Small wonders: The best modern 34mm watches that anyone can wear Small wonders: The best modern 34mm watches that anyone can wear

Small wonders: The best modern 34mm watches that anyone can wear

Fergus Nash

The art of the small watch has definitely come to be appreciated more and more in recent years with a focus not only on smaller diameters, but lug-to-lug measurements as an essential factor for a comfortable fit. That said, there still seems to be a fear that dipping below the 36mm mark automatically takes it out of a masculine category, and this has led to severe underrepresentation of great smaller watches. Even if your wrist isn’t smaller than average, sometimes it can be nice to just wear something that doesn’t fill up every available millimetre of skin, so here are the best modern 34mm watches that anyone can wear.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34 features first on this list, as the design is so universally perfect it works at any size. The Oyster case and bracelet is instantly recognisable as a quality product even by those who know nothing about watches, and the dial is simplistic, bold, and elegant. The sunburst finishing is consistently exquisite across four colour options in black, silver, blue, and pink giving you the opportunity to match a tone to your personality. The fresh calibre 2232 belongs to the latest generation of Rolex automatic movements, complete with a silicon hairspring for magnetic resistance and improved performance. Price: $7,700 AUD

Marathon General Purpose Mechanical 34mm

Designed as a direct reproduction of field watches issued to the U.S. military throughout the 1980s, the Marathon GPM 34mm is perfect for those who are seeking a bulletproof, tactical vibe. Not only is the watch available with a variety of matte case finishes across the black, olive and tan spectrums, but the dial also features H3 tritium gas tubes on the dial and hands for spectacular after-dark visibility. The black dial is laid out in typical field-watch fashion with both regular and 24-hour numerals, plus the H3 and radiation symbol are printed to denote its luminous qualities. Keeping prices accessible and performance reliable is the Seiko NH35 movement that powers the watch — a tried-and-tested fan favourite. Price: $704 AUD

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 34mm

Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra has gone through a lot of evolutions since its introduction in 2002, but 20 years has definitely given Omega a lot of time to perfect the line’s unique blend of classy style with rugged performance. In a 34mm case water-resistant to 150m, the flowing curves of Omega’s signature lyre lugs are perfectly complimented by faceted ovular hour markers and a symmetrical date window at 6 o’clock. The hand-set features one dauphine hour hand and one arrowhead minutes hand to further blend the sports and dress worlds, while a huge variety of gorgeous sunburst dial colours are available to fit into your collection. In addition, there are also two-tone versions with Sedna Gold accents and a new take on the classic Wave Dial pattern. Price: $8,750 AUD

Seiko Presage SRP841J

While it may be labelled as a ‘ladies’ watch, there’s nothing about the Seiko Presage SRP841J that limits its audience beyond its 34mm case and delightfully short lugs. The pale blue dial is fanned with fine grooves giving an almost hypnotic texture, while the sharpened dauphine hands and faceted applied indices grant a real air of sophistication. The needle-shaped seconds hand is also blued for added class, and the bracelet uses solid links with a secure butterfly clasp. The 4R35 won’t break any records for its performance, but it has proven itself to be an incredibly reliable and affordable calibre that you can view through the display caseback. Price: $650 AUD

Cartier Santos

Honouring the first ever purpose-built pilot’s watch is the Cartier Santos, which may not be super sporty by today’s standards yet still captures that spirit of adventure. The square case that flows gently into stubby lugs is only made more industrious from its highly-polished square bezel, complete with exposed screws that give it a real technical edge. But while the case is incredibly tough-looking, the Roman numerals on the silver sunburst square dial lend a delicateness that perfectly balances the watch’s needs. Consider the Cartier name printed above the pinion, and you’ve got a watch that can fit in any situation and with any outfit. OK, so technically the Santos isn’t offered in 34mm, but between the ‘Small’ size of 27.5mm and the ‘Medium’ size of 35mm you’re sure to find your perfect fit. Price: $5,400 AUD