Watches For Small Hands And Wrists


With the popularity of large and oversized watches, it is getting more difficult for men with small wrists to find watches that are the right size and proportions. If this is a familiar problem for you, look no further – we’ve got everything you need to find the best watches to cater to your small wrist size.

Digital watches have recently been very trendy items
The classic Casio digital wristwatch is renowned for being a great size for those with smaller wrists

Do I Have a Small Wrist?

The first question on your mind when shopping for a watch may well be “Do I have a small wrist?” But what defines a small wrist? That’s probably the better question. The fact is that it often has nothing to do with your overall stature. There are many tall men with small wrists and many short men with large wrists. It really comes down to your actual wrist size.

A diagram of three wrists and three watches; the first watch is too small for its wrist, covering only about half the diameter. The seond watch is correct, covering about 2/3 the diameter of the wrist. The third watch is too large, covering the entire wrist diameter.
A properly sized watch should cover about 2/3 of the width of your wrist

A small wrist can be considered as being under 6.5 inches or 17 cm in size. If your wrist is larger than that, but you still feel your wrist is small, the same principles outlined in this guide will work for you. If you don’t have a tape measure and want to find out if this article is for you, take a dollar bill and wrap it around your wrist. U.S. paper currency is exactly six inches long, so if it’s touching or just shy of touching end to end, you have a small wrist.

The Problem with Modern Watches: Most are Jumbo-Size!

The Polo Bear on a watch
The Polo Bear on a watch

Buying a watch is similar to purchasing any item of clothing; if it doesn’t fit you, it will be out of proportion to the rest of your body. A too-large watch for your wrist size will make you look smaller, or worse, childlike. We all like to dream about an heirloom Rolex being passed down to us, but if it’s too big when worn it just looks silly.

Big Watches are Just a Trend

Unfortunately, recent trends have caused watchmakers to produce larger and bolder timepieces, which isn’t ideal for those who have slim wrists. Nothing looks more awkward and out of place than a slight gentleman wearing an oversized watch. He can be wearing the most elegant and well-fitting bespoke suit, but that watch will end up being the focus of anyone who sees him – and usually not for the right reasons!

The moonphase view on a JLC watch up close

Function First, Fashion Second

First and foremost, a timepiece is a time-telling device. Second, a fashionable accessory. Like most accessories, such as cufflinks or collar bars, the most timeless choice is often subtle, elegant, and understated. For the same reason you likely won’t want to wear large bling and chains, wearing oversized and gaudy watches is likely low on your list of priorities. A watch should be used to enhance your appearance, not alter it.

There are plenty of reasons why larger-than-life watches are domineering the marketplace, from the utilitarian pilot’s watch to the harsh reality of fast fashion capitalizing on the latest trends. However, you can rest assured that there are many options out there for those who want to wear a timepiece that’s more in proportion to their own stature, or simply wish to buck the trends of jumbo watches!

Buying a Watch for Small Wrists? Here’s What to Look For:

With the goal of buying a watch for smaller wrists being proportionality, there are a few quick tips you can use to ensure you’re shopping smart:

Small Wrist Watch Essentials


Instantly transform your watch with NATO watch strap

Ensure the case size is 40mm and under

The most important factor is the size. Ideally, you want a watch with a case size that is under 40 mm. The size of the case will be integral in determining how that watch will look on your wrist. If you happen to have larger wrists but smaller hands, a smaller watch of this size will also work as it makes the wrist look smaller and the hand, larger.


A comparison of an Raphael's older Reverso watch model and a newer one

Aim for a thinner watch for a lower profile

The next thing worth looking at is the thickness of the watch. The thinner the timepiece is, the better it will look on a small wrist. Thin watches, which, as it turns out, are more collectible anyhow and will retain their value. The reason for this is that takes for more skill to make a thin watch movement than a thick one.


Preston's Timex watch.

Go for a strap that is proportional to your wrist size

It’s a good idea to know what size strap looks best on you so you can determine what size band will fit. If you’re buying a new strap, you’ll need to know the lug width for your watch – this is the measurement of the strap in mm at its widest point where it’s attached to the watch. Less expensive watches will tend to have standardized straps on them, which means you may be better off purchasing an after-market strap, and we highly suggest thin leather straps or understated metal bands. You can read more in our watch strap guide.


