While most modern watches for men are in the 38mm-46mm size, there are many good reasons to go down in size. So, when do you use smaller watches? Find out below as well as the top 36mm watches available.
The Best Men’s 36mm Watches
IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36
For more than 150 years, the Swiss company IWC Schaffhausen has been known for their innovative and highly useful aviator or pilot watches. IWC’s Automatic 36 is a stunning timepiece that shares a similar timeless design to watches that have been around for decades.
The 36mm case of the Automatic 36 is made of stainless steel. Instead of a brushed finish, which is seen on the Mark XVIII, the case has a mirror polishing in specific areas to make the watch look more stylish. It has IWC’s iconic soft-iron inner case to protect the watch from magnetic fields, which could mess with its accuracy.
Another interesting feature of the Automatic 36 is its dial. The outer ring of the dial shows the markers for the minutes, while the inner ring shows the hour markers in Arabic numerals. The hour markers include the number “9,” which you won’t find in the Mark XVI and XVII watches.
The Automatic 36 is powered by the Calibre 3511. It has a decent power reserve of 42 hours. To ensure accurate time adjustments and synchronization of multiple watches, IWC equipped it with a central hacking seconds.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer is one of the favorite timepieces of celebrities, such as Lebron James. Considered as an excellent “one-and-only-watch” option, this beloved timepiece will make you look good at any occasion, from formal events to outdoor activities.
Encasing its extremely strong and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is a 36mm case made from Oystersteel. Rolex uses Oystersteel because of its incredible ability to resist corrosion and maintain its beauty even when exposed to harsh environments.
The smooth Oystersteel bezel is attached to an Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterlock clasp, which provides extra protection from accidental opening. The Easylink extension link allows you to increase the bracelet length by around 5mm for ultimate comfort and fit.
Another distinctive feature of this watch is its black dial. It has an extremely legible display, with enlarged 3, 6, and 9 numerals, which are filled with a long-lasting blue luminescence.
Tudor Black Bay 36
When you wear the versatile Tudor Black Bay 36, it won’t look out of place at all. It’s a great timepiece for any occasion, whether you’re off on a casual night out with your friends or a black-tie cocktail party.
The Rolex Explorer can be extremely pricey and difficult to find. The Black Bay 36 is one of the next best alternatives to the iconic Rolex watch. Both watches have a 36mm case, although the lug-to-lug measurement of the Black Bay 36 is slightly bigger at 44mm (versus 43mm of the Explorer 124270).
In addition, the Tudor Black Bay 36 has a thinner case at 10.55mm than the Explorer 124270 (which is 11.5mm thick). This simply means it’s lightweight and small enough to rest comfortably on your wrist, without looking cheap.
And when it comes to its technical specs, it’s equipped with an outsourced automatic movement, the Calibre T600. It produces around 38 hours of power reserve, which is decent and reliable for this price point. It’s also waterproof up to 150 meters (approximately 500 feet).
Lorier Falcon III
Despite being a young brand, Lorier (pronounced as lor-yé) still managed to impress with their high-quality watches for an affordable price. The Lorier Falcon III costs just under $500, making it the most affordable 36mm field-style watch on this list.
The Falcon III has a marine-grade stainless steel case with its signature honeycomb dial, which comes in black and silver. Lorier redesigned its luminous hands and hour markers to give them a more well-defined look. Similar to its predecessors, it comes with an impact-resistant Hesalite crystal.
The marine-grade stainless steel bracelet stays secured on your wrist with a push-button clasp. This thinner bracelet has three microadjustment slots on the clasp, so you can adjust it to a quarter link’s length.
The engine that’s responsible for making the Falcon III running smoothly is the Miyota 90S5 movement (no date). It ticks at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a power reserve of 36 hours, which is a little lacking, but its performance makes up for it.
The C3 watch is the smaller alternative to Vaer’s best-selling watch model, the C5. Ticking inside the C3 is the Swiss-made Ronda quartz movement. While watch enthusiasts won’t be thrilled by this spec, we find quartz movements highly accurate and easy to maintain.
With its simple, retro-modern aesthetics, the Vaer C3 is perfect for anyone who’s drawn to minimalist and vintage design. What’s even better is Vaer offers a wide range of options for the dial and interchangeable straps. In addition to its silicone strap, you can have your choice of second and third straps from their full lineup of strap colors, designs, and materials.
