How To Choose The Perfect Size Watch For Your Wrist

When shopping for watches online, we often look for one with the best appearance, style, and price. Then, once we get it and wear it for the first time, we notice something off about it. Most likely, the proportions are off and the watch isn’t the right size for your wrist.  When the watch size is not proportionate to your wrist size, all of the other attributes around a watch you found attractive in the first place become irrelevant, and you may end up with a pricey timepiece that you hardly wear.

So, how do you choose the right size watch for your wrist? As a rule of thumb, if you have a wrist between 6” to 6.5”, opt for a watch with a diameter of 39mm or less. If you have a 7” wrist, most watches between 36mm – 42mm will suit you well. If you have a wrist that measures greater than 7”, try to stick with larger watches above 39mm in diameter. 

Still, many factors come into play when deciding if a watch is a right fit for your wrist. Let’s explore them below.

Measure Your Wrist

The first step in finding the perfect size watch for your wrist is measuring your wrist to gain an understanding of its measurements.

How-to-Measure-Wrist

How to Measure Your Wrist

  1. Wrap a tape measure or a US dollar bill around your wrist, at the part where you would wear the watch. A US dollar bill measures 6 inches, the same size as the standard minimal men’s wristwatch sizes. 
  2. Take note of the point where the tape measure overlaps. Mark this point with a pen or pencil. 
  3. Lay the tape measure flat on a table to measure the circumference of your wrist. This length can be in inches or millimeters. 
  4. Finally, compare this wrist circumference against the attributes above to get the right size watch for your wrist. 

Case Diameter Measurement

How-to-Measure-Watch-Diameter
Measure the watch diameter from one end of the case to the others. Do not include the crown.

A watch case diameter is the measurement of the size of the watch, often measured in millimeters. Men’s watches often have a case diameter measuring between 36 mm and 44mm. Watches that are marketed toward women are often smaller, with a diameter of 38mm or less. 

If you have a wrist size between 6″ – 6.5″, a watch with a case diameter smaller than 39mm would look the most appropriate. If you have a wrist between 6.5″ – 7.5″, you’re in luck, as the majority of modern watches will fit your wrist. Consider watches between 36mm – 42mm in diameter. If you have wrists 7.5″ – 8″ or larger, consider watches that are 39mm or larger, as they will likely fill your wrist most appropriately. Luckily, if you have a large wrist, you can always wear a watch that is smaller, but smaller wrists will have a hard time wearing watches that are too large.

Wrist SizeRecommended Case Diameter
6” – 6.5”< 39mm
6.5” – 7.5” 36mm – 42mm
7.5” – 8”> 39mm
Find the perfect case diameter for your wrist size

Note that wristwatches retail in different shapes, including round, square, rectangular, cushion, barrel, asymmetrical and more. Each watch case shape has its own distinct fit, feel, and visual size on the wrist. As a rule of thumb, the more geometric a watch case is, the larger it will wear. A round watch, for example, looks smaller than a rectangular tank watch regardless of having the same case diameter size. 

Lug to Lug Measurement

The lug to lug measurement is the vertical distance between the top and bottom of the watch’s lugs. Right up there with a watch case’s diameter, the lug-to-lug measurement is one of the most important factors in ensuring a watch has a proper fit on your wrist.

MEASURING-WATCH-LUG-TO-LUG-MEASUREMENT
Measure the watch lug to lug from the top of one lug to the bottom of the other

If you have a watch with a lug to lug measurement that is too large, you will immediately know, as the watch will hang over either end of your wrist, and likely be quite uncomfortable to wear. On the flip side, if your watch’s lug to lug measurement is too small, you will find the watch looks a bit dainty on the wrist, though this is more of a personal preference than a hard rule. 

So long as you find watches with a lug to lug that isn’t too large for your wrist, you have the freedom to wear any watch you like. 

Seiko-SKX009-on-wrist-1
The Seiko SKX has a 42mm diameter, but just a 45mm lug to lug, making it wearable on even small wrists!

Case Thickness Measurement

How to Measure Watch Thickness
Measure the watch thickness from the bottom of the caseback to the top of the crystal

A watch’s case thickness is the vertical height of the case itself. Having a watch that is too thick for your wrist can make a watch feel clunky, awkward, and downright uncomfortable to wear. While there isn’t a hard rule of a case thickness you should wear, given your wrist size, generally watches that have a thickness of 13mm or less will suit most wrists. 

Automatic watches have thicker cases since they hold more components than their mechanical or quartz counterparts, however, the tradeoff of having a self-powered automatic movement is preferred by some.

