avoid scratching the bezel of the watch. You may also opt to use a regular ruler, but they tend to be less accurate, and your measurements may be off by a millimeter or two. You may also use a measuring tape to get the circumference of your wrist.
The case is typically circular in shape or square-like, and it contains the working parts of the watch, including the movement itself. It is usually made of stainless steel. However, sports watches can be made of plastic, and luxury watches can have cases made of gold or platinum. To know the right case size for you, you need to choose a suitable (1) case diameter or width and (2) case thickness.
How to measure the Watch Size Diameter
- To know the diameter or width of a watch case, you can use either a Vernier caliper or a ruler to measure the distance from the outer edge of the left side of the watch to the outer edge of its other side. It’s best to record the measurement in millimeters.
- You also need to measure the circumference of your wrist using a measuring tape. You may record this in inches or in centimeters.
- As a guide, you may refer to the tables below to find the watch case diameter that suits you best. Your options will depend on your gender and/or your wrist size.
The Right Case Width: The case diameter of your watch is largely a matter of personal preference and comfort, but current trends tend to influence people’s choices. Nowadays, watches with large casings are quite popular. It is also important to note that gender also comes into play when choosing the case diameter of the watch. For example, women tend to wear watches that are slightly smaller in case diameter than those worn by men. Moreover, people prefer to buy watches with cases that are proportionate to the size of their wrists.
Watch Case Diameter by Gender
Watch Case Diameter by Wrist Size
|Wrist Circumference||Proportional Case Diameter|
How to measure the Watch Case Thickness
Using a Vernier caliper is the best method to measure case thickness, but you must be extra careful if you utilize a ruler. To give you an idea on your watch size options in terms of case thickness, you may refer to the table below.
Case thickness refers to the width between the rear casing of the watch and the crystal in front. Generally, the thickness of the watch case is directly correlated to its diameter. Meaning, the larger the watch case, the thicker and heavier it is. Thickness is also influenced by the complications or additional mechanisms built into the watch as extra room is required to include these features.
The Right Case Thickness: A lot of people do not find case thickness as an important consideration when buying a watch. However, for those who regularly wear a suit for work, the thickness of the case matters to avoid stretching out the sleeves of your dress shirt and jacket. For such clothes, a watch with a thinner case is preferable (e.g., dress watches).
Watch Case Thickness Chart
How to Measure the Watch Band Sizing
The band of your watch is what wraps around your wrist and keeps your timepiece in place. It is made up of two main parts – the buckle side and the long side. If you’re buying at a store, finding your band size is fairly straightforward since all you need to do is try them on until you find one that fits you well. However, it gets trickier if you’re shopping for watches online. Before you make any purchase, aside from the case diameter and thickness, you also need to consider the watch band’s width and length.
Watch Band Width Chart
|Case Diameter||Band Width|
The band width of your watch is determined by the distance between the lug ends of your watch case, which is where the bundle and long straps are hinged. The band width of the watch is generally around 50% of the case diameter (see table below). Watches with smaller band widths are typically suitable for those with slender wrists and for women. People with larger wrists (or men), on the other hand, are better suited to wear watches with wider bands. However, personal preference still is the biggest factor in choosing the right band width, and people nowadays prefer timepieces with wider bands.
How to measure the Watch Strap Length
- Use a measuring tape to determine the circumference of your wrist in inches. You can also use a string or thread, mark it, lay it flat on the table, and simply measure the distance with a ruler.
- Keeping your wrist measurements in mind, you may then refer to the table below to help you determine the right-fitting strap length for you.
When it comes to the length of your watch’s strap, fit and comfort takes precedence over personal style. It must be snug and secure when worn, neither too tight nor too loose. The length of the strap is based on wrist circumference and can be divided in two – the tail or long end and the buckle or short end. That’s why the strap length of wristwatch products is usually presented as 120/70mm. The first number (120) is the length of the long end in millimeters while the second number (70) is the buckle end in millimeters.
Watch Strap Length Chart
|Wrist Circumference||Strap Length|
|6.0 - 6.5||15.0 - 16.4||150 - 164||120/70|
|6.6 - 7.0||16.5 - 17.8||165 - 178||125/75|
|7.1 - 7.5||17.9 - 19.0||179 - 190||130/80|
|7.6 - 8.0||19.1 - 20.3||191 - 203||135/80|
|8.1 - 8.5||20.4 - 21.6||204 - 216||140/85|
|8.6 - 9.0||21.7 - 22.9||217 - 229||145/90|
Basic Parts of a Watch
- Case. The housing of the watch which holds its inner working parts.
