Hunting for a new 38mm watch to wear? Whether you’re into robust divers, sporty chronographs, or classic dress timepieces, here are our top picks for the best 38mm watches, ranging from $249 to $23,800.
Vintage-inspired timepieces and restrained proportions are picking up speed in the watch world, which means more sub-40mm men’s watches to choose from. And that’s great news for guys with smaller wrists.
A 38mm watch is right around the top end of the scale when it comes to a well-proportioned watch for slender wrists—anything larger could start to wear too bulky. It’s also a great size for business casual settings.
But with the impressive assortment amongst the 38mm watch category, there really is no reason to sacrifice the right fit for a specific style. From the inexpensive to the ultra-luxurious, check out these fantastic options for men’s 38mm watches.
Short on time? Here are our top three picks for the best 38mm watches you can buy right now:
Dressier than your standard military watch, the timepiece dons a 38mm brushed stainless steel case fitted with a black dial with 12-hour markers, 24-hour markers, and a date window.
The Seiko SKX013's 38mm stainless steel case fits incredibly well, while the dial retains the familiar day and date duo.
The Metro 38 brings together Nomos Glashütte’s signature clean aesthetic with small punches of color for an appealing dial design.
Read on for more info and the complete list…
Best 38mm Watches For Any Budget
Here’s the list…
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph
If Audemars Piguet can take the Royal Oak’s famed eight-sided “Jumbo” case silhouette, size it down to 38mm and pack it with an automatic chronograph complication within its trim 11mm profile, then other watchmakers should take note and follow suit.
From the octagonal bezel to the hobnail dial to the integrated bracelet, the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph offers all the design details that make the RO so beloved but in a manageable compact size.
Price-wise though, the watch is still mega where the stainless steel version will set you back a cool $23,800.
Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat
Not only are the cushion-shaped cases of the relatively new Drive de Cartier collection sized at a tasteful 38mm x 39mm, but the ultra-thin versions are a mere 6.6mm thick.
A particularly handsome edition is the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat in 18k pink gold with a brown leather strap.
The dial of the time-only watch is classic Cartier, with its black Roman numerals, blue sword-shaped hands, and silvered background.
Inside the $15,400 precious metal watch is an in-house Cartier manual-wound movement, protected by a pink gold caseback.
Panerai Luminor Due 38
You may be surprised to see Panerai included on a list about smaller watches since the brand is synonymous with oversized watches.
However, in 2016, Panerai debuted the Luminor Due collection, featuring slimmer cases and the option of an under-40mm watch.
Meet the Panerai Luminor Due 38, which retains the famed cushion-shaped case and lever-protected crown guard combo but in an easier-to-wear 38mm size.
The watch even houses the signature Panerai sandwich dial, complete with green-colored luminescence for a pop of color. This stainless steel version of the Luminor Due 38 retails for $6,000 and runs on an automatic movement.
Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38
Equipped with a chronograph and slide rule bezel, the Navitimer has been Breitling’s pride and joy since the 1950s. For six decades, the brand remained faithful to the watch’s core design.
However, to tackle the current demand for smaller watches, Breiting now offers a fresh take of its icon in the form Navitimer Automatic 38.
The chronograph is gone to make way for the smaller 38mm case but the slide rule remains on the dial to remind us that this is a Navitimer.
This particular edition brings together stainless steel, red gold and leather and it’s priced at 5,820.
Omega Speedmaster 38
One of the most famous chronograph models ever made, the Omega Speedmaster lineup offers a bewildering assortment of models.
Thankfully, that means plenty of size options too, including the Omega Speedmaster 38 models.
Sporting a 38mm steel case, a black tachymeter bezel, a black dial, and powered by an automatic movement, this version of the Speedy, which retails for $5,100, gives you a similar look to the famed “Moonwatch” but without the largeness and manual-winding requirements.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Tudor’s recent watch releases have been very well received thanks to a combination of high-quality materials, in-house movements, superb designs, and affordable prices.
A particularly standout release is the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which as its name implies, draws inspiration from a 1958 dive watch model.
While a touch larger than the 38mm watches we’re highlighting, the 39mm case is both noticeably smaller and slimmer than typical Black Bay sports models.
