Watches have been getting bigger in recent years. This fashion trend has been good news if you have a larger wrist. But if your wrist is more on the slimmer side, it’s become difficult to find a proper fitting watch.
As it usually does, the market has already started to adjust. With plenty of small-wristed folks looking for luxury watches, watchmakers have delivered. Here are some great new watch options for small wrists – along with some older options that never went away.
Rolex Explorer 124270 36mm
The Rolex Explorer has been around for decades. But what you might not know is that it spent most of its existence as a 36mm watch. In the 2000s, in line with a broader shift to larger watches, Rolex switched the Explorer to a 39mm case.
The new 36mm Explorer looks a lot like the classic version, but there are some key differences. For one thing, it uses the same case as the 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual, which is just a smidge under 36mm. The lugs also look different with a slight curve and a brushed pattern that matches the last link in the stainless steel bracelet. The lugs are also slightly narrower than the original Explorer’s, at 19mm rather than 20mm. The bezel on the Explorer I is also slopped instead of domed, lending it a different appearance to the Oyster Perpetual.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual has long been available in many sizes from ladies size up to 41mm. However, Rolex also makes the new 126000 variant in a 36mm model that’s great for people with smaller wrists. This watch uses the in-house Rolex calibre 3230 movement, which is accurate to an incredible +/-2 seconds per day. It also boasts a 70-hour power reserve, along with built-in anti-magnetic protection.
The metallic blue dial is clean and plain, with no complications. Applied silver indexes indicate the 5-minute positions, with dual hashes at the 15-minute positions. The hands are broad and silver, with lume striping down the centers. All of this sits inside an attractive rounded bezel with a flat sapphire crystal.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 39mm
The Tudor Black Bay Fity-Eight 39mm is the size you might expect: 39mm. This might seem to be pushing it for a small watch, but the rotating dive bezel is very wide. This makes for a relatively small dial that’s perfect for smaller wrists. The watch is only 11.9mm thick just a touch thicker than its brother the modern Submariner, and it has 20mm lugs and stainless steel construction. It’s water-resistant to 200 meters, so it’s safe for any aquatic activities. It secures with a tri-link stainless steel strap with faux rivets and a backwards-opening clasp.
This watch’s black dial is truly iconic. It has large circular lume markers at the 5-minute positions, with rectangular markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and a triangle at 12 o’clock. The copper hands are lume-filled, with a fat diamond block (the iconic snowflake) near the end of the hour hand. They’re powered by a Tudor Calibre MT5402 movement, which has a power reserve of 70 hours.
Zenith Chronomaster Original El Primero 38mm
The Zenith Chronomaster Original El Primero 38mm has an attractive brushed stainless steel case, with a soft grey cowhide strap. It sports three tachymeter dials, along with an outer chronometer index and a long red chronometer hand that’s accurate to 1/10th of a second. But what really makes this dial pop is the tri-colored subdials, which sit on a plain white primary dial.
The dial is surprisingly large for the size of the watch, thanks to an ultra-narrow bezel. This makes the pushers and crown appear very prominent, providing some retro appeal. Meanwhile, you get the benefit of a 60-hour power reserve that will last for more than a weekend.
Nomos Club Ref. 701 36mm
The Nomos Club Ref. 701 36mm is an elegant and understated watch that exudes quality and craftsmanship. The 36mm case size is perfect for those who prefer a more discreet look, and the watch sits comfortably on the wrist. The silver dial is clean and easy to read, with applied indexes and thin hands. The design is minimalistic, with no date function, which lends it a clean and timeless appearance.
The in-house Nomos Alpha manual winding movement is precise and reliable, and provides a power reserve of 43 hours. The leather strap is comfortable and adds to the overall classic look of the watch. The case is made of stainless steel and is water resistant to 30m.
Grand Seiko Heritage SBGW291 36.5mm
The Grand Seiko Heritage SBGW291 36.5mm has a petite 36.5mm stainless steel case with a circular profile. It’s 11.6mm thick, which makes it compact in all dimensions, and it’s water-resistant to 100 meters. I also liked the sharp-looking black 18mm crocodile leather strap.
The dial is silver, with a brushed sunray pattern. Applied silver indexes mark the 5-minute positions, with matching silver hands. There are no complications, which leaves the dial with a clean, elegant appearance. This is a manual winding watch, but the power reserve of 72 hours is fairly generous.
Omega Globemaster Master Chronometer 39mm
The Omega Globemaster Master Chronometer 39mm has a brushed stainless steel case with a unique knurled bezel. It measures 12.6mm thick, with 20mm lugs and a water-resistance rating of 100 meters. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is domed, and slightly distorts the edges of the dial.
The cool thing about this watch is the blue metallic dial, which has a 12-sided 3D profile. It’s also brushed giving it a sunburst appearance, so it glistens as you move it around in the light. Otherwise, it’s fairly spartan, with 12 applied indexes and sword-shaped hands with lume striping. A small date window occupies the 6 o’clock position.
Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38mm
The Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38mm is a classic and iconic watch that is perfect for those who appreciate high-quality, functional timepieces. The 38mm case size is perfect for those who prefer a more discreet look, and the watch sits comfortably on the wrist. The black dial is easy to read, with white hour markers and hands that are coated in luminescent material for easy reading in low light conditions. The stainless steel bracelet is comfortable and adds to the overall rugged look of the watch, and it’s also available on leather as shown in the image above.
The Automatic Breitling Caliber 01 movement is reliable and accurate, and the watch has a power reserve of 70 hours. The watch features a slide rule bezel, a chronograph function, and a date function. This watch is perfect for everyday wear and it’s water resistant to 30m.
Patek Philippe Calatrava 6119G 39mm
The Patek Philippe Calatrava is constructed from white gold, with a sapphire crystal and a beautiful display back that shows off the hand-wound Caliber 30-255 PS movement. It’s water-resistant to 30 meters, and measures just 8.08mm thick.
Instead of a second hand, the charcoal-colored dial has a 60-second subdial at 6 o’clock also known as a “small seconds” complication. An outer ladder index accents the inner applied markers, and the two hands are silver and spear-shaped.
Longines Heritage Classic Sector Dial 38.5mm
The Longines Heritage Classic Sector Dial 38.5mm also has a 60-second subdial in lieu of a second hand. Its grey dial is divided into quarters by a black crosshair, with steel blue hour and minute hands that meet in the center. Around the outside is a black painted index on a silver ring, with Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.
The 38.5mm case is made from stainless steel, and is water-resistant to 30 meters. It secures with a black calf leather strap, and runs on an automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve.