Small is More: Six Relatively Smaller Watches for the Gentlemen, from Our Archives

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In the last couple of decades, we have seen an increasing trend of large watches. Somehow, large watches seem to be more popular, with wrist presencing being an increasingly important factor for collectors who are looking for their next acquisition.

This trend has certainly changed the way watch manufacturers design their watches. Gone are the days where 36mm and 38mm watches are the norm – most watches are now at least 40-41mm in width. In fact, for brands such as Panerai and Audemars Pigeut, it is not uncommon to see watches that are at least 44mm in diameter. These are things that are certainly unheard of in the past, where watches are known to be more discreet in appearance.

While there are no right or wrong answers, we feel that there is a need to introduce some of the smaller watches. We think that these watches are great, but it is a shame that they might be potentially overlooked because of their smaller dimensions. We still think that there are virtues for wearing smaller watches, and that it is still nice to have something more dainty (and perhaps dressy) when the occasion arises.

So, what are some of the relatively smaller watches that have caught our attention? Let us find out!

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36

When Rolex launched the new iterations of the Oyster Perpetual series last year, it had generated quite a fair bit of buzz. Here, we have a series of striking watches, each with a rather bold coloured dial.

For us, the combination works rather well. Rolex had been known to produce serious tool-watches, and the use of brightly coloured dial this time had certainly gave us a refreshing take on this Geneva-based watch manufacturer. A few of our favourites include Coral Red, Yellow, Turquoise Blue, and Candy Pink (pictured above). Each of them gave the watch a distinctive character, and it certainly works rather well despite it being a little different from the norms.

The watch is also available in different sizes, of which 36mm is perhaps the one that will fit best for a typical Asian wrist. We really like the colour combinations available, and at S$7,490, we reckon this is perhaps a great addition to any collection that wants some form of vibrancy.

Rado Captain Cook 37mm

In the world of modestly priced watches, Rado had certainly attracted a lot of attention with their interesting offerings. The Captain Cook is an example of a vintage reissue done right.

Launched in 2017, the Captain Cook is a reminiscence of the vintage divers’ watches that Rado had produced in the 1960s. Whilst there are many different dial and case size variants, we feel that the 37mm piece perhaps best represents the heritage and vintage vibes that were exuded by this particular timepiece.

Powering the watch is a modest ETA C07 – a self-winding movement that comes with a date indicator and boasts a decent power reserve of 80 hours. Priced at S$2,710, it also offers great value especially with its specifications and good looks. The 37mm Captain Cook is definitely a great piece to own.

Kurono Classic

When Kurono launched its debut piece in 2019, the watch collecting scene certainly had a standstill. Here, we have one of the most-revered watchmakers – Hajime Asaoka – designing a timepiece for the masses. It definitely caught the industry by storm, and the rest they say, is history.

The Kurono Classic is the first piece from the Japanese watch manufacturer. The 37mm watch follows the classic Hajime style, with some hints of the Project Tsunami that was produced by the master watchmaker himself. The initial pieces were offered in two variants (Midnight Blue and Eggshell White), and they were limited to a run of 50 pieces each. The reception was overwhelming, considering that this is a handsome piece with great finishing. It is, after all, a piece that involved Hajime-san himself. Nobody will expect anything less than that.

The original iteration was priced at S$2,998, which we reckon it was of extremely good value for what it is worth. Even after several iterations, Kurono’s watches are still of high demand – with each collection selling-out within minutes of its launch. This is a gem, without any shadow of doubt.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119

The Calatrava is a quintessential timepiece in any Patek Philippe collection. First introduced in 1932, the timeless series is perhaps the flagship of the venerable watch manufacturer.

In a world of excess and flashiness, the Ref. 5119 is a breath of fresh air. The dress watch, which was first introduced in 2006, might be simple – but its attention to detail is amazing. Featuring a white lacquered dial and a ‘Clous de Paris’ hobnail patterned bezel, the Ref. 5119 allows the subtle details to speak for itself. It is also very elegantly sized too, at a mere 36mm.

On the reverse side of the watch, the quality of the Calatrava is certainly much easier to fathom. Cased with the Calibre 215 PS, the manually-wound movement is respectably finished and certified with the Patek Philippe Seal. Besides the haute horlogerie level of finishing, it is also noteworthy to point out that the movement is a charming reminiscence of Patek Philippe’s pocket watches of the yesteryear.

With a last-known retail price of S$29,000, the entry-level Calatrava Ref. 5119 might seem to be a little princely for some. It is, however, no doubt a classic – and one that will remain relevant in decades to come.

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue

When it comes to dress watches,  A. Lange & Söhne is certainly a brand that is at the top of their game. The 37mm Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is one such fine example.

While the Saxonia Thin 37mm may be the brand’s entry-level piece, but the Glashütte-based manufacturer decided to take it a step further with a stunning dial iteration. This particular version features a solid silver dial that is layered with goldstone, which is a man-made glass consisting of tiny crystals of copper dispersed within to create a glittering appearance. The sparkling stardust-like effect works brilliantly with the blue background, and it gives the watch a rather dreamy appearance.

Priced at S$31,500, the 37mm Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is priced at a large premium as compared to the normal Saxonia Thin. However, the dial is definitely unique, and this surely makes the highly-acclaimed dress watch a whole load more desirable than ever.

Philippe Dufour Simplicity

Even though we have featured the Philippe Dufour Simplicity on numerous occasions, it would have been sacrilegious to omit this piece out for this article. After all, this sublime piece is only offered in two case sizes: 34mm or 37mm.

Since its introduction in 2000, the timepiece from the eponymous watchmaker has always been touted as one of the finest watches in the world. It is no surprise, considering the attention to detail and the painstakingly fine level of finishing that was introduced to the watch. Philippe Dufour’s dedication to his craft is almost second to none, and it certainly shows in the end product.

Initially only available in 34mm, Philippe Dufour had relented and produced the timepiece at 37mm after receiving feedback from our Chief Editor that the former is a little too small. The 37mm timepiece is still modest in dimensions by today’s standard, but we reckon that it is appropriately-sized and pairs perfectly on any occasion that requires a discreet and subtle dress watch.

Concluding Thoughts

We do recognise the appeal of larger watches. In fact, for collectors with much larger wrists, larger timepieces definitely look more proportional on their wrist.

However, we also realised that large watches do not work for everyone. But due to the changing trends and norms, people usually succumb to that. We do feel that perhaps, collectors should not always follow the norms and they should instead select watches based on what works best for them.

Finally, we do hope that you have enjoyed this week’s article. Let us know your thoughts on smaller watches (e.g. 38mm and below), as well as the watches that deserve a spot on the list. Till the next article, ciao!

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3 Comments

  1. Alberto Fornito on

    For what I know the L&S is 39mm in copper blue, 37mm is the “normal” Saxonia Thin in white or rose gold with classic dial

  2. 34mm-36mm is my preference. My wrist is 6.5 inches. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the 34mm OP, which is the one I want and I think will be very desirable a few years from now. Appreciate this article, anything to bring more attention to the value of smaller, more subtle sizing. We need more options, especially sport watches, in this range.

    • Thanks for your comment Mike…we have already mentioned the OP 36, so perhaps one Rolex is sufficient?

      But in essence, I do agree with you, that the Rolex OP 34 is also a great timepiece for the guy with a smaller wrist.

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