Ten of the best watches for a slender wrist under $10K (and under 46mm lug-to-lug!)Zach Blass
When it comes to watches, size matters. Precious millimetres can make or break a fit, and those who regularly tune into my stories know that I have a below-average wrist. It is such a part of my #watchfam identity, that on a recent episode of the Killing Time podcast with Brynn and Malaika my wrist got a shout-out. Dubbed a “slender wrist king” – a badge of honour I humbly accept – I wanted to curate a guide for other slender-wristed members of the watch community with timepieces they may want to explore for their wrists. As I have stressed before, lug-to-lug, among other things, is a crucial measurement that provides greater certainty of whether or not a watch will fit your wrist before you even have the chance to try it on. So, here are 10 of the best watches for a slender wrist at various price-points – all under $10K USD, under 46mm lug-to-lug, and that, crucially, you do not have to pay someone under the table to score at retail.
Brew Retromatic Burgundy (39.5mm lug-to-lug)
If you are looking to dip your toes into the water of mechanical timekeeping, or are simply bargain hunting for a wrist-friendly and price-approachable addition to your collection, the Brew Retromatic Burgundy is definitely worthy of your intrigue. Clocking in at 36mm in diameter, 10.5mm in thickness, and 39.5mm lug-to-lug across the wrist, the Seiko automatic calibre-driven Retromatic has strong appeal – especially for those who want to sport something with a dial colour other than the typical black, white, and blue. The compact narrow-cushioned profile has a modern vibe, its bracelet akin to the original Apple Watch bracelet in appearance, and its 50 metre depth rating makes it a safe daily wearer. With a lug-to-lug profile under 40mm, the watch definitely has a vintage stance on the wrist that will suit slender-wristed watch wearers without fail.
Price: $450 USD
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 (44mm lug-to-lug)
The debut of the PRX Powermatic 80 rightfully threw the collecting community into a frenzy. Upon its release, it was clear that, for anyone being asked what the best first watch to purchase under $1,000 USD was, the PRX Powermatic 80 had to be a contender. Its design has strong appeal, offering up the ever-popular integrated steel sports look at an unreal price point. With 100 metres of water-resistance it is a sporty-elegant daily driver. And, for horological nerds, the Powermatic 80 movement, with a silicon hairspring and 80-hour power reserve, is a huge draw. At 40mm in diameter and 10.9mm thick, its a great modern slender size. While the end link to end link length was calculated by Borna to be 51mm, the case lug-to-lug is 44mm and the remaining 7mm will camber nicely around the wrist. If you find it too big still, no stress – there is a 35mm quartz option as well that also has a lot of appeal.
Studio Underd0g Strawberries & Cream (44.5mm lug-to-lug)
Compact meets complication with the new Studio Underd0g Strawberries & Cream, a watch you can read all about in our review here. The Wimbledon snack-inspired dial is super striking, and its Chinese manufactured manually-wound column wheel chronograph movement (based on the legendary Venus 175 calibre) adds cost-effective horological appeal. At 38.5mm x 13.6mm x 44.5mm lug-to-lug, you get a modern presence that takes up little real estate across the wrist. And strapholics will rejoice at the news it is bundled with both a quick-release leather strap and quick-release mesh bracelet. Ton of bang for your buck, but you have to act fast as the order window will close August 16 – after which it will never be produced again in this configuration.
Price: $675 USD
Oris Big Crown X Cervo Volante (45.7mm lug-to-lug)
A contemporary take on a classic case, the Oris Big Crown at 38mm is a goldilocks measurement for many in the modern era. But, the stance of its lugs is compact and cambered – leading to the lug-to-lug to be just below 46mm. At 45.7mm, it is the longest lug-to-lug found on this list, but the watch is definitely compact by modern standards. The Oris Big Crown X Cervo Volante has multiple dial configuration, but the pale blue is a standout in my book. It’s a distinct take on the ubiquitous color, offering the versatility of blue while also setting itself apart from the herd. With a Sellita movement inside, the watch is very price-approachable and the sustainable deer leather strap courtesy of Cervo Volante will appeal to the environmentally conscious.
