The small trend is here to stay – 4 mid-size watches for smaller wrists.
Smaller or unisex watches are in. Micro brands got the hint before big brands, but they all have now understood that we do not need a 45mm watch to justify high prices. The watch industry has been guilty of this behaviour. The heavier the watch the more valuable it felt. Consequently, the bigger, well the same thing.
There is still a big distinction between watches for men and women, but the lines are getting blurrier. I believe that is because the watch enthusiast wants more refinement, thinner cases, clearer dials, no dates.
I can foresee a problem for the watch industry. It is easier to make a larger watch. So when the average enthusiast wants a 300 meter diver under 10mm with a diameter of 38mm, they really have an issue.
Of course, is not all about the size of the case, the movements are key to this trend. Luckily, we have seen 3rd party manufacturers such as Miyota and Selitta offering interesting alternatives. Also, bigger brands like Tudor and Breitling are doing good work on shaving millimetres to their respective icons.
Let’s have a look across the watch industry on what I consider great mid sizes alternatives for men and women alike. For reference my wrist is 6.25 inch, anyone else below or even above that could wear these pieces.
For this article, I’ve chosen a field watch, a diver (style), a dress watch and sports watch, this selection can easily be an all-round collection.
The Rolex Explorer 36mm ref. 124270
Surely, I can find something to say about the new Rolex Explorer 36. This to me is an odd watch (which I currently own). The announcement came right at the time when Rolex watches were impossible to find. Not only this, but the Explorer I was a requested model by everyone in the enthusiast community but for some reason it did not click.
And I have to say that I feel very lucky because it was the watch that I was waiting from the brand. The previous version in 39mm was too big for me. Then we have the vintage versions which had the as famous as badly constructed clasp. But now this is a watch that has it all. Is not an oyster perpetual with an Explorer case. It has different measurements, a unique 19mm wide bracelet with a unique clasp and AR coating (yes it makes a difference). The Explorer feels like a watch you can wear forever, its very authentic and has this ‘zen’ feeling about it, less is more. It is the watch that I wear the most and it shows but I like it this way, it’s a Rolex with an old vibe and modern practicality. The Rolex Explorer 124270 is available from 6100 GBP at www.rolex.com
The About Vintage - At Sea 1926
I love mid-size pieces. In this case we have a diver style one. It is rated to 50m but hear me out first. About Vintage (as the name suggest) makes real tool watches but we are here for the smaller and to me, more elegant pieces. The 36mm of the at Sea is spot on for my wrist. The number of details that this little watch has are incredible. A pattern dials that mimics the turtle shell. The gilt hands and writing provide the warm look as a vintage piece. The thin bezel is mixed with a domed sapphire crystal plus AR coating. Some very good details to enjoy. The cream lume completes the look to what it is a very attractive watch.
Inside the 1926 at Sea, we have the Japanese VH31 engine. A mecaquartz movement with a sweeping seconds hand. No ticking here. The movement also gives the advantage of a thin case profile at 10.5mm and a very short lug to lug of 42mm. Vintage proportions at its best. The watch also comes with a bracelet including solid end links and clasp, very well machined. It is also worth mentioning that some of the proceedings from each watch will go to the https://www.turtle-foundation.org/en/. The 1926 at Sea is available at 379 EUR at https://eu.aboutvintage.com/
The Tissot PRX 35
Another Heavy hitter on the list. There are plenty watches that came out this year and were successful but to me nothing like the PRX line. We review this model in detail here http://www.scottishwatches.co.uk/2023/09/19/in-the-metal-tissot-prx-35mm-navy-blue-dial/. This means I won’t go into details but, this is a great watch. Being 35mm the PRX really accommodates a great variety of wrists. There are plenty things to like. The dial has a very unique patter making it look much more expensive than it really is.
The case is finished to perfection, it is angular and good looking. The movement is not only a workhorse with 80 hours of power reserve. It is actually very good looking and occupies the full case of the watch. And finally, the bracelet. Although I enjoy mine currently on a Delugs strap, the bracelet is very well machined and lots of work has been put on the polished and brushed surfaces. Wearing the PRX 35mm its ‘s a unique experience. The 40mm with the extended lugs was just too much. This new variant is easier to wear. It is less heavy also and just the right amount of metal. The chronograph version is very good looking, but it really feels like a lot of material on the wrist. This new auto version feels classy and refined, just like mid-size watches should feel. The Tissot PRX is available at the Tissot official site from 630 GBP for the steel versions. The yellow gold-plated version is 745 GBP. https://www.tissotwatches.com/en-gb/t1372071105100.html -The DeLugs rubber strap is 118 GBP. The Delugs official website is https://delugs.com/products/navy-tissot-prx-cts-rubber-strap
The Cartier Santos Dumont Ref.WSSA0023
Yes, this is the small model and yes, it is the quartz version. I still think it is pretty expensive for a quartz watch but then, if you are looking at Cartier for the mechanical know how, I think you might be looking at them the wrong way. Perhaps is me justifying my purchase (yes this is my personal watch) but to me Cartier is about lasting designs. However, this doesn’t mean that the French brands doesn’t have mechanical wonders, they do. But again, the timeless look is what got me.
Here is when the Santos Dumont makes sense. I’ve initially decided for the medium model but after trying the small variation, it was a done deal for me. With a 7.3 thickness, a 38 lug to lug by 27.5 mm in diameter, the Dumont feels like a vintage watch with a modern construction.
Cartier is a brand that is still being discovered. Many of their neo vintage pieces are very much in vogue now and there is incredible value to be found. Not so much with their CPCP line anymore but with their regular models like the Galbee. Despite all the praises for these models, I think the new catalogue offers sleeper pieces like the small Santos. It fits my wrist perfectly and looks as sophisticated as something worth 5 times the price. I am not saying that I am trying to pretend I have lots of cash to spare. But the Dumont gives the air of sophistication that I haven’t felt before. The Santos Dumont starts at 3750 GBP and it is
available at www.cartier.com
Hopefully I managed to give you an understanding on why I like mid-size watches. I do also have my 40mm collection which I adore wearing. But I think a good balance can work well for us watch geeks. Some days you feel sportier and others, well more classic. If we shrink down our collection to one size band, I am sure it would be even more difficult to find the right watch for the right time. Variety is always good, but not too much of it.