Big smartwatches look ridiculous on my small female wrist, but I still prefer them

I am acutely aware of my scrawny forearms; I bang my wrist bone on the doorway 50% of the time I turn down my hallway because my spatial awareness sucks. And yet, just because I am a woman with petite limbs, that doesn’t mean I want a dainty wearable. Smartwatch brands have been loading more tools and features into devices than ever; it’s okay for their builds to grow with the times, too, even the ones women might wear.

Do you prefer smaller or larger smartwatches?

47 votes

There are countless factors that affect the fluidity of fashion. Practicality is as important as style, and as we all know, style is very subjective (unless you’re talking about Harry Styles). Where women used to gravitate towards delicate accessories, nowadays statement pieces are equally common. Smartwatches should lean into the large scale, statement-piece aesthetic already being embraced by traditional watchmakers.

If a large design aesthetic is good enough for analog watchmakers like Michael Kors and Kate Spade, it should be good enough for smartwatches too.

Today, many high-end watch brands embrace large designs for women’s watches, including 40mm plus options from Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, and more. Even Kate Spade, a brand with an established playfully feminine aesthetic, offers cases big and small. I have to believe that I am not the only woman who is perfectly happy to see smartwatches lean into larger offerings as well. Sure, there’s such a thing as too big or big with bulky design (exhibit 1: the OnePlus Watch 2), but generally speaking, I’m all about big wearables.

On top of genuinely liking the look of an oversized accessory, I do a lot more on my watch than ever before, and I want as much space as possible to do it all. Large displays better accommodate on-device tools like maps, fitness tracking, and even basic menu navigation. They make it easier for me to read notifications and text messages and offer larger margins of error for my grubby finger to swipe around when sunblock is in play. Plus, I’m not trying to pretend I’m not wearing a smartwatch. If I wanted to track covertly, I’d opt for a smart ring.

Several smartwatch makers have introduced larger builds in recent years, and I love them. From the 45mm Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to the 48mm TicWatch Pro 5 Enduro, I’ve consistently enjoyed the ease large displays offer. I’ve happily sacrificed supposed proportionality with my wrists for these powerful devices. An Apple Watch loyalist in another life, I even fell for the 49mm Ultra which had me tracking routes on mountain tops and reading ocean depths while diving. Though self-proclaimed as a colossal piece, the watch never felt too big or unwieldy. Likewise, I’m very excited to get my hands on the Pixel Watch 3 XL, which is believed to be heading our way this fall.

A 41mm Google Pixel Watch 2 rests alongside a 41mm Apple Watch Series 9.

Unfortunately, we still too often tend to see secondary, smaller case sizes aimed at female shoppers, or worse, just one petite option. Not counting its rumored future, the Pixel Watch line is one of the worst offenders, with just a single 41mm case size that even I think looks minuscule on wrists. Multiple sizes are always welcome.

I just wish companies would bump up their whole lineup to accommodate the dramatically increased feature sets. I don’t want to have to purchase a monikered, specialty model to tap into more display real estate. Petite models often minimize display space beneficial to every feature from maps to messaging. Some rumors suggest that Apple may be increasing the size of its smaller case in its upcoming Apple Watch series, and I would be thrilled to see it.

Female-friendly colors and straps are always relegated to the smallest models with fewer features and smaller batteries. A slap in the face of any female smartwatch power-user.

I realize that a woman could simply buy the existing larger model, for example, the 44mm Galaxy Watch 6 instead of the 40mm model. However, female-friendly colors and design cues are always relegated to the smallest models. On some devices, like Apple’s lineup, it’s also hard to find compatible bands that will fit my wrist and work with the large case size. If I don’t want to have excess strap wrapping around my wrist, I end up just settling for the 41mm case.

A variety of smartwatches rest along a measuring tape, highlight assorted case sizes.

This is a slap in the face when the smallest watches also have smaller batteries and sometimes even pared-down feature sets. I am just as likely to use every tool smartwatches offer as any other shopper, if not more, once you consider female health tracking. I also workout regularly using GPS, one of the most notorious battery draining features. Not to mention I test wearables for a living, so I’m often pushing their limits.  All of this to say, I am a self-proclaimed smartwatch aficionado. I love using them for daily tasks and for tracking the highs and lows of my fitness journey. I love waking up to subpar sleep scores. I even love the insane tan lines they leave on my arms. I just want the best the smartwatch market has to offer, and that includes a large display.

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