12 expert-approved small watches men can (and should) wear

It's time to realise small watches suit your wrists just as well – if not better – than chunkier options. Here are the best trail-blazing pieces to convince you
12 small watches men can  wear

Small watches are one of those strangely contentious topics in the watch world, but we're just going to set the record straight from the outset: small watches can – and should – be worn by more men.

So you know, in today’s market anything between 33 and 36 millimetres is considered to be small. And while celebs like Tyler, the Creator have been flying the tiny watches flag for a while, now's the time to make this trend more commonplace.

So put away your rulers and appreciate the leading watchmakers who are shining a spotlight on the watch industry’s little wonders, giving a middle finger to archaic gender boundaries.

Chopard Alpine Eagle 36

Chopard leads the charge with the Alpine Eagle 36mm, idolised for its studded spherical prowess, complete with a blue dial – achieved through galvanisation – and stainless steel decor. “Chopard is doing an incredible job in making watches under 36mm and even smaller,” notes watch collector and founder of The Daily Grail, Jessica Owens. “The range of their current collection does both sportier and cocktail pieces in reduced sizes which is great because smaller sports watch are not always the easiest to find.” Skip the queues for the bigger sizes and score yourself Chopard’s Alpine Eagle instead. £9,750. At chopard.com

TAG Heuer Carrera 36

Knocking the sizing sparring on its head, TAG Heuer dabbles with its dynasty by refreshing the infamous Carrera, born on the race tracks in 1963. Offering a 36mm take – the OG was 45mm – TAG commits to making smaller steps in shades of pastiche pink, everlasting silver, and radical blue. “The watchfam is getting tired of the waiting lists from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet,” shares watch expert, Danar Widanarto, of Chronondo. “Watch lovers are searching for alternative pieces that can be purchased without any long waiting list. The era of XXL – popular in the early 2000s among 50 Cent, Sylvester Stallone and Flavor Flav is a history.” It’s full speed ahead for tiny timepieces. £2,750. At tagheuer.com

Cartier Santos de Cartier Galbée

Cartier has always relied on refined, understated elegance to produce iconic designs that were oftentimes small, shares Senior International Watch Specialist at Phillips, Geoff Hess. “They’ve historically lived just outside the box, earning enormous success with non-round, smaller case shapes including the likes of the Tank, the Crash and the Cloche. They didn’t rely on size to be striking, and the result is a long history of unusual case shapes that were elegant and smaller.” Proving small is very much mighty, Cartier puts the Santos de Cartier Galbée on the agenda with a killer quartz movement boasting supreme accuracy in a 34.8mm x 26.2mm square frame. Sure enough to convert any quartz haters, the two-tone steel case and 18K yellow gold model proves good things do come in small packages. £7,250. At cartier.com

Tissot T-Gold Goldrun Hesalite

People can’t stop talking about Tissot this year – for all the right reasons. While the PRX earned its stripes as the haute topic if you delve into the archives of the Swiss watchmakers, you'll find promising pre-owned models from bygone eras that brings the elegance of the past to your wrist.

For Tissot’s T-Gold Goldrun Hesalite, how good is the champagne dial and slender 33.5mm diameter? “For small watches, it’s also about affordability. What you get for your money matters, and smaller watches, which are still as timeless, means they’re more affordable than larger models. There’s so much value in small watches; they’ve got character too,” affirms watch expert and YouTube personality, Nico Leonard. £1,880. At watches-of-switzerland.co.uk

Hublot Classic Fusion Original Titanium

They (Da Vinci, to be precise) say simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. For Hublot’s Classic Fusion Original Titanium in 33mm, it's case and point that you don’t always need bells and whistles to make a statement. Refined in its approach, the Classic Fusion rocked the boat in the '80s, with its understated visionary momentum. Hublot does just that with a polished black lacquer dial and is regarded for its comforting lightness. £5,600. At hublot.com

