How Thick should a Watch be? Watch Thickness [Complete Guide]

How Thick should a Watch be? Watch Thickness [Complete Guide]

We have talked a lot about sizes, dimensions, and how to make sure you find the perfect watch size for your wrist on the Wristporn blog. 

Just like with clothes, you want to make sure that your watch sits well on your wrist. It affects how comfortable it is but also how it looks.

But when most people talk about watch sizes, they always exclusively tend to focus on the diameter. But the fact of the matter is that there are more factors than the diameter that you should take into consideration. And the thickness of a watch is certainly one of them.

When you buy your next watch, don’t neglect its thickness.

How thick should a watch be? A Guide to watch thickness

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on the type of watch, your preference, and the occasion to which you’ll be wearing it.

The average thickness of wristwatches is around 8mm to 12mm. It is within this region that you will find most wristwatches. Less than 8mm is considered thin, and about 14 and up is considered thick.

The main factors that affect the thickness of a watch are:

  • Type of movement (mechanical movements are often thickness than quartz)
  • Purpose of the watch (sports watch, dress watch, etc.)
  • The price of the watch (it usually costs more to make a watch slimmer)
  • The overall size of the watch (the size of the watch often, but not always, has some kind of correlation with the thickness)

Now, whilst the thickness of a watch does, to some extent, depend on what you prefer, to help you know what you should look for, this is our advice:

  • 2 to 8mm: Ideal for dress watches and watches you will wear on formal occasions
  • 8mm to 12mm: works for most types of watches although not ideal for the most formal occasions. Watches with this thickness are especially suitable for everyday wear
  • 12mm-20mm: Especially suitable for men with larger-than-average wrists as well as sporty and professional watches such as serious dive watches or large pilot’s watches.

There’s no fixed thickness that is perfect for everyone or all the time. For example, you may like a 12mm thick Rolex Submariner for casual and sporty occasions, but on a formal occasion, you’ll want to opt for something less than 10mm. Also, it would be very strange if the Submariner would have the same thickness as an ultra-thin dress watch. This just highlights how important the thickness in relation to the purpose is. Some people strive to find the slimmest watch possible at all times, but the correct thing to do should be to look for the most suitable thickness for the purpose. Furthermore, if you have a large wrist, you have a natural preference towards watches that are thicker than what most average-sized wrists would consider thick.

Dress watch = slimmer watch

Dress watches are associated with being slim. It’s usually for the dress watches that you find ”ultra-thin” watches. And there is a good reason for this of course. An elegant dress watch is meant to be worn with a suit and therefore, it is important that the watch can slide under a cuff effortlessly. If the watch is too thick and clumsy, it will have a hard time sliding under the cuff.

If you are looking for a dress watch, then you should also look for one that is slim. Most dress watches have a thickness of less than 10mm, and in many cases, less than 8mm.

Quartz watches VS mechanical watches thickness

It’s considerably more affordable to create a thin quartz movement than a thin mechanical movement. The reason is simple. A quartz movement only contains a few parts compared to the mechanical movement that can have hundreds. With this said, in order to make a mechanical movement slimmer, it requires great attention to detail, in particular when assembling it - thus increasing the complexity and in turn also the price.

This is why affordable mechanical watches can only be so slim, whereas affordable quartz watches can be extremely cheap yet still super slim. If you have wondered why there aren’t a lot of really thin affordable mechanical watches, this is why.

Therefore, if your budget is limited but you still want a super slim watch, you are likely limited to quartz. That is not to say that there aren’t any ultra-slim mechanical watches, but they usually come at considerably higher prices.

Don’t only focus on one dimension

Just like you should stare yourself blind at only the diameter, you should not only look at the thickness. There is never a single factor that decides how a watch wears and looks on the wrist. This is why it is so important to take a series of factors into consideration.

When talking about the thickness of a watch, it also depends on where the thickness is. Meaning, the actual case may be slim but the crystal is several millimeters in thickness. The thing that most people tend to dislike is when the watch sits tall on the wrist which is often caused by the case back extending out, causing the bracelet to mate to the case in an area far away above the wrist. It can therefore be good to look at the actual construction of the case, what it is that takes up most of the thickness, and if it will actually affect how the watch wears on the wrist.

For example, a watch with a leather strap may feel slimmer than a different watch that has a slimmer thickness but is presented on a steel bracelet. The best way to get a watch that feels slim on the wrist is therefore to opt for a slim strap as well. This usually means a leather strap or some type of NATO or nylon strap that isn’t ”folded” under the case since this adds thickness.

What do you prefer?

Ultimately, the ideal thickness of a watch depends on your preference. There is no right or wrong here, however, there are, as mentioned, some guidelines and things that affect what you may want to look for, and what you want to keep in mind.

We round off this article with these questions and key points:

  • Do you like thick/tall watches or do you prefer slim watches?
  • Do you want quartz or mechanical? In general, quartz watches are slimmer, and if you want a slim mechanical watch, you can expect to pay more
  • What type of watch are you looking for? The purpose of the watch should dictate the watch’s thickness to a great extent. A sports watch should be relatively thick to make it tougher and create a more suitable design. But on the contrary, a dress watch should be relatively slim to ensure that it slides under a cuff and looks discreet and elegant.
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