As for its unisex 36mm case, it’s undeniably comfortable on the wrist. It weighs 38 grams and has a slim profile at 8.5mm thick, which means it’s less likely to get damaged and snag on things.
Oris Diver Sixty-Five 36mm
A big part of the charm of the Oris Diver Sixty-Five is its vintage look and feel. Just one look at its blue textile strap with steel buckle is all the proof you need.
It’s important to note that the watch’s strap doesn’t have a diver’s extension. If you plan to wear this while diving, consider exchanging it for a strap with an extension buckle to fit the watch over your wetsuit.
Powering the Diver Sixty-Five is the Oris 733 automatic movement, which is just another name for Sellita SW-200. The Sellita SW-200 is a generic movement in many watches for a good reason—it’s reliable! With more than a century of history, it’s difficult to fault Oris for their intriguing choice.
The design of the dial, hands, and bezel of the Diver Sixty-Five is unremarkable. But if you like the idea of a vintage-looking watch with modern reliability, this watch nailed it.
Marathon Arctic MSAR
Marathon watches are designed and manufactured under strict standards because most of them are produced for government use. The Marathon Arctic MSAR is no exception. This watch was developed for Canada’s SAR (Search and Rescue) operations. Therefore, it must be highly reliable and of excellent quality.
Encircling its sapphire crystal glass is its unidirectional, 120-click bezel with 60-minute markers and black anodized aluminum insert. Despite being 14mm thick, its 316L stainless steel case with rubber strap feels comfortable and substantial on the wrist.
Marathon also added a screw-in crown and O-ring system, giving it a water-resistance rating of 300 meters (1000 feet/30atm). While you might not be diving that deep, it’s always good to know that you could.
The Arctic MSAR is equipped with the standard Sellita SW200 movement. What’s special about its movement is Marathon paired it with the Incabloc Shock Absorber, which protects the delicate parts of the movement from damage, such as if you accidentally drop the watch. This mechanism helps significantly improve the long-term performance of this watch.
Nomos Club 701
Nomos has always been known for their high-value, entry-level watches that are competitively priced. Take Club 701 as a good example. This manually wound watch showcases a sporty yet elegant look that goes well with any outfit and occasion.
The Nomos Club 701 comes with a 36mm, stainless-steel case with a domed sapphire crystal. Its wide bezel gives the appearance of being wider on your wrist. Attached to the case is a strap made from one of the finest leathers in the world, the Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan.
Moving smoothly across the galvanized, white silver-plated dial are black hour hands with a red inlay. To keep the hour hands moving, Nomos equipped the Club 701 with the in-house Alpha movement. This manual-wound movement can continue to run for up to 43 hours.
Nomos don’t usually release information about their watches’ accuracy rating. But according to them, the accuracy of their watches meet the minimum performance requirements for chronometers that were tested consistent with ISO 3159.
Why a 36mm Watch?
1. They look good on men with thin wrists.
You could just imagine how ridiculous a large watch would look on someone with a thin wrist (less than 7 inches or 17 centimeters). Before you buy a watch, don’t forget to try it on to see how it looks on you. Typically, 36mm watches would fit men with a wrist circumference of around 7 inches (17.8 centimeters).
2. They’re comfortable to wear.
Remember: The bigger the watch you choose, the heavier it is to wear. It’s also difficult to fit a watch under your shirt cuff if it has a larger-sized case.
How do you know if it’s too big?
The rule of thumb is the lugs of a watch—whether it’s a 36mm watch or an oversized watch for men—shouldn’t go beyond the width of your wrist. But the best way to ensure a comfortable and perfect fit is to always measure your wrist before buying.
3. They’re elegant and subtle.
Watches with a smaller case don’t scream, “Please notice me!” If you’re the type who doesn’t feel the need to impress or outdo other people, if you want subtle elegance that matches your personality, a smaller timepiece is a suitable option.
4. They’re timeless timepieces.
As far as small- and medium-sized watches go, old-school designs have always made a comeback. Consumers and watch manufacturers continue to be fascinated with vintage timepieces, which are historically small because they need to be convenient and functional.
These are just a few reasons why some men like to wear a 36mm watch (or smaller).