June 23, 2024

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 wafer 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’s C5 Slimline is powered by the slim-but-capable Sellita SW200-1 hand-wound movement. Offering hours, minutes and central seconds, the SW200-1 is just 3.35 millimeters thick and allows the 40mm wide C5 Slimline to come in with a total thickness of 8.55mm. With an accessible but dressy vibe with a dial in blue, gray or white, the C5 Slimline is a great dress watch for the brand.

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), it’s great to see a motoring watch with more art deco leanings.

Citizen Eco-Drive One

By basically re-engineering 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 Minimatik

The Minimatik was the vehicle in which Nomos debuted its ultra-thin, in-house automatic movement back in 2015. The DUW3001 inside is a mere 3.2mm thick, housing Nomos’s own escapement (a complex part most watchmakers outsource). The rest of the watch is equally minimalist, with a case coming in at only 36mm in diameter and 8.86mm thick, plus a clean, modern dial that dresses both up and down.

Zenith Elite Central Seconds

While at 8.15mm thick it’s not the most diminutive in the group, the Central Seconds does boast an automatic movement, the Zenith Elite 670, which is 3.47mm thick and offers a 50-hour power reserve and a date display at six o’clock. With an attractive, legible and well-proportioned (40mm) case design that offers a classic aesthetic with no retro intentions, it has all the qualities of an excellent everyday watch.

Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat

Using a 2.3mm thick hand-winding movement from its corporate cousins at Piaget, Cartier blessed its Drive de Cartier line with a remarkable extra-flat edition. The entire watch itself is only 6.6mm thick and 38mm in diameter. Cartier’s iconic roman numerals add visual flare (as does the square case), but ultimately its thin proportions and gold case make it a fantastically reserved dress watch.

Piaget Altiplano 60

Speaking of Piaget, the company is celebrating 60 years of its ultra-thin movements with the requisite special editions. The Altiplano 60 Automatic is a visual throwback to the original thin Piagets of the 1950s and ’60s, but the movement inside is new. The 1200P is an automatic, kept slim with a micro rotor, resulting in a thickness of only 2.35mm. When cased up in the final product, the entire watch only comes in at 5.64mm thick, making it one of the thinnest automatic watches you can buy today.

Ultra-Thin (and Gold) For Under $1,000


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