- Crown. It’s the knob on the side of the watch casing which can be turned to set or change time.
- Bezel. The watch case’s outer ring that holds the crystal in place. It is usually made of a different metal from the case and is sometimes embellished with precious gemstones for luxury watches.
- Crystal. Usually made of glass or plastic (and nowadays, even sapphire crystal), it protects the interior parts of the watch’s face.
- Lugs. Small metal pairs at the top or bottom of the watch case where the strap or metal bracelet is attached.
- Dial. The face of the watch which displays the time.
- Hands. Comprised of the shorter hour hand, the longer minute hand, and the fast-moving second hand, these parts are the ones moving over the dial to indicate the time.
- Hour Marker. The numeric labels on the face of the watch, usually from 1 to 12. The markers can also be in Roman Numerals.
- Pusher. Typically situated next to the crown, it’s a knob that sets other functions (e.g., date).
- Subdial. A smaller dial within the main dial, which serves an additional or secondary function.
- Strap. Functions like a bracelet to keep the watch on the wrist secure. It can be made of materials like leather, metal, rubber, nylon, etc.
- Movement. The interior mechanism or engine of the watch that makes it work. It is made up of several smaller parts (e.g., balance spring, balance wheel, barrel, etc.)
Types of Watch Movements
What makes a watch literally tick? The answer lies in its movement, which is also known as its “caliber.” The watch’s movement is like the “engine” or “heart” of the watch that makes it serve its purpose. There are three main types of watch movement: (1) mechanical, (2) automatic, and (3) quartz.
A watch with a mechanical movement that operates through a spring-driven mechanism that is wound by hand. The mainspring (which is a coiled metal wire), once wound, causes the second hand of the watch to start moving. A mechanical watch, however, only has a limited supply of power reserved. And so, while it doesn’t require a battery to run, it needs regular winding to keep on working.
An automatic watch is a lot like a mechanical watch as it is also powered by a mainspring. But unlike a mechanical watch, an automatic movement is supposed to be “self-winding.” You won’t need to regularly hand-wind the watch because it keeps on ticking as you move your hand for the most part of every day. This is made possible by the watch’s rotor which winds the mainspring while you move your wrist. However, when you’re not wearing the watch, the hands of the watch eventually stop moving. That is why it must be placed in a watch winder when not in use, so that it can continuously self-wind and tell time accurately.
A quartz movement is not powered by a mainspring that needs winding. Instead, it requires electricity from a battery. The electric power passes through a quartz crystal, which consequently vibrates at over 32,000 times per second. A pulse is produced by the vibrations, moving the second hand of the watch and producing a ticking sound in the process. Once the battery runs out, however, the watch stops functioning. It requires replacement batteries in order to start again. Quartz watches may not be as iconic, but they are very popular today because they’re affordable and more accurate compared to other movements.
Watch Complications (Extra Features)
Watches today are not just limited to telling time. They can also display the date and track the different phases of the moon. Some even have alarms and chronographs that function like stopwatches. Others even allow watch-users to monitor dual time zones. These extra mechanical functions are called “complications,” and here are a few of the most popular examples of them:
- Date Display. The simplest and most common watch complication, the date display tells you the date today.
- Day/Date/Month Display. Aside from the date, this extra feature of the watch shows you the month and the day of the week.
- Annual Calendar Display. Some watches can also show you the year and are usually designed to change display for the next ten years.
- Perpetual Calendar Display. This is similar to the annual calendar display, but the difference is that it takes the leap year in consideration. This means you won’t have to adjust the watch every time February ends.
- Moon Phase Display. This complication shows you the current phase of the moon as seen by the naked eye.
- Chronograph. Basically a stopwatch, it was initially used to time car races when it was introduced in early to mid-20th century.
- Power Reserve. This complication indicates how much power your mechanical watch has left until you need to wind it again.
Various Watch Styles
Wristwatches serve a functional purpose, but they are also worn to express one’s personal style. That is why no two watch models look exactly the same. Over the years, various watch styles were created to fit different occasions and to match with various clothing styles. Therefore, it’s important to know each available style, and when and with what outfit are they intended to be worn.
There are five (5) main styles or genres of watches: (1) dress, (2) field, (3) driving, (4) diving, and (4) aviation.
