There’s no denying the appeal of a great, hefty watch. But over the past few years, we’ve seen the trend of large 46mm+ case sizes waning down a bit. This was especially apparent at both Baselworld and SIHH this year, where we witnessed brands like Blancpain and IWC announce flagship releases that were tastefully sized at around 40mm or less. Is this an indicator that brands will continue to let their mid-century roots guide their design trends?
While it may be a stretch to say that large watches are on their way out, this could also just be a sign of the vintage reissue trend in its full force. Baselworld 2017 felt more like Baselworld 1957 this year and though some may have their complaints about that, it’s great to see brands explore their heritage in contemporary releases. We live in an age of nostalgia where books, movies, comics, TV shows, and everything in between are getting a relaunch. But if that means a 40mm true MIL-SPEC Fifty Fathoms from Blancpain, I think it’s hard to complain.
That said, it was interesting to witness Rolex increase the Sea-Dweller’s case size to 43mm while watching brands like Blancpain size down. It’s yet another example of watchmaking houses trying to find new footing in a market that can at times, feel the effects of shifting style preferences. Experimentation is key and some brands, like IWC with their new Da Vinci Automatic, are taking the opportunity to market 40mm and 36mm case sizes to both men and women.
And if that isn’t proof enough, SIHH 2017 also set the stage for the release of some new Panerai Submersibles, which finally includes 42mm case options. This is certainly a welcome addition to the catalog for anyone that loved the look of the older Submersibles, but couldn’t exactly stomach the huge Panerai case sizes. From Blancpain to Panerai, sized down divers really made for some of the sportiest and most interesting releases this year.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that hockey puck-sized watches have lost a bit of steam over the years. With vintage-hungry enthusiasts and brands tapping into decades of heritage and history, there’s a good chance we’ll keep seeing smaller watches taking the world by storm. It’s a great time to be a watch fan and if this new flood of classically sized timepieces is right up your alley, you’re going to have a heck of a hard time picking favorites this year.