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For a while there, the ascent of the big watch seemed unstoppable. Hulking timepieces increased in popularity throughout the 90s and 2000s, seemingly growing larger and larger until they were big enough for Flava Flav’s neck. And while wall clocks for your wrist haven’t gone anywhere, smaller, finer timepieces have enjoyed a major resurgence.
So, why sport a small watch? For one thing, smaller timepieces are less ostentatious. A small watch is still a flex, but it’s not one that begs for attention. Small watches for men can also be more comfortable — you can forget you’re wearing a watch at all, until you need to check the time. And you don’t need to sacrifice the features you’re looking for just because you’re downsizing. Plenty of smaller timepieces have day/date functions, water-resistant cases, and luminous hands or light-up faces.
Admittedly, what defines a “small watch” has changed — what would have once been considered large is now more of a medium. But as a general rule, we’ve stuck to watches that are less than 40mm. The biggest watch on this list has a 38.5mm face diameter.
These are some of the best small watches for men to buy, ranging from affordable quartz beaters to luxury heirloom timepieces, organized low-to-high in price.
1. Casio Stainless Steel Digital Watch
Casio watches are inexpensive, but not cheap — the Japanese company has a storied history in technology and timepieces. This stainless steel square digital watch has a 33 x 36.8mm case, and there’s a lot packed into its small package. It has an alarm and stopwatch feature, plus an LED backlight.
2. Swatch Quartz Silicone Strap
If you’re looking for a small watch with a sense of fun, Swatch is the brand to turn to. Swatch, short for Swiss Watch, was founded as a way to help the Swiss watch industry pivot after the “quartz crisis.” This vibrant watch features a blue case with red, yellow and blue dials and oversized numerals. There’s also a day-date function.
3. SEIKO 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch
It’s no secret that Seiko 5 is one of — if not the — best deal in the watch world. For a Benjamin (or less), you can get an automatic watch from one of the most storied watchmaking brands in the world. This stylish timepiece takes its inspiration from field watches and has a military-inspired look, including the fabric strap. The 37mm watch has a day and date window.
4. VOID WATCHES Date Quartz White Dial Men’s
You’ve heard of Swiss watchmaking, but what about Sweden? VOID Watches is a low-key micro-brand headed by Swedish designer David Ericsson that largely eschews any obvious branding. That makes this stylish and simple small watch enigmatic, but certainly not anonymous. The quartz watch has hour, minute and second hands, in addition to a date window.
5. Timex Q 1978 Watch
Timex is one of the most iconic American watch brands, with origins that pre-date heavy hitters like Rolex, Seiko and Breitling. It’s also one of the most affordable brands, reliably cranking out sub-$50 watches that famously “take a licking, and keep on ticking.” This small watch for men from Timex’s Q line is a reissue of a 1978 model, featuring a classy, simple look with a date window, leather strap and a small 35mm case.
6. Hamilton Men’s Swiss Field Watch
Small watches tend to be dressy, but they don’t have to be. This beefy watch from Hamilton is a modest 38mm, but no one would call it dainty. It has a substantial stainless steel case with a military-inspired black dial featuring three hands and a day window.
7. Longines Héritage Brown Watch
With its simple cream-colored face and textured brown leather strap, the Longines Héritage watch is the height of class. It has a 38.5mm case with a date window at the 6 o’clock position. It’s automatic, so you don’t have to worry about hand-winding it all the time or changing the battery.
8. TAG Heuer Monaco Watch
Tag Heuer makes some of the most distinctive and iconic racing watches in the world, including the square-cased Monaco watch. While most “square” watches are actually rectangular, this watch stands out for its even 37 x 37mm vertical and horizontal dimensions. The sporty shape is offset by the black and silver color, which makes it well-suited for work and play.
9. Nomos Glashutte Metro Datum Watch
In the fairly rigid world of horology, long pedigrees and decorated histories are typically preferred. But once in a while, a new brand like Nomos can break through. Nomos was founded in Saxony, Germany in 1990, and has earned an esteemed reputation among watch nerds. This small watch for men has a simple face that draws inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, and the power-reserve indicator ensures you’re always on time.
10. PIAGET Altiplano Watch
Looking for a gift for someone really, really special? Get them the Piaget Altiplano watch, which is a showstopper right from the first glance. The actual dial and hands are tucked into the upper left portion of the watch, while the rest of the face is dedicated to the exposed mechanics of the watch. This 38mm watch is also incredibly slim.