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How to accurately measure wrist size for a watch fit by Extropian

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#size measure wrist
#watch size guide
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How to accurately measure wrist size for a watch fit by Extropian

Your watch is a big part of your personal style and that style is only going to be better if you have a correctly fitting watch! Although generally speaking smaller wrists will suit smaller watches and larger wrists will suit larger watches, there is no need to bow to convention. Case size - both diameter and thickness - band size and band material are all going to play a part in the overall aesthetic of your watch too. Our easy to understand guide will give you all the info you need to measure your wrist the right way and find the perfect watch to suit your own unique style!

How to measure your wrist size

Rotate your forearm until your palm is facing upwards. Be careful not to close your palm or clench it into a fist as that is going to give you a smaller wrist size. Now, take a fabric measuring tape and wrap it round your wrist where you would normally fasten your watch. Make sure it’s a snug fit so there’s no space between the tape and skin and take the measurement. Watch sizes are always in inches so if you only have a centimeter measuring tape, you’re going to have to convert.  A handy tip to note is that a folded dollar bill is exactly 6 inches long so if it will wrap neatly around your wrist then that’s your size! 

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Women’s wrist sizes tend to range from 5 - 7 inches, with 5 inches being on the dainty side and 6 - 7 inches the average. Men’s wrist sizes generally range from 6 - 8 inches. A six inch wrist is considered small and 7 inches medium. If your wrist measures between  7.5 - 8 inches then that’s large! 

 

Watch case size

Just to confuse matters while your wrist size is measured in inches, case sizes are measured in millimeters. The case size you go for is going to depend on whether your taste leans to the elegant or the bold! 

If you want everything to be in proportion then small 5 inch wrists will suit watches with a case diameter of 21 - 28mm. Those of you with medium sized wrists measuring 6 to 7 inches might want to go for watches with case sizes ranging from 28 to 42mm. If your wrist is on the large side, measuring 7.5 to 8 inches, then watches with a case diameter of 44mm or 46mm might work best. 

Another thing you might want to bear in mind is the quirkily named lug-to-lug measurement.  Put simply, the lugs of a watch are the little bits that stick out from the top and bottom of the watch case to which the watch band is attached. The lug-to-lug measurement  - also measured in millimeters -  is taken from the tip of one lug to the tip of the other along the horizontal line - or 12 to 6 o’clock if we’re thinking watch speak! - and determines how the watch case will span across your wrist.

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Of course, case size is going to be linked to watch type with dress watches having smaller, more elegant case sizes and sports or divers watches being on the big and bold side when it comes to case size.

Our handy visual guide gives you some idea of case size in proportion to wrist size - but ultimately it’s all down to personal choice and playing with proportion can add a fun element to your individual look!

 

Watch case thickness

As a general rule, the thickness of a watch case will increase with the diameter. Watches with a case size diameter of 38 - 42mm will have a case thickness of around 11mm. Those with a case diameter larger than 44mm are likely to have a case thickness of around 14mm.

Back when mechanical watches were dominating the market, thinner case sizes were considered to be of higher quality. Now that electronic and quartz watches are also on the scene that no longer holds true - so feel free to go for whatever takes your fancy! 

Another thing to consider is a watch’s depth rating and ATM - yes, more terminology to get your head around! Depth rating has nothing to do with thickness but refers to how waterproof your watch actually is. The really important thing to remember here is if a watch has a 50 meter depth rating it does not mean that you can go diving to a depth of 50 meters with that watch! It simply means that it has once, and once only, been tested in a lab to withstand that level of pressure.

To determine the level of water resistance a watch has you need to know its ATM rating. Simply put, the higher the ATM rating, the higher the water pressure the watch can handle. A watch with a 3 ATM (30 meter rating will be fine for everyday splashes but nothing else while a watch with a 100 ATM (1000 meter) rating is a serious diving watch which can deal with the most extreme conditions.

 

Watch band size

Whatever your taste in watches, a correctly fitting watch band is going to be essential! For that you’re going to need the lug width of your watch case. We know you’re already acquainted with the concept of the lug,  so to get straight to the point  the lug width is the distance between lugs along the horizontal line. Or from 3 to 9 o’clock if  we’re thinking watch speak again!  