Watch Thickness on Wrist - Citizen Promaster Nighthawk
Pick a watch that isn’t too thick for your wrist

If you prefer a watch with a slimmer profile, consider a mechanical-only watch, or a quartz watch, as they tend to be thinner compared to their automatic watch counterparts.

Lug and Band/Strap Width

The watch’s lug width refers to the measurement between the watch’s lugs, or the width of the watch’s strap/band/bracelet, measured in millimeters. Lugs are two pincer-like attachments that secure the strap to the watch case.

Watches with smaller lug widths will naturally look more appropriate on smaller wrists, while watches with larger lug widths will look more appropriate on larger wrists. Further, a watch with a lug width too small or large for its case size will further exaggerate any disproportions on your wrist.

Measure Watch Lug and Strap and Band Width
The lug/strap width will determine the width strap you need.

A good rule of thumb for what lug width to pick is to use a 1:2 ratio of watch case diameter to lug width. This ensures the lug width will be proportional to the case, and by picking the proper case diameter given your wrist size (as discussed earlier) you will naturally end up with an appropriate lug width.

Use the table below to determine the most appropriate watch case diameter to lug width ratio.

Watch Case DiameterLug Width
36 mm18 mm
38 mm19 mm
40 mm20 mm
44 mm22 mm
48 mm24 mm
Finding the perfect lug width for a watch’s case diameter

Watch Strap Length

The watch strap length determines whether a watch will comfortably fit on your wrist with not enough, or excess strap length. If your watch strap is too short or long, your elegant watch will look out of proportion and lose its appeal.

Further, if you pick a watch that is too short, or too long, you might not have enough adjustment holes to comfortably make adjustments to get the correct fit.

The strap length is measured in millimeters and expressed as X/Y mm. X is the tail strap size, and Y is the buckle side strap size. I.E. a watch strap measured 120/70mm has a 120mm tail strap and a 70mm buckle strap measurement.

Pick a watch strap length that fits your wrist circumference as follows:

Wrist Circumference Recommended Strap Length

150 – 164 mm (6”  – 6.5” )

120/70 mm

165 – 178 mm (6.6” – 7.0” )

125/75 mm

179 – 190 mm (7.1” – 7.5” )

130/80 mm

191 – 203 mm (7.6” – 8.0” )

135/85 mm

204 – 216 mm (8.1” – 8.5” )

140/85 mm

217 – 229 mm (8.6” – 9.0” )

145/90 mm
Finding the right strap length for your wrist size

Pick a watch with a strap length that will show the tail length you like. This length will also determine where the buckle will rest. 

Watch Details & Complications

While often overlooked, the fine details and components of the watch can affect how the timepiece looks and feels on your wrist. These features may include:

  • Markers
  • Hands
  • Subdials
  • Crowns
  • Chronograph pushers
  • Bezels

If you have a slim wrist, opting for a thinner, more minimal watch may look more appropriate. If you have a larger wrist, having a bulkier watch with more complications and protruding case elements (large crowns, chronograph pushers, etc.) may not look as out of place.

seiko presage cocktail time srpb43 crown
A large crown, domed crystal, or other oversized features can make a watch appear slightly larger than it is.

A watch with more external elements (bezels, crowns, chronograph pushers) will visually look a bit larger than more minimal watches with the same case diameter.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Tight Should My Watch Fit?

A watch should fit tight enough so it doesn’t slide up or down the length of your arm, or roll around your wrist during normal wear. However, it shouldn’t be so tight that it is restrictive, or uncomfortable.

Generally, most people wear their watch just above the wrist bone, but find a spot on your wrist that is comfortable for you, without restricting your wrist’s range of motions, and size your watch accordingly.

How Do You Tell if a Watch is Too Big For Your Wrist?

The most important measurement to determine if a watch is too big for your wrist is the lug-to-lug measurement. This is the vertical distance between the top of the lugs, at 12:00, and the bottom of the lugs at 6:00. If the lug to lug measurement overhangs past the length of your wrist, the watch is too large, and will likely be uncomfortable to wear.

How Do I Know My Watch Size?

Measure Watch Dimensions, diameter, lug to lug and lug width

In order to know the size of the watch, you must understand the different measurements used to measure a watch. These include the watch diameter, lug to lug, thickness, and lug width and are often measured in millimeters. Use this diagram below to measure your watch.

Choose-the-Right-Size-Watch-for-Your-Wrist-Infographic

Conclusion

When shopping for the perfect watch for your style, pick a watch that will fit properly. To do this, start by knowing the size of your wrist. Then, compare the case diameter, lug to lug, lug width, thickness, and overall details of the watch itself to find a watch that appeals to you, and suits your wrist size.

I hope this article was helpful in finding the right size watch for your wrist! Drop a comment below if you have any questions.

– Anthony

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