The recent history of large dimension watches is a combination of extreme highs and downright stigma for the entire concept. As women’s watches got larger around the turn of the millennium, men’s watches in turn shot up in size. It quickly became a race to the top to see who could outfit the largest wrists with the largest diameter watches. Most of these fell into sport watch categories, and you can probably consider most watches with a case diameter of 44mm wide or more to fit in to the big face watch category.
You don’t actually need to have thick wrists to wear a large watch as the best ones are designed even with smaller wrists in mind. The trick is the size and shape of the lugs. Wild looking large watches that look silly on all but the most tree branch-like wrists started to give the large watch movement a bad name. While you don’t see as many huge watches being released these days, there are still plenty of good options available.
Why do you want a watch with a big face? Mostly because they look sporty and masculine. These timepieces in a sense are the aesthetic opposite of standard dress watches. A good all-purpose big face watch is the IWC Big Pilot. Based on aviator watches, this classic looking sports watch is both legible and hefty on the wrist at 46mm wide with an automatic movement and a full week of power reserve.
Aviation themed watches tend to be larger in size. The reason has a lot to do with these watches traditionally being worn over jackets and flight suits. A slightly more complicated (and larger) model is the Breitling Super Avenger Automatic Chronograph. With one of Breitling’s most handsome chronograph dials, the polished steel watch is a full 48mm wide and comes on one of Breitling’s famous metal bracelets.
No aviator watch look is bolder and more “instrumental” in style that the original Bell & Ross BR 01. A wonderfully useful and distinctive version is the BR 01-93 GMT Carbon. It sports an automatic GMT movement with the time and second time zone (via flashy orange GMT hand). The square case is large on the wrist at 46mm wide and is here done in black PVD.
Race-themed watches can be large as well. The BRM V14-44-BG-AJ 44mm timepiece has an intricate engine-style titanium case, mixing a cool mechanical look with the checkers of a race flag. For a super-sized nautical look there is always Italian U-Boat. Opt for a U-Boat Classico 53 AB 4 and you have a 53mm wide PVD black steel case with a carbon fiber dial and massive wrist presence. The crown is placed on the left side of the watch so as not to dig into your wrist and you’ll likely spot few people around with a bigger timepiece that you.
Wearing a large watch can be fun on many occasions. It’s not always suitable for a daily watch but it isn’t a bad idea to have a few in your collection.