First introduced in the early 20th century, dress watches were intended for gentlemen who preferred to wear their timepiece on the wrist instead of keeping them inside their pockets. This watch style emphasizes the beauty of simplicity, and it’s perfect for those who wish to subtly distinguish themselves without the unwanted flash or spectacle.
- Case: A dress watch’s case can have a circular, square-like or rectangular shape, and it usually has a thin width. For luxury brands, a dress watch can be made of gold or silver.
- Face or Dial: The dial of the watch has simple hour markers from 1 to 12, which can be written as Roman or Hindu Arabic numerals.
- Complications: Almost no extra features are added. Additional complications are limited to moon phases or date display.
- Band: The band or strap of a dress watch is generally made of leather.
How to Style: Dress watches are worn in formal occasions where wearing a suit or tuxedo is required. They don’t go well with casual attire like t-shirt and jeans.
The trench watch from the First World War is the predecessor of field watches, which is why they are more rugged-looking than dress watches.
- Case: Field watches range from small to medium sizes, and their cases are usually made of stainless steel. Some, however, are made from titanium.
- Face or Dial: The numerical indexes display regular and military time. The numbers and the hands of the watch dial are generally designed to illuminate, allowing the wearer to check the time at night or in the dark.
- Complications: Like dress watches, watch complications are rarely added in field watches. If any, it will be a date display at most.
- Band: The band or strap of a field watch is usually made of light material like leather or canvas.
How to Style: A versatile timepiece, a field watch can be worn with daily casual wear (e.g., t-shirt and jeans) and works just as well with business casual attire (e.g., sports coats and khakis).
Also known as a racing watch, this type of wristwatch surfaced during the 1930s when car racing started to become a serious sports event. Among the famous brands that pioneered watches outfitted for drivers are Rolex and TAG Heuer. They came with special mechanisms like the chronograph and tachymeter so that racers could track their speed and distance.
- Case: Driving watches range from medium to large sizes, and their cases are usually made of stainless steel.
- Face or Dial: A driving watch comes with a large dial with hour markers written in Hindu Arabic numerals. The extra space is for any watch complications built into the product.
- Complications: The chronograph is the driving watch’s most distinctive feature. Other models might come with a date display.
- Band: The band or strap of a driving watch is either made of leather or metal.
How to Style: Driving or racing watches are very eye-catching accessories, which is why they are better suited to causal clothing than formal wear.
Diving watches are water-resistant, and they were originally designed for people whose work required them to spend a lot of time in or in close proximity to water. They can keep on ticking underwater, up to at least 100 meters deep. However, some watches are designed to function at much lower depths than that.
- Case: A diving watch is medium in size and is typically made from stainless steel or titanium. Among its distinctive features is its unidirectional bezel, which helps a professional diver to track how much time he has left to safely stay submerged.
- Face or Dial: The dial of the watch has easy-to-read and luminous hour markers from 1 to 12 in Hindu Arabic numbering. Markers for each second are also very visible. Its transparent cover is typically made of hardened glass or sapphire crystal.
- Complications: Almost no extra features are added. If any, it is limited to a date display.
- Band: The band or strap of a diving watch is usually made of stainless steel metal or a durable material that is corrosion-resistant.
How to Style: The diving watch is very popular because of its durability and versatility. It can be worn during any kind of occasion, regardless if you’re wearing casual or formal wear. It has the reputation for being James Bond’s preferred watch style.
This wristwatch style was specially designed in the early years of the 20th century for pilots to help them keep track of time. An aviation watch is also equipped with a chronograph, which proved useful during the war in the 1940s as pilots could rely on their watches to monitor their speed, traveled distance, and fuel consumption.
- Case: The size of an aviation watch can range from medium to large.
- Face or Dial: One of the most distinctive features of a pilot watch is its black-colored dial and white-colored numbering. Also equipped with luminous hands, this design is supposed to make reading the time significantly easier while the pilot is in a dark cockpit.
- Complications: It generally comes with a chronograph and/or a date display.
- Band: The band or strap of an aviation watch is usually made of leather.
How to Style: Pilot watches go well with casual attire like t-shirt and jeans. However, they don’t match as well with formal or business wear.
Tips for Buying Watches
In a world where most people own smartphones, one might wonder if the modern man still has a need for wrist watches. However, wearing a watch nowadays is still regarded as the most convenient and stylish way to tell time. Some even consider luxury watches as worthy investments and quintessential heirlooms. Many place them in high regard as precious art pieces which symbolize history, tradition, and intricate craftsmanship.