Price: $2,000 USD
Fears Brunswick (42mm lug-to-lug)
The UK-based watch brand Fears is adored by watch enthusiasts, particularly due to the brand’s keen eye for design and their unrivalled transparency in regard to how and where each part of the watch is made or sourced. At first glance, you may assume the Brunswick cushion case is sizable with its Panerai-like form. But, the fact of the matter is the steel cases are 38mm in diameter and 11.25mm thick (including the domed sapphire crystal). Across the wrist, the Brunswick surprisingly clocks in at 42mm lug-to-lug – its diameter giving it a contemporary presence while its lug-to-lug aiding in a more vintage-inspired fit. The three dial options are all striking and handsome in their own right, with a beautiful typeface for the three-dimensional arabic numerals.
Price: $3,550 USD (Salmon & Champagne), $3,675 USD (Jubilee Edition Purple) – prices exclude VAT
Tudor Black Bay 36 S&G (44mm lug-to-lug)
I love my Rolex Datejust 36, but access to the model at retail is not always guaranteed to come quickly. This past Watches & Wonders though, Tudor made a significant upgrade to their Black Bay S&G lineup – offering the watch in a variety of sizes (31mm, 36mm, 39mm, and 41mm), switching to an in-house calibre, and revamping the Jubilee bracelet to include their T-Fit micro adjustment technology. More versatile than Rolex’s Datejust issued easy link, rather than simply extending the length of the watch by the length of a link T-Fit is a middle ground proposition between easy link and glidelock. Through a pull/slide system underneath clasp, you can adjust the size of the bracelet up to 8mm in five notched positions – all without removing or adding a link. With 70 hours of power reserve and 100 metres of water-resistance it is a ripe daily wearer, and a more affordable means of getting into two-tone territory if you are bi-metal curious.
Price: $5,025 USD (36mm configuration seen above)
Grand Seiko SBGW291/SBGW293 (42.1mm lug-to-lug)
Speaking of the Datejust 36, Grand Seiko recently unveiled their own rival contender with a new mid-size 44GS case. It first came in the form of a limited edition with a cherry blossom Kira-zuri dial, which sold out very quickly. Fortunately two standard production models have entered the fold, allowing more people to enjoy a 36.5mm x 11.5mm x 42.1mm stainless steel 44GS case that offers the same 100 metres of water-resistance as its larger siblings. Inside is the manually-wound 9S64, with 72 hours of power reserve and a Grand Seiko Standard regulation of +5/-3 seconds per day.
Price: $5,200 USD
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M 38mm (45.1mm lug-to-lug)
If your collection, and slender-wrist, is missing colour and Co-axial technology, look no further than the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M 38mm collection introduced this year. A lot of Datejust talk, I know, but this really is Omega’s rival to the Rolex’s Datejust 36. Sure its 38mm, but the stainless0steel cases are only 45.1mm lug-to-lug – a superb measurement for slender wrists. Five beautiful dial colours, 150 metres of water resistance, elegant mixed-finished cases and bracelet, and a powerful METAS certified automatic Co-axial movement, this is a very hard watch to beat.
Price: $6,000 USD
Cartier Santos Medium (41.9mm lug-to-lug)
The it-boy/girl/person of the list, the Santos has been a main staple of Cartier’s collection for decades. Originally a pilot’s watch, the Santos has become the go-to choice of fashionista’s who also like horological substance. It has never been more functional as it is fashionable, bundled with a quick-change strap and bracelet (which features quick change links that can be added or removed simply with your fingers). There are multiple sizes to explore, but the Medium will appeal to the slender wristed in favour of the large – which only has the extra feature of a date complication at 6′. Dateless, however, it has a more pure dial aesthetic. With a measurement of 35.1 mm in diameter, 8.3mm in thickness, and lug-to-lug of 42.1mm, it is incredibly wrist-friendly and, armed with a heightened 100 meters of water-resistance, has never been more ripe for daily wear.
Price: $6,800 USD
Laine V38 (45mm lug-to-lug)
For the slender-wristed looking to get into hand-finished territory, the Laine V38 needs to be on your radar. I shared this model on my list of Vaucher base-driven watches, and I would be remiss to not include it here as well with a 45mm lug-to-lug measurement. The dial and Vaucher calibre on display reveal hand-finished elements that get watch enthusiasts drooling, packing in a lot of craftsmanship into a watch that has a retail price just below $10,000 USD. So to sum it up, if you are looking for handsome and hand-finished for your slender wrist, with high horology at value, you should really explore the 38mm x 9mm x 45mm Laine V38.
Price: CHF 9,400 (excl. VAT)