The 30 Best Small Watches For Men of 2021

Sep 20, 2021

Category: Style

For the better part of this century, there has been an ongoing trend toward larger case sizes in the watch industry. Big men’s watches are nothing new — tool watches like dive watches and pilot’s watches in 40mm-plus sizes have been around for more than half a century — but lately, they’ve become ubiquitous when they used to be outliers. 40 to 42mm is now considered mainstream for a men’s watch, with larger sizes also being commonplace. Before the late ’90s, 36 to 38mm was the norm… or smaller if we’re talking dress watches. So where does one go today to find small watches for men?

Right here, of course. While sub-40mm watches are nowhere near as common as they used to be, there are still plenty of great ones out there for the small-wristed and classically-inclined among us. The best small watches for men offer up all of the style and capabilities that you’ll find in large modern watches, but they do so in a more conservative and comfortable package. Most of the big brands still offer at least some men’s watches in smaller sizes, and a slew of newer microbrands are also helping to bring back the 30-something-millimeter watch for guys. So take a stand against the scourge of oversized watches and check out our list of the best small watches for men below.

Under 40mm

The Cutoff Point

40mm is often regarded as the standard middle-of-the-road case size for modern watches, with anything below it considered on the smaller side. These just-under-40mm watches are considered the sweet spot for many wearers.

Baltic Aquascaphe

Baltic is a French microbrand that’s only been around for a handful of years, but they’ve quickly established a large following and a solid reputation — and they mostly have this watch to thank for it. A vintage-style dive watch with a truly original design, the Aquascaphe features a part-sandwich dial, a large domed sapphire crystal, and an always-good-to-see sapphire bezel insert for a retro diver with a bit of modern flair.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $681+

Seiko Prospex “Alpinist”

Japanese watchmaking giant Seiko has more than a few icons in their catalog, and one of the most noteworthy is the Alpinist. The brand’s classic field/mountaineering watch is a fan-favorite thanks to its beautiful traditional looks and strong feature set that includes a sapphire crystal, 200m water resistance, and an inner rotating compass bezel. The current version is a member of Seiko’s upmarket Prospex line and features an upgraded in-house automatic movement.

Case Size: 39.5mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $725

Autodromo Group B

This is Autodromo’s most popular watch, as evidenced by the fact that they keep bringing it back for more runs while the bulk of their other models have all been one-and-done, and it’s hard not to love the Group B. With an ‘80s-looking design that was inspired by the daring Group B racers of the same decade, the integrated bracelet-style watch features a high-contrast dial that evokes the look of the period’s racing tachymeters and a unique bi-metal case.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $975

Yema Superman Heritage

Yema is a French watchmaker with a ton of history behind them, and after a few uninspired decades, the brand has recently come roaring back to life with loads of killer new watches and even some in-house movements. But their bread-and-butter remains this, the modern-day version of their ‘60s Superman diver. The flagship for the brand, it’s a rare opportunity to get a true dive watch icon from the glory days of wristwatches at an affordable price.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $999+

Farer Roché World Timer

Now here’s something you don’t see every day — in more ways than one. World timers under $2,000 are exceedingly rare, world timers under 40mm are rarer still, and world timers with a lume application like this… well, that you’ll only find on the Roché. Farer brings their trademark sense of color and whimsy to one of the most traditional and stuffiest of complications to create a one-of-a-kind modern watch that offers wearers a well-lit glimpse of 24 timezones around the globe.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic World Timer

Purchase: $1,400+

Monta Atlas

Lots of new watch brands claim they’re “shaking up the Swiss watch industry” in some way, shape, or form, but no brand that actually says such things is doing anything of the sort. Monta makes no such claims, but they actually are shaking up the industry but crafting legitimate Swiss-made luxury watches for a fraction of what they would cost at the big brands. Take the Atlas, for example. It’s a classically designed sports watch with impeccable finishing and the added benefit of a GMT complication for under $2K. Consider the industry shaken.

Case Size: 38.5mm
Water Resistance: 150m
Movement: Automatic GMT

Purchase: $1,950

Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale

Longines is one of the most accomplished Swiss watchmakers there is, with a back catalog that stretches back nearly 200 years. Recently, they’ve been digging through their extensive records to reissue some classic timepieces from the past to stunning effect, and we have an excellent example of that here. The Heritage Military Marine Nationale lovingly and accurately recalls the brand’s mid-century military watches that were once utilized by soldiers in the French Navy. C’est magnifique!

