When is a thin watch too thin? When is a thin watch too thin?

When is a thin watch too thin?

Borna Bošnjak

You’ve no doubt ready plenty of watch reviews about watches that are pretty much spot-on, save for the fact they’re, shall we say, vertically challenged. It’s a common complaint among enthusiasts, too, and I’ve personally avoided purchasing a watch simply because it sat a bit too thick. But what about the other end of the spectrum? We praise watches for slimming their cases down as much as possible, hell, brands have long competed to make the thinnest possible watch, with makers like Bulgari holding world records in multiple categories. Is it even possible for a watch to be too thin? If you ask me, definitely. And here’s why – with examples!

Too much of a good thing?

bulgari octo finissimo ultra case profile

As I alluded to in the introduction, there are few things more disheartening than discovering a watch that fits in every sense, but its thickness throws the whole proposition off-kilter. Okay, maybe there are more disheartening things in the world, but in the closed cocoon of a watch enthusiasts’ world, this is about as bad as it gets. As a result, when I’m reading a press release or review, I’m delighted whenever the thickness measurement reads below 12mm. When it comes to dress watches, I usually check out if the height is much bigger than 10mm. So what am I complaining about?

piaget altiplano ultimate concept

Consider a 39mm watch – a pretty standard size these days, with an equally standard 46mm lug-to-lug. At 8-10mm in height, this sounds like a pretty versatile everyday watch. Reduce this much further, and I start to get a little worried. The absolute extreme example of what I mean would be something like the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, and to a lesser extent its younger sibling, the Ultimate 900P. The former is 41mm in diameter, already larger than most would consider for a dress watch, and a ridiculous 2mm in height. Like I said – extreme example. The resultant wearing experience is, for the lack of a better term, decidedly dinner plate-y. Watches like Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Ultra and the Richard Mille RM UP-01 are similar examples, but it’s not just these record-breakers that suffer the same fate.

audemars piguet royal oak perpetual calendar ultra thin

Take the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, with a 41mm diameter and a 6.2mm height. This is more than three times thicker than the aforementioned trio, but because of the angled, geometrical case and flat caseback, also looks best on significantly larger wrists than its diameter may initially suggest.

The golden ratio

nomos tangente 35 wrist

So, it’s all about the diameter then? The thinner the watch, the smaller it should be. Easy fix, right? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. It is true that, for most people, smaller watches that are very thin will be a lot easier to wear. And don’t forget about the lug-to-lug, either, arguably the most important of all measurements. Great examples of how proportionality changes the wearing experience are the Breguet Classique 5157 and Nomos Tangente 35 at 5.4mm and 6.2mm in height, respectively. The Breguet goes for a 44mm lug-to-lug, with the lugs themselves angling down to extend past the caseback and provide a more comfortable wear. The Nomos is similar, and though it’s 3mm smaller in diameter, it actually has longer lugs at 45mm, but they similarly sharply turn downwards.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 900P 12

But as much as it is about the ratio of the case dimensions, the way a thin watch wears will be highly dependent on your wrist shape, too. We’ll once again take the Piaget Altiplano as an example. On my very rounded 6.15in/15.5cm wrist, I just can’t get away with it, even though the lug-to-lug is a very wearable 41.9mm. Zach, however, suits it just fine, and even though his wrists are a tad smaller, the flat top is just much better suited for the 900P’s case.

Credor 6730-5090

So, to sum up my semi-coherent rambling, I’ll try to answer the question from the title. Is there such a thing as a watch that’s too thin? The simple answer is no. My go-to dress watch is a 2mm thin Credor ref. 6730-5090 that also happens to be one of the most comfortable watches I own. Like many other watch-related queries then, this one will highly depend on three things. The first is the diameter and lug-to-lug in respect to the thickness – generally the smaller the watch, the easier it’ll be to pull off a thinner one. Second, the shape of your wrist, and third, the way a brand decides to shape the lugs and caseback to curve the watch around the wrist.