How to Measure Wrist Size for Watches

How to Measure Wrist Size for Watches

Besides the anguish caused by deciding what watch you want to buy next, the first question most beginner watch enthusiasts have is whether or not their latest purchase is too big or small for them.

While the answer to that question is certainly up to one's personal preference and style, it does help to be able to measure your wrist size to figure out what size range of watch will fit your wrist and look best - especially in the digital age when so many watch purchases are made online without ever getting to see the watch in person and often without having tried the watch strap on before. As such, let's dive into how to measure your wrist size so you can get an idea of what timepieces you can shop around for. 

Wrist Diameter

Easily the most important measurement for any watch enthusiast to have a rough idea of is the width of their wrist across the top. This is measured by looking down at the outside of your wrist and getting the measurement from one end to the other. This measurement should be taken from just about where your watch will be worn to ensure it is relevant for our purposes. This measurement will inform you about the maximum lug-to-lug measurement on a watch that you can handle without having the lugs overhang your wrist.

Generally speaking, it translates well with the case diameter of your watch, as you will want the diameter to be about 10mm less than the span of your wrist to leave room for the lugs. This does vary from watch to watch, though as not all watches are born equal, and thus, lug sizes and shapes can vary.

Wrist Circumference

Wrist circumference is the measurement that collectors most often quote, and it is measured by wrapping a piece of string around your wrist so that it touches and measuring how long that string is from one end to the point on the string that it touches.

This is often given in centimeters or (most commonly) in inches. It is generally accepted, for men's wrists, that 6' - 6.5" wrists are small and are best suited to watches below 40mm in case diameter. 6.5' - 7.25" wrists are average and can handle watches up to around 42mm in case diameter, 7.25-8" are large and can handle watches up to 46mm in case diameter and above. 

While this is the most commonly used wrist measurement by watch collectors to measure their wrists to see what watches they can wear, this measurement fails to account for wrist shape. For example, some wrists are circular, so they have smaller diameters when viewed from above but are taller from the side, and some wrists are oval, so they are thinner from the side (not as tall) yet are wider when viewed from above.

Wrist Height

So, we have measured our wrist diameter and wrist circumference, which allows us to understand the case diameters and lug-to-lug widths that we should be able to wear comfortably. Still, there is one more measurement that we should try to understand, and that is wrist height.

While not terribly important and not something you should get too bogged down in regarding numbers, it can be something to keep in mind if your wrists are thin - you probably don't want to wear a watch that is too tall. On the contrary, an overly thin watch on very thick wrists might make your watch look too dainty from the side. 

Wrist height is one of those measurements that can impact how you feel a watch looks on your wrist without really being able to put a finger on it, so bear it in mind if you are on either side of the spectrum, or if the watch you are thinking of buying is super thin or very thick. Generally speaking, any watch between 8mm and 16mm can quite comfortably be worn by anyone, but thinner or thicker, and you might want to consider how thick your wrists are.