Plus, if you opt for a $3,300 nylon strap configuration (leather and metal are also available), it’s lighter to wear too.
Nomos Glashütte Metro 38
Nomos Glashütte has made a name for itself by producing top-notch German-made watches with understated designs, restrained proportions, and some of the best prices in the luxury watch space.
Designed by industrial designer Mark Braun, the Metro 38 ($2,860) brings together Nomos Glashütte’s signature clean aesthetic with small punches of color for an appealing dial design.
The dial is encased within a slim 38.5mm steel case with thin wire lugs and a manual-wound movement powers the trio of hands.
Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch
With Cameron Weiss at the helm, Weiss is on a mission to bring American watchmaking back to the forefront by building watches and mechanical movements by hand in Los Angeles, California.
And the American watch company is doing a fine job at it too with a range of models and calibers to its name.
The Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch is a great example of what the brand does best—no-nonsense military-inspired timepieces.
The watch features a steel 38mm case, a fresh white dial with oversized sword-shaped hands and a running seconds indicator, a manual movement inside, and a price tag of $1,150.
Hamilton Khaki Field Auto 38MM
If you prefer an automatic field watch, Hamilton makes the Khaki Field Auto 38MM model. Dressier than your standard military watch, the timepiece dons a 38mm brushed stainless steel case fitted with a black dial with 12-hour markers, 24-hour markers, and a date window.
Playing up the more formal nature of the watch is the elegant black leather strap with white stitching.
Priced at $575, this Khaki Field automatic watch can comfortably go from office to outdoors and everything in-between.
Diving watch dimensions are continuously a struggle for guys with smaller wrists. The “bigger is always better” remains strong amongst modern diving watches.
Yet, whether its price or size, there’s always Seiko to solve common dive watch dilemma!
The Seiko SKX013 is similar to the famed SKX007 dive watch but in petite proportions. The 38mm stainless steel case fits incredibly well, while the dial retains the familiar day and date duo.
Just like its bigger brother, the SKX013 is water-resistant to 200 meters, runs on an automatic movement, and comes with a unidirectional black timing bezel—all for the bargain-basement price of $249.
The world of 38mm watches is a varied one, including almost any timepiece type you can think of. And if the trend towards smaller watches continues forward, then choices will only get better.
If you’ve been wearing a watch that’s simply too big for you, then it’s time to give it up in favor for one that fits correctly.
(Moderator — same comment but terrible typos fixed. If you post, please use this version. Thanks) Thanks for posting this article, Celine. Fun read. The only thing that “fits correctly” is the band. IMO dial/lug-to-lug size doesn’t matter when it comes to men’s watches, and I’d even extend this to thinner wristed blokes. Dial size is simply a style element. It’s the sport coat that is “fitted”, not the size of the lapel — right? The band or bracelet is fitted, the dial is not and can come in an assortment of sizes all of which are fine/a matter of preference. A large lapel-ed sport coat does not “overwhelm” a smaller bloke. I think the same is true with watch dial sizes and styles. I’m a 6′, 230 hulking brute with proportionately thick wrists that I never bothered to measure. I have a little three watch collection, recently having flipped or gifted most of my too many watches. I’m currently sporting my understated, sublime 37.5mm Seiko 5 SNKL75 (a $100 DateJust-y little piece for people who don’t hate their money). Looks absolutely fine. On the other side of the spectrum, I also have a gianormous 51.6mm Casio Pro Trek solar Safari ABC(T) as my weekender (instead of a boring dime-a-dozen desk diver). Both look fine on the wrist. A watch is basically a bracelet. You can have a bracelet style that’s thick. You can have a bracelet style that’s thin. There is no correct size as DIAL size is a style element largely decoupled from gender cues. This whole association of watch dial size and “manliness” is a product of silly action movies and is laughably absurd. Something insecure dudes concern themselves with. Conversely there are such things — as you know, as an obvious/outright women’s watch — usually bejeweled and around 27mm. Random cut-paste example: TAG HEUER AQUARACER 27MM MOP DIAL 2-TONE SS WOMEN’S WATCH. So there’s a canyon-ish gap between men’s/unisex watch and a true women’s watch.