Do you have smaller wrists? If so, I’ve got great news for you: The industry is trending back toward smaller watches. Want proof? Well, look no further than the new Rolex Explorer. The famous Swiss manufacturer offers this latest model exclusively at 36 mm, down from its previous 39 mm. Inspired by this, I’ve selected 5 great watches for thinner wrists and fans of classic sizes. And no, this doesn’t mean we’ll only be looking at vintage timepieces; these watches are almost all current references.
Watch #1: The Tudor Black Bay 36 — The Rolex Oyster Perpetual for Half the Price
The Tudor Black Bay 36 isn’t just a great little watch for thinner wrists. It’s also one of the best watches in its price category. For around $2,500, folks with small wrists get outstanding quality coupled with Rolex know-how. With its 36-mm case, this watch is a head-turner. It wonderfully combines dress and sports watch elements; it’s idiosyncratic while knowing how to please. And even while it resembles both the Rolex Oyster Perpetual and Rolex Explorer, the Tudor Black Bay 36’s dial is relatively unusual for this kind of watch. You could say it’s a bit cheekier and more playful than those of its Rolex brethren.
The Black Bay 36’s craftsmanship is also reminiscent of its bigger brothers. This watch is manufactured to the highest quality, making it more than worthy to stand alongside the Rolex Oyster Perpetual in just about every way. Even if the refinement you see with the Rolex bracelet is missing with the Black Bay 36, you’ll be hard-pressed to find such a level of quality anywhere else in this price category. The characteristic Tudor “Big Crown” with an engraved rose and this timepiece’s other homages to vintage Tudors are lovingly crafted details that give it that extra-special “something.” The Black Bay 36 is a watch for all occasions. And with its current black, blue, or silver dial selection, there’s something for every wearer with smaller wrists.
Watch #2: The Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial 38
Watch wearers with narrow wrists who like the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional but find its 42-mm case size too big are in luck. Omega offers a smaller variation of the Speedmaster for enthusiasts with more delicate wrists: the Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial 38. This “Speedy” even has three advantages over the 42-mm Moonwatch: an automatic Co-Axial movement with a 52-hour power reserve; 100 meters (10 bar/330 feet) of water resistance; and a date window at 6 o’clock. The classic Omega Moonwatch is hand-wound, offers 50 meters (5 bar/167 feet) of splash protection, and lacks a date window. The overall case, dial, and bracelet design on the Speedmaster Co-Axial 38 are very similar to that of its 42-mm counterpart. However, its subdials and tachymeter scale have a somewhat different look, and it features a glossy black dial instead of a matte one. The 38-mm Omega Speedmaster variant has a much more modern feel than the classic version, whose look has changed very little over the past decades. Its price of under $5,000 also makes it more affordable than its current 42-mm counterpart. And although it doesn’t carry that iconic status of having been on the Moon, this watch is sure to be a star for enthusiasts with smaller wrists.
Watch #3: The NOMOS Ludwig 35 – The Sophisticated Dress Watch
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve fallen head over heels for the NOMOS Ludwig. Fine watches, by their nature, tend to be smaller and a better fit for wearers with thin wrists. And this dress watch has remarkable understatement, outstanding finishing, and fine design, made in Germany – all at an unbelievable price. Everything with this watch harmonizes beautifully, from its galvanized, white silver-plated dial with its Roman numerals to the small seconds at 6 o’clock and its delightfully thin 6.3-mm case.
Typical for a watch from the brand from Glashütte, this timepiece exudes sheer understatement. Its 35-mm case diameter lets wearers with smaller wrists combine it with any outfit. And the NOMOS Ludwig 35’s outstanding “Made in Germany” quality and in-house caliber are available for less than $2,000. Talk about exceptional value for money, especially in the world of luxury watches. Like this watch? If so, I personally recommend selecting one with a sapphire crystal back that lets you see its beautifully-crafted manual Alpha caliber at work, yet another subtle touch to this wonderful timepiece.
Watch #4: The Tudor Black Bay 58 – A Throwback
If you’ve read an article or two of mine, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big fan of the Tudor Black Bay 58. Believe me: I’ve done my utmost not to include it in this article, but alas, here we are. And happily so, because the Tudor Black Bay 58, unquestionably a hot topic in the watch community thanks to its collectibility and demand. Plus, it’s also a great diving watch for smaller wrists. With a case diameter of 39 mm and a lug-to-lug length of 47.5 mm, the Tudor Black Bay 58 delivers specifications that, for me at least, are the perfect proportions for this kind of watch. And this timepiece has second-to-none quality that’s on par with the Black Bay 36 we talked about above. I’ve got both in my collection, and I see equal quality with respect to their cases and bracelets. And on top of that, the Tudor Black Bay 58’s in-house caliber delivers 70 hours of power reserve.
The Tudor Black Bay 58 is a throwback to a bygone era. It has a riveted steel bracelet, a dial with subtle golden elements, and a unidirectional aluminum diving bezel with a red triangle at 12 o’clock, echoing the look of Rolex Submariners and Tudors from 1958. Not a fan of vintage? No problem: The Black Bay 58 is also available in fresher colors and other materials. In my opinion, there’s hardly a better diving watch out there for well under $5,000, and not just for wearers with small wrists.
Watch #5: The Rolex Datejust 36
The world’s (probably) most famous watch is the best fit for smaller wrists. Isn’t that great? And the best part: Hardly any other watch delivers the selection you’ll find like a Rolex Datejust 36. Like the classic look of a fluted bezel and Jubilee bracelet? Or are you the type who likes to fly under the radar with an Oyster bracelet and smooth bezel? How about a mix of both? Everything is possible with the Rolex Datejust 36.
Now, in case you’re worried that current Rolex prices might break the bank for you, simply keep in mind the endless selection of Datejust models from different eras. Entry-level Rolex Datejusts are available for up to $7,000 and for even less with a bit of luck. This iconic watch has seen an upgrade or two over the years, but no matter which model you choose, you can be sure you’ll be getting Rolex charisma on your wrist. So why not go for a vintage model? Features like the fluted bezel or Cyclops lens are unmistakably Rolex and warm the hearts of collectors. The Rolex Datejust 36 is precisely the version that made this model what it is today: a timeless, iconic, sought-after watch that will be a great addition to your collection.