In the past 20 years or so, watches have gotten big. Really big. Some attribute the rise of the oversized watch to Sylvester Stallone and the revival of Panerai in the ’90s, but big luxury brands like IWC, Breitling, Omega and even Rolex have followed suit with watches far exceeding 40mm in diameter. A 2011 story in The New York Timessuggested it pretty much comes down to good ol’-fashioned exhibitionism. Why spend big money on a new luxury watch if no one will notice it? “In an age when cell phones have largely eliminated the need for a timepiece, the monster wristwatch serves another purpose, as a holdout of permissibly conspicuous consumption,” wrote Guy Trebay.
In recent years, though, there’s been some self-correcting in the industry, and brands have begun to add smaller and smaller offerings to their portfolios. This, it seems, is a result of a booming vintage industry, and a focus on vintage-inspired models that better replicate their 20th-century forebearers, which mostly hung around the 34 to 36mm in size. A few years ago it was difficult to find a good looking watch that came in under 38mm, but today we’re practically swimming in them. That’s good news for vintage watch lovers, as well as men and women who simply prefer not to strap a dinner plate to their wrists.
This diver is a smaller iteration of the dirt-cheap SKX-series dive watch Seiko has been selling for years. It has the same look, same automatic movement and same 200-meter depth rating as its bigger brothers, but at 38mm it’s a solid 4mm in diameter smaller, a rarity for modern dive watches.
Movement: Seiko 7S26 automatic
Case diameter: 38mm
Water resistance: 200m
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Hamilton’s new Khaki Field Mechanical is an homage to the MIL-W-3818 the brand made during the ’60s. It’s one thing to look like that watch, but the Khaki feels like a classic field watch, too. It does this by using an old-school, hand-winding movement as well as a relatively small 38mm by 9.5mm case — bigger than the original, but still decidedly small today.