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Leaner times: The return of the 38mm men’s watch

by Michael Weare
20 December, 2012
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Slim suit

As you will quickly discover if you walk around what little is left of Britain’s high streets, it’s not only profits that are getting progressively slimmer. Suits have been trimmed, ties have gone on a low-carb diet, shirts and tee shirts have slim cut tapering that hasn’t been seen since the 70’s. Shoes are long, trim and pointy. And the days of the behemoth 45mm + lollipop could well be numbered, because nothing looks dumber than a big watch with a skinny suit.

Many men have fallen for the lure of the larger watch, believing that somehow the extra millimetres make more of a statement, or offer more watch for the money. The reality is, even though the casing might be bigger, the movement stays the same.

The Watch Snob may be a prickly hard to please old grump, but he is often right, and never more so than when he says: ‘The acceptable range for most male wrists is 36 to 40 mm, and there’s no excuse for buying larger unless you’re a sumo wrestler.’

It may come as a surprise, but this general rule has always been well understood by the most revered of Swiss watch brands, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Rolex. True, their watches have crept up by a millimetre or two, but they still veer very much on the side of slim, elegant and unobtrusive. You won’t find helicopter landing pad sized watches with any of their names on them.

Slim ties

So if you’ve toned, down, buffed up and low-carbed your body to become a lean, muscled athlete, the new skinny suit and streamlined watch look is definitely for you.

Fortunately, there are still several watches that have not leapt on the ‘go large’ bandwagon, and they are available in a wide variety of styles and prices.

If you can’t afford one of the svelte, streamlined models offered by the top-end brands of today, your best bet is to look to the past. There is an abundance of unloved, low cost watches from the 80’s and 90’s from the likes of Vacheron, Cartier, Rolex and Patek all of which have the slimmer, more sensible look that works much better with a modern slim-cut suit. Here then are a few excellent examples of how cool and urbane life can look in 38mm.

 

Hamilton Intra-matic

Hamilton Infra-matic

Paying a proud tribute to a Hamilton best seller from days gone by, the new timepiece makes an elegant statement through the purity of its design. The black or silver-coloured dial is domed and plays host to two lightly curved hands, an expression of the quintessential character of Hamilton watchmaking

Tissot PRC 200

Tissot PRC 200

The Tissot PRC200 men’s stainless steel chronograph watch has a beautiful round blue dial complemented perfectly by a stainless steel bracelet. This sporty watch also has a date function and chronograph. Tissot have several different models that have remained spry, lithe and slim despite the modern day ‘big me up, Scotty’ watch trend.

Chanel J-12

Chanel J12

There are many incarnations of the Chanel J12, but the 38mm looks undeniably cool and elegant. Launched in 2000 as a small collection of black and white ceramic mechanicals, it achieved what many watches before it failed to do – fuse the worlds of high fashion and specialist watchmaking in a package that has both broad appeal and horological credibility.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer

TAG Heuer Aquaracer

Based on the design and features of the timeless 2000 series launched in 1982, this 38mm TAG Heuer Aquaracer diving model with date function comes in stainless steel with white mother of pearl face and alternating polished and matt steel bracelet. An effortless blend of prestige, performance and avant-garde technology in a crisp, compact package.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Officer

Patek Philippe Calatrava Officer

There are three key words in the title, ‘Patek’ ‘Philippe’ and ‘Officer’, they sum upexcellence in watchmaking, as well as chivalry and valour. You don’t need a watch clock to look in control, you just need a slim, beautifully proportioned watch to peek from under your Hilditch & Key double cuff, and the Calatrava provides this in spades.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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