w&w’s Guide to Watches 40mm and Under (Part 2)

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A week ago today we published the first part of our guide to some of our favorite timepieces clocking in at 40mm and under (if you haven’t read it yet, get to it). We assembled that list by digging through our archives so we could wholeheartedly suggest watches that we’ve actually worn, handled, and liked. The other important criteria was that the watches had to be contemporary models that one could easily find, so we took vintage out of the equation.

Naturally, that list was quite extensive and far too big for a single article, so we split it in half. We promised Part 2 wasn’t far behind, and here it is. Enjoy!

(Editor’s note: Just throwing out another friendly reminder to check out our watch review grid, which features nearly 300 watches that we’ve covered in-depth at w&w. Designed to be a tool for our readers, the grid can be sorted using a number of handy parameters, among them brand, type, price, and of course, size.)

Sinn 356 PILOT – 38.5mm

Last time around we included the 556, Sinn’s entry level three-handed watch. But for those seeking something with a bit more function, there is the 356 PILOT–Sinn’s entry level 7750-powered chronograph.

The 356 began as a Japan-only limited edition in 1996, and its success pushed Sinn to bring the watch back as a general production model. Since then, Sinn has released numerous variants, like the Sa PILOT II with its too-cool cooper dial and the now defunct Sa PILOT UTC. But to me, the fundamental 356 PILOT, with its smaller size and high-domed acrylic crystal, is still the way to go.

SINN_356_BRACELET2What I like most about the 356 is how unassuming it is. It’s as bare bones as a chronograph can be. It has a bead-blasted case, matte black dial, shatter-resistant acrylic lens, and a workhorse movement; it’s a tool watch through and through. It also has great balance on the wrist, especially if you opt for the bracelet. It is hands down my favorite watch produced by Sinn today.

$1,670 on leather; $1,890 on bracelet. The Sinn 356 PILOT can be purchased here.

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Marathon Diver’s Quartz Medium – 36mm

When most people think of Marathon they usually envision the brand’s SAR series, a collection of tough-as-nails mil-spec timekeepers that unfortunately–at least for those of us with smaller wrists–trend a little large. A few years ago in a somewhat surprising move, Marathon released the Diver’s Quartz Medium, a rugged entry-level diver in a subdued 36mm case.

MARATHON_DIVERS_QUARTZ_MEDIUM_DIAL2The Diver’s Quartz Medium retains much of Marathon’s aesthetic and famed build quality. It shares the same notable bezel and familiar to-the-point dial with tritium tubes. It’s not automatic, but it does have a robust high-torque ETA quartz caliber. On the wrist, the watch does wear quite a ways smaller than one might expect, which is emphasized by the relatively large size of the bezel. But if you have small wrists or just prefer smaller divers, the Diver’s Quartz Medium is a great choice.

$560. The Marathon Diver’s Quartz can be purchased here.

Zodiac Sea Dragon – 39mm

If you’re in the market for a smaller dive watch and the aesthetic of the Marathon is not to your liking, or if you prefer a mechanical movement, there’s the Zodiac Sea Dragon. The Sea Dragon is what one might call a dress diver. The 39mm barrel case features an elegant mix of finishing, really emphasizing the dressier side of things. Likewise, the dial, while vintage-inspired and sporty, also feels wholly sophisticated. On the wrist, the combined effect gives the Sea Dragon a lot of visual presence while remaining accessible for those of us who prefer or need smaller watches.

$1,095. The Zodiac Sea Dragon can be purchased here.

Longines Heritage 1973 Chronograph – 40mm

The Longines Heritage 1973 is a stunning, vintage-inspired chronograph based on a Longines from, you guessed it, 1973. But if you’re well-versed in the world of vintage chronographs, you’ll also recognize that the case on the reissue, as well as the original (called the Conquest), is shared by a much more famous watch–the Heuer Camaro.

LONGINES_HERITAGE_1973_WRIST2History lesson aside, the reissue carries over much of what made the original great, though the case has been bumped up to 40mm. Still, it wears incredibly well, and even feels like a slight improvement over the original 37mm size. The vibrant panda coloration is wonderful (who doesn’t love a panda dial?), and it really pops on the wrist. This is a watch you can easily wear with a blazer to the office or with a tee and jeans on the weekend.

$3,275. To find a retailer near you, click here.

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Defakto Kinetik – 39mm

German brand Defakto prides itself on producing watches with a distinct, minimalist design, and the Kinetik continues that exercise in reduction. On the wrist, the Kinetik seems overly simple, but the real story is how the dial combines the most basic of forms to indicate the time.

DEFAKTO_KINETIK_WRIST_1Take a closer look. There is an outer minutes track and an inner hours track represented via rectangular hash marks. Both of these interact with the the two skeletonized hands as they advance across the dial, with the hands framing their respective markers and each other at certain points. This creates interesting geometric shapes that hover over the dial. It’s a stunning look, and one that is totally unique to the watch.

DEFAKTO_KINETIK_DIAL_7Approximately $620 (stainless steel case); $650 (PVD). The Defakto Kinetik can be purchased here.

Stowa Antea – 35.5/36.5/39mm

The Antea series from Stowa is based on a historical watch produced by the brand way back in 1937. The modern reissue comes in several flavors, from the rigid Antea Klassik to the most recent back to bauhaus collection, and it’s available in number of sizes–most well under 40mm. For those seeking a more traditional approach, there’s the Antea Klassik KS (Kleine Sekunde, or small seconds) with the sub-seconds at six o’clock powered by a top-grade Peseux 7001. At just 35.5mm, it makes for a great, unassuming dress watch that isn’t all too hard to dress down. For something a bit more playful, however, the Hartmut Esslinger-designed back to bauhaus series offers a new type (Bauhaus STD) and a multitude of muted dial colors.

Prices range from approximately $905 to $970. The Stowa Antea series can be purchased here.

MK II Hawkinge – 38mm

MK II is an American boutique brand producing military-inspired watches based on some of the greatest mil-spec timepieces ever created. MK II’s latest release, the Hakwinge, pays homage to the venerable Mk. 11 watches first manufactured by JLC and IWC for the British MoD (read our historical overview here). Yes, it’s an homage watch, but it’s an homage done right.

MKII_Hawkinge--60The Hawkinge draws strength from its simplicity. The classic mil-spec dial is clear and legible (as it should be), and the no-frills case is perfectly proportioned. And with a watch this fundamental, it’s the little things that count. Case in point: the hands, which are polished and slightly curved so they don’t “black out” the way some flat hands do when facing a dark surface.

MKII_Hawkinge--14Those that know of the MK II brand are keenly aware of its commitment to producing considered quality pieces, and the Hawkinge is no exception. And for those who have strong feelings regarding date windows, there are two options available: one with a date at three, and one without (currently out of stock until September).

$595. The MK II Hawkinge can purchased here.

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Nomos Club – 36mm

As we wrote in the first part of our guide, Nomos is a small brand with big ambitions. In a relatively short amount of time, Nomos has become an independent powerhouse synonymous with clean, modernist design and impeccable engineering—two traits apparent throughout the brand’s catalogue.

Aesthetically, the Club is Nomos’ sportiest model to date (though technically the Ahoi is the brand’s truest sports watch), with a dial that oscillates between that of a dress and field watch. That said, you won’t have any issues dressing this one up or down. I’ve worn mine on everything from a shell cordovan two-piece to a braided perlon slip through and it’s always looked great.

NOMOS_CLUB_DIALS1The Club is positioned as Nomos’ entry level offering, but it’s no slouch. Like every Nomos watch, the Club is powered by one of the brand’s in-house movements—in this case, the manual Alpha caliber. There’s a lot of value packed in this German favorite.

$1,550. The Nomos Club can be purchased here.

Christopher Ward C9 5-Day SS Chronometer – 40mm

We’ve seen countless takes on the Marine Chronometer by brands both high and low, but the C9 5-Day SS Chronometer from Christopher Ward is one of our favorite executions. From the classic styling of the dial to the use of leaf hands (Marine Chronometers often feature more ornate Breguet-style hands), the C9 5-day gives off a classic vibe without coming across as too stuffy. And let’s not forget the impressive SH21 5-day certified chronometer movement powering the watch, which all things considered is being offered here at an incredible price point.

$1,780. The Christopher Ward C9 5-Day SS Chronometer can be purchased here.

Hamilton Intra-matic – 38mm

Hamilton is a brand with a deep history, and when Hamilton channels that history its watches tend to be all the better for it. The Intra-matic is one such watch, based on a mid-century design pulled right out of Hamilton’s catalogue. We’ve seen many watches over the years, and this one still stands out.

HAMILTON_INTRA-MATIC_DIAL5The elegant, minimal dial is gently domed and features a dramatic sunburst finish. The hour markers are simple lines, and the hands are corresponding sticks so as not to clutter the dial. The case, though shown in plated gold here, is also available in polished stainless steel. The Intra-matic has everything you need in a smaller dress watch, and it won’t break the bank.

Approximately $550. The Hamilton Intra-Matic can be purchased here.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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  • Matthew Rowe

    I appreciate the inclusion of chronographs in this guide. Not many out there 40 mm and under anymore, do it’s nice that you pointed them out.

  • Mark Silgalis

    My favorite in my collection:

    The Seiko SARG009

    https://www.seiyajapan.com/collections/movement-1/products/sarg009

    • Luis Chavez

      The pics on Seiya don’t do it justice, I have one as well and it’s one of my favorites too. I keep it on a grey cordura strap and it’s just beautiful.

    • KCMOexile

      What Strap is this? I love it.

      • Mark Silgalis

        It’s an orange perlon from Clockwork Synergy.

  • Peter D

    Check out the Strela space chronograph with the paddle hands for a small cased, low cost. Iconic chrono.

  • Pistol Pete

    I heard the Longines 1973 is discontinued, so sourcing a new one may be tough. Great looking watch, though.

  • Anthony Dimaano

    My next watch will be a classic manual wind. Stowa Antea or Nomos Club? Or maybe a Stowa partitio?

    • epps720

      I’m with you there. I like the Club but haven’t worn a watch that small. I have pretty small wrists and I know it will be fine, just don’t own anything under a 40mm.

  • epps720

    Thank you fro the inclusion of prices in part 2 of the article. Much appreciated!