A Breitling vintage watch.

Make sure design elements like the crown and pushers aren’t too obtrusive

The final thing worth considering is the design of the timepiece. Simpler timepieces without embellishment will work the best on a small wrist as they brings less attention to the watch. A black leather strap, a metal or white gold case and a simple dial will blend in better than a yellow gold band, a diamond encrusted bezel and a bold complication on a dial with huge hour markers. The same goes for the standard parts of a watch such as the lugs, the pusher, the crown, etc. The larger or bolder these parts, the bolder the watch will appear on your wrist.

Watches for Small Hands & Wrists FAQs

What size watch is best for a small wrist man?

Typically speaking, watches with a case diameter of up to 40mm will look the best for men with small wrists. Aim for 36mm to 38mm as the ideal size.

What watch is best for small hands?

People with smaller hands may benefit from choosing a watch with a rectangular face, as this in itself can have slimming qualities. Look towards classic examples such as the Cartier Tank for inspiration.

Should men with small wrists wear watches?

Men with large or small wrists should feel comfortable to wear a wristwatch if they so choose! The size of your wrist will help determine which size timepiece you look for. The goal is to have the watch look in proportion to your wrist: not too big that it dwarfs your hand, not so small it has no presence.

Do watches look good on small wrists?

Absolutely, the right watch will look good on a small wrist. As long as the watch you choose is slim, elegant, and complements your overall proportions, it will look good on you.

Is it OK to wear oversized watches?

Although there has been something of a trend for oversized watches in recent years, it is just that: a trend. While it may look good this year, you may regret it next year, so stick with a classic, elegant, and timeless watch that will look good for years to come.

Is 44mm watch too big for small wrist?

Simply put, yes – a watch over 40mm in size will be too big if you have a smaller wrist. Look at watches with a diameter of around 38mm instead for a far more flattering look.

Do watches look good on skinny guys?

Finding the right watch is the way to go if you want a timepiece to look good on a slimmer wrist. Finding the balance between elegant and dainty can take a little bit of research, but our suggestions for the perfect watches for smaller wrists are a great place to start!

Do big watches look good on small wrists?

Typically speaking, big watches on smaller wrists are usually only seen as part of fashion, and rarely seen worn by truly stylish individuals. Opt for a timepiece that both suits and fits your style and stature.

Can guys wear small watches?

Smaller watches are genderless. If they are designed in a stylish, understated way, a timepiece could theoretically be worn by many different people of varying sizes and statures. Remember, men’s watches used to max out at around 38mm – far more elegant than some of the jumbo watches we see today!

Is 40mm watch too small for a man?

While 40mm may be considered the “average” size for men’s wristwatches these days, there are some people who simply won’t suit a watch of this size, therefore requiring a smaller size of a timepiece. If you fit into this latter category, aim for a watch with a size of around 36 to 38mm.

Want a Watch for a Small Wrist? Go Vintage!

There are many factors that you need to take into account when buying a vintage watch.
Vintage watches come steeped with charm as well as an inherent wearability for those with smaller wrists

Without a doubt, a vintage watch will be one of the sure-fire ways to ensure an attractively proportioned watch for your wrist size. Since wristwatches became more prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s, the focus was always on elegance in design, and the overall size of a watch played a big part in this. Even functional watches with a stainless steel bracelet were more elegant than modern-day versions!

A Collection of Rolex Watches with Different Types of Bracelets
A Collection of Rolex Watches with Different Types of Bracelets

What this means is that you can quite safely search for a vintage timepiece from any decade from around the 1930s to the 1980s, secure in the knowledge that it’ll likely fit a smaller wrist much better than most modern-day wristwatches. This is even true for many luxury watches, as vintage models from heritage brands such as Rolex are typically more streamlined and smaller on the wrist than what you’ll find today. This includes some of their most well-known offerings like the Rolex Explorer, Rolex Datejust, and Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

If a vintage Rolex is too much money for your wallet, you can look to their sister brand, Tudor, for equally fit timepieces. Again, going for vintage Tudors will garner the best results, as they look and feel the best on a smaller wrist.

