A Guide to Proper Watch Sizes: Learn to Choose the Right Size for Your Wrist

Finding the right watch can be a complicated journey, but one of the most important aspects is finding the size that best fits your wrist. A watch will look unproportional if the size is off, and the human eye is trained to distinguish if something is proportional. To help you find the perfect size, we created this guide that covers all of the important components to focus on for watch sizes.

Watch Case Size

One of the most important factors of watch size is the case size. Generally, a larger case size works well with a larger wrist and vice versa. To choose the right case size, measure the circumference of your wrist. If you’re unable to find a good measuring tape, a dollar bill is 6 inches and can be used as a measurement. These are the general guidelines for choosing a size based on your wrist circumference: 

  • If your wrist circumference is 6 to 7 inches, you want a 38mm, 40mm, or 42mm case. 
  • If your wrist circumference is 7.5 to 8 inches, you want a case between 44 and 46mm. 

In general, a watch will look proportional if the case size is 60 to 75% the size of the flat surface of your wrist. To determine that size, convert your wrist measurement to millimeters and divide by three. That can help you decide between a 38mm or 40mm watch case size. 

Watch Case Width 

The size isn’t the only part of the case that matters. The width can affect how the watch fits as well. In general, the width of the case will change proportionally with the size of the case. Most often a thinner width works with a thinner wrist and vice versa. By choosing the right size case, you can often find the right width, but the width can be adjusted for personal preference too. T

Watch Band Thickness

For the best fit, the watch band is generally half the size of the diameter of the watch case. For example, if the watch case is 40mm, then 20mm watch bands will fit. Other common sizes are 18mm, 22mm, and 24mm bands, but bands can be as thin as 12mm and 8mm for personal preference or smaller cases. If you have larger wrists, you most often want a thicker band.

Lug Distance and Shape

The lug distance is measured from the lugs at the top of the watch case to the lugs at the bottom. Though that may seem identical to the watch case size, the lug distance can vary for watches with the exact same case size. If possible, you want the lug distance to fit on the flat surface area of your wrist and not have overhang. Generally, choose a smaller lug distance for smaller wrists. For all wrist sizes, you typically want a lug distance that is 75 to 95% the size of the flat part of your wrist for the best fit. 

Lugs are also two different shapes: flat or curved. If you choose flat lugs with a large lug distance, often the watch will stick out because it can’t lie flat against your wrist. For smaller wrists, you almost always want to choose curved lugs to help avoid the watch sticking up. Curved lugs will hug your wrist more. If you want flat lugs, you will want to find the smallest lug distance you can. 

Watch Band Material

The material of the watch band can also affect how it looks sizing-wise. A leather band will look thinner and slimmer, which can be a good choice for smaller wrists. A metal band of the same size will always look larger because of the material. If you have a larger wrist, a metal band can be a good choice. But there are leather band options that can look larger and metal band options that can look smaller if your personal preference doesn’t align with these general guidelines. 

Watch Face Details 

Once you find the right case, lugs, and band, there are some details that can help while choosing watch sizes. These are some of the details you may want to consider when selecting a watch size:

  • The hour marker size. A 38mm to 40mm watch could look wrong when paired with large markers, and a 46mm watch could look off when paired with small markers. 
  • The hour marker distance. A watch will look smaller if the distance between one end of the hour marker to the end of the hour marker opposite it is smaller. And a watch will look larger if the distance is larger, regardless of the case size. 
  • The bezel. The bezel is found around the face of some watches, and it can make the watch appear smaller. A 42mm watch with a bezel will look smaller than a 42mm watch without. Sport watches often have bezels, but dress watches can as well. 
  • The color of the watch dial. A white or light colored watch face dial will look larger than a black or dark colored dial. You can choose color based on personal preference, but if you choose a white dial, you may want to choose a smaller case size and hour marker size to make the watch look proportional. 
  • The size of the pusher and crown. These components can vary in size. Larger components will make the watch look larger, so if you have smaller wrists, you may want smaller pushers and changers. The key is to pay attention to how these components work with the rest of the watch features and see what looks right. 

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right watch size is a balancing act. You will want to experiment with what looks right on your wrist and what elements and sizes you do and don’t appreciate. In the end, you might fall in love with a watch that makes you break all the rules.

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