Case Size: 38.5mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,000

Grand Seiko GMT SBGM221

As the high-end luxury spinoff of Seiko, there are a few hallmarks that Grand Seiko is known for, like their minute attention to detail, their unmatched finishing prowess, and their mastery of the GMT complication. All three come together in this cult-favorite watch, a dressy automatic GMT with the brand’s signature razor-sharp hands and indices and plenty of GS’s trademark Zaratsu polishing to go along with its classy ivory dial and striking blued steel GMT hand.

Case Size: 38.5mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic GMT

Purchase: $4,600

TAG Heuer Carrera Special Edition

Much of TAG Heuer’s catalog skews modern, with a plethora of oversized cases and even a few smartwatches. But the Carrera line gets some vintage love that takes us back to the pre-1980s days of TAG-less Heuer, when the brand was known for crafting quality motorsports chronographs. This version of the Carrera blends both sides of the brand, with a vintage design getting a very-of-the-moment makeover thanks to a trendy teal-green dial. And the mashup definitely works.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic Chronograph

Purchase: $6,650

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the most iconic watches ever made but rarely is it considered a small watch. But the Royal Oak’s reputation today is due to its popularity with action stars and athletes, who often opt for the massive Royal Oak Offshore and other larger-cased versions. But the ironically named “Jumbo” Royal Oak is really the one to get, as its conservative case size and design hew more closely to Gerald Genta’s original 1972 design.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $28,900

38mm & Under

A Little Smaller

Accessible to a wide range of wrists, watches in the 36+ to 38mm case size are traditionally known as “mid-size” watches. They’re wearable and comfortable for many wrists and frequently are available in sports watch styles like dive watches and chronographs.

Sea-Gull 1963

This may be the closest you can get today to buying a brand-new vintage watch. A reissue of a chronograph that was made for the Chinese Air Force in 1963, this Sea-Gull watch does more than offer up a similar look to those watches. It also uses the same movement, as Sea-Gull’s in-house ST19 integrated chronograph movement is a clone of the Swiss-made Venus 175 caliber from the mid-twentieth century, first produced after Sea-Gull purchased the machinery and blueprints for the movement from Venus in 1961.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-Wound Chronograph

Purchase: $329

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

Speaking of classic military watches, here’s one that needs no introduction. An evolution of the original Hamilton field watches worn by American soldiers in World War II, the Khaki Field today is considered the archetype of the genre. Its design has inspired countless other field watches, and it remains as versatile, stylish, and robust as ever. It’s Hamilton’s flagship watch, and when you consider the brand’s other iconic offerings, that’s saying something.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $525

Halios Universa

It’s hard not to think of Halios as the Rolex of Microbrands. Watches from the small-time operation out of Canada are known for their high quality — along with their exclusivity. Although Halios’s watches can be tough to get a hold of, they’re definitely worth the effort, especially in the case of the Universa. A gorgeous hand-wound three-hander, the Universa boasts a highly original angled design that’s capped off with an astounding bracelet and push-button micro-adjust clasp.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $735

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600

Christopher Ward may have been the original microbrand as the first company to sell watches exclusively online back in 2005, but they’re now a full-fledged brand with their own Swiss factory and TV advertisements. But they still provide a heck of a bargain, as seen in their flagship diver, which thankfully is still available in a midsize 38mm variant (there’s also a 40 and a 42mm). With 600m water resistance, a lumed ceramic bezel, and a stunning Light-catcher case, it’s hard to beat this for under a grand.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 600m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $895+

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver

One hot segment of the watch industry right now is once-forgotten brands that have recently been resurrected. Some of these revivals aren’t really worth your time, but one that definitely is is Nivada Grenchen. Renowned for its funky ‘60s dive/aviation chronograph, the Chronomaster, the brand and watch were recently brought back to critical acclaim — as the new watch is a dead-ringer for its original, right down to the case size. The quirky chrono packs in a dive bezel, a 12-hour bezel, a yachting regatta timer, and a tachymeter for good measure.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Manual-Wound Chronograph

Purchase: $1,750+

Rado Captain Cook

Prior to just a couple of years ago, Rado was known mainly for their square-cased ceramic dress watches. They were popular enough, but they certainly didn’t set hearts racing among the enthusiast community. Then came the Captain Cook, and everything changed. Rado is now one of the hottest brands in the world thanks to this reissue of the brand’s obscure 1960s diver, as watch fans love its 37mm size, its concave ceramic bezel, and its fun rotating anchor feature.

