The watch and fashion worlds have always had an odd relationship. For the fashion world it is all about look and style, and fitting into some trend. While watch companies sometimes conform to the terminology or even product release cycle of the fashion or clothing brands, true watch makers have a different way of making products. Instead, it is about brand heritage, function, technical excellence, and creating things that collectors are looking for, as well as competition with other watch makers. Unlike watch companies that try to satisfy what watch lovers watches want, the fashion world is trying to tell consumers WHAT they should be looking for.
For at least the last five years, there has been a trend in watch sizes quickly going up in size to the limitation of what you can reasonably wear on your wrist. Many watches went further than that... such as with 55-60mm watches that look silly on most ANY wrists. Watches really did get to some silly sizes, and have settled with a good median size of about 44mm wide for a standard man's watch. Sizes range commonly now down to about 40mm wide and up to about 48mm wide - being the range for most men's watches. This is at least the case in the US and Europe. Asia and South America still see some smaller sizes (such as 36mm wide being typical for men's watches). The consumer love for what some now call "large" watches is not about to change.
A new [proposed] trend seems to be telling us that the watches should be small again. You hear whining about how 50 years ago a standard man's watch was about 35mm wide, sometimes smaller. That today's watches are "too big." Recently, there was a New York Times articles on the matter of small watches
. The writer makes some good points, but bless him, he does not keep as serious an eye on the watch industry as I do. He points out that the shrinking back of the economy has led to a psychological shrinking back of many things, especially luxury items. While men's watches use to be smaller, it was part of the game back then when watch companies were trying to make smaller and thinner watch movements. It was a matter of who has the smallest and thinnest watches, that could still function properly. Eventually that game got silly, and by the 1960s watch sizes started going up again. Why? Cause little watches looks dainty and feminine on men. Just because you have a large watch does not mean you are pompous or showy, just that you enjoy a nice looking instrument - which is what a watch is, before it is anything else. Surf over to the NYT articles and you'll see there an image of Frank Sinatra from "back in the day" wearing what looks to be a woman's bracelet. It is not becoming of a modern man.
You might hear voices from various directions about how the trend in watch is going back down. It is true that the surging of sizes has stopped, but it has settled at a place now that is about 4-6mm larger on average that 10 years ago, at least for luxury watches. Of course it depends on the watch. Fashionistas need to fuel their trade by "developing" new trends, while hurting watch companies need to cut costs by reducing the costs involves in making the larger more expensive watches. When you cut your work force in half, it diminishes the level of complexity you find in watches. My belief is that fashion voices and watch companies are trying to push this trend because change creates new needs, that create sales, and because smaller more simple watches are just plain cheaper to make - which watch companies need these days to feel comfy moving forward. Feel no shame in liking a "big" watch, and don't think there is some magical move back down to 35mm timepieces. I'll never consent to it at least. By the way, the pictured watch is the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse that in some styles comes in as small as 31mm wide models.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review