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Cartier  - XS watches for men: how much is too little

Cartier XS watches for men: how much is too little

A very small, genderless Cartier has prompted puzzling questions and remarks in my watch specialist brain. I keep wondering what's right for whom

I wanted to share some thoughts with you about size. Yes, that topic. Again. Last month, we delved into large, dress watches only to find out that there weren't that many around anymore. And a few days later, I found myself trying on the red Cartier Must once again. I had tried it already and my initial thought was confirmed : that watch feels absolutely wrong, out of place, not for me. 

In itself, the piece is impeccable : clean, classy, especially the red dial one which has a 1980's feel to it, the right kind of it (if there's really such a thing). But it is very small, even on my diminutive bones. I have a 6.5 inches wrist, which is an S when it comes to watchmaking. 

Even though Cartier has been one of the very early to promote the gender-less watchmaking way of looking at things, this watch doesn't feel masculine to me. Not because of its design. It's so pared-down there's nothing in it that can indicate any kind of gender. Because of size: 25.5 mm wide and 33.7 mm long fells to me not to be a man's watch. Please note that this is what Cartier calls the Large model. If you think, as I do, that there's nothing large here, we're on the same brainwave length. All the more so as these are the case's dimensions. The dial feels even smaller.

XS watches for men: how much is too little

Tank Must de Cartier, Large Model, red dial © WorldTempus/David Chokron

I shared that thought with friends and colleagues and many of them disagree. They like the watch not on principle but entertain the possibility of actually wearing it. Let me specify that I'm French, and that all of the aforementioned people are too, and that the French lean towards smaller timepieces. We were never a good target for oversize pieces when they were all the rage and many local retailers have long been in the habit of ordering boutique editions of smaller dimensions. 

Let's look at it another way : I'm fine with a 36 mm Rolex, a size made available again with the Oyster Perpetual collection. It's barely just fine, but I can pull it off. 31 mm though, isn't cutting it anymore. We're out of the man's watch realm, no matter what the dial looks like. If you think 36 mm is very small, I'm there with you. But for a sports watch with a certain amount of muscle, the size factor matters a bit less.

Despite all the time I spend surrounded by watches, seeing, looking, touching and trying them on, I keep being puzzled by that men's watch / women's watch / genderless watch conundrum. Is it a design statement? Or is it a sales argument designed not to push away any customer by telling them this and that piece isn't for them ? I am still stuck to the idea that a man's watch needs to look and feel like one. The thing is, apparently, I'm not really able to tell what that means exactly. 



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Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of excellence to which it is heir. Cartier was a forerunner in the use of platinum in jewellery and one of the pioneers of watchmaking.

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