Here are 12 gorgeous dress watches that are perfect for men with smaller, thinner wrists.
But first, do you even need a dress watch?
In this hyper-casualised world, where most men are ‘t-shirt and jeans' guys, it could be argued that you don't even need a dress watch.
How can you justify spending money on a watch which you only wear twice a year?
Some will argue that you can wear your sports watch on a leather strap and, hey presto, you've got a dress watch. However, if you have small wrists, I don't think this approach works well.
Wearing a chunky sports watch with a suit looks out of place and displays a lack of attention to detail.
Paying attention to the little things demonstrates that you are a detailed orientated individual.
Imagine you're an accountant who is meeting a client for the first time, and they see you wearing a tailored outfit and a well fitting dress watch.
They will realise that you pay the same attention to detail to their accounts. This is one way to communicate aspects of your character without saying a word.
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How can you wear your dress watch more than twice a year?
The trick is to dress it down with a casual strap, such as suede leather. Pairing a dress watch with a causal outfit is an advanced style move which not all guys can pull off.
Here's a wrist shot of @thewatchdude2 rocking an oxford shirt and jeans with a Longines Conquest Heritage.
He has a 6.5 inch wrist and I think the watch fits him perfectly. I think it would work just as well, with a fitted t-shirt, jeans and minimalist sneakers.
What makes a good dress watch?
When considering the best dress watch of all time, the Patek Phillipe Calatrava, which was released in 1932, comes to mind as a strong contender.
It abides by all of the ‘rules' that make an ideal dress watch. Let's explore what these are.
Firstly, the dress watch should be thin. Thin enough to easily slide under a shirt cuff.
I believe this is the hallmark of a good dress watch and another reason why dressing down a sports watch usually doesn't work for smaller wrists.
Secondly, it should have a simple, minimalist design, and some would argue that it should have no complications.
And like formal wear, it should be understated and tailored to the person wearing it. Purists state that a dress watch should not be more than 35mm.
While I disagree with sweeping statements like this, I do believe that the watch should be proportional to wrist size. Preferably, it should come in a precious metal and paired with leather strap.
Does this mean you absolutely must not wear a triple date, 40mm that is 14mm thick?
Of course not. Ultimately it depends on your style and it is helpful to be aware of the ‘rules' before breaking them.
As someone with 6 inch wrists, I have found that my ideal dimensions for a dress watch are a case diameter of 34mm and a lug-to-lug of up to 42mm.
|Timex Marlin® Hand-Wound 34mm||$199|
|Sea-Gull 38mm Hand Wind Cocktail||$199|
|Orient Petite Sun and Moon Quartz Watch||$385
|Vintage Hamilton||$250 - $350|
| ||Vintage Seiko (Lord Marvel / King Seiko)||$432|
|Junghans Max Bill Max Hand-Winding Watch||$599|
| ||Vintage Omega||$500 - $1,500|
| ||Longines Conquest Heritage||$1,000+|
| ||Nomos Orion||$2,000|
| ||Rolex Datejust||$3,500+|
| ||Cartier Tank||$2,000+|
Why go vintage?
If you're new to watches, the vintage market can seem daunting. However, if you have small wrists, going vintage is a good option.
Most vintage dress watches are between 33-36mm in diameter and have a thin profile. They often offer good value for money if bought from a trusted source.
One of the main drawbacks of vintage watches in the lack of water resistance.
However, considering that you will be wearing it in a sterile environment most of the time, this is typically a non-issue.
For the remainder of the article, I will be giving my two cents on what I believe the best dress watches are for men with small wrists.
Timex Marlin® Hand-Wound 34mm
If you would rather not step into the vintage market, this watch ticks all the boxes and coming in at under $200, you can't really go wrong.
There are various youtube reviews on this guy on youtube. I suspect Timex are likely to release more like this in the future.
Sea-Gull 38mm Hand Wind Cocktail
A fantastic looking piece with a mechanical movement and simple, timeless design.
Would have been even better at 36 or even 34mm.
Orient Petite Sun and Moon Quartz Watch
This watch breaks a lot of the above rules, but its dimensions and classic design make it a good option.
There's also a blue dial version, which is easier to dress down.
Vintage Tissot / Hamilton
Vintage Tissot and Hamilton dress watches can typically be found around from $250 to $350 (ish).
I own a vintage Tissot myself, and it definitely ticks all the boxes of a classic dress watch. I particularly like the one pictured above.
Vintage Seiko (Lord Marvel / King Seiko)
These vintage gems can almost always be found around the $500 mark.
William from GreatAffordableWatches has a good youtube video reviewing one.
Junghans Max Bill Max Hand-Winding Watch
Coming in at 34 and 38mm, this bauhaus design is both timeless and minimal.
It oozes character and the dial has a zen-like quality. The hand wound version is cheaper and I would choose the 34mm version.
Spoilt for choice in this category and typically range from $500 to $1,500.
From Geneves, to Seamasters, to Constellations, you can't go wrong with a vintage omega.
Longines Conquest Heritage Mens 35mm Automatic Watch
At just over $1,000 and at 35mm, rarely do I see this watch looking small on any wrist.
The date at 12 O'clock may take some getting used to, but the timeless design works well here and another great option if you want to side step the vintage market. It also looks good on a metal bracelet.
Nomos as a brand is well loved by watch enthusiasts and for good reason. They offer great value with original design, in house movements and lots of attention to detail.
Coming in around the $2,000 category, I would go for the 35mm version with the see through case back. Remember, however, Nomos watches tend to have a long lug to lug distance and therefore I would recommend you try on the piece before buying.
The Date-just, Day-date and the Tudor equivalents are some of a handful of sports watches which can be dressed up with a leather strap as a dress watch. Particularly the vintage models.
Thanks to the slim profile, modest sizing and timeless design, they work well on all wrist sizes.
This watch has been around since 1917 and is iconic.
The perfect tuxedo watch that can also be dressed down.
For me Jaegeur leCoultre make the most elegant dress watches that are accessible in and around the $5,000 category. I have yet to see a poorly designed JLC.
They are known as ‘watchmakers watch' as each one is a work of art both inside and out.
As you may have realised from the above recommendations, less is more and it's all about proportion. As some wise guy once said; “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Bonus tip: choose a leather strap that matches your wrist size. If you have small wrists, go for one with a shorter length and this will make the watch far more wearable.