Why viewing the watch size as a fashion thing is completely wrong.
People are people, and for some reason we often tend to categorize even the most utilitarian attributes of things as elements of ‘hyped’ or ‘outdated’ fashion codes. Almost as portions of ‘cool’ or ‘lame’ lifestyle. Whatever the field, it mostly goes to some common knowledge and unwritten rules instead of obvious dimension/function/color reasons. Still, in our consciousness anything can instantly fall into an obviously right or obviously wrong territory. This includes the not very nice tendency of promoting a proper universal watch size as the only choice for those with ‘taste’. Sometimes this conception even overcomes the natural physical necessities of the individual. And while the habit of judging other people by the scale they don’t know or care about usually comes with any serious hobby, the watch game seems to be especially mean. Sooner than you’d expect, one may find themselves standing on the edge of social sanity, struggling not to act as a dick.
I’d bet, you’ve already used or at least heard such expressions as ‘who’s wearing who’, ‘a hockey puck on the wrist’ and so on. In the second half of 2010s the industry made a serious tilt towards the smaller sizes. Some analytics stated it tried to chase the vintage-buying crowd, others pointed out that it was all because of the Chinese customers’ expectations, while strong believers in repeating nature of fashion trends simply acknowledged the beginning of another cycle. For those too young to remember, the 2000s were all about the chunky mechanical monsters hanging outside the sleeves, so the move in opposite direction made perfect sense. And just like 10-15 years ago anything smaller than 45 mm was considered nearly feminine, suddenly anything chunky and fun became an old-fashioned relic, almost unacceptable in the trendy enthusiasts’ community.
Like it or not, things we own often represent something else. And the more unnecessary these things are for our day-to-day survival, the more representation kicks in. Expensive mechanical wristwatches certainly aren’t essential, and thus their perceived value lies completely outside the specs. We wear them as beautiful objects that add to our image. About ten years ago, one of my colleagues was about to get a gold Rolex Datejust. Fifty-something, slim, short, with small wrists, very determined to buy that blingy watch, – it’s clear now, he wasn’t really a watch guy,. But this story is not about serious collecting anyways. After discovering the original classical model measures only 36 mm, he immediately went for 41 mm Datejust II, and then proudly wore it almost on a daily basis, despite the obvious fact that it looked way too big for his hand. You see, back in the day, that fellow somehow felt the need for a more muscular watch so strong that he actually ignored the size of his wrist.
As you surely know, sometimes those magical millimeters don’t do the watch any justice. Some pieces wear smaller than they seem, and some a lot larger. A rectangular 36 isn’t the same as round one, Rolex 41 differs from Zeniths, and so on. Sadly, people intimidated by trends often chase the numbers alone, and only for their own peril. Fast forward to 2020, the glorious era where 45+ mm watches are met with another earthquaking Godzilla nickname. Imagine a really large guy, two meters tall, nicely developed shoulders, and corresponding wrist size. Does he really need to buy a Calatrava just because it’s considered a golden standard for gentlemen’s dressy etiquette? Behold, here comes a man in his 5-year old daughter’s watch!
Dear watch enthusiast and horological boffin, whatever your aesthetic principals stand for, please, be forgiving and merciful. Next time one of your guests shows up at a party wearing a slightly oversized timepiece, don’t instantly call the guards to take this barbarian-in-disguise out. Maybe he prefers it that particular way for a reason. Come on, what if it fits best like that? What’s wrong with people wearing whatever they like without feeing the stupid burden of fashion guilt? The unwritten laws have long reached the point where it all seems absurd anyway. In case of any doubts, try talking to a purist-collector about proper dress watches and the virtues of style, modern society has forgotten. Elegant thin case – check. Precious metal – check. No complications and two-hands only… Wait, what? So my beloved ultra-thin Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Small Seconds technically isn’t a dress watch? Well… Looks like snobbery can indeed strike back.
Aug. 24, 2020