Slimmed Down Luxury: The Best Thin Watches For Men
Slimmed Down Luxury: The Best Thin Watches For MenRafael Dominguez2022-01-09T16:00:12-05:00
The advances of horological technology have provided the wristwatch industry with increasingly small and more precise movement components. In turn, this has permitted additional complications to be packed into traditional case sizes.
At the same time, there exist a special breed of manufacturers which have used the rising tech tide to push the boundaries of ultra-thin watches to an extreme. The significant amount of effort and time devoted towards this goal has seen state-of-the-art movements and watch cases almost meld into one.
Naturally, we set out to find the best thin watches for men from all across the luxury watch brand spectrum, and have brought them to you in this resource. But first, we’ll be giving a bit of background on what constitutes a slim watch, as well as discussing why they generally command high prices:
A successful, extra-thin watch is often the mark of a revered watch brand. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are misdirected in their search for the best and most sophisticated complications.
Others who know best understand that simplifying functionality and size is just as likely to yield triumphant timepieces. Our selection of watches above is intended to highlight this, while also providing an interesting recap of the different ultra-thin men’s watches available today.
Though the above question may seem like one that answers itself, it can’t hurt in this case to state the obvious: Slim, thin, and ultra-thin watches are a subset of timepieces that are made with the goal of reducing the “height” of the watch on the wrist.
In the majority of scenarios, ultra-thin men’s watches will fall in the dress watch category. A thinner and therefore smaller case profile generally imparts an elegant and formal essence.
Thin timepieces also possess another virtue, arguably the most important one – they pose no obstacle to men’s shirt sleeves. For instance, if you’re constantly adjusting your sleeve at a formal event because it’s constantly catching on your watch, you’re not going to have a great time.
Of course, the thinner the watch, the less likely this will happen.
There’s also something to be said about subjectivity when discussing slim timepieces. Almost every year, the goalpost is moved further by new creations. What was considered thin 5 years ago may border on bulky today. “Ultra-thin” will also mean different things in different price brackets.
So, at the end of the day, it’s very much at the wearer’s discretion what is interpreted as thin or ultra-thin and what shall not.
Why Are Ultra-Thin Watches So Expensive?
Thin watches, when they are not powered by quartz movements or batteries, will easily reach retail prices of $10k+. So, what are the reasons for the elevated price tag?
First and foremost, slim watches require miniaturised components. These parts are often the product of extensive R&D, and may even have to be constructed of premium high-tech materials.
Master watchmakers will also have to find ways of integrating the movement and the case into a single plane. Every bit of space must be properly utilized if the goal is to be achieved.
Lastly, standard components of a watch may even have to be re-engineered. Sapphire crystals, for example, can no longer be curved. In the past, they’ve even been milled to mold around internal components.
These are only a couple of the problems solved by the manufacturers of the worlds thinnest watches. Luckily, the challenge has only made them bolder, and left us with the following list of the top luxury thin timepieces.
For at least the past 5 years, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo line has set the standard for all other thin timepieces to aspire to. Even more impressive are the varied range of complications that have been successfully implemented into the Finissimo platform.
Bvlgari has wasted no time in making more of a good thing, and it’s worked out very well for them. But among all of the Octo Finissimos, which one did we find to be the best?
The Tourbillon Automatic is the one for us, mainly due to its status as the world’s thinnest automatic watch. It clocks in at a 3.95 mm case height and 42 mm case diameter.
The entire watch, bracelet and all, are presented in sandblasted titanium. Moreover, the dial and movement are essentially one, offering a clear view into the micro-mechanics and the beautiful flying tourbillon.
The watch has a clear avant-garde look, yet its flat and thin shape allow it to remain formal. It almost looks like a multi-gadget watch that James Bond would procure from Mi6 and neatly sport along with a tux.
With this Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, Bvlgari has demonstrated that formal and classical don’t have to mean the same for thin watches. They also prove how innovations on the case itself, not just those involving movement complications, can also make for favorable timepieces.
The Piaget watch brand has a long-standing reputation for making ultra-thin timepieces. Even in the ’50s, they were breaking records for slim mechanical movements.
In fact, Piaget held the world record for thinnest watch as recently as 2018 before being dethroned. The culprit, of course, was the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon above.
Nevertheless, the difference in size is almost negligible at .35 mm, making the Altiplano Ultimate Auto a serious contender in the ultra-thin watch world.
As opposed to the Octo, the Altiplano has gone the way of classical design. As classic as they can, anyways. It takes so much technology and machinery to actually make the watch that it almost can’t help but look modern with its skeletonized dial.
Though in this case, the skeleton dial is more of a requirement than a design choice. Either way, the dial still maintains a large and legible time register.
The case, what little there is of it which can be distinguished from the movement, is presented in 18K white gold. The winding system, mainly the 22K white gold peripheral winding rotor, is virtually invisible.
There’s no question of Piaget’s aptitude in producing thin timepieces, and the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic states it once more. There’s also a sense that Piaget is not done yet, though, which leaves us (and everyone) waiting to see what they bring to the table next.
Abraham Louis-Breguet’s namesake brand Breguet is widely known for dressy watches as well as traditionally-finished high complications. With the Classique 5157, they’ve been able to further expand their influence into the extra-thin watch class.
The reduced size has in no way allowed for compromises in quality, and the ultra-thin Classique remains a tactful timepiece. Although a time-only watch, what the watch lacks in complication it makes up for in detail and design intricacy.
The dial boasts a guilloché inner dial surrounded by a brushed hour track. The hour indices are Roman numerals in black, all surrounded by dotted minute markers and “pavé de Paris” decorations. The hands at center are, as expected, a pair of delightful heat-blued Breguet hands.
On the reverse side, the ultra-thin caliber can be admired via a sapphire caseback. Indeed, it’s easy to appreciate the reduced size. But the finishing of the caliber, as well as its gold winding rotor, is a highlight in itself.
As with the majority of their other models, Breguet’s French watchmaking pedigree is painfully evident in the Classique 5157 without being over-the-top. And maybe this is what Breguet does best, and what makes our 4th pick such a special ultra-thin watch.
Hublot is not generally known for making thin watches. In fact, they’re generally recognized for exactly the opposite – bulky, oversized sports pieces sure to draw the attention of every eye in the room.
It’s also true that the Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton Titanium is more than twice as thick as the first watch on our list. But for the regular Hublot customer, this is the perfect choice when looking to slim down and dress up their wrist.
The brand has long held a reputation of producing flashy but not horologically-interesting pieces. Nevertheless, even for those who don’t fancy Hublot, this extra-slim Classic Fusion is deserving of a closer look.
Truthfully, the Classic Fusion Skeleton is the kind of watch that changes these perceptions. It touts a sleek case profile and engaging textures. It’s also powered by a hand-wound Hublot Manufacture movement, and one which can be admired via the front and back of the watch.
All in all, Hublot is able to exhibit their increasing horological expertise with this ultra-slim offering. They’re also able to do so while keeping the brand’s popular aesthetics, all in a moderately priced timepiece that is very , dare we say, sexy?
The affordable nature does not entail poor quality, though. The construction is what can always be expected of Hamilton, the movement is an ETA workhorse, and the looks are simple and attractive.
If nothing else, this Intra-Matic Auto is a perfect “stepping stone” to other thinner, significantly more expensive watches like the ones on this list. It’ll allow just about anyone to get a taste before spending serious cash on a style they may find they’re not fans of.
Ultra-thin watches, by their classy nature, are one of those staple and timeless styles that every brand takes a shot at, if only once.
The picks on our list should serve as a good overview of the varied styles that exist, as well as a highlight of how different brands are able to tailor their watchmaking principles to fit the thin watch style.
Our list is by no means final or all-inclusive, so we want to hear from you – what are your favorite slim men’s timepieces? Let us know in the comments below! You may also use the links below to check out some of our other luxury watch resources:
"With many brands moving towards larger timepieces, I've become an even bigger fan of slim watches. The size makes them versatile and unobtrusive, which is exactly what I look for in watches that make it into my collection."