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Watch band material

Once you know your wristband size you can decide on your wrist band material. Leather and metal are classic choices but rubber, plastic and fabric bands can add a fun element too. Of course certain watches are only suited to certain watch band types - you’re not going to want to put a leather strap on a Rolex Datejust just as a metal band probably wouldn’t work with a 1940s style watch. But with something like an Apple Watch you can play with the aesthetic by switching materials as the brand offers metal, leather, plastic and fabric bands which allow you to constantly adapt your watch to your look! 

Whatever your choice, there are a few key things to bear in mind.

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Stainless Steel Bracelet 

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Nylon Nato Style Strap 

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Quilted Leather Strap

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Leather Strap

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Metal watch bands

The very nature of metal means that a metal wrist band is going to give your watch a heavier look. This has traditionally made them a favored choice for men with larger wrists or those seeking a more masculine look. But, hey, this is the 21st century so who cares about tradition? If a metal strap floats your boat we say go for it.  Do bear in mind that your wrist  is likely to increase in size throughout the day, especially if it’s hot or you’re being particularly active, so it’s a good idea to add a half inch to your original size to allow for a comfortable fit.  

You’ll find that many metal watch bands also come with handy features to make minor adjustments as and when you need to. Those with a micro adjust system have a kind of spring loaded belt notch system in the clasp which allows for a subtle extension of band size. Other straps offer an ‘on the fly’ adjustment system so you don’t even have to remove your watch - simply press down on a button and then slide the adjuster in or out along the watch band. Diver’s watches will come with a special diver extension which can temporarily extend the band so it can be worn over a wetsuit.  

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Leather watch bands

A leather band will give your watch a slimmer look than the metal styles. Which is not to say that they can’t still be chunky and robust! In fact leather is a marvelously versatile choice for a watch band as it lends itself to both dressy and casual styles. Opt for mock croc or ostrich leather if you want something on the chicer side or go for a mat finish if you want something a little more down to earth. Whatever style you opt for, leather watch bands tend to look best with a snug fit so go for one that is approximately  ¾ of an inch larger than your wrist size.

 

Conclusion

So, there we have it - all the info you need on how to measure your wrist size for a watch. And as you have the low down on watch case sizes and watch band materials as well - you have all the tools you need to build a wardrobe of watches to suit every mood and occasion! From elegant leather banded dress watches for those special evenings out to funky contemporary divers and sports watches for the active types out there -  the world of watches is yours to explore!

 

A little extra : evolution of watch styles

As we dive deeper into the intricacies of wrist sizes, measurements, and band materials, it's crucial to understand how watch styles have evolved over the decades. This history is key to appreciating the myriad choices available today.

The 1920s witnessed the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches, primarily because soldiers in World War I found wristwatches more practical in combat. These early wristwatches had a classic, simple design, reflecting the art deco movement's influence.

Fast forward to the 1950s and 60s, the golden era of watchmaking. The race to create the thinnest automatic watch was in full swing, with brands vying for this prestigious title. During this period, dive watches also became popular, reflecting society's growing interest in marine exploration.

The 1970s ushered in the quartz revolution. These watches, powered by batteries and quartz crystals, were more accurate and affordable than their mechanical counterparts. Their introduction transformed the watch industry, making wristwatches accessible to a broader audience. It was also during this era that digital watches made their debut.

Recent decades have seen a resurgence in the popularity of mechanical watches. The 2000s have been marked by a blend of tradition and innovation. While horologists continue to respect age-old craftsmanship, they're also embracing new technologies. This has led to the rise of smartwatches, which combine traditional watch aesthetics with modern tech functionalities.

Today's watch enthusiasts have an array of choices, from minimalist designs to intricate chronographs, and from vintage reissues to futuristic smartwatches. Material innovations, like ceramic and carbon fiber, have also added a new dimension to watch design.

In conclusion, as you explore the world of watches and find the perfect fit for your wrist, remember that you're not just selecting a timepiece. You're choosing a piece of history, a blend of art and engineering, and most importantly, an extension of your personal style.

Created the 2022-11-30

Modified the 2023-12-01

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