Watch the Watch: Aron Solomon’s Watch World, February 2016
Okay. So it’s not quite February yet, but I want to write about watch size. It’s an issue I’ve touched upon before in this column and want to dive a little deeper into today.
For those relatively new to watches, here’s a little history on watch sizes.
Men’s watches used to be small. Like really small. In the 1940s, men’s watches were around 32mm.
By our standards today, this would be even small for a women’s watch.
When we got to the 50s and 60s and the true emergence of Rolex as the King of Watches, the new oyster case defined beautiful watches that were slightly larger, with 35mm as the standard.
That Air King, above, is one of my favorite watches ever. I had the exact same watch for much of the 90s. Back then, it seemed to me to be a normal size watch. Today it would feel teeny on my wrist.
Why? Because after men’s watches staying fairly consistent for decades between 35–38mm, the turn of the century saw very large watches come into vogue.
Panerai watches, which are lovely and there’s often one in my own little collection, really became popular just after 2000. The Luminor, above, is 47mm, and due to its thickness and lack of a bezel, it wears much larger.
Watch pundits over the past decade have predicted that very large watches were here to stay. Even iconic brands, such as Movado, made extremely large watches as kinds of historical markers of time, and of the moment of very large timepieces.
This Museum Edition by Movado was a limited edition creation around 2008 that was a whopping 60mm. The same classic Movado in its normal size was 37mm. The above pic seems to be on a man with a large wrist (it’s the only decent one I could find) I remember trying one of these on in their flagship Manhattan boutique in 2008 and it felt as if I was wearing a grandfather clock.
It wasn’t just high end brands that entered this massive fray. Diesel came out with a 60mm Big Daddy that became quite popular at a very populist $300 price point.
But all the largess of largeness aside, this isn’t where I see the future of watches going.
My current daily wearer is 40mm, which is what I predict the sweet spot is rapidly moving towards in the watch world.
The 40mm Sea Dweller (they also make a lovely larger version at a hefty 44mm) is quite a thick watch, at close to 14mm, which makes it wear larger than its not-distant cousin, the Submariner.
Even with recently popularized brands such as Hublot, while they still embrace big, heavy watches such as the 48mm Big Bang (first pic below), that same model now goes as small as 38mm (second pic).
And I think this will be the way important watch brands go over the next five years. The big won’t immediately disappear, but tastes for smaller yet equally exciting watches will be better satiated than they have been over the past decade or so. And from where I sit, that’s pretty exciting.
Have a great February and remember, as always, to watch the watch. Watches are so amazing, take the time to stroll through some fine shops this month and see what’s being made today. It’s fun, exciting, educational. Enjoy yourselves.