A few years ago, trends saw watch sizes begin to balloon. Unfortunately, this left those with slenderer wrists with very little to choose from. Recently, however, more and more manufacturers have begun presenting not only smaller sizes but also brand classics in new sizes. That’s why we’ve compiled this overview of the top 7 watches that look absolutely fantastic on smaller wrists. From sporty to elegant, there’s something for everyone!
Watch #1: The Zenith El Primero 38 mm
This Zenith is a piece of watchmaking history for the wrist! Not only was Zenith’s movement, the “El Primero,” used in the Rolex Daytona up until 2000, but the El Primero chronograph is also a classic in its own right!
If that wasn’t enough, this cult classic is available in two different sizes. The 38-mm version fits particularly well on smaller wrists. Any watch enthusiast will immediately recognize it as a El Primero, thanks to its distinctive dial design with the three different colored subdials. However, the 38-mm edition has the date at 4 o’clock instead of 6.
It’s also practical because, with a water resistance of 100 m (328 ft), you can wear this El Primero while swimming. Combined with chronograph and day-date functions, we’re dealing with a real all-rounder here.
The El Primero, of course, comes with its namesake in-house movement. It’s worn on a leather strap or steel bracelet, and its list prices starting at $8,700. You can find used versions for as little as $5,700.
Watch #2: The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Just two years after its premiere and the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight is already one of the brand’s most sought-after models – and with good reason. The Fifty-Eight seems to have been just what the watch world was eagerly waiting for.
The Fifty-Eight is the best of both worlds, pairing extremely high-quality and robust manufacturing with the striking design of diving watches from the 1960s.
Specifically, this means that the Fifty-Eight is smaller and thinner than most modern diving watches. It measures 39 mm in diameter, is about 11 mm thick, and stretches 47 mm from lug end to lug end.
This model boasts a matte black aluminum bezel, rose gold bezel accents, and Tudor’s unmistakable snowflake hands – not to mention the in-house caliber MT5402. All in all, the Fifty-Eight is an absolutely stunning watch that every diving watch fan should own.
Tudor mounts the watch on a steel bracelet, NATO strap, or leather strap. Prices for used watches start around $4,000.
By the way: As of July 2020, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is available in navy blue without the rose gold accents. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy is the perfect choice for anyone looking to add a splash of color to their life!
Watch #3: The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 38 mm
Omega offers Rolex-level quality at a lower price and, perhaps most importantly, with greater availability. That’s why many consider the Aqua Terra an alternative to the Datejust, although it deserves attention in its own right.
The 38-mm version comes with all the features that distinguish the Aqua Terra, including a teak-pattern dial that resembles the deck on a luxury yacht, as well as the waved-edged case back synonymous with the Omega Seamaster series (to which the Aqua Terra belongs). Most importantly, the Aqua Terra is powered by the Omega in-house caliber 8800, which is not only ultra-precise but also almost completely impervious to magnetism. With a water-resistance of 150 m (492 ft), the Aqua Terra can even be worn while swimming.
All of that comes with practically perfect finishes, from the case and individual details on the dial to the bracelet with its polished middle links.
The price for an used Aqua Terra in 38 mm lies around $5,000.
Watch #4: The Rolex Datejust 36 mm
Since we already mentioned Rolex, it would be silly to leave the brand off this list. However, more than that, this particular watch deserves mentioning because it’s one of the most beloved Rolexes of all time. I’m talking, of course, about the Datejust 36.
This watch is more than just a perfectly crafted 904L stainless steel case and equally stunning individual components like the bracelet, the sunburst dial, flawless diamond indices, and date at 3 o’clock. More than that, it is the embodiment of the prestige and status associated with the Rolex brand.
Like almost every Rolex, this watch has an incredibly robust movement, namely the caliber 3235 famed for its robustness and longevity. Rolex manufactures this movement completely in-house.
There is much debate as to whether the Rolex Datejust 36 is too small for a men’s watch nowadays. But when you look at it on the wrist, you have to admit that its proportions are actually perfect for slimmer wrists, whereas the 41-mm variant appears almost a bit too large.
Rolex Datejust prices depend on the dial, bezel, bracelet, and production year and start $8,600.
Watch #5: NOMOS Tangente Ref. 139 (35 mm)
NOMOS is famous for its embrace of Bauhaus-style designs. The company sits nestled among the rolling hills that make up Germany’s watchmaking mecca: Glashütte. The Tangente line epitomizes their dedication to Bauhaus philosophy. It was among the first watches that this young brand introduced back in 1990, and it is the perfect timepiece for those who value well-thought-out design without too many frills.
The case measures 35 mm in diameter and is extremely slim at only 6.2 mm high. NOMOS pairs it with an uncluttered dial that features a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and cornflower blue hands. The result is an elegant watch that will probably still look stylish 100 years from now.
The narrow bezel and the sapphire crystal complete the look perfectly.
The Tangente runs on the in-house caliber “Alpha” – a pleasant surprise for a timepiece in this price class.
This German dress watch can be found pre-owned for as low as $1,600.
Watch #6: The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire 39 mm
If you’re a fan of traditional pilot’s watches, you’re probably already familiar with the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire. Its design is very similar to that of the Mark 11 – better known as the watch that IWC produced for the Royal Air Force in 1948.
Normally, pilot’s watches have extremely large cases, which unfortunately rules them out for less sizable wrists. However, this Spitfire is the exception, allowing those with smaller wrists access to this special and unique line.
With a diameter of 39 mm and a thickness of 10.6 mm, it’s not only relatively small for a pilot’s watch but also fairly slim!
The dial is kept simple and, thus, easy to read, with a small day-date at 3 o’clock. Viewed up close, you get a real sense of the perfect craftsmanship behind each and every dial component. IWC enthusiasts will appreciate the number 9, which was missing from the dials of the precursor models Mark 16 and Mark 17, even though it was present on the original Mark 11.
The NATO strap comes with a leather inner lining, contributing to a high degree of comfort and wearability.
Prices for the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire from IWC begin around $4,600.
Watch #7: The Rolex Daytona Platinum 40 mm
The last watch in this list is the famed and fabled Rolex Daytona, possibly one of the world’s most coveted watches – if not the most coveted.
The Rolex Daytona received an update in 2016, which saw a ceramic bezel replace the previous steel bezel. This is exactly where the benefit lies for the small-wristed:
The ceramic bezel frames the dial, giving the watch a smaller appearance overall. At 40 mm in diameter, it’s the only steel Rolex sports watch that looks great even on very small wrists.
The Daytona is considered the finest racing watch in the history of mechanical timepieces, and the current version naturally comes with a completely Rolex-made movement. Like every Rolex, it approaches absolute perfection in terms of craftsmanship and design. This is Rolex’s most prestigious model, after all.
This version is made of solid platinum, making it the heaviest and also the most expensive of the watches presented here. Prices for this exquisite Daytona start at approximately $80,000.
If you have the money for such a special watch, you can proudly wear one of the best Rolex models for small wrists and make a real (under)statement at the same time.