Let me start by saying that everyone has it’s own style, and the most important is that each person feels good with and about her or himself. In the light of this thought, please consider that parts of this article are representative of my opinion, and personal taste. So if you disagree with what I’m saying below, leave a comment and we’ll discuss your point of view. Maybe you’ll change my mind.
First considerations, what is a big face watch?
It will depend on your wrist size, obviously. For me a big watch it’s something with a case larger than 42/43mm. That’s the maximum I can tolerate on 7 1/2″ wrist.
Do you dislike all large faced watches?
Glad you asked:)
I do have some exceptions regarding big watches: flieger watches or, putting in english, pilot watches.
Flieger watches are inspired of the watches the german bombers wore during WWII. These watches were big. Around 55mm, which was the size of the pocket watch movements they ended up using. Only the most accurate movements were chosen for these watches, as they were often used during recognition missions, or even in attacks where time – as usual – was key.
So in the comparison below you’ll also find some german (and non german) fliegers, which despite of the size, I’d be very happy to wear.
Having said all this, I’ll put my personal opinion on the side and talk about big watches generally.
Why talk about big watches?
Large faced watches are now a trend. A few years ago the average size of wristwatch would be around 30 to 35mm. Nowadays the typical men’s wristwatch is about 40 0 42mm. Then you have the big watches. 50mm, 55mm and even more than 60mm…
You see celebrities wearing them. You see people on the street wearing them. You even see celebrities sponsoring them. Some do have quality, some are basically the brand they represent.
This article will help you choosing a big watch (assuming that’s what you want) by pointing some of the perspectives a big watch (and in most of the cases a smaller one as well) must be looked from.
While discussing about big watches some models will be highlighted, as an example of a type, brand or style, but I’m sure you’ll find some other models that can suit the analysis.
At the end the decision will always be yours, but at least you’ll add some concrete details to it.
Strap Size and material
While a watch may last forever, a strap most likely won’t. That’s because it stretches everytime you move your wrist, it bends every time something gets stuck on your watch, and one day you’ll need to replace it.
Or you just want to change your watch style and user a different strap type, such as a leather strap instead of a metal one, or even a NATO nylon strap.
Some designer watches do use special strap sizes and formats, so you won’t be able to easily replace them.
This Nixon ($) uses 25mm straps. While you can still find some diversity of replacement straps, some styles will only be available up to 24mm. You’ll end up with a 1mm gap in case you really want to use one of those straps.
Dial Window material
One of the worst enemies of watch lovers are scratches on the watch glass.As the dial grows bigger, the probability of scratching it grows alongside.
Some watches are made of mineral glass, which is cheap but prone to scratching, as other watches are made with Sapphire Crystal which is known for its hardness, and resistance to scratches, despite of being more expensive.
As with smaller watches, you’ll be able to find quartz watches – a quartz crystal, fed by a battery – sends a discharge every second that will keep the clock running.
And you can also find mechanical or automatic watches. A mechanical watch converts the energy you spend while rewinding it, stores energy on a spring, that will slowly release it, keeping the clock ticking.
An automatic watch has the ability to “rewind” itself, as the wrist moves. Mechanical watches are usually more expensive, because movements are much more complex, and sometimes, even handmade.
While some of these big watches will be using standard movements, some will use bigger movements, that may be harder to tune, maintain and find parts for.
That’s not the case of the Panerai ($$$).
It also features a second time zone, shall you need one. The crystal is obviously sapphire, and it will be waterproof down to 100 meters (who would want to go swimming with such a wonderful watch anyway ?!?!).
This 51mm Police ($) watch weighs almost 7oz (200g). I bet that after a day wearing it you’ll feel your arm.
Some amazing capabilities
Diver watches can also be big. The reason is that to ensure a watch is waterproof at 200m deep the case must be reinforced. The glass, the metal, the buttons. All needs to handle 20 bar of pressure without letting a single drop of water in.
Dive watches are big no only considering the dial width, but also its thickness.
This 54mm automatic seiko ($$) can go down to 200m (600ft) deep and has a rotating bezel that will allow divers to control how many oxygen there’s left.
This 53mm titanium U-Boat ($$) is almost like a piece of art on its own. Simple yep complex, with details everywhere.
The bezel rotates in both directions, but it can also be locked to avoid accidents, even when diving down to 300m (1000ft) deep.
And some not so amazing ones
Let’s say you are a very busy person. You work with people from 3 different time zones, and you’re too dumb.. Wait, did I say dumb.., I meant busy.. And you’re too busy to perform some simple calculations on those time zones. Then what you’ll need is this 66mm beast from Diesel ($$). I hope you’re brave, because it is written on the dial “Only the brave”.
Context and history
Some watches like the Flieger are bigger for historical reasons. They’re just keeping a style that was born 70 years ago.
That’s there reason they’re still big today.
Despite this 43mm automatic Fortis ($$$$) being created for the sky (fliegers – flyers), it is waterproof down to 200m (660ft). It is not one of the simplest fliegers, as it features a tachymeter, a chronometer and date functions, but it is one of the most versatile ones. Use it as a dress watch and it will suit, use it as a sports watch, and it will be OK as well.
The automatic version of this stunning looking 46mm Hamilton Khaki ($$) (there is also a quartz version) looks close to the original Flieger watches. This swiss-made watch features a sapphire crystal, 200m waterproof capabilities and date calendar.