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Verrien | Watch Cases: Protect Your Timepiece in Style

If you’re in the market for a new watch, understanding the different types of watch cases is essential. The case, along with the strap, determines how a watch feels on your wrist. It’s important to find a watch with a case that’s not too thick or big, so it doesn’t hit on things or not fit under a cuff. However, if the watch is too small, the dial may be too hard to read.

This comprehensive guide to watch cases covers everything you need to know about the different sizes, shapes, and materials. From standard sizes to outliers experimenting with new ideas and materials, we’ll cover it all. We’ll review the main points of size, shape, and material, as well as the crystal or glass that covers the dial.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding watch case sizes, shapes, and materials is crucial when choosing a new watch.
  • The right size and shape can impact how the watch feels on your wrist and how easy it is to read the dial.
  • Watch cases can be made from a variety of materials, including metals and non-metals, and can be covered with glass or crystal.

Watch Case Sizes

How are Watch Sizes Measured?

The size of a watch case is measured in millimeters, which includes the width (excluding the crown), height (from the end of the lugs), and depth (how tall the watch sits off your wrist). Most cases consist of a base shape, with lugs protruding from the top and bottom where the strap attaches. Lugless or puck style watches don’t have lugs and typically have the strap mounted to the underside of the case in a recess.

What Watch Size is Right for You?

The size of your wrist is the most important factor in determining the right watch size for you. Wrists are measured in circumference and typically range from 5 to 8 inches. If your wrist is 7.25 inches like mine, you’ll feel most comfortable with a 42mm to 45mm case. Anything below 40mm may feel small, while anything over 48mm may feel too big. It’s important to choose a watch size that feels comfortable for you.

Consider the following factors when choosing the right watch size:

  • Wrist size: Measure your wrist before purchasing a watch to determine what size will fit you best.
  • Personal preference: Choose a size that fits your personal style and comfort level.
  • Watch style: Different watch styles may look better in different sizes. For example, dress watches tend to be smaller in size, while sport watches tend to be larger.
  • Watch movement: The size of the watch movement can affect the size of the case. For example, automatic movements tend to be thicker than quartz movements, which may affect the overall size of the watch.

Remember, the right watch size is a matter of personal preference and comfort. Choose a size that feels right for you and complements your personal style.

Watch Case Shapes

When it comes to watch case shapes, there are five basic types. The most common ones are Round and Square, followed by Oval and Rectangle, which cover most of the watch market.

The tonneau shape is another nonstandard shape that is often discussed. This shape is named after the French word for “cask” or “barrel” and often looks like a rounded rectangle. Another shape that is often mentioned is the “pin cushion” case, which is a slightly rounded or puffy square shape.

For those who prefer avant-garde styles, there are many options available in all shapes and sizes. One of the most famous examples is Hamilton’s triangular Ventura line.

Overall, there are many different watch case shapes to choose from, each with its own unique style and appeal.

Watch Case Materials

When it comes to choosing a watch, one of the most important decisions you will make is the material of the watch case. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Here is a breakdown of the most popular watch case materials on the market today, along with their pros and cons.


Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is a high-quality material that is strong and has great wear resistance and corrosion properties. It is easy to work with and available at a reasonable price. The only real downside for stainless steel is that it is often heavier than other metals that are available. The vast number of dive watches use 316 stainless steel, which is also known as marine grade stainless steel, due to its addition of molybdenum that provides greater corrosion resistance than the standard 304/A2 grade.

Damascus Steel – Several watch brands use Damascus Steel for their cases. Characterized by the watery flowing bands in the metal, Damascus Steel is hard and incredibly beautiful. Today’s Damascus steel is either surface etched (fake) or pattern-welded by forging iron and steel together and hammering them together at high temperatures to weld the bond. The best example of this type of case is from the brand GOS.

Titanium – Titanium is an excellent choice for a watch case, especially tool or extreme use watches. Titanium is exceptionally light, hard, and corrosion-resistant, making it perfect for dive watches. The only possible downside is that titanium has a dull gray look to it that some find less than appealing. Check out the SINN T1 for an example of an awesome titanium dive watch.

Tantalum – This rare, highly inert, and corrosion-resistant metal has a blue-gray luster and is sometimes used as a substitute for platinum. Tantalum is not commonly used for watch cases, but it is still available on the Helson website if you are so inclined.

Aluminum – Aluminum is rarely used for watch cases as it does not have the strength of steel and can easily be dented. The benefits of aluminum are its lightweight and excellent corrosion resistance. The blue Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer in Aluminum is an excellent example of an aluminum watch that is super light and has a wonderful mat sheen, which feels very aerotactical.

Brass/Bronze and Aluminum Bronze – Several manufacturers on the market make copper-based watch cases. The cases come in primarily three types: Brass, Bronze, and Aluminum Bronze. Brass is typically made from 66% copper and 34% zinc. Bronze is an alloy that is made from copper with typically 8-13% tin with other trace metals and sometimes metalloids. It is often referred to as CuSn8 when discussing watch cases. Aluminum Bronze is copper with anywhere from 4-15% aluminum added, which results in a strong, very corrosion-resistant alloy. The interesting thing with these copper-based cases is that over time, they create a patina. One of the favorite brands for copper-based watch cased watches is Maranez, they make solid watches at very reasonable prices. Check out their customer pictures page for some cool-looking patinas. More here from Wound For Life.

Precious Metals – Of course, you can get a watch case made with yellow, red, or white gold or even platinum. There is no real advantage to casing a watch in a precious metal other than being able to say you spent a ridiculous amount of money on your watch. In fact, if the gold is too soft, it will wear poorly and look aged before its time.

Non-Metal Cases

Cases do not have to come in metal, and there are plenty of examples of uniquely cased watches out there. Here are a few types that are becoming popular.

Wood – Wooden watch cases have been becoming more and more popular recently. I think it is part of the whole environmentally friendly movement/marketing programs. I have worn several, and they tend to be exceptionally light and comfortable. My only problem with wood watches is they all have relatively cheap quartz movements, and when the whole case is made of wood, I always feel like I’m going to break them. There are some exceptions such as VEJRHOJ, who mix wood and metal very effectively.

Ceramic – Clay-based cases have been around for a while, starting when Rado launched the Diastar line in 1962. Omega has also been using ceramic materials in watch cases since the ’70s. Ceramic is a naturally hard material but is can be very brittle, thus making it difficult to work with for watch making. One of the unique sales points of the Rado was that it was scratchproof.

Sapphire – The Hublot MP-11 is entirely cased in Sapphire glass. I doubt the case would ever get scratched,

Glass Watch Cases

To protect the dial of a watch, it is covered with a transparent material, commonly known as a watch case. The most popular material for watch cases is Sapphire Glass, which is made of synthetic sapphire and is both clear and hard. Other materials used to protect the dial include Acrylic Glass, Mineral Crystal Glass, and plastic, which is typically found on low-end watches. You can find more information on the different types of watch cases on

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can You Find Affordable Watch Cases?

You can find affordable watch cases at a variety of places. Some good options include online retailers like Amazon or eBay, as well as brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart or Target. You can also check out specialty watch stores or online watch forums for deals on used or vintage watch cases.

How Do You Choose the Right Watch Case for Your Needs?

When choosing a watch case, consider factors such as the size and style of your watch collection, as well as your budget and storage needs. Some popular watch case materials include leather, wood, and metal. You may also want to consider features like locking mechanisms, cushioned interiors, and the ability to stack or connect multiple cases together.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Watch Case?

Using a watch case can help protect your watches from dust, scratches, and other damage. It can also help keep your collection organized and easily accessible. Additionally, some watch cases are designed to be portable, making them a great option for travel or on-the-go storage.

What Materials Are Commonly Used to Make Watch Cases?

Watch cases can be made from a variety of materials, including leather, wood, metal, and plastic. Leather watch cases are often stylish and affordable, while wood cases offer a more classic, sophisticated look. Metal cases can be durable and long-lasting, while plastic cases are often lightweight and easy to transport.

What Is the Best Way to Organize Your Watch Collection?

The best way to organize your watch collection will depend on your personal preferences and the size of your collection. Some popular methods include arranging watches by brand, style, or color, as well as using dividers or compartments within your watch case to keep each watch separate and easily accessible.

Are There Any Watch Cases That Are Designed for Travel?

Yes, there are many watch cases that are designed specifically for travel. These cases are often compact and lightweight, with features like cushioned interiors and secure locking mechanisms to keep your watches safe and secure while on the go. Some popular travel watch cases include roll-up cases, zippered pouches, and hard-shell cases with foam inserts.

Verrien | Watch Cases: Protect Your Timepiece in Style

By Rose Spencer

Rose is an experienced writer and a watch seller, making use of pop-up shops space. She got into watches thanks to her granddad, who introduced her to the wonderful world of watches. Two of them still collect watches together, and Rose is always on the lookout for rare watches (and colorful) varieties.

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