Prior to the 20th century, wristwatches were exclusive to women. As for men of that time, pocket watches were the trend. Wristwatches started to gain popularity among male soldiers in the late 19th century during which they were used as effective military tools to time planned assaults and bombardments. They were particularly useful during the First World War, and eventually, they emerged from that era as more than a tool but a functional fashion accessory for men, women, and children of all shapes and sizes.
Today, watches are a multi-billion-dollar industry, and various brands are selling wristwatches in different sizes, styles, and price ranges.
Whether you’re planning to buy a watch for practical purposes, as fashion accessory, as potential heirloom, or as an investment, keep the following tips in mind while shopping for the perfect wristwatch.
- Do your research. Preparedness is always an essential key to success, and the same rings true when it concerns buying a wristwatch. Read up on the different types and styles of wristwatches, as well as on popular or prominent brands and what they have to offer. Visit various shopping and review websites, evaluate the specifications of products you’re interested in, and take the time to read customer feedback. You can also pay a visit to your local watch stores.
- Stick to a budget. Be realistic about what you can afford to buy. There are timepieces below $250 dollars that are sold by reputed brands. But if you want to buy a luxury watch, you can find one for as low as $1000 or as expensive as $10,000 or more. Given the wide range in pricing, it’s best if you settle on a budget, save up for it, and limit your choices to watch models that your budget can afford.
- If you want to finance your watch purchase, make sure it’s interest-free. There are those who prefer to get the timepiece now and spread the payments for it within the next year or so. This is not an entirely wrong option to take, but should you choose to, then make sure that you’re not paying more than purchase price of the watch. Interest-free financing is best, but if you can’t find one, you may explore traditional financing that offer low interest rates.
- Buy only from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer or jeweler. Counterfeiting is rampant in the watch industry, and as a consumer, you must be hyper-vigilant so that you don’t end up buying a fake luxury watch for the price of the original. Moreover, certified dealers are the only ones that can attach a warranty to your watch upon purchasing it, which will cover no-fault defects and malfunctions of the timepiece.
- As much as possible, choose a watch with a classic or timeless design. You are free to purchase a watch that suits your personal tastes; but if you want an accessory that you can wear in all types of occasions and matches with different kinds of looks, then you can’t go wrong with a simple and versatile watch style that’s subtle rather than flashy.
Care and Cleaning Tips on Watches
As a watch-owner, you are responsible for the regular care and maintenance of your timepiece so that it keeps running well and you can keep wearing it on your wrist. To guide you, here are several care and cleaning tips on wristwatches:
- Store watches properly. You have three (3) recommended storage techniques you can consider:
- You can use the original box to store each watch you own; or, you can buy a bigger box with separate compartments to store them all in one place and so that they can be displayed.
- As for automatic watches, you need to store them in a box with winders so that you won’t need to wind the crown every time you wear them.
- For luxury watches, store them in a safe instead of displaying them to protect them from possible fires or burglaries.
- Wipe your watch with a clean cloth every night. Every time you wear your wristwatch, you are exposing it to various fluids (e.g., sweat, lotion, beverage, etc.). Therefore, at the end of the day, it is best if you take the time to remove any moisture or dirt by wiping its outer parts clean.
- For water-resistant watches, use dish soap or mild detergent and lightly scrub off any debris with a brush. Make sure to dry them off using a microfiber cloth. Refrain from exposing the timepieces to heat (e.g., hot hair dryer).
- Use leather lotions for watches with leather straps. Over time, leather breaks down due to moisture and heat. There are professional products that can be used to clean and maintain the condition of certain types of leather. Moreover, make sure you only use a cleaning agent that is allergy-tested so the wearer won’t have any adverse reaction while wearing the watch.
- Avoid excessive polishing. Polishing comes at a price. It is more than likely that the crystal of your watch will get surface scratches in the process. Therefore, you should only do it once it a while, and even better, you can hire a professional to do it for you.
- Have it routinely serviced (usually every two years). As the watch-owner, you can only clean the outer parts of the watch. However, as for its inner, smaller, and more complicated parts, it will take a professional to inspect, clean, and, if necessary, repair any of its components. You should also expect that it might cost you a significant amount of money to have the watch fully serviced every now and then, so it’s best to save up for it ahead of time.