Just when watches with a >40mm case diameter are considered to be normal sized, I took my vintage Rolex Date-Just ref.1601 with me for a meeting last Friday with a small number of watch enthusiasts. Although I consider 36mm the bare minimum of millimeters for my wrist size, the watch stayed on all weekend and Monday during my work day. The other people who were present on the meeting also had fairly modest sized wrist watches strapped around their wrists. Among them a vintage Glash?ɬºtte (G.U.B) from the 1960s, a Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir, a vintage Rolex Day-Date (ref.1803), a Girard Perregaux Richeville, a Patek Philippe Nautilus (5711/1A), a Breguet Type XX and my vintage Date-Just and modern Yacht-Master in steel/platinum. Except for the Yacht-Master, Type XX and Nautilus, the other watches should be considered (relatively) small for the current standards on case diameters.

Date-Just 1601 on a Officina Italia leather strap

Extremely large watches ?¢?Ǩ?Äú with a reason (e.g. divers, aviators)?¢?Ǩ?Äú are probably here to stay, but I doubt if brands who recently started making larger wrist watches will continue doing so in the future. The rather conservative brands like Patek Philippe are not making serious moves towards large watches. Rolex upgraded their GMT, Sea-Dweller, Day-Date and Date-Just watches with a more muscular case with the exception of the Yacht-Master II, which can be considered to be extremely large. IWC upgraded their Fliegerchronographs as well with a few millimeters in diameter and of course, have their Big Pilot model as well. And than I didn?¢?Ǩ?Ñ¢t even mention Hublot?¢?Ǩ?Ñ¢s Big Bang watches yet. Officine Panerai always produced large watches and is probably responsible for initiating the hype of big watches 🙂

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Will this hype continue to go on, and for how long? Or was this small number of watch enthusiasts not representative for ?¢?ǨÀúthe next step?¢?Ǩ?Ñ¢ in watch collecting? I actually felt quite comfortable wearing the 36mm size Date-Just for a few days in a row. Perhaps other people will think otherwise 🙂

Robert-Jan Broer
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Robert-Jan Broer

Founder & Editor at Fratello Watches
Robert-Jan Broer, born in 1977, watch collector and author on watches for over a decade. Founder of Fratello Watches in 2004.
Robert-Jan Broer
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  • Dimitris

    As a guy with a small wrist that can’t accept watches over 42mm, I can’t wait to see the large watch hype end. However, judging from the fact that even Rolex decided to go bigger, and the undiminished popularity of Panerai and Hublot, I would say that we are probably facing a few more years of this trend.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more, Robert-Jan. The relatively small watches i was wearing last friday, also stayed for some days around my wrist. Especially the GP Richeville wear so incredibly confortable and looks perfectly in balance on my wrist. My personal wish… is a move back to smaller sized watches. It’s nice to have a few large watches, but these days it’s a complete ‘overkill’ IMHO.
    Cheers,
    Frank

  • Alan

    I also have a wrist that is towards the small size. I have several large watches, but I find myself wearing and enjoying my smaller watches much more often. I even on occassion wear some “full-size” vintage watches that are a whopping 34mm. I truly hope that watchmakers go back to their roots after this fad has passed and start to make elegant, high-complication pieces that defy the limits of miniaturization!

  • I think the large case diameters are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, case in point is IWC’s vintage collection, like the Portifino Hand-Wound with a diameter of 46mm, much larger than when they were originally manufactured.

  • Serge

    Big watches are the hype, but hypes fade away (not saying that big watches will be out of stye..).
    Personally i wouldn’t buy a 44 or 46 mm watch. I am actually about to buy another 39mm watch and somehow it feels more sophisticated to have a watch smaller then all the new supersized watches. If you have this huge machine around your wrist it immediately draws the attention of everyone in the room. However… for me a 34 mm would be to small.. so i am happy with 37 to 40mm which a few years ago was already considered big! So the overall size of watches is for sure a little bigger then 10 years ago i would say.

  • John Chan

    That is so funny RJ. I had almost the same experience the last days.

    I also do not like the trend that allmost all watchcompany blow up their models. And don’t forget the cheap big watches (U-boats and U-boats look a likes you can buy at each corner of the street and see people wear).

    The last days I wore my newly bought second hand (almost NOS) 35,5 mm Heuer Carrera CS3111.
    Yesterday I was walking with this small Heuer on my wrist in the shopping area of Rotterdam. While I was watching all the shopwindows with all the extra big expensive and cheap watches, I suddenly had this feeling that I’ve last had back in 1999/2000 when wearing my first 44mm Panerai (which I still wear):

    “”I am so ahead of my time”” 🙂

    Regards, John

  • cuando uno va a comprar zapatos elige el modelo y lo pide en su talla…. lo mismo va a pasar con los relojes.Las marcas pueden sacar el mismo modelo en diferentes tallas y todos contentos