We are always slave to the trends of the fashion, and fashion comes and goes, even in watches.

What is the current trend for men’s watch sizes? Is the large watch fad finally fading?

I can tell you that yes, it is luckily over.

Watch fashion is like regular fashion: it comes and goes, and you cannot do anything about that. What is cool today won’t be cool tomorrow – with the added issue that watches have an average timespan that is far longer than the typical garment.

This means that when the fad is over, the watch is going to stay with you for a long time, if you are not prepared to reduce its price considerably for selling as a second-wrist.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59, at 41 mm size

The latest launches of the major Maisons have standardized on one specific size, and it is 41 mm.

It seems that this has become the golden ratio of all things horology. The first company using this size has been Audemars Piguet, when it launched in 2019 its tepid Code 11.59 as a “unisex watch”. Its brand ambassadors – female and male as well – all wore the watch in different references, but the same size.

In 2020, Rolex has updated its lineup and launched the Submariner 124060 in this same size – 41 mm.

The modern 41mm Rolex Submariner No Date

So, the other companies are following suit.

Why are companies standardizing?

Well, the number one answer is because companies need to sell new watches, and the best way to do that is to induce people into buying them somehow. Social pressure is a powerful weapon, so if the crowd retains that your watch is too big (aka, outdated) you might cave in and buy a smaller watch because you want to belong to the crowd.

But there is another powerful reason which might not be that apparent.

Smaller watches look better on smaller and thinner persons.

Is the world average person becoming thinner? Not if you check the average American or European. But the average middle class of today lives in Asia. And Asians have smaller frames than Westerners.

The most recent stats of Swiss watch exports – which are public – indicate quite clearly that the majority of watches take the Asian route towards China and Hong Kong, where they are distributed in the region.

This means that the companies marketing departments do their best to accommodate their products to the desires and needs of the Eastern-based people, who happen to have smaller wrists on the average.

And this means women as well.

While once women had to wear “ladies watches”, which were tailored to fit a certain social stereotype, modern women are way different from before. And many of them wear men’s watches as a result, as they have more utilitarian needs than the ones fulfilled by cocktail watches.

Lindsey Vonn looking good with a Submariner

So, I expect that watches will continue to become smaller and more wearable for these reasons. While companies will continue to make oversize watches, the trend will eventually fade back into what it was: and exception and not the rule anymore.

This also means that the older vintage watches, which had smaller frames (as nuch as 30 mm for man’s watches) will become again stylish, and there is already a distinct trend towards that.

I also expect that Art Deco watches will become very hip again, as the square and rectangular shapes look gorgeous on smaller wrists.

Yours. truly, wearing an ATA (another brand by Doxa)

Of course, always remember that “size” has really little significance, as what is really important are the dimension and shape of the lugs, which can render a watch much bigger or smaller at the wrist. But this is another story altogether.

You can find much more about horology and its fascinating history in The Watch Manual, a thorough e-book that explains all the basics about watchmaking and its protagonists.

To download a FREE 8-chapter extract from The Watch Manual

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