Vintage Watches can have Drawbacks

Timex Marlin being featured
Jack’s vintage Tourist watch is hand-wound

Of course, vintage watches aren’t always going to be a reliable purchase, due to their age alone. While you might be able to scoop up a bargain, it could quickly turn into a more costly endeavor as a list of repairs to the movement, hands, or sapphire crystal racks up an impressive bill. Fine if you have the capital, but it won’t be everyone’s idea of an adventure in horology.

It’s not only the possibility of repairs to consider, but vintage watches may run differently than how you’re used to. For example, many vintage watches will feature a hand-wound or manual movement. This requires a shift in mindset to be able to deal with a watch in a different way, as it’s a different experience if all you’ve known is the standard quartz movement timepiece!

Is a Vintage Watch Right for You?

Naturally, there are many options when it comes to choosing a brand-new watch for a smaller hand or wrist size. However, as watches vary massively in price, we’ve curated a small selection to act as a suggestion for a range of styles that’ll suit anyone who enjoys a more modern aesthetic to those who prefer a classic style influence in their life. And, for an added bonus, you can find some of our top choices for affordable alternatives to luxury watches that may fit the bill below.

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Conceivably the most celebrated dress watch ever made, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5119G in particular is understated and elegant, with a small 36mm case. This, paired with its subtlety, makes it the ideal dress watch for the gentleman with an unlimited budget who wants an heirloom piece that will last generations to come.

Petek PHilippe Calatrava being featured
Petek PHilippe Calatrava

Timex Weekender

Timex Men's Weekender 40mm Watch
Timex Men’s Weekender 40mm Watch. Image credit: Amazon

When it comes to a good low-budget watch, the Weekender is a favorite. With a reliable quartz movement, they do last a good while, but they’re so inexpensive that you can buy a few for the summer and interchange them based on your mood or the outfit you’re wearing. They also make a great gift for birthdays or “just because.” Of all the entry-level watches on the market today, this is one of the most popular ones you’ll see.

Seiko SKX013K2 Automatic Divers Watch

A Seiko Diver's wrist watch in stainless steel
The Seiko SKX013K2 Automatic Diver’s Watch. Image credit: Watchnation

For the man seeking a sportier timepiece with water-resistant capability, we suggest this watch from Seiko. A well-regarded brand, even amongst the most discerning collectors, this 21-jewel automatic movement watch uses the 7S26 caliber with a 43-hour power reserve. It is ISO-certified and intended to take a beating. With a stainless steel case and featuring the classic black dial, at 38mm, it is a great, inexpensive dive watch for gentlemen with small wrists.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Go for minimal and slim watches for Black Tie like the JLC Reverso
The JLC Reverso

Rectangular and square watches work very well for men with smaller wrists, and the benefit of the JLC Reverso is that it is two watches in one. With one display perfect for daily wear to the office, it slides and flips to reveal a dark dial that works elegantly for an evening in black tie at the opera.

Is the JLC Reverso Worth Your Money?

Cartier Tank

Another excellent choice for men with small wrists, the square and rectangular cases on the Tank make it one of the world’s most identifiable timepieces that has graced the wrists of some of the planet’s most important leaders.

Where to Buy a Watch for Smaller Hands & Wrists?

The internet can be great for the average-sized man who looks good with any watch, but for men with slight wrists, it can be a money pit where you end up looking like you borrowed your father’s watch. If the seller doesn’t offer unconditional returns, avoid buying online. Instead, focus on looking in the store, where you can try the watch on. Then simply jot down the make and model of the watch you like and look for a more reasonable price online if you’re adept at purchasing timepieces online.

Vintage watches on sale.
Buying vintage watches is having decades and decades of choices to choose from.

For men with limited watch knowledge or those seeking a luxury timepiece, we don’t often suggest buying online as the risk often outweighs the reward. Instead, focus on authorized retailers, brand-owned boutique stores and other reputable brick-and-mortar retailers where you can ensure the watch you’re getting is authentic and covered by warranty.

Do you have small wrists, but also love watches? What models have you found that work well for you? let us know in the comments!