Short answer? Yes.
When it comes to watch size and fit, not all watches are going to look good on you. It’s important to get that out of the way before you find yourself surprised and disappointed that your perfect watch isn’t all a perfect fit after all. It’s also important for you to know that no two watches are going to look the same on your wrist, even if they’re the same size.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Beyond style and price, size is probably the most important factor when buying a watch. It’s not just how big the face is; it’s the profile, it’s how the bracelet fits, and it’s how it ultimately looks on your wrist.
In the past decade, watch sizes ballooned to ridiculous proportions. And in the mid-20th century, a watch at 38mm would have been oversized. Watch sizes go through trends, which is why it’s imperative to know what sizes look good on you.
The most obvious indication of a watch’s size is how wide the case is. Depending on how thick your wrist is, 40mm may be too wide—and anything larger than that, insane. If you have a bigger wrist, even 36mm might look a little silly. Women have the same considerations–most sub-30mm watches are fine, but larger watches may feel overwhelming on the wrist.
A good indication of whether a watch is too big is to look at the lugs. Are they reaching past the curve of your wrist? Then the watch may not fit right.
Width is one thing, but case thickness on a watch can really affect how it sits on the wrist. Generally, the thicker the watch, the heavier it is—that’s another thing to think about.
Also, you need to think about whether you need a watch to fit under your sleeve cuff, or how comfortably the lugs will fit around your wrist. In that case, a thicker watch may not be the way to go.
The average male wrist size is about 7.5 inches. Most watch bracelets and strap will fit everyone, but if you fall into the extremes, be prepared for some potential extra costs.
For instance, if you have a thicker wrist, you might have to buy extra links for the bracelet or opt for a longer strap. Likewise, for a smaller wrist, you’re looking at removing some links or making a new hole in the strap. For a more in-depth guide to how your bracelet or strap should fit, click here.
Measuring for Size
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules to your watch size—it’s really a matter of your personal preference. And we always say wear the watch you want. But just in case you’re buying online and want to know how to size a watch, what do you do?
Well, we created a printable guide to help you out. It has references for all your watch sizing needs: case width, case thickness, and strap length. Plus, it gives you an easy way to measure your wrist size too. Download and print it out here.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 16, 2013. We have updated it for clarity and comprehensiveness.