If you’re like me, you’ve been blessed with small wrists. I have 6 inch wrists – well they’re more like 5.9 inch. So what can you do when you love watches and have small wrists? Are you cursed to not being able to wear whatever you like?
Having small wrists is not a problem in and of itself. The size of most modern watches is! I don’t know about you, but every time I come across a design that I really like, the watch has a 41+ mm case. That is to say: too big for me (most of the time).
But not to fear. Here are 5 ways to deal with small wrists when you’re a watch enthusiast. I tried them all, and while they all work, the last one is definitely my favorite.
1. Buy smaller watches
You might think yourself: “ok, thank you very much Alessandro. I already knew that!”.
Hear me out.
There are many, many men’s watches that are smaller and still look great! If you know what to look for, you will find plenty of great timepieces that look manly on smaller wrists.
Because guess what: you don’t have to prove anything. And certainly not by wearing a watch that is (too) big for you.
Actually, smaller watches are back in style. Baselworld 2018 has proved it, with the release of brand new smaller watches by many manufacturers including Tudor and Oris (just to name a few).
Do some research (or again, check the list of my favorite men’s watches for small wrists I put together just for you) and try to find a piece that you like and that is smaller in size. It’s pretty easy, actually.
My beloved Seiko SARB035 measures 38 mm. But on my 6 inch wrist, a 36 mm (or even 34 mm) watch will still look great, no problem. And it can on your wrist too!
And because it’s so small, you don’t have to think about your watch being too big (obviously). Meaning, it will not overpower your wrist, it will just look good and proportionate.
And I’m not even talking about the comfort: a smaller watch with a metal bracelet will wrap around my wrist like no other watch. Try it! My Seiko SARB035 is the most comfortable watch in my collection. (Read my full review of the Seiko SARB035.)
Here is the punchline: getting a smaller piece is a very great way to deal with your small wrists. And I can assure you that there are a ton of men’s watches out there that look the business and are smaller in size.
So as you can see, this 38 mm piece looks absolutely perfect on my wrist. And that’s because the lug to lug distance is smaller as well – about 44-45 mm. This watch will suit pretty much every single wrist on the planet.
You can go even smaller than that! Actually, one of my favorite everyday watches is the Tudor Black Bay 36. And, as its name implies, it’s a (gorgeous!) 36 mm watch.
Here is another shot with my Seiko SKX013. It’s also a 38 mm piece (read my full review of the Seiko SKX013).
This is the smaller version of the Seiko SKX007 (which is a 42 mm watch). As you can see, it looks perfectly proportionate to my wrist. Would you say that this diver watch doesn’t look like a man’s watch? I certainly wouldn’t! It’s bulky, it’s sporty, it’s it’s a tool watch and it looks very good.
So do not overlook smaller watches, and don’t fall for the big watch trend. Because I can assure you that you can find something that you like in these smaller watches too.
Getting a smaller piece is probably the easiest way to get away with your small wrists. Don’t worry, you’ll still find plenty of watches because you can find very nice small watches that still look great and manly on your wrist.
2. Wear your watch lower on your wrist
In other words: wear your watch closer to your hand.
So this Hamilton watch is a pretty big piece: it’s a 42 mm beast, which is mostly the dial (learn why this matters). As you can see, the usual spot where men wear their watches is the smaller part of their wrist. On the left and on the right of my watch, you can clearly see that my wrist starts to widen again.
So why do people wear their watches there, then? Well, even if the average wrist size for a man is smaller than you think, watches just tend to naturally fall on this spot.
But what if you could change that?
If you loosen your bracelet or band just a little bit, you can place your watch lower on the wrist. See the difference?
So by wearing your watch – not where it naturally falls – but a little lower, the difference in look is quite dramatic. Your hand is way wider than your wrist is. So thanks to a simple optical contrast, you create the illusion that your watch is smaller. Or rather, your wrist will appear bigger.
I happen to love how a watch wears lower on the wrist. I find it way more comfortable! Letting the watch where it naturally falls feels really awkward to me. But then again, this is a matter of preferences.
Now, a word of caution: of course, you don’t want to wear your watch so low and your bracelet so loose that the watch is too low on your wrist, almost in the middle of your hand! That looks pretty sloppy. You just want it to be just before your wrist bone.
This is one of the most effective tricks to pull off if you have small wrists but still want to wear bigger watches. Just don’t go overboard – with the watch placement and size!
3. Wear long sleeves
In conjunction with the previous point, you can actually wear long sleeves to hide the part of your wrist that’s the thinnest.
Obviously, if you cover your forearm and wrist (up to half of your watch) with your sleeve, you will not see your wrist at all.
I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to wear long sleeves all year long, especially in the summer. You don’t want to be sweating all day long just to hide your small wrist, right? You don’t want to be so hot that it becomes comfortable.
But if you’re “lucky” like me, Belgium has a cold weather cold the major part of the year – granted, I don’t wish you that luck (it’s often raining, too). But if that’s the case, use this to your advantage and wear long sleeves to your heart’s content.
The good thing is: by using this simple technique, it’s really impossible to tell the size of your wrist. I bet nobody on Earth will ever notice, and that includes you as well! It’s true – over time even you will not notice your smaller wrists anymore… until summer comes back!
4. Wear bracelets
The good thing is: watches and bracelets work very well together! It looks fashionable, it looks cool, and that’s a great way to deal with your small wrist at the same time!
Why? Well, not so much because bracelets hide your wrist. Rather, people will look at your watch and your bracelets… and not so much at your wrist. So their eyes will be drawn to the watch and the bracelets because there’s so much look at!
People just won’t notice your wrist!
Both the watch and the bracelets will hide your wrist, leaving you the choice of where to wear your watch. So here, your watch doesn’t need to be closer to your hand. I tend to wear it there, but just because I feel it’s more comfortable for me.
If you prefer a tighter fit, or just want your wrist to have a better range of motion, you can also wear watch where it’s supposed to be: at the thinnest part of your wrist. That’s fine!
There’s just one thing to keep in mind regarding the relative position of the watch and the bracelets.
On the first picture (where I wear my watch closer to my hand) I’m wearing 4 bracelets. You don’t have to wear exactly 4 bracelets, it’s just an example. Whereas on the picture below (where I wear my watch higher on the wrist), I’m only wearing 3 bracelets (again, it’s just an example – read on).
The reason is simple: when you wear your watch low, you have plenty of room on your forearm to wear as many bracelets as you like. (Just don’t go overboard, it looks a bit weird and childish.) Whereas when you wear your watch high, there is only so much room to fit bracelets between your watch and your hand.
That space right there is smaller and you don’t want to be wearing way too many bracelets, overpowering your hand and ruining the whole look. Too many bracelets will not look good. In my case, I think that 3 thin bracelets look fine but your mileage may vary – depending on your wrist, tastes and bracelets.
Now, for the cool part!
People around -who don’t tend to be that interested in watches in general – won’t be looking at your wrist. But if they do, they’ll see your watch and bracelets, and only that. And I even bet that you will not even notice your small wrist anymore!
5. Just don’t care
And here is my favorite way of dealing with my small wrists; it’s actually not dealing with them. Or rather, just don’t think about them.
I used all the tips and tricks above in this article, and truth be told, it works. But I find it way more enjoyable to not have to think about all that and just be myself.
This might come as a surprise, but here’s the deal: people do not notice your watch, let alone your wrists. They couldn’t care less! And so should you.
The only times when a discussion arose about my wrists is because I was the one to bring the subject to the table. Nobody told point blank: “dude, you have small wrists!”. It just never happened. Never ever.
So of course, I’m not telling you that you can wear anything! You can get away with some bigger watches, that’s true… but not all of them. You’ll have to decide for yourself what an appropriate watch for your wrist is and make some educated guesses (with a little help from my watch size guide if need be).
But if a watch is stretching it a little for your wrist size, but yet still looks good: just don’t care about what people will say. Wear it in good health and don’t think about it twice! Get that piece that you always loved! And remember, they won’t notice anyway…
A little hope: your wrist looks wider to others!
Let me tell you something: I can still pull off my Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date 42 mm – the biggest piece of my collection. It actually also comes in a 46 mm case that I would never wear because it will look huge on my wrist. But the 42 mm? No problem.
When you look at your watch or check the time, you rotate your forearm (you already knew that, I know). But doing so, the actual width of your wrists decreases. Not its size (or circumference), its width!
Don’t believe me? Check the picture below:
As you can see, I use my digital calipers to measure the width of my wrist in both positions, barely touching my skin in both cases. The result? When I rotate my forearm, my wrist measures almost 48 mm. So I shouldn’t get any watch that has a lug to lug distance greater than 48 mm.
But when I let my forearm hang or rest – that is to say, pretty much all the time when I’m not typing at the computer – I get almost 57 mm. That’s almost one full centimeter of difference! This is because the way the bones cross over each other when you rotate your wrist, yet they stay parallel when you don’t.
Understand this: you are pretty much the only person seeing your wrist in that rotated position. People most often see your wrist with your arm resting by your side. So to them, your wrists look wider than how they look to you. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!
So, why do you care so much about that? About what the others might see, thing or say? Does it make you feel better or worse? I think we can all agree that it just serves no purpose.
One last thought…
I’m here to tell you that having smaller wrists doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re not man enough. Let me put this into quotes because it’s so important:
Having smaller wrists doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re not man enough.
I invite you not to care about your wrist… or even better: be proud of your smaller wrists! You’re different, and this is just the way you are.
And you have other options when it comes watches, too! Some people would die to have smaller wrists and being able to enjoy vintage watches, because most of them are smaller pieces. People with 8 inch wrists can’t enjoy vintage most watches, because they look so small on them. But we definitely can!
Choose to see the positive. Because actually, there’s not much you can do about it. Even training to get bigger wrists will barely add any size to your wrist.
Now, I’m not gonna lie: the real problem lies in your head, and fixing it is gonna take some time and mental practice. But you will, eventually.
When I noticed my wrists were small, I felt bad about them. I wanted them to get bigger. I hated my bigger watches… and then it all came back to where it should be: letting go and not caring about other people’s look.
Your wrists are fine. There are plenty of killer smaller watches for men. So pick your favorite one, use one of those tricks if need be, and enjoy yourself!