With ever-increasing competition, brands vying for market share, and multitudes of online marketplaces competing for the lowest price, luxury watch brands are going back to the drawing boards to rethink the way they design and market their timepieces, and part of their strategy is to take some advice directly from the consumer.
Watch enthusiasts are a picky bunch, we will want the same thing with a slightly different color or a case just 1 millimeter smaller, and even the most insignificant detail can throw off an entire piece. If enough of us band together and agree on one thing (like the massive push for a larger case size in the Rolex Datejust) we just might get it. Now, more so than ever before, consumers are getting a say in the design process (this year even saw the release of an Omega Speedmaster limited edition that was dedicated to a hashtag on Instagram). All of this stands to benefit us, creating more varied offerings from the brands and a marketplace flush with choices. With so many to choose from, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for a new timepiece, regardless if it is your first watch purchase or an addition to a collection. One small detail could help you narrow down the potential options significantly, and that is case size.
If you are searching for your first watch, you may have never thought about your wrist size before, but it's an important factor in the aesthetics, comfort, and overall enjoyment of the watch you decide to buy.
If you have smaller wrists, like me, you may not be able to comfortably wear a 47mm Panerai Luminor simply because it wasn't created to wear on wrists that small. The big, bold case has lugs that extend out past the edges of my wrist, the large crown guard digs into my wrist, and forget about wearing anything with a long sleeve. I honestly wish I had the wrist to wear a piece like that on the weekends, but alas, I am limited to the era of nearly-bygone case sizes.
Only in recent years have we seen the trend in large watches becoming more popular. The further you go back into horological history, the smaller the cases get. In 2017, 50mm, 55mm, and even 60mm watches have become commonplace, but in the 50's, 60's and 70's they were more like 34mm, 35mm, and 36mm for a classic gentleman’s size. With so many different options and differing opinions on the ideal case size, the best way to go is to trust yourself and get something you like wearing. Visiting a Store 5a location will allow you to try on a large variety of brands, case sizes, shapes, and materials to narrow down what your preferred size and style is.
There are a few additional things that factor in with case size, as the construction of the watch may change the comfort or aesthetics when actually on your wrist. For instance, a timepiece with a large, open dial and a thin bezel will give the appearance that the watch is larger than it's true case size would suggest, while a wider bezel and smaller dial will make it appear smaller. This phenomenon is referred to as the watch "wearing large" or "wearing small" and this is why it is ideal to be able to try the watch on in person before you make a purchase. The lugs of the watch are also important. If the case is a little larger than you'd normally prefer, a watch with short, downturned lugs will make the watch hug your wrist and allow it to nestle down on your arm without looking like the watch is wearing you. The vertical thickness of the case should also be considered as well. A thick case may make it harder to wear every day if you routinely wear a suit and need the watch to slip under a shirt cuff, but too thin might make your sporty watch wear a little smaller than you'd like.
All things considered, it is definitely a great time to be buying watches. Choices abound in all directions and we should expect more and more synchrony between brands' design departments and their most important audience, customers just like you. If you are starting your journey or you are hunting for a specific timepiece, the trained staff at Store 5a are here to make sure you end up with the perfect watch to enjoy for many years to come.
Written by: Nick Lessells