Watches for small hands and wrists

Watches for Small Hands and Wrists

With the popularity of large and oversized watches, it is getting more difficult for men to find watches that are the right size for their wrist and proportions. In this article, we’re going to focus on how men with smaller hands and wrists can find the perfect sized watch.

A big watch on a small wrist is never attractive

A big watch on a small wrist is never attractive

Buying a watch is similar to purchasing any item of clothing; if it doesn’t fit you, it will be out of proportion to the rest of your body. A too-large watch for your size will make you look smaller, or worse, childlike.  Too small, and it looks just as unsightly.

Unfortunately, recent trends have caused watchmakers to produce larger and bolder timepieces, which isn’t ideal for smaller men. Nothing looks more awkward and out of place than a slight gentleman wearing an oversized watch. He can be wearing the most elegant and well-fitting bespoke suit, but that watch will end up being the focus of anyone who sees him.

First and foremost, a timepiece is a time-telling device. Second, a fashionable accessory. However, like most accessories, it should remain subtle, elegant and understated. For the same reason the elegant gentleman doesn’t wear large bling and chains, he also refrains from wearing oversized and gaudy watches that flash and shine more than he does. It is used to enhance your appearance, not alter it.

Do I Have a Small Wrist?

What defines a small wrist? That’s probably the better question. The fact is that it often has nothing to do with your overall stature. There are many tall men with small wrists and many short men with large wrists. It really comes down to actual size. A small wrist can be considered as being under 6.5 inches or 17 cm in size. If your wrist is larger than that, but you still feel your wrist is small, the same principles outlined in this guide will work for you. If you don’t have a tape measure and want to find out if this article is for you, take a dollar bill and wrap it around your wrist. U.S. paper currency is exactly six inches long, so if it’s touching or just shy of touching end to end, you have a small wrist.

How to find the right size watch

A properly sized watch should cover about 2/3 of the width of your wrist

What to Look For When Buying a Watch

The goal of buying a watch for small wrist is to achieve your style goals while looking proportional.

There are a few things you always want to consider when buying a new watch:

  1. The case diameter is under 40mm.
  2. The timepiece isn’t too bulky or thick.
  3. The strap or bracelet pairs well with your wrist size.
  4. The watch has minimal embellishments, such as large crowns, pushers or other features that make it look bigger.

The most important factor is the size. Ideally, you want a watch with a case size that is under 40mm. The size of the case will be integral in determining how that watch will look on your wrist. If you happen to have larger wrists but smaller hands, a smaller watch of this size will also work as it makes the wrist look smaller and the hand, larger.

The next thing worth looking at is the thickness of the watch. The thinner the timepiece is, the better it will look on a small wrist. This doesn’t mean you have to walk over to the women’s section of the jewelry store. It just means looking for thin watches, which, as it turns out, are more collectible anyhow and will retain their value. The reason for this is that takes for more skill to make a thin watch movement than a thick one.

A US Dollar Bill will wrap around a small wrist

A US Dollar bill will wrap around a small wrist

The third thing you want to look at is the strap or watch band. It is a good idea to know what size you take so you can determine what size band will fit. If you’re buying new, the size of the factory-included strap that comes with the watch can be a fairly good indicator of the size of the wrist the watch is intended to look best on. Certainly, there are exceptions to that rule, and less expensive watches will tend to have standardized straps on them. You may have to purchase an after-market strap, and we highly suggest thin leather straps or understated metal bands. Click here to read our watch strap guide.

The final thing worth considering is the design of the timepiece. Simpler timepieces without embellishment will work the best on a small wrist as they brings less attention to the watch. A black leather strap, a metal or white gold case and a simple dial will blend in better than a yellow gold band, a diamond encrusted bezel and a bold complication on the dial. The same goes for the standard parts of a watch such as the lugs, the pusher, the crown, etc. The larger or bolder these parts, the bolder the watch will appear on your wrist.

A large watch on a small wrist can be unsightly

A large watch on a small wrist can be unsightly

Where to Buy a Watch

The internet can be great for the average sized man who looks good with any watch, but for men with slight wrists, it can be a money pit where you end up looking like you borrowed your father’s watch. If the seller doesn’t offer unconditional returns, avoid buying online. Instead, focus on looking in the store, where you can try the watch on. Then simply jot down the make and model of the watch you like and look for a more reasonable price online if you’re adept at purchasing timepieces online.

For men with limited watch knowledge or those seeking a luxury timepiece, we don’t often suggest buying online as the risk often outweighs the reward. Instead, focus on authorized retailers, brand-owned boutique stores and other reputable brick and mortar retailers where you can ensure the watch you’re getting is authentic and covered by warranty.

Recommended Watches For Small Wrists

WatchBrandPriceSize - Diameter excluding crown
Weekender Central ParkTimex$37 mm / 1.46"
Classic Sheffield WatchDaniel Wellington$40 mm / 1.57"
96B104 Stainless Steel Dress WatchBulova$37 mm / 1.46"
SKX013K2 Black Dial Automatic Divers WatchSeiko$38 mm / 1.50"
FC306S4S6 Slim Line Men's Silver Dial Automatic WatchFrederique Constant$$40 mm / 1.57"
Jaeger-LeCoultre ReversoJLC$$$41.6 mm x 29.9 mm / 1.64" x 1.18"
W1529756 Tank Louis 18kt Yellow Gold WatchCartier$$$33.5mm x 25.5mm / 1.32" x 1"
Patek Philippe CalatravaPatek Philippe$$$36 mm / 1.42"

Timex Weekender Central Park

When it comes to a good low budget “throwaway” watch, the Weekender is a favorite. They do last a good while, but they’re so inexpensive that you can buy a few for the summer and interchange them based on your mood or the outfit you’re wearing. They also make a great gift for birthdays or “just because.” Of all the entry level watches on the market today, this is one of the most popular ones you’ll see come summer.

Get the Weekender here.

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield Watch

At just 40mm, this classically-inspired dress watch is a quartz watch, but it’s very inexpensive and popular amongst young professionals. The nice thing about DW watches is that you can easily change the strap from the classic black leather to one of their preppy repp-stripe fabric straps in the summer. This is a perfect watch for the price conscious consumer who wants an everyday watch that can work as well in the boardroom as it does on the beach.

Buy your DW Sheffield watch here.

Bulova Men’s Watch

The Bulova Men’s watch is simple and understated, with a metal dial and thin black leather strap. A quintessential dress watch, it is a quartz watch, which isn’t exactly collectible, but will do the job of telling time accurately. What’s most important is the case is just 37mm and 5.9mm thick, which makes it perfect for men with slight wrists and small hands. It is perfect for men who work in an office environment and regularly wear business attire.

Buy the Bulova Men’s Watch here.

Seiko Divers Watch for smaller wrists

Seiko Divers Watch for smaller wrists

Seiko SKX013K2 Automatic Divers Watch

For the man seeking a sportier timepiece with water resistant capability, we suggest this watch from Seiko. A well-regarded brand, even amongst the most discerning collectors, this 21-jewel automatic watch uses the 7S26 calibre with a 43-hour power reserve. It is ISO certified and intended to take a beating. At 38mm, it is a great, inexpensive dive watch for gentlemen with small wrists.

Get the Automatic Divers Watch here.

Frederique Constant Automatic Dress Watch

A classic and well-regarded dress watch, it features a Swiss automatic movement and a case that’s a perfect 40mm in diameter. It is elegant enough for the office and is a great introduction to luxury watches at a reasonable price.

Buy the Frederique Constant Automatic Dress Watch here.

JLC Reverso is a perfect choice for men with smaller wrists

JLC Reverso is a perfect choice for men with smaller wrists

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Rectangular and square watches work very well for men with smaller wrists, and the benefit of the JLC Reverso is that it is two watches in one. With one display perfect for daily wear to the office, it slides and flips to reveal a dark dial that works elegantly for an evening in black tie at the opera. Learn more about the Reverso in our guide.

Cartier Tank

Another excellent choice for men with small wrists, the square and rectangular cases on the Tank make it one of the world’s most identifiable timepieces that has graced the wrists of some of the planet’s most important leaders.

Click here to get the Tank.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5119G

Conceivably the most celebrated dress watch ever made, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5119G is understated and elegant, with a small 36mm case. This, paired with its subtlety, makes it the ideal dress watch for the gentleman with an unlimited budget who wants an heirloom piece that will last generations to come.

Click here to get the Calatrava 5119G


Hopefully, regardless of your budget, this guide has helped you find the perfect watch for a smaller wrist. We’d love to hear what watches you wear and recommend for men with small wrists and hands.

Watches for Small Hands and Wrists
Article Name
Watches for Small Hands and Wrists
A primer on how to find the best watch for men with small wrists, what to look for, what to avoid, and recommended watches for all budgets
Gentleman's Gazette
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10 replies
  1. BJV says:

    You’ve overlooked some key factors. I have a 6.55 wrist, and own watches from 34 to 47mm. Oddly, my 47 “wears” smaller than my 45, due to smaller lug to lug measurement.

    My son in law has huge wrists and wears massive watches, which I like to try on just for laughs. Recently I tried on his 58mm Subaqua, and was shocked at how much smaller it appeared than my 45mm Prodiver. Turns out, the Subaqua has a smaller lug to lug measurement, plus a bezel that noticeably slanted downward more so than my 45.

    Other factors, such as color and band width can also affect the size ‘appearance’ so I simply advise trying the watch on when possible, or, if not possible, examine any and all photos of the model to check on these factors.

  2. Mr Collins says:

    A truly wonderful guide, as I have always had a slim wrist! Might I also suggest Henry London watches for your consideration? They have a range of very affordable, vintage inspired watches in a range of case sizes. Thank you again for a great article!

  3. Jake W says:

    What is the stylish gentleman’s verdict on those of us who have
    bigger wrists but like smaller watches (in my case wrist size
    about 7.5 inches, preferred watch size 36-40mm, with smart casual
    clothes)? Is this also a bit of a style faux pas?

  4. Terry says:

    A very fine guide, Sven – should be required reading for some young men entering the business world with hockey pucks on their wrists.
    Jake, I’d suggest a size closer to 40mm than 36mm, or perhaps splitting the difference at 38mm. Keep in mind that this refers to the case size, not the diameters of the face.

  5. Mark Hewitt says:

    Dear Raphael,
    Watches are so marvellously subjective , the true case of different strokes for different folks ; plus you get the chance to bring your money with you . There is a 40year old Omega Deville I have in mint order but time to give it a rest .I settled on a Bulova 96B series as my daily and it suits the task . A vintage Hamilton around 1940 tops things off.
    A nice read

  6. Eddie says:

    I think the days of the huge watch may be numbered. About 10 years ago, for some misguided reason or another, I switched from Rolex to a brand (who shall remain nameless and known for larger timepieces) for my daily wearer. Although I became accustomed to the increased bulk of a 40mm+ watch, in the end I grew tired of it constantly smashing into things, not fitting properly under clothes and generally looking a bit stupid etc etc. Sorry, but they’re just not practical unless, I suppose, you work at a desk all day. A year or two later, I wrote it off as a failed experiment and am now, thankfully, back with a trusty Rolex. There’s plenty of choices out there. To the list about I’d add the older JLC Master Control 38mm ref 140.8.89, which can be acquired used at absolute bargain prices.

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