what is a watch case size

What is a Watch Case Size and Why Does it Matter?

Watch case size is an important factor to consider when purchasing a timepiece, as it greatly affects the appearance and overall wearability of your new watch. This handy guide explains what watch case size is, why it matters and exactly how you measure it.

What is a Watch Case?

A watch case is the main body of a wristwatch, surrounding and protecting its inner components from dust and debris. Generally made from metals such as stainless steel, titanium or gold, watch cases come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are designed to fit both men's and women's wrists. The right case size depends mainly on personal preference and comfort but there are also unspoken rules concerning style that could affect your decision. More on that soon. If you’re still a little in the dark about the anatomy of a watch, here’s a diagram that’ll get you up to speed in a pinch. 

what is a watch case size

Source: Knoxville Watch Works

What is a Watch Case Size?

A watch case size refers to the diameter of a watch case. It is typically expressed in millimeters and determines how large or small a watch will appear on your wrist. The size of a watch can greatly affect how it looks and fits on your wrist, so having an understanding of what size you're looking for is an important step in selecting your new timepiece.

How Do You Measure a Watch Case Size?

To determine a watch case size, the most common method is to use a millimeter ruler. Place the end of the ruler at the lug where the strap meets the case and gently extend it directly across to the opposite lug. This will provide you with an accurate measurement of the watch case size in millimeters. 

However, if you’re a watch fanatic or about to make a very big purchase, there is a more accurate method that offers precise measurements. Many watch collectors will measure the watch case size using digital calipers. This tool looks similar to a regular pair of calipers, but instead of an analogue dial, it has a digital readout that is much more precise. 

how to measure a watch case sizeSource: The Slender Wrist

To properly measure your watch case size with digital calipers, you first need to open up the jaws wide enough to fit around the entire case (bypassing any crown or protruding buttons). The three o’clock nine o’clock position tends to give the most accurate measurement but if there are any crowns or buttons in the way, you can adjust the angle slightly to two o’clock and ten o’clock. Once the jaws are in place, simply press the button on the calipers to take your measurement. The digital readout will give you the case size in millimeters (mm). 

Keep in mind that many watch cases are not perfectly symmetrical, so be sure to take multiple measurements at different points around the circumference of the case and then average them out. This will give you the most accurate measurement possible.  

You should also always measure the lug width as this will impact the width of the strap your watch will take. Watch strap size can have as great an effect on the look of your watch as the case size. 

What Are the Different Types of Watch Cases? 

The two most common types of watch cases are round and cushion. Round cases, which correspond with many traditional watch designs, file around the edges while cushion cases have squared-off sides to create a more modern aesthetic. Additionally, there are also tonneau watches, which have a barrel-like shape that resembles an inverted trapezoid and pilot's watches, which have a flared design to accommodate larger face sizes.

Why it is Important To Measure Watch Case Size

When it comes to finding the right watch case size, measuring is key. Without knowing the exact measurements, it’s impossible to determine which watch will be most comfortable and look best on your wrist. In addition, some watches come in more versatile sizes that can be fully customized for a perfect fit, making measurement even more important. For example, if you have a smaller wrist, a watch with a large case size may not suit your wrist and if it’s been poorly sized, it can actually lead to nerve damage. Likewise, if you tend to wear button-up shirts or suit jackets daily, a large watch case may cause bulges under your sleeves and look out of place. 

Unlike a pair of shoes, your watch doesn’t have to be a specific size, because every watch and manufacturer varies in their measurements. However, as a general rule of thumb, here is how to choose a suitable watch case size for your wrist size: 

  • Smaller wrists (6 inches): Stick with watch case sizes in the region of 34mm to 38mm. Vintage watches with more delicate case sizes would suit your wrist well. 
  • Average-sized wrists (7 inches): Case sizes ranging from 39mm to 42mm will look just right on your wrist. 
  • Large wrists (8 inches): You can get away with wearing the very on-trend watches that have large case sizes ranging from 44mm to 47mm. 

Final Takeaway

Now that you know exactly what a watch case size is and how to measure it, there’s another important watch case we need to talk about: the one you’ll be using to store and protect those precious timepieces! If you’re building up quite an impressive watch collection, you’re going to need a watch organizer box to keep all your watches safe from dust, moisture and harsh chemicals. A watch organizer, like Holme and Hadfield’s, will seamlessly fuse functionality with style so you not only have a stylish place to store all your watches but it doubles as a display case when you want to show your collection off. The drawer compartment gives you extra space to add any watch accessories like straps, spare links or your watch winding tools. So give your watches the TLC they deserve with a prime spot in a Holme and Hadfield watch organizer box.