Rado DiaStar 35

“Accessories are a big thing right now in fashion, and the direct translation is that watches are being seen as jewellery,” reflects watch zealot and co-Editor of Heist Out, Maxime Couturier. “It doesn’t need to be the biggest anymore but rather the finest. Watches can then be smaller and accommodate people’s style without interfering with it.” At 35mm, Rado riffs on retrofuturism with the DiaStar, originally coined in 1962 as the world’s first scratch-proof watch. Small in stature, but robust in presence, this olde worlde timepiece is giving Christian Bale in American Hustle. Untouchable. £1,150. At watches-of-switzerland

Seiko 5 Sports Champagne Flieger Suit Style

If you’re not familiar with the Champagne Flieger, then get to know it. This Seiko 5 Sports Suit Style 36mm bridges the smart-casual aesthetic, complete with a clean Champagne White dial. And with an automatic movement and Arabic numerals, this model won't break the bank either. “Appreciating the intricacies of a small watch pushes you to focus on craftsmanship,” continues Hess. “I can think of no better way to ensure a long term love for watches than dedicating a meaningful portion of your attention to that direction.” £260. At watches-of-switzerland

Timex Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm Leather Strap

You can always count on Timex. A loyal companion since 1854, the Marlin model – which first had its heyday in the '60s – does its bit for small watches in a 34mm case. Timex might hark you back to your childhood, but the Marlin makes its case as a modern day icon for its affordability and understated proportions. With a mechanical movement and svelte design, this reissued staple in stainless steel offers a superlative solution when it comes to adding a smaller-scale watch to your collection without the fear of splurging a pretty penny. £174.99. At timex.co.uk

Nomos Club 701

Outliers in the vanguard of German watchmaking, NOMOS Glashütte brings aficionados and experts alike into its guild. Its signature Club model delights in 36mm minimalism, with austere typography on a galvanised white silver-plated dial and stainless steel case. Striking in its fluidity, built for any and all wrists, Nomos makes bold strides with this modest model. While rooted in heritage, it promises a reflection of the wider state of zeitgeist right now with an emphasis of directness and candour. £1,300. At nomos-glashuette.com

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Kingpins of merging work and play, Oris always knows how to bring the party. Still reeling from this year’s explosive Kermit watch that had everyone green with envy? Then add a solid stamp to your roster with Oris’ 36mm Divers Sixty-Five watch with an automatic winding date. In shades of berry blue, and a black rotating bezel, Oris’ delivery puts small talk in the big league, allowing more audiences to welcome more petite timepieces. “Enjoying a long-term collecting journey requires buying watches for good reasons,” considers Hess. “Seeking big and bold mostly for the purpose of being noticed likely won’t lead to an enjoyable, sustainable experience.” Small mercies are still mercies. £1775. At oris.ch

Rolex Explorer 5500 ‘Super Precision Underline’

They say there’s no grail holier than a Rolex, and thankfully there’s a whole repository of superlative models to lust over since 1905. Without getting lost in the annals of Rolex’s awesomeness, the Rolex Explorer 5500 takes centre stage if you’re looking for a pre-owned take on a small-timer. Extremely scarce in 34mm, the 5500 typically relates to an Air-King, but between 1958 and 1967, Rolex fitted a series with Explorer dials. While there’s consistent market tension between new and old, individuality manifests in the age of newness by sourcing treasures from the past. “Looking at culture as a whole, there is far more of an acceptance for creativity and individuality in men’s dressing,” says JJ Owens. “Pre-game all the NBA players are no longer in sweats but highly stylised looks, Tyler, the Creator and Bad Bunny have nailed the small watch trend and I do hope to see it outside of the celebrity circuit.” Now it’s your turn. £13,500. At fathom-watches.com

Longines Heritage Men’s 35

Longines turns back the hands of time with a modern reinterpretation of the vintage Conquest line, powered by an L633 calibre movement. One of Longines’ most esteemed lines since the '50s, refashioned on a black leather strap, with gold indices and a self-winding movement. With versatility at the forefront, this 35mm small wonder cements the movement of an industry embracing that a big deal doesn’t always have to be big in size. Hess concludes: “Joy can come from seeking and discovering watches beyond the typical 40-42mm sport watches that have previously dominated collecting.” £1,000. At watches-of-switzerland.co.uk