We make a quick survey of watches which are sized “just right”, or from a recent survey 37-38mm. Here is make our selection for the six best.
The Goldilocks syndrome: Six best choices for watches which are sized “just right”
What is the best size for a watch? Is there one? It turns out there probably is. Our friend Mark Cho did a survey in 2018, and he launched an online survey to see what people thought about the size of their wrists and what sized watches were preferred.
The survey ran for three years, and he got some 2,000 data points. And the conclusion that he got was that men regularly thought they had smaller than average wrists. In the survey, some 51% believe that they had smaller wrists than average, 42% considered their wrists as average and the rest thought they were larger than normal. This is not a normal Gaussian distribution curve which is what we would expect. We do note that there is probably some selection bias in the sample, as his respondents are likely to be from his Armoury database, and if so, will tend to be those who are more sartorially aware. The survey results yielded that small wrists are averagely about 6.40 inches, average wrists at 6.96 inches and larger wrists were about 7.77 inches. And he concluded that the perfect daily watch is 37.77mm in diameter. The perfect weekend watch is 39.28mm. The survey is being refreshed, and the 2023 results should be published soon.
Based on this survey, we looked into our review catalog, and here are our selection of the best six watches with the magical 37-38mm case size. BTW, we also did a list of smaller watches earlier this year. Check that out here. You may also consider today’s consideration as the high end version. Let’s begin!
We kick off the perhaps one of the most grail of grails. The Dufour Simplicity. The watch is not only iconic in the classical design, and the immaculate movement, but perhaps the story of how the 37mm Goldilocks edition came about.
When I first encountered the Simplicity in Baselworld 2000, Philippe had presented a three hander watch which he dubbed his “Simplicity”. I was mesmerised, especially by the beauty and perfection of the movement. The No.0 he had presented, which was finished just a couple of days before was in a 34mm case. Philippe’s idea of the classical gentleman’s wrist watch was that the 34mm size was ideal. The Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 96 from 1945 was only 31mm in size, and a watch which I had owned and sold because it was too small, the Ref. 5096 was 33mm. But by 2000, watches had begun the phase of growing significantly. The 1994 release of the Lange 1, then considered to be very large at 38.5mm had to be supplemented by the Little Lange 1 at 36mm. I tried to persuade Philippe to make it larger. His immediate response was no! I continued to talk and work on him over the next months, and finally about 4 months later, he tentatively agreed. He was adamant that the largest case he would go is 37mm. And I agreed. And together with three other collector friends, we ordered 4 Simplicity 37mm watches. Thus, ours were the first four in 37mm, delivered in 2001. A white gold, later example, circa 2005 was sold at Phillips Auction Eight in NYC this year for USD 863,000.
Credor Eichi II 39mm
The Credor Eichi II is an unusual entry into the highest levels of haute horlogie, a market which is mostly populated by the Swiss and to some extent the Germans. The 39mm Eichi II is the successor to the original Eichi which was released only in platinum, and was 35mm. The Eichi II was released in platinum in 2015, and in rose gold in 2018, with an update in blue dial in 2020. The technology is based on Seiko’s Spring Drive, and is a mesmerising alternative to the traditional high beat mechanical watch. Visually the movement finishing is stunningly beautiful. And the silent, smooth movement of the long seconds hand is magnificent in its own right. As is the ultra elegant porcelain dial.
Our pick is the rose gold variant is in itself a warmer, better value-for-money version of the preceding platinum Eichi II. If one can look past the fact that it isn’t Swiss and is missing a balance wheel, one will find an extraordinary timepiece – perhaps even the catch of the century – in the rose gold Eichi II.
We discussed the Asaoka Tourbillon Noir extensively in our review just last week. And we loved almost every aspect of this new watch. From the concept being conceived by master Hajime Asaoka himself, and lovingly and painstakingly made by his own hands in his atelier in Tokyo. We are besotted by the aesthetic of the bold Art Deco styling. The magnificent Tsuikoshi lacquer finish contrasting with the brushed finish the chapter ring and the brilliant shine of the main index , the hands and the tourbillon bridge. The entire watch is a sight to behold.
And it comes in right at the 37mm mark. On my wrist, as shown in the photograph above, it feels very comfortable. Assisted by the light steel case construction, the long curved lugs and the case sizing. The contrasting nature of the dial’s polished steel elements in juxtaposition with the deep but brilliant blackness of the negative space takes our breath away.
Next we consider the VC Historiques 222. The original watch was part of the Swiss Trinity of watchmakers whose ideas of the luxury integrated-bracelet sports watch helped the industry through the Quartz Crisis. It began with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in 1972, followed by the Patek Philippe Nautilus in 1976 and finally the Vacheron Constantin 222 in 1977. Unlike the AP and PP which were Gerald Genta designs, the 222 was a creation of Jorg Hysek. The 222 have not enjoyed a strong, unbroken run of production that its competitors have. In total, fewer than a thousand units of the 222 were created, in a run that only lasted a few years into the 1980s. But the Historiques recreation comes back with a vengence.
It’s hard not to get excited for the Historiques 222. It is a faithful recreation of one of the forefathers of the luxury sports watch. The original 222 might not have seen success like the Royal Oak and Nautilus have but it’s got plenty of admirers. If there ever was a time to bring it back, that time is now. Vacheron Constantin has done a splendid job with the execution of the Historiques 222, earning universal plaudits from collectors and media alike. Watches from the Historiques collection have always seen high customer demand – it wouldn’t be surprising if the 222, combined with a euphoric sports watch market, became the collection’s most profitable timepiece yet.
Breguet enters the selection and makes the cut with the 38mm Classique 5157. This is THE classic watch, if there ever was one. Clean, simple, elegant. With the classic Breguet guilloché dial executed par excellence. The heavily worked dial is still a paragon of simplicity as is the time display. It does not even have a seconds hand. And couple this with the ultra-slim dimensions of the case, measuring only 5.4mm thick, we have an almost perfect dress watch.
Compared to Breguet’s own Ref. 7147, which shares the same base movement (but with small seconds), the 5157 case is 2mm smaller. And we think, a more well more balanced watch aesthetic.
The L.U.C QF Jubilee timepiece was created to celebrate the 25 years of the L.U.C and neatly sums up the three core values of the L.U.C collection, namely technical performance, aesthetic refinement and an enduring attachment to certified watchmaking. The watch is a 25-piece limited series in stainless steel in a case diameter of 39mm.
It carries an Art Deco-inspired sector dial with a beautiful vintage vibes. The two tone dial has a galvanic blue and grey sunray-brushed finish, it is paired with spear-shaped hands and features discreet luminous inserts on the hands and markers. Detailing is exceptional, and the entire aesthetic is extremely pleasing to the eye. The case is From the magnificent movement which is variant of Chopard Manufacture’s first calibre, the L.U.C 96.09-L movement that powers this L.U.C QF Jubilee timepiece uses a double barrel movement. The watch does not only have good looks, but is also Fleurier Quality Foundation, the reliability of the watch is also verified by the Chronofiable protocol: three weeks of ageing tests involving heat, cold and humidity, traction and pressure on the winding stem, magnetic fields, as well as recurrent impacts.
So there you have it. This list is perhaps more dressy than sporty, but when we think smaller diameters, we feel the genre is more suited to the classical wrist watches than the more rugged sports pieces, or tool watches. What would you include in your list? Do you like watches in this case sizes? Or do you prefer larger or smaller watches.?