Why "Modest" Watches Are The Best Watches


Watch size is one aspect of fashion that is very subject to trend. Just like relaxed fit jeans were all the rage when I was in middle school in the mid 90s, large, bulky watches have been fashionable for the past few years.

Regardless of what’s trendy, I will always prefer smaller sized watch. Going by case diameter, I’m talking about 38mm or small (I think 36mm is the sweet spot). Here are three reasons why I think small watches are awesome.

#1: My Wrists Are Thin

This is the main reason why I love smaller watches: because I have smaller wrists (just under 6.5” around). I’m very intentional about making sure my clothes fit, and I want my accessories to fit just as well. That means they should be proportionate to my build (i.e., small).

In the same way that standing next to Jon makes me look shorter than I am, wearing a huge watch will make my wrist and hand look smaller than they actually are. The same goes for any accessories. Just imagine Shaq wearing a skinny tie - it wouldn’t be a good look.

This is one of the reasons that women’s watches (traditionally) are smaller than men’s watches. Women typically have small hands, wrists and arms than men do.

So I like to wear small watches that look appropriate for my frame, rather than big watches, no matter what’s currently on trend.

Speaking of which...

#2: Fashion Watches Are Big (Literally and Metaphorically)

The so called “fashion watch” industry has exploded over the past few years, mostly due to the availability and ease of buying cheap watches from China via Ali Express and similar online marketplaces.

You can literally start your own watch brand with white label, ultra cheap watches in almost any design without leaving your living room. And many people are doing this. It’s a real gold rush right now.

In general, these fashion watches tend to be oversized. What I mean is, they’re artificially large. They have tiny, thin quartz movements and typically feature minimalistic designs, so they’re no reason for the actual case to be very large, other than the fact that big watches are trendy right now.

If you look at the vintage watch market, you’ll find many men’s watches in the 34-38mm range. Many of these are mechanical watches with intricate, complicated movements inside. If you open up these watches, you won’t find a lot of empty space inside. In fact, many watch manufactures took pride in making a small, low profile mechanical watch. It was an amazing feat of engineering!

Of course, people didn’t have smaller wrists in the 50s, 60s and 70s. They just didn’t have a desire for huge, bulky watches.

Call me a watch snob, but I love wearing watches that are blatantly not fashion watches. When I’m wearing my Seiko SNK805 and see some other guy wearing his 44mm monstrosity from MVMT, do I feel superior to him? Damn right I do!

Just kidding…kind of. I actually feel bad that so many men don’t know that they can get an amazing watch for the same price as a DW or MVMT. I think if people understood that they weren’t actually getting “affordable luxury” they would do a little more research before making a purchase.

Either way, I’ll take a smaller non fashion watch any day of the week!

#3: Small Watches Are More Affordable

This is especially true for luxury watches that are made with expensive materials like gold or diamonds. A smaller watch requires less materials, so it’s cheaper.

Look at the vintage Rolex market. Ladies’ watches are much more affordable than men’s, and they’re also much smaller.

Or, look at a classic luxury watch like the Omega Speedmaster. The smaller version (the Speedmaster Reduced) is more affordable. Same goes for entry-level watches like the iconic Seiko SKX. The 013 (one of my personal favorites) is slightly cheaper than its big brothers, the 007 and 009.

So, while I prefer smaller watches anyway, saving a little money is an added benefit of going small.

#4: They’re Tasteful and Elegant

People have called my personal style aesthetic boring, but I prefer to thing of it as understated. I don’t want to stand out by wearing loud, bold colors and patterns. I don’t like calling attention to myself with super unique or unconventional accessories.

Big watches scream LOOK AT ME! Smaller watches whisper, “Come a little closer if you’d like…”. That’s much more my speed.

Especially nowadays, in a sea of ugly, oversized fashion watches, a smaller watch is more tasteful and elegant than ever. Want to set yourself apart in a classy way? Go small!

#5: Small Watches Are “Timeless”

It’s probably inaccurate to think that anything us humans wear right now is truly “timeless”. I imagine even the suit and tie will eventually be replaced with some sort of nanotech athleisure jumpsuit (for the record, I’m cool with that).

But as far as watches go, small and medium sized watches are as timeless as it gets. A 44mm MVMT watch will look ridiculous in a few year, guaranteed (if it’s still ticking, that is).

But a 38mm Hamilton? It will age like good whiskey - gracefully.

How about a 36mm Rolex? That will still look great in 25 years, just like it looked great 25 years ago.

So if you want to build a wardrobe that has a little staying power, go with a small or medium sized watch. You’ll be ahead of the curve when big watches inevitably fall of the map.

These are just five reasons why I love small watches. I don’t really wear any watch over 38mm these days (definitely not over 40mm).

I’d love to hear your opinion: do you like small watches? Let me know on Instagram