The Progression of Watch Case Sizes
One look at men’s fashion today and it’s very apparent that larger watches are all the rage. These days, anything under 38mm is typically considered a size that would suit a woman’s wrist better than a man’s one. And the growth of watch cases is not exclusive to men either—the same “bigger is better” mantra is also evident in women’s watch fashion too. Let’s take a look at the evolution of watch sizes over the last century to see how and why they’ve grown.
During the 1800s, men carried pocket watches to keep track of the time because wristwatches were deemed too feminine and were only made for women. However, a friendship between pioneering aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, and Louis Cartier of the House of Cartier, changed all of that. Santos-Dumont requested that Cartier make him a watch to be worn on the wrist during his flights, as a pocket was too impractical to manage. Thus, the Santos wristwatch was created in 1904, signaling the beginning of wristwatches for men. This was further cemented during WWI when soldiers needed to quickly see the time via watches on their wrists rather than fumbling with pocket watches.
For about the first half of the 20th century, men’s watches were sized between 26mm to 32mm—which is minuscule by today’s standards. Most watches sported basic round, square, or rectangular cases to house the movements of the same shapes. In the 1970s and early 1980s, during the onset of the quartz revolution in watches, wristwatches started donning more interesting shapes and men’s watches grew slightly to average around 32mm to 36mm.
Then, Cartier changed the game once more. In the mid-1980s, Cartier released a men’s watch that measured 38mm in size. Again, that is petite compared to current watch trends, but at the time it was considered very large indeed. This prompted watchmakers, notably, high-end luxury watch brands, to include bigger men’s watches in their catalogs. And case sizes have grown even larger since then, with some watch brands even offering mammoth wristwatches hovering around the 60mm mark.
Now, it should be noted that companies like Panerai and Rolex always made larger watches, but these were tool watches that were built to serve a purpose such as diving watches, military watches, and aviation watches.
At ZINVO, the majority of our men’s watches are sized at 44mm. This diameter for a watch case is not only very wearable, but also boasts an undeniable and masculine wrist presence. No one will miss the 44mm ZINVO Blade, ZINVO Rival, or ZINVO One strapped onto your wrist. Plus, the generous thickness of the cases—12mm for the Blade and 10mm for the Rival and One—adds to the watches’ robustness. On the other hand, the men’s ZINVO Offshore offers a more restrained approach with a case dimension of 40mm x 10mm.