Case Size: 37mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,100+

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

The mid-size version of Omega’s Aqua Terra might be the best everyday watch made by anyone… ever. What makes it so perfect? For one, there’s the styling. It’s universally attractive and lands squarely in the middle between sports watch and dress watch, making it suitable for all occasions. Then there’s the capability. It’s water-resistant to 150m, its magnetic resistance is an absurd 15,000 gauss (60-gauss resistance is considered “good”), and it’s more accurate than a COSC chronometer. Throw in a 38mm case and there’s simply no beating it.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 150m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,700

Zenith Chronomaster Original

Zenith’s El Primero movement is one of the most legendary in all of watchmaking, as it was arguably the first automatic chronograph ever invented. The El Primero still shows up in plenty of Zenith watches today, but if you want to experience the caliber in its purest form, then this is the watch for you. A faithful reissue of the Zenith A386 from 1969 — one of the first El Primero chronographs — this watch thankfully keeps not only the original’s 38mm case size, but even the OG case’s finishing style.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic Chronograph

Purchase: $8,400+

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

Speaking of firsts, Blancpain has the distinction of inventing the professional dive watch, with their Fifty Fathoms just barely beating the Rolex Submariner and Zodiac Sea Wolf (maybe) to market in 1953. The modern Fifty Fathoms are relatively large watches for the most part, but the classic Bathyscape variant keeps things vintage-inspired with its 38mm case size. That makes sense, as the Bathyscape first made its debut in 1956 with the intention of being a smaller, unisex diver.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $9,500

Patek Philippe Calatrava Small Seconds

Saying the words “Patek Philippe Calatrava” around certain members of the watch community can be highly dangerous, as it’s known to cause feelings of dizziness and buckling knees. We’re exaggerating (sort of), but the influence and prestige of this watch cannot be overstated. The signature dress watch from the most esteemed of watchmakers, the Calatrava is an icon that has been an object of desire for decades. In our humble opinion, it is best expressed in this reference, which couples its ultra-thin solid yellow gold case with a simple small-seconds complication.

Case Size: 37mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $24,600

36mm & Under

Keepin’ It Classic

The most traditional men’s watch sizes fall into this category. These days, men’s watches that are this small tend to mostly be dress watches, but field watches are also fairly common in the space.

Timex Marlin Hand-Wound

While it’s true that it’s mostly luxury brands playing in the “conservatively-sized vintage watch reissues” sandbox, the trend isn’t exclusive to them. Blue-collar American heritage brand Timex has been doing the same a lot lately, often with more care and accuracy than more expensive brands. And this is the watch that kicked off the trend for the brand that “takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’” — a handsome 34mm hand-winding dress watch that would be right at home on Mad Men.

Case Size: 34mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $199

Lorier Falcon

New York-based microbrand Lorier may not have a large back catalog from which to draw inspiration — give them a break, the brand’s only been around for three years — but they’re more dedicated to preserving mid-century style and sizes than arguably any modern brand, big or micro. The Falcon is their take on a “go anywhere, do anything” watch, and its 36mm case, gobs of Super-LumiNova, classic styling, fully-articulating bracelet, and 100m water resistance all serve to reinforce that designation.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $499

Marathon Arctic MSAR

The idea that a watch has to be the size of a hockey puck to be rugged and masculine is, of course, nonsense. But in case you needed more convincing, we present to you the formidable MSAR. With a name that stands for “Medium Search and Rescue,” this 36mm dive watch proves that size doesn’t matter when it comes to tactical watches. Built to military specifications in accordance with the U.S. Government and worn by troops overseas, this is as tough as watches get — at any size.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $700

Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding

Junghans is the king of Bauhaus design thanks to the German brand’s association with master of the style, Max Bill. The original Max Bill watch debuted 60 years ago, and it remains the template for minimalist dress watches today. This version is perhaps the purest form of the design thanks to its clean dial, mid-century-appropriate 34mm case size, and svelte 9mm thickness — the latter a product of the watch’s hand-wound movement.

Case Size: 34mm
Water Resistance: Splash Resistant
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $900

NOMOS Club

German watchmaker NOMOS is arguably the industry leader in small watches. The bulk of their large catalog consists of sub-40mm watches, they classify 38mm as “large,” and they even make 33mm dress watches. So it should come as no surprise to find them on this list, the only question is, which NOMOS model would it be? We went with the original Club, as its dressy/casual looks, versatile 36mm case size, and low price point make it an ideal choice for, well, just about anyone.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $1,550+

Oris Divers Sixty-Five 36

Once upon a time, luxury watchmakers routinely made midsize versions of their dive watches, often in 36mm. For instance, Omega made a 36mm Seamaster 300m Diver for decades, and it was excellent. But that trend has since gone the way of the dodo, with basically only Oris keeping the flame alive. Lucky for us, they’re doing a bang-up job of it, with the mini version of their vintage-style Divers Sixty-Five functioning as an exceedingly comfortable and easy-wearing version of a modern favorite.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,000

Tudor Black Bay 36

As the more affordable sister brand to Rolex, Tudor has traditionally offered up cheaper versions of its sibling’s watches. And while it’s not a one-to-one comparison, you can pretty much think of the Black Bay 36 as Tudor’s take on the Rolex Explorer. It’s the same size at 36mm, offers a similar no-date style that sits at the intersection of dressy and sporty, and even offers 50m more water resistance. It may not have made it to the summit of Mount Everest like the Explorer (that we know of, anyway), but give it time.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 150m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,950

IWC Pilot’s Watch 36

Pilot’s watches are traditionally oversized, and it’s been that way for decades. They’re bigger to enhance their legibility, as pilots moving at breakneck speed need to gather information from their wrist quickly without having to search for it. But let’s face it, most of us aren’t pilots, and if you have a small wrist, then most pilot watches are going to feel like strapping a dinner plate to your arm. But not this one. The most ubiquitous pilot watchmaker of them all has shrunken down their icon to a very wearable 36mm size, opening up their flyboy style to a wider audience.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 60m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $4,150

Rolex Explorer

For the most part, Rolex has avoided the big watch craze that has conquered most of its competitors. Sure, they’ve beefed up the Submariner to 41mm and introduced larger versions of the Datejust and Day-Date, but the Crown still offers several men’s models in sub-40mm case sizes, with perhaps the most important being the Explorer. While never touching 40mm, the Explorer was trending larger at 39mm for several years, but in 2021 Rolex bumped the classic Mount Everest-topper back down to its original 36mm case size, signaling that perhaps the oversized watch craze isn’t long for this world.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $6,450+

Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Cartier may classify this as the “Large Model” of its most iconic dress watch, but make no mistake, this is a small watch. Going by modern tastes, this 100-plus-year-old design is downright minuscule; possibly too small even for a women’s watch by some metrics. But don’t count out the Tank. It’s endured for over a century for a reason, and it remains the pinnacle of class. And with men like Muhammad Ali and Clark Cable having been well-known Tank-wearers in the past, there’s certainly no shame in rocking one of these little rectangular beauties today.

Case Size: 33.7mm x 25.5mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Manual-Wound

Purchase: $13,500

The 15 Best Watch Accessories

Regardless of the size of your watches, you’re going to need some proper accessories to complement your collection. We’re talking watch boxes, all kinds of straps, and tools for minor DIY repairs. There’s a lot out there to choose from at a wide variety of price points, so we’ve cut through the junk to track down the 15 best watch accessories to complete your collection. No need to thank us, it’s what we do.

HiConsumption is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

More From Style

Take Your EDC Setup to the Next Level with a Mini Bugout Knife from BladeHQ

A compact classic with a Grivory handle and a CPM-S30V steel blade.

Posted By Gray Van Dyke

Partner
Featured Image

Oliver Peoples & Brunello Cucinelli Reveal a Stunning Eyewear Collab

The combination of the two luxury brands naturally makes for some elevated eyewear.

Posted By

Sep 27, 2021

Featured Image

25 Boutique Watch Brands Every Horology Fan Should Know

There’s never been a better time to buy a microbrand watch.

Posted By

Sep 27, 2021

Featured Image

Omega Goes Retro for the First-Ever Speedmaster Chronoscope

The ‘40s-inspired design recalls vintage Omega chronographs.

Posted By

Sep 24, 2021

Featured Image

Bell & Ross Adds Solid Gold & a Skeleton Dial to the Sporty BR-05

The case and integrated bracelet are crafted from solid 18K rose gold.

Posted By

Sep 23, 2021

Featured Image

The 20 Style Brands Every James Bond Fan Should Know

Discover the brands that give 007 his signature suave style.

Posted By

Sep 23, 2021