While thick, robust watches have their benefits, they often fall prey to door jams and snags on cuffs and jacket pockets alike. More often than not, a truly practical and comfortable watch will also be a thin watch. Among the absolute slimmest — we put the bar at 10mm, including the crystal — the leanness of the stacked parts is a holistic philosophy, depending on everything from the movement to the dial, hands and case. These watches feel wafter thin (because they are) but still look of consequence, and are in fact some of the best dress watches around. For an understated yet stately look that fits under a cuff with heaps of clearance, these six are some of the best.
Additional Contribution by James Stacey
Christopher Ward C5 Slimline
While many thin watches rely on specialized in-house movements (read: expensive ones) to manage a slim profile, you don’t need to spend big to get thin. UK-based Christopher Ward recently released their C5 Slimline, which is powered by the slim-but-capable ETA 2801 hand-wound movement. Offering hours, minutes and central seconds, the ETA 2801 is just 3.35 millimeters thick and allows the 40 millimeter wide C5 Slimline to come in with a total thickness of 8.7 millimeters. With an accessible but dressy vibe with a dial in blue, grey or white, the C5 Slimline is a great dress watch for the up-and-comer.
Junghans Meister Driver Handaufzug
Thanks to a slim Peseux 7001 hand-wound movement, the latest member to the Junghans Meister collection comes in at a mere 7.3mm thick. What’s more, the Meister Driver Handaufzug is an homage to the cars of the early 20th century and the fact that company founder Erhard Junghans created the speedometer in 1905. While many motoring watches are stuck in the mid-century (not that that’s a problem), its great to see a motoring watch with more art deco leanings.
Citizen Eco-Drive One
By basically reengineering the Eco-Drive quartz movement from top to bottom, Citizen created a solar-powered movement that’s 1mm thick. Because the entire case is only 3mm thick, it’s made from specially hardened stainless steel and a ceramic/metallic alloy called cermet. Citizen calls it the thinnest light-powered watch ever made, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anything you can buy today that’s any thinner.
NOMOS Tetra Neomatik Tiefblau
The NOMOS Tetra has traditionally been a woman’s watch, but the German watchmaking powerhouse bumped up the case size to 33mm by 33mm (if it seems small, know that square watches wear bigger on the wrist) to give it new masculine appeal. The 7.3mm case features an in-house automatic movement with small seconds, itself a mere 3.2mm thick.
Zenith Elite Central Seconds
While at 8.15 millimeters thick it’s not the most diminutive in the group, the Central Seconds does boast an automatic movement, the Zenith Elite 670, which is 3.47 millimeters thick and offers a 50 hour power reserve and a date display at six o’clock. With an attractive, legible and well-proportioned (40 millimeter) case design that offers a classic aesthetic with no retro intentions, it has all the qualities of an excellent everyday watch.
Just half a millimeter shy of our 10mm cutoff, Panerai’s new Luminor Due is worth mentioning because it takes the iconic looks of Panerai’s classic divewatch and puts it in a package that’s 40 percent slimmer than the original. Read the Story
Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931
No list of thin watches would be complete without the presence of at least one selection from Jaeger-LeCoultre. With an 80-year legacy the distinctive reversible case is nothing new, but the 1931’s 7.27 millimeter thickness adds an entirely new paradigm. That thinness is born of the watch’s hand wound calibre 822, which is just 2.94 millimeters thick, with 19 jewels and a power reserve of 45 hours. In sum, it’s an excellent example of the philosophy that has made the Reverso an enduring — and thin — classic.
Piaget Altiplano 900P
If you’re looking for a really thin watch, be sure to view the Piaget Altiplano 900P ($26,200) head-on — because from the side it’s nearly invisible. With a total thickness of just 3.65 millimeters, the 900P enjoyed a healthy run as the world’s thinnest mechanical watch (it was beaten by Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette by 0.05mm in 2015). Still, the Altipano is an incredible timepiece. Piaget achieved this incredible slimness by engineering the case and dial to function as part of the structure of the movement: the case back is the movement’s mainplate and the dial operates as the bridges supporting the many components of the movement.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
Featuring an insanely thin 2.23mm automatic movement (with a considerably long 70-hour power reserve) housed in a platinum case, the Octo Finissimo comes in at only 5mm thick. Bulgari also makes a version of the Octo Finissimo featuring the worlds smallest tourbillon movement at just 1.95mm, as well as a minute repeater version that, at 8.1mm, is the thinnest minute repeater watch currently in production.
Vacheron Constantine Overseas Ultra-Thin
Lately, Vacheron Constantine has done a lot to reinvigorate the Overseas line of sports watches, including new in-house movements and a world time version. In that same vein, Vacheron made the Ultra-Thin overseas, an elegant 7.5mm white gold watch with an automatic movement that eschews a second hand to keep it at a slim 2.45mm. As with the rest of the new Overseas lineup, the Ultra-Thin comes with a quick-release system so the bracelet can be swapped out with other straps, eliminating the need for a spring bar tool.
Breguet Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5377
This state-of-the-art timepiece with an 80-hour power reserve and a high-rate 4Hz tourbillon is powered by Breguet’s 581DR calibre, a 3-millimeter thick movement that features not only the aforementioned tourbillon but also a power reserve complication and automatic winding. You don’t adorn those sorts of impressive guts with plain materials. Its 42mm case has a silvered 18-carat gold engraved dial and blued steel hands. Thin and complicated are not budget words in horology, and the Breguet 5377 starts at an eye-watering $149,000. So decide: this, or a Porsche 911 Turbo?