Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

Size Still Matters: Some Watches Need to be Big to be Brilliant

There are moments in time where you want something a bit more substantial on the wrist!

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |

It’s a commonly known fact the current trend for brands is to downsize watches to more compact dimensions, often to 40mm or below. This shift is natural to the industry, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen it, although this time the push seems stronger than in the past. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, watch sizes literally boomed to 43mm and above. Well above in some cases, by the way. Despite this tendency to go smaller, some watches simply need a large case to work and work well. Brilliantly even, as for these six watches, we wouldn’t want it any other way than BIG! 

IWC BIG PILOT TOP GUN Mojave desert IWC506003

The Big Pilot by IWC is perhaps the best representation of the necessity of size in some watches. The iconic Pilot’s watch measures a hefty 46mm in diameter, has a very substantial lug-to-lug size of over 52mm and a thickness of 14.6mm. This sand-coloured TOP GUN Mojave Edition, or any other for that matter, comes with the signature 7-day power reserve indication. The Calibre 52110 fills the entirety of the case and uses a twin-barrel setup to achieve its lengthy running time. Yes, it’s impressively big, and yes it’s quite intimidating on the wrist, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! This limited edition of 250 pieces is priced at EUR 14,900.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Mojave Desert Edition IW506003

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Quick Facts – 46mm x 14.6mm – matte sand-coloured ceramic case – sapphire crystal – titanium caseback & crown – 60m water-resistant – matte brown dial with sand-coloured numerals, markings & hands – IWC Calibre 52110, in-house automatic – 28,800vph – 7-day/168h power reserve – soft-iron inner case – hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indication – sand-coloured rubber strap with textile inlay – limited to 250 pieces – EUR 14,900

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 15605SK

The Royal Oak Offshore has always been a big and hefty watch in Audemars Piguet’s arsenal, and the recent 15605SK is perhaps one of the very best. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s rather empty, but it’s also quite brilliant! The colours of the rubber-coated bezel match the gradient tones of the dial perfectly, which in turn lures you in with a simple “AP” logo, its Méga Tapisserie pattern and a large date window. At 43mm it’s not a monster in size, but it’s a very serious slice of watch on anyone’s wrist. It also embodies the fact Royal Oak is still an icon in the industry. This rather surprising watch comes on a blue-grey rubber strap and costs EUR 27,300.

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Quick Facts – 43mm x 14.3mm – stainless steel case, brushed & polished – rubber-coated bezel – sapphire crystal front & back – screw-locked crown – 100m water-resistant – gradient blue-grey Méga Tapisserie dial – sloped minute track – Calibre 4302, in-house automatic – 28,800vph – 70h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – blue-grey rubber strap with folding buckle & easy interchangeability system – non-limited edition – EUR 27,300 (incl. VAT)

Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Water blue sapphire

Hublot is well-known for its big and bold aesthetics, often with a polarizing combination of colours, materials and mechanics. While we could have gone for the Big Bang Unico, the brand’s bold chronograph, coming in at a relatively mundane 42mm across. The Big Bang MP-11 Water Blue Sapphire, however, is a very different beast. At 45mm across and 14.4mm in height, it’s quite a sizeable piece. This is a bit of a must if you pack 7 serially coupled vertically stacked barrels for a massive 14 days of power! The light blue sapphire crystal case is matched with a translucent rubber strap and it’s limited to 50 pieces with a price of EUR 178,000.

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Quick Facts – 45mm x 14.4mm – light blue sapphire crystal case – titanium crown – clear sapphire crystal front & back – 30m water-resistant – openworked dial – hours & minutes at noon – rolling power reserve display – HUB9011, in-house – manual winding – 28,800vph – 14-day power reserve – transparent water blue structured rubber strap with deployant buckle – limited edition of 50 pieces – EUR 178,000

Rolex Deepsea 136668LB Yell0w-gold

When it comes to big watches, (deep) divers are the first things that come to mind. And what better way to say “Go Big, or Go Home!” than a full yellow-gold 3,900m water-resistant Rolex Deepsea? It raised more than a few eyebrows upon release, but having some time with the new Ref. 136668LB behemoth sure changed our minds. At 44mm across it’s not stupidly large and in full yellow-gold I even dare to argue it’s somewhat balanced on the wrist as the bracelet serves as a counterweight to the case. The only thing that may be a bit daunting is the height, which clocks in at 17.7mm, and the weight of 300+ grams. If you can get around that and have the wrist to carry it around, it’s a typical Rolex, so brilliantly executed! The price is an appropriately hefty, pun fully intended, CHF 49,900.

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Quick Facts – 44mm x 17.7mm – 18k yellow gold case, brushed & polished – unidirectional rotating bezel with blue ceramic insert – screw-down caseback in RLX Titanium – 5.5mm thick sapphire crystal – 3,900m water-resistant – blue lacquer dial – markers & hands with Chromalight inserts – Calibre 3235, in-house automatic – 28,800vph – 70h power reserve – 18k yellow gold Oyster bracelet with safety clasp and Glidelock extension system – Ref. 136668LB – CHF 49,900

Zenith Defy Extreme mirror

Adding ‘Extreme’ to anything raises expectations, and the Zenith Defy Extreme does not disappoint, especially in this very shiny ‘Mirror’ iteration. The contemporary high-speed chronograph has an edgy case of 45mm in width. Crafted from stainless steel, it’s fully mirror-polished for an utterly dazzling look. The case and 12-sided bezel give way to an array of subdials and indications. The movement cleverly uses two regulating organs, one beating at 36,000vph (5Hz) for the time, and one beating at 360,000vph (50Hz) for the 1/100th of a second chronograph! Worn on a fully polished integrated bracelet, it’s non-limited and costs EUR 28,000.

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Quick Facts – 45mm x 15.4mm – stainless steel case, mirror-polished – 12-sided bezel, mirror-polished – sapphire crystal front & back – 200m water-resistant – openworked dial construction with sapphire crystal base – markers & hands with Super-LumiNova – El Primero 9004, in-house automatic chronograph – dual regulating organ (time; 36,000vph, chronograph; 360,000vph) – 50h power reserve – integrated bracelet, polished – non-limited edition – EUR 28,000

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto Chrono

We’re coming down to earth price-wise, yet take to the skies with our last pick; the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto Chrono in blue. This striking-looking Pilot’s Chronograph acts as a proper flight instrument on the wrist. With this many indications and scales to make in-flight calculations, it’s no wonder you need a bit of space. At 44mm wide, it’s a properly large watch, but it demands it and remains somewhat balanced in look. Any smaller and it would look just too cluttered and legibility would be an issue. It relies on the Calibre H-21-Si, a variation of the ETA/Valjoux 7750 and retails for EUR 2,245 on leather or EUR 2,295 on a bracelet.

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Quick Facts – 44mm x 14.60mm – stainless steel case, brushed & polished – bidirectional slide rule bezel – sapphire crystal front & back – 100m water-resistant – blue sunray brushed dial – hands & markers with Super-LumiNova – Calibre H-21-Si, automatic chronograph – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, date, day of the week, chronograph – leather strap or stainless steel bracelet – EUR 2,245 (leather) – EUR 2,295 (bracelet)

3 responses

  1. I would have expected Panerai to make the list even if the list is not meant to be exhaustive

  2. well we can all admit that the post millenium designs are very bloated

  3. Strongly disagree, it is something else to say that some people may like bigger watches and as such I am happy for them, but to say that these watches needed to be big for them to function is to support this undesirable trend .
    After all the main challenge and fascination of wrist watch making as compared to wall mounted clocks is their small size.


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