OPINION: The answer to the eternal question “Does this look too small on my wrist?”Time+Tide
We’ve all heard the line “Does my bum look big in this” on cheesy TV sitcoms and yet I’ve never heard a woman say this in real life. What I do see on a regular basis is men asking “Does this look small on me?” while showing off watches that are, if anything, usually too big.
I’d like to make a joke that size has always mattered to men, but as anyone who likes vintage watches will tell you, that’s not the case. Mid last century, most watches were elegant, slim and, by today’s standards, small – and when I say small, I actually mean perfectly proportioned. But these days most watches aren’t about elegance and fashion – they’re about manliness.
This is why Panerais are hot property, even though they can look ludicrous on anyone who isn’t as beefy as Sylvester Stallone.
This is why the term “fashion watch” is used as an insult in the comments sections of watch sites and forums.
And … that’s right … this is why watch forums are swamped with wrist shots followed by that eternal, plaintive question about size.
The answer to “is this too small?” is not “it depends”, although that’s the one most commonly given. It is not “whatever you feel comfortable with”, that ever diplomatic answer to an insecure question. Instead, it is always, undoubtedly, “No. No it is not too small.”
People used to say luxury was a thin, small watch … which sounds a lot more civilised than men wearing watches the size of a satellite dish on their wrist. Asking if a watch is too small is like asking if a sports car is too fast, or luggage too light. There is no rhyme or reason to wearing a large watch unless you happen to be diving – and the odds are you’re not. After all, if we were rugged enough to go diving (and I never understood why breathing through a tube underwater was aspirational) then we wouldn’t be posing with our watches while asking if they were too small. Quite frankly, we’d be manly enough not to care.
No – if people have to ask a question about size, then it ought to be, “Does this look too big on me?” – and the answer would usually be yes.
The visual cue to whether a watch is too big is if the lugs reach the edges of your wrist or, heaven forbid, pass them. The problem, however, is that many of us – myself included – are used to lugs that reach the edges of our wrist and actually think that’s normal. It shouldn’t be.
You can also measure your wrist – which is a good idea now that we’re so often buying online (in which case, try to get the watch’s lug to lug measurements as well). There are plenty of charts online that show what watch sizes will work for you and when in doubt between two sizes, I would suggest that you go for smaller, not larger. And yes, just by writing that line, I can hear the howls of readers.
But I say this as someone who wishes I knew this myself way back when – and I know that if you’re used to wearing a modern-sized watch then anything less than 38mm is going to look tiny at first. Maybe even – at least to your eyes, and your eyes only – girly. But give it a few weeks and you might just find those small vintage watches weren’t so small after all. Maybe – and colour me crazy if you will – maybe they were perfectly sized all along.