In the 1990s, the trendiest size for men’s watches was a modest 37mm to 39mm. By the mid-2000s, the size in vogue grew to 45mm to 48mm. A whopping 11mm in the span of a decade! If you’re not a numbers person like me (and also rely on memorisation rather than mathematical prowess to know what 8 plus 7 is), this may seem like a painfully banal detail to pay attention to.
Yet as I trawl through the thick of fashion month, this seemingly imperceptible detail about watch sizes reminds me just how different the world of horology is from the industry that I know and love. For one, there are no ‘micro trends’ – the only things that are micro in watches are their literal parts, which are precisely what make watchmaking a highly technical craft in its own right.
Hanging out with Octo Finissimo models a.k.a. the “big boys” of the Bulgari watch family.
The size of a watch typically correlates to one’s wrist size, making the choice of watch size a very personal one. In the watch world, the term ‘oversized’ usually refers to timepieces that sit above 40mm. And as I learn from leading luxury watchmakers, the taste for big watches has only continued to grow. On a quest to understand the appeal of oversized watches, I spotlight four large timepieces that prove that sometimes, bigger is indeed better.
First up: Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo is one contender that has, in my view, firmly placed itself in gorpcore territory. This year’s offering of the Octo range is especially notable because it marks a decade since its inception. Known for its minimalist design and impeccable technicality, the Octo Finissimo is Bulgari’s testament that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic titanium watch packs a punch with its 42mm case, but boasts a slim case profile that measures 3.95 mm.
Upon first wear, I was struck by just how light it was, and rightfully so – the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic measures a mere 3.95 mm. With its sheer flatness and slate grey visage, this octagonal piece resembles an architectural fossil, reminding me of the Brutalist buildings I used to gaze at as a young fashion student in London.
Also rooting itself in unapologetic functionality, is Panerai’s Submersible QuarantaQuattro (which directly translates to ’44’ in Italian). Sized at 44mm, this new Goldilocks of watch sizes joins the brand’s signature collection of Submersible diving watches which previously came in just 42mm and 47mm. What’s quintessential to the Submersible family is its water resistance up to 300 metres – an homage to Panerai’s long history in making diving watches.
Panerai’s Submersible QuarantaQuattro rugged good looks will be a perfect accompaniment to the dreamiest of frocks.
I got to try on the Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel, a sleek, moody timepiece made of recycled materials. The straps offered were also made with eco-friendly materials in mind – both the fabric and rubber straps are made from recycled PET and rubber respectively. Size-wise, this watch is undeniably sturdy and chunky on me. But there’s something charming about donning a piece this indestructible. Just picture this alongside a Simone Rocha ensemble – the contrast between frilly decadence and Panerai’s ruggedness would be hypothetically sublime.
“There’s something charming about donning a piece this indestructible. Just picture this alongside a Simone Rocha ensemble – the contrast between frilly decadence and Panerai’s ruggedness would be hypothetically sublime.”
If such utilitarian tickers aren’t up your alley, the timepieces over at Vacheron Constantin might tickle your fancy. Known as the oldest Swiss watch manufacturer, the brand has been at the forefront of time-telling finesse since 1755. The Patrimony, in particular, stood out to me as an elegant alternative to the outdoorsy pieces we’ve seen.
Strapping on Vacheron Constantin’s 40mm Patrimony timepiece is akin to wearing a cosy pair of indigo-dyed denims.
While it does come in a daintier 36.5mm, the 40mm makes for an elegant option if you’re just starting to dip your toes in the world of oversized watches. The draw of this self-winding ticker lies in its heritage –the design dates back to the ’50s as an homage to the longstanding lineage of the brand. Personally, I’m drawn to the all-indigo colourway. When it comes to oversized watches, why not go big on both size and colour?
Last but not least, next on my list of interesting, oversized watches is the Piaget Polo Skeleton. First created in 1979, the Piaget Polo Skeleton is one piece that has stood the test of time. At 42mm, the beauty of this steel-cased sports watch lies in its entirely see-through face, allowing one to admire the full intricacy of its inner mechanisms – all encased in just 2.4mm.
With its exposed bridges and construction, the Piaget Polo Skeleton is made for the bold dresser.
There’s an unapologetic confidence to having such technical intricacy on full display; gears and wheels in full view. On first impression, this is clearly a timepiece for sartorial rule-breakers – this is the Aquarius of watches, if you will. And as an Aquarius myself, this is one watch I would love to see myself in on days I’m seeking a hit of rebellious dopamine.
Sartorially, I still lean more towards a bare wrist. But this taster of oversized timepieces has converted me. When it comes to watches, I now get the appeal – unlike the comfort of oversized clothing, the allure of big, chunky watches lies in their ability to make an instant statement. Gone are the days where large watches were exclusively ‘masculine’ – watch wearers of all genders have proven this for as long as watch sizes have minimally fluctuated over the years. Whether you opt for a 40mm or 44mm, the